Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, Episode 11 of Fox's "Glee," entitled, "Michael."
Let's start with the good news. When "Glee" decides to do a tribute episode, it usually means that they forgo all sense of plot continuity. However, "Michael" definitely ranks at the top of all of the other "Glee" tribute episodes because even though it was absurd at times, at least there was a plot -- and it kind of made sense.
Now, let's move on to the bad news. For an episode that was so overhyped, I have to be honest: I was a little underwhelmed. There were definitely standout performances -- "Scream," anybody? -- but unfortunately, the absurdity of it all was too much for me to bear. It never quite lived up to the greatness that is Michael Jackson, and that's a shame.
I know that the writers needed to find some way to write off Darren Criss for a few episodes while he had his stint on Broadway, but did they really need to do it in such an unbelievably forced way? I mean, a slushy laced with rock salt to the eye? Really? Sebastian could have easily punched him, and it would have been more believable than surgery-by-slushy.
And don't even get me started with Rachel. Okay, I get it: You thought that you didn't get into N.Y.A.D.A, so you panicked and accepted Finn's proposal. But if you really want me to like you, Rachel Berry, I need to be able to trust you.
I know that Rachel loves Finn, but does she really want to marry him? I miss the days when Rachel used to say things like, "I want this relationship to go the distance, but I need to know that when I'm 25 and I've won a bunch of Tonys and I'm ready to have intercourse and babies, that those babies will raised in a certain way." Bring that Rachel back!
Of course, I can't be too mad at Rachel. Kurt got his N.Y.A.D.A. finalist letter before she did, so she jumped to the conclusion that she was rejected. Then she learns that Quinn got accepted to Yale (I know, I laughed, too), so what else does Rachel have in her life other than Finn? It's a very lonely feeling, seeing all of your friends start to move on.
When Rachel breaks down in front of Kurt, for the first time in "Glee" history, it upset me, too -- and it's a feeling that many of us can relate to. "I have no idea what I'm doing," she cries ... and it's believable.
So fast forward to the end of the episode when Rachel tells Finn that he's the love of her life and accepts his proposal. Was that necessary? Can't we have a few weeks of Rachel trying to rationally figure out her life? I mean, doesn't she have a birth mother to build a relationship with? Where is Shelby by the way? We haven't seen her in weeks.
Of course, Rachel's "Yes" puts her in quite the dilemma by the episode's end -- when she finds out that she did, in fact, make N.Y.A.D.A.'s finalist list. Oy. Poor Finn. Something tells me that he's going to get his heart broken this week.
Meanwhile, I have to say that my favorite scene of this otherwise underwhelming episode was between Kurt and his dad. Burt, you never fail to surprise me, once again proving why you're one of my favorite "Glee" characters.
Burt brings Kurt's N.Y.A.D.A. letter to school. Before you start to say how totally unbelievable this scenario is, I have to admit that my mother also brought my college acceptance letter to school. There were tears. We jumped a lot. It was all very embarrassing. Now, back to Kurt. So Kurt brings his father to the choir room because where else do you expect Kurt to open up his letter?
Kurt finds out that he's a N.Y.A.D.A. finalist, and Burt just explodes with joy. It's an incredibly touching moment between father and son. It was perfect.
Needless to say, the rest of the episode only served as a stage for the eight Michael Jackson numbers that made the final cut, so let's evaluate each individually.
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
One minute in, and we already have our first Michael Jackson cover. Is there any other way to kick off an episode dedicated to the late King of Pop? It's kind of like a cold open. It's wildly fanciful and has nothing to do with the overall plot, but I didn't really seem to care. It was a fun homage to Michael Jackson, and it set the tone for the rest of the episode.
Blaine mistakenly told Sebastian about New Directions' decision to cover Michael Jackson at Regionals. Now, the Warblers are planning to do the same thing. It's kind of like when two celebrities wear the same dress on the red carpet: It's tacky.
So what do they do? They do WMWD (what Michael would do) -- duh -- and take their show choir beef to the streets. We're suddenly transported to a desolate garage. It must be time for "Bad." These kids look angry, really angry.
Artie, you are so intimidating. Unfortunately, things get a little too dangerous when Sebastian throws a "laced" cherry slushy into Blaine's pretty face. Oh no! Not the slushy! Bad move, CW-haired Sebastian Smythe: Now, the entire glee club is after you. Didn't you hear Artie?! You're blood is now most certainly his.
However, as much as I love Blaine ... don't these kids take slushies to the face on a daily basis? Man up, Blaine. How did that scratch his cornea? That's even far fetched for you, "Glee."
I have one word for this number: Epic. Not only did we get to see Artie unleash his inner Michael -- out of the wheelchair -- but we also got to see Mike Chang channel his inner Pete Wentz with all of that guyliner. Artie, angry that Sebastian hurt Blaine and got away with it, goes off on an epic -- and totally justified -- rant. He's tired of being kicked around and taken advantaged of, and he wants to sing about it.
Sure, it was a completely out-of-context dream sequence, but Artie was angry, and he obviously needed to vent. So, he started to bust some moves, and it couldn't have been easy ... Did you see how tiny those leather pants were?
I'm just going to say it: If Artie came to school one day completely fine and able to walk, I wouldn't even be mad. Kevin McHale is such a talented dancer, and it's nice getting to see him show off his talent every once in a while.
Also, I really appreciate that Ryan Murphy and the writers made Artie the ultimate Michael Jackson worshiper, given McHale's own love of the late King of Pop.
And please, for those of you who have never seen Michael Jackson's original video for "Scream," please do so now.
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Did anyone else think that Quinn's blah performance was a direct homage to Lana Del Rey's "Saturday Night Light" disaster? She just sort of swayed ... and put her hands on her hips. But at least she looked gorgeous!
I was never really a fan of Samcedes. It always seemed kind of random, but after this duet, I'm officially a Samcedes shipper. Has Sam ever sounded so good? And the couple's harmonies were out-of-this-world amazing. I'm interested to see where the writers are going to take their relationship, given Chord Overstreet's status as a recurring cast member.
Now this is more like it. Santana, looking fierce in her fedora hat, confronts Sebastian about that tainted slushy he threw in Blaine's face. In return, Sebastian challenges Santana to a sing-off, and thanks to a little help from 2cellos, this was easily one of the best performances of the night. Santana was flawless, and in the end, Sebastian reveals that he put rock salt in that fateful slushy ... before he throws another slushy in Santana's face. As Mercedes would say, "HELL TO THE NO!" Who does Sebastian think he's messing with? I hope she goes all Lima Heights on the King of Plastic Hair.
Please don't kill me for this because I really do love Klaine (see here), but this was a snooze-fest. Why is Blaine lying in bed? He just scratched his eye. And his name is Blaine, not Ben!
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
I'm sorry, but I just can't take Finn seriously anymore. Why did he ask Rachel to marry him? And why is he pressuring her to give him an answer? In case you haven't noticed Finn, you're still in high school. Calm down.
On another note, Finchel's duet was pretty. It wasn't quite as good as Samcedes' "Human Nature," but that might have something to do with me being unable to look at Finn when he pulled that "HeeHeeeee" out of his back pocket. However, that really seemed to turn Rachel on because faster than Artie could "HeeHeeee" back, Rachel accepted Finn's proposal. "You're the love of my life," she told him, as we all let out a collective "GAG!"
"Black or White"
Somehow, this performance was supposed to prove that the New Directions knew the true meaning of Michael Jackson, but I didn't really get that. It did, however, prove that Artie is still New Directions' go-to rapper.
By the end of the episode, everyone turned their backs on Sebastian, and what good is a lone Warbler?
So will the Warblers take on the King of Pop at Regionals? Will Rachel give Finn his ring back? Will Sebastian's hair ever move? Looks like we'll have to wait and see. Next week, Sue is back (unfortunately), and Ricky Martin shakes his bon-bon.
"I don't want to see the spectacle that is Michael. I want to be the spectacle." -- Mercedes
"And when he did the moonwalk across the stage, I uttered my my first words: Hot damn." -- Artie
"Rachel, he was best friends with Liza Minnelli and Liz Taylor." -- Kurt
"Hey Kurt, I didn't recognize you. You were wearing boy clothes for once." -- Sebastian
"Once a Warbler, always a Warbler... He's a modern-day eggs benedict." -- Puck
"Of all of my years as a teacher and a student, I have never heard of a slushy doing that much damage." -- Mr. Schue
"I got into Yale early admissions." -- Quinn
"I take a lot of crap from a lot of people, but I refuse to take it from Sebastian, the criminal chipmunk." -- Kurt
"I am so proud to be your dad. They can never take this away from you. Right now, at this moment, on this very day, you won." -- Burt
"You may look like the villain out of a cheesy '80's high school movie." -- Santana
"Cello guys, can you hang back for a sec?" -- Santana
"We would have had a whole week of songs about it." -- Santana (so true!)
"You're the love of my life, and if I can't have it all, at least I'll get to have what matters. Yes, I'll marry you." -- Rachel
"Glee" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.
Follow Crystal Bell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/newyorkbell