‘Glee’ review: Nationals, NYADA, and Mark Salling’s performance

Did they win?

There was a let to get through when it came to Tuesday night’s new episode of “Glee” — there was Nationals, fights, body-swapping, and a few surprises that no one saw coming.

“Props” – Let’s start with the first of the night’s two episodes, which focused primarily on Tina’s quest to find a purpose after being left in the background for most of the past few years.

At first, her reaction was to act out selfishly to the snub by demanding more solos and to try and get her due — it was understandable, but it wasn’t going to happen considering that she is a junior on a show currently stuffed with seniors. Strangely, it actually took her becoming the very target of her jealousy in Rachel Berry (as a part of an overhyped body-swap component to this episode) to really understand how she should be treating Rachel and the other seniors at the moment — as a support system. She offered to help Rachel drive out to Oberlin to get another audition, but it didn’t really matter — she still didn’t seem to get anywhere.

Away from Tina’s pretty entertaining story, the subplot actually may have been one of the strongest of the entire season. Puck and Beiste were going through some major insecurities — whether it be with graduating or struggling to leave an abusive husband — and it really took the support from each other to be able to make it through. Puck’s emotional meltdown in the locker room may have been the best scene of Mark Salling’s acting career thus far, and it proves him worthy of either extra screentime here or on another show moving forward. Meanwhile, Dot-Marie Jones has to have another guest-acting Emmy nomination coming her way.

“Nationals” – First things first, we were glad that there was some tension straight out of the gate here — the New Directions had to perform first! This is commonly known as the “death slot,” and it meant that the group was going to have to stand out that much more to shine. To make matters worse, Mercedes barely made it on stage after falling ill just one night before she was set to perform.

When it comes to the group’s set, it was definitely entertaining — the Trouble Tones rocked out “The Edge of Glory” (with some random extra dancers who weren’t on the bus), Rachel had a spectacular solo (even if Carmen didn’t bother to show up for it) in “It’s All Coming Back to Me,” and the final number was a passionate “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” that showed off a good many of the cast members. Unfortunately for them, they had some pretty incredible competition courtesy of Vocal Adrenaline, who (led by Alex Newell’s Wade / Unique) delivered a powerful version of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.”

The good news for Rachel is that Carmen eventually did show up — and while she missed the performance, it was actually a recommendation for none other than Jesse St. James, who was attempting to get Vocal Adrenaline back on the map. While he did get Unique an MVP award on the night, the group ended up in second place. Why? New Directions won the whole enchilada! While just about everyone saw this win coming, it was hard not to sniffle as the confetti reigned down on the group in slow-motion. The three years of hard work had finally paid off, and the underdogs were underdogs no more.

In the midst of many shining moments, the reaction from the McKinley High student body was probably the most unrealistic moment of the entire episode. Would Rick the Stick in real life throw confetti on these people? Would Emma suddenly go from no intercourse to getting pressed against a wall? Probably not, but that’s really not the point. Will also won Teacher of the Year, and this was really the icing on the cake for the episode as a whole.

Overall, this two-hour event did just about everything that “Glee” fans could want. While there were some celebrity cameos via Lindsay Lohan and Perez Hilton, it was almost all story-based and there were some great musical numbers. With this in mind, there are times that we wish the show focused more on these elements throughout the year. Remember how great season 1 was? The show can get back there again — and this was a great return to form when it comes to quality.

What did you think about these two episodes?

Photo: Fox

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