Glee Recap: S03E16: Saturday Night Glee-ver
When the theme for Nationals is revealed as “vintage,” Blaine instantly thinks disco and enlists Brittany and Mike to help him out. Their performance of “You Should Be Dancing” is pitch perfect, but poor Blaine does not know that no matter how good it is, New Directions will not buy it. After all, it’s disco.
But Mr. Schue knows that disco has power. His glee club won Nationals with disco. Disco inspired a generation, and maybe it can inspire a new one as well. With the end of the school year fast approaching, he has taken a look at his seniors and seen three in trouble, with no clear goals for next year. With a little help from Sue, he concocts a lesson plan that should put them all on right track and give disco a good name.
The plan revolves around the classic movie Saturday Night Fever. As Mr. Schue sells it to his lost seniors:
“Tony Manero’s story is your story. He’s a guy who works at a paint store, struggling to figure out his life. And the only time he feels sure about himself is when he’s performing, on the dance floor. He has a dream to get out of his old neighborhood in Brooklyn and get to New York City. And by the end of the movie, that’s what he’s done. He’s turned his dream into a plan.”
Of course, the fact that he and Sue rigged an impromptu dance contest to teach this lesson to three specific glee club members does not help convey this lesson immediately. Schue assigns the dance contest “winners” another task: “perform a song from Saturday Night Fever and then share your hopes for the future.” The winner of this last assignment will receive a replica of John Travolta’s signature white polyester suit. Because figuring out the future is not incentive enough.
Finn: No Self-esteem
The first senior Mr. Schue identifies is Finn. He is blindly following his fiancé and step-brother to New York without a clear plan because he does not believe in his own worth. What are his skills and dreams next to Rachel and Kurt’s? Puck had offered an alternative plan when he suggested Finn join him in LA with his pool cleaning business. He never got an answer, so he approaches Finn again. But pool cleaning is not Finn’s dream, so he declines. But what is his dream? Puck’s offer inspires him to look for it.
And Rachel is behind him in the search. After falling out over Finn’s sudden need to discover himself, the lovebirds reconnect when Rachel tweets to set up a meeting the auditorium. “What if your dreams are bigger than mine?” she asks, letting him know that despite the lateness of his epiphany, she is willing to forgo New York if that is best for them as a couple. They do need to focus on Finn’s future as well as her own. Broadway has always been her dream, but at the same time, Finn is her home and her dream. In Rachel Berry style she then sings her devotion. Message received.
With the help of Emma and Mr. Schue, Rachel presents Finn with some college options. He likes the glossy brochures. And that’s all he likes. After putting on a welcoming smile in Emma’s office, Finn immediately trashes his selections once he exits the room. Mr. Schuester confronts Finn. He is wallowing in self-pity, afraid to disappoint Rachel and lose her too. “What I want is for time to stop. Okay? I want it to feel like I’m on the football field and the crowd’s going nuts. Or I want to feel like I’m on stage during a performance and everyone’s on their feet,” he confesses angrily. Essentially he wants to capture the feeling of being young, to save all that is good in his life and escape the uncertainty. Mr. Schue makes him watch Saturday Night Fever. He thinks Finn knows what he wants but is afraid to say. “It’s not the broken dreams that break us; it’s the ones we didn’t dare to dream,” he tells him.
After watching the movie, Finn chooses his song and his life path. “More Than a Woman” expresses his love for Rachel. He will be going to New York to support her life-long dream of stardom on stage. But he is not going for her alone. Finn wants to move to NY with Rachel and take on the world. He wants to go Inside the Actor’s Studio. He wants to be an actor.
Mercedes: No Vision
After speaking with Will and Sue, Mercedes is pissed. She wants to prove to them that she does have a dream, ambition, and a fiery inferno of desire to achieve her goals. And what better song than “Disco Inferno”? In a gorgeous red dress, Mercedes tears up the dance floor.
Once she is done killing it, Mercedes shares her dream; she wants to inspire people with music. And she wants to do that by getting a record deal so that her music can reach the most people. But she is afraid to move to LA on her own with no immediate direction as to how to make that dream a reality. “The cream always rises to the top, Mercedes,” Mr. Schue encourages. “Well I’m cream in here Mr. Schue,” Mercedes offers before posing her dilemma, “But what if out there I’m just skim milk?”
Luckily, there is at least one other person who believes in Mercedes’ talent: Sam. After taping his former girlfriend’s performance, Sam uploaded the video to YouTube. Athough she is afraid to look, when Mercedes reads the comments, she finds that they are all positive (except for the one “that thought Mercedes Inferno was a car fail video”). Sam shows her that she has the talent and that others will recognize it, and he encourages her to chase her dream in LA. His show of dedication and devotion moves her to share her own appreciation; they kiss.
Brittany's Recipe for Fame
1. Release a sex tape. Splice in video of a cat doing household chores and you will be a household name.
2. Try out for a reality show. Take a strength to its limit (aka start hoarding MORE) or try something new (bull's testicles... apparently they taste like chicken testicles) to ensure that you get picked.
Santana: No Focus
When Santana sings “If I Can’t Have You” for her assignment, Mr. Schue thinks he knows her plans. Clearly she is singing about her love for Brittany and her desire to have marriage equality in the US. Santana wants to be a lawyer! Except Mr. Schue could not be more wrong. “My mistress is fame,” Santana explains, before going on to say she will do anything to become famous. Mr. Schue is not satisfied, but Santana’s impassioned speech inspires Brit.
When Santana gets some odd looks from her classmates, she wants to know what Brittany did. To help her girlfriend achieve the fame she desires, Brittany thought about all of the famous people she could think of and copied their path to fame; she released a sex tape. Of course because it is Brittany, she ended up splicing the video with scenes of Lord Tubbington doing household choirs (how did the Brittany who couldn’t burn a CD for her girlfriend suddenly learn how to splice let alone what splicing was? Does anything cat-related give her superpowers?).
Given Santana’s response to her sudden notoriety at school, she has learned that fame at any cost is not what it is cracked up to be. Luckily, Brittany has another idea. She and Sue sit Santana down to tell her that they applied to the University of Louisville on her behalf. She received a full cheerleading scholarship. Santana does not want to be a cheerleader for the rest of her life, but this will give her the opportunity to go to college and find another path. This will not be the solution, but it can be a means to something more.
In the End
When the winner of the competition is announced, it is all three competitors that walk into the choir room clad in sharp new suits. To celebrate, the three winners strut it out to the disco anthem, “Stayin’ Alive.” And the entire glee club, including Sue and Schue, receive their own suits for this closing number Poor Becky, Sue’s seamstress, must be tired!
So in true Glee fashion, the problems of the episode are solved with a final number. But are they really? The three troubled seniors now have plans for their future, but they still need to be executed…
Wade: Self-esteem, Vision, and Focus
While the seniors at McKinley struggle to find themselves and their path in life, there is a student at a rival high school who knows exactly who he wants to be. Kurt and Mercedes receive a visit from said student, one Wade Adams of Carmel High, the new lead singer of Vocal Adrenaline. But Wade is not there to wage wars; instead he wants to greet his idols and ask their advice. You see, he is transgender, and what he really wants to do is to perform as Unique, his female alter ego who is loaded with sass and confidence. As the meeker Wade tells Kurt and Mercedes, Unique would have approached them a little differently, with a fully planned theatrical speech as such: “Kurt Hummel and Mercedes Jones. Unique worships the red carpet you walk on. If you two had a love child, it would be Unique. And Unique’s grandparents would be André Leon Talley and Beyoncé, because only the best will do for Unique.” Though appreciating the fabulousness that is Unique, both Mercedes and Kurt immediately try to discourage the idea, knowing as they do what it is like in Ohio for people who are considered different.
Later, Sue calls Kurt and Mercedes to her office and accuses them of being traitors. She found out they advised Wade not to dress as Unique, and she wants to know why. Surely Unique appearing onstage would lead to Vocal Adrenaline losing their Regional competition and failing to make Nationals, which is exactly what New Directions would want. To remedy the situation, she produces a pair of 13 wide heels that she wants them to deliver to Wade as encouragement.
For some unknown reason, Kurt and Mercedes do send Wade the shoes. But on the day of Vocal Adrenaline’s Regional competition, they regret it and try to convince Wade to back out. When they find Wade dressed as himself, they believe they have made it in time, but he has already put on the shoes, and his mind cannot be changed. Unique is the one who takes the stage, much to new coach Jesse St. James’ horror, and she KILLS it. New Directions will once again face Vocal Adrenaline at Nationals, but this time Unique will be their main competition.
Grading the Songs
Like the kids of New Directions, I have never been a huge fan of disco. But hearing these remakes of such classic songs make me like the genre. Sue and Schue were right; the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever could be the greatest soundtrack of all time.
You Should Be Dancing - A
I have never been a fan of disco, but when Darren Criss does his best impression of John Travolta, I cannot help but love it. Extra points for the pitch perfect dance moves straight out of Saturday Night Fever.
Night Fever – A-
Matthew Morrison’s falsetto can be grating, but for some reason, I did not want this song to end. Maybe it was because the performance included the group doing the electric slide. Either way, this song is as smooth as the dance moves performed while singing it.
Disco Inferno -A+
Amber Riley kills another song. She rips into it with passion, all while looking fantastic in a red halter dress. With the Naya and Heather as her back-up dancers, is it really a surprise that a video of this performance could become a small YouTube sensation?
Buy it on iTunes
If I Can't Have You - A
There may be many people who are upset by how many times Naya Rivera has been featured on this season of Glee. While I would like to be upset as well (after all, she is theoretically taking vocals from other beloved actors), I cannot simply because she always sounds amazing. “If I Can’t Have You” is no exception. And Rivera looks like she stepped right out of the era in that jumpsuit.
How Deep Is Your Love - A-
Everything that Lea Michele touches turns to gold, but this song does not do it for me. She sounds stunning, but the slow pace of the song and the lack of range means that this song does not shine as her solos usually do. Beautiful, but I have come to expect more.
Boogie Shoes - A
This might be my favorite disco song (ever since So You Think You Can Dance featured it with a Billy and Lauren number choreographed by Mandy Moore). And though The Glee Project’s Alex Newell is not the best actor, he kills on the singing. He also kills in dancing in heels. Brava to Alex’s (and Unique’s) first performance on the show.
Buy it on iTunes
More Than a Woman -A-
Before this episode, would I have wanted to hear Cory Monteith’s falsetto? No. Granted, his singing ability has improved drastically since the first Glee episode, but that is mostly on rock songs. Disco does not seem to be his forte. Nonetheless, he pulls it out. This might be because they finally included Chris Colfer, who happens to have the best falsetto of all Glee men, but I will leave some credit for Cory.
Stayin' Alive - A-
Perhaps the most famous song from Saturday Night Fever, “Stayin’ Alive” is a disco anthem. And Glee does it justice. It serves as a good closing number, but of all the songs in the episode, it is not one that I will willingly play on repeat. Good, just not good enough.