From the way FOX has been promoting “Glee’s” big Michael Jackson tribute episode, you’d think the network could’ve spared an extra few minutes in its schedule to allow the writers to tie up the myriad plotlines introduced by each musical number.
Instead, the outing fell just short of the greatness it aspired to, instead feeling more like patched-together songs with little narrative thread to connect them. But that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy it.
Basically, there’s no way to not enjoy yourself when listening to the discography of Michael Jackson. So we were primed to like the big MJ tribute. Since the amount of effort put in was obvious we can’t say we were disappointed, exactly — there was just something missing. Like a coherent narrative thread? (Though we feel that way about this show a lot.)
In short, sometimes it was awesome (“Smooth Criminal,” “Human Nature”), and sometimes it wasn’t (“Ben,” “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”). Let’s review what happened, shall we?
Basically, Sebastian pulled a typical scheming move and stole the New Directions setlist for Regionals. This did not make the McKinley kids happy, so they challenged the Warblers to a Michael-off, the winner of which would get the rights to perform MJ at the next big competition. They had a “Bad” rumble in a parking garage, and Blaine got slushied in the eye so bad it scratched his cornea. Oh, so that’s how they’re writing Darren Criss out for a couple of episodes. And they put him in a hilarious eye patch!
Artie in particular was so super upset that he envisioned a dream sequence in which he and Mike Chang re-created the “Scream” music video. While we fully support Artie dancing, something just seemed off about the whole thing — the energy level just wasn’t up to par.
Santana stalked Sebastian at Dalton, where they performed an electrifying duet of “Smooth Criminal” and he confesses to putting rock salt in the slushie. More of this, please! A highlight of the episode.
The B-plot involved Rachel and Kurt getting their NYADA acceptance letters and Rachel responding to Finn’s proposal. First of all, who in their right mind would believe that Lea Michele would get rejected from any singing-based competition? And second of all, it is clear that things won’t work out if the only reason she said yes to his proposal was because she thought she didn’t have anything better to look forward to.
Kudos to the writers for the most realistic high school scene on “Glee” yet with Rachel crying in the middle of the hallway because she thinks she got rejected from her dream college. Can’t tell you how many times that happened at our over-achiever-filled high school. And double kudos for the Kurt/Burt scenes. Mike O’Malley proved once again that even with like two minutes of screentime every now and then, he’s still one of the most powerful parts of the show.
The very minor C-plot involved Rachel seeking romantic advice from Quinn, who has magically gotten her s*** together. Seriously, care to explain how she turned her life around so fast? She was SO CRAZY before, and now she’s going to Yale early decision and singing Jackson 5 songs in the bathroom.
An even more minor D-plot involved Sam and Mercedes kissing in the auditorium. It was so rushed, and we’re only okay with it because that was a pretty darn amazing duet.
Best songs of the week: “Human Nature” & “Smooth Criminal”
The best “Glee” songs tend to be the ones that aren’t faithful to the original arrangement, and these are no exception. The acoustic guitar and blend of Chord Overstreet and Amber Riley‘s voices were delightful, while the chemistry between Grant Gustin and Naya Rivera on “Smooth Criminal” was undeniable.
Worst songs of the week: “Ben” & “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”
The time spent covering “Ben,” a cutesy, boring song, could’ve been taken up by the cut “I Want You Back” Warblers sequence. We felt the same way (to a lesser degree) with Finn and Rachel’s “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” which would’ve been way better as one of those abridged songs they throw in as a little treat.
What did you think of the big Michael Jackson tribute?