As we sat down to watch "Comeback," we were bracing ourselves for the inevitable let down after last week's stellar "Silly Love Songs," because when the Glee lords giveth a good episode, they are sure to taketh away the following week. But we were pleasantly surprised with "Comeback," in which Sue wants to regain her will to live after miserably failing to get the Cheerios to regionals; Sam is fighting to win Quinn's affection back after her attention drifted back to Finn; and Rachel is attempting to get her career back on track. Mr. Schuester challenges them all to find an anthem to prepare for the theme of the upcoming regionals. Here's how their choices stacked up.
Sam turned to the Biebs for help getting his lady back. Though his one-man band, the Justin Bieber Experience, had a successful turn at a Bat Mitzvah, winning over the glee club was a different story. "I think [the song] qualifies as an anthem because it's just hugely emotional and sums up our generation," he says. We're not sure we agree with that bold statement, but we agree that his performance was a total pop star package that recalled the Biebs' swag and had us as impressed as the glee girls.
"Somebody to Love"
After seeing how the ladies love Sam's Bieber performance, Puck, Sam and Mike ask to join in to overcome the post-Valentine's Day lull in their relationships. "We underestimated the power of the Biebs," Puck explains. Artie: "He's clearly like a mini-god." And so, for the third episode in a row, Kevin McHale recalls his boy band days: Artie sings lead on "Somebody to Love" with Sam. The Glee take smooths over the R&B swagger of Bieber's version with Usher, but the boys embrace the cheesy pop factor of the tune and do an admirable job recreating the song's video in the McKinley auditorium. (It's the second time Glee has tackled a song by this name, following the Queen version during season one. Is Jefferson Airplane next?)
"Take Me or Leave Me"
After Sue fakes a suicide attempt with gummy vitamins ("My face just got really hot and my jaw hurts from all that chewing"), Schue and Ms. Pillsbury convince her to join glee club for a week to help regain her will to live. But, the melodrama is part of Sue's plan to destroy the glee club from within. She pits Mercedes and Rachel against each other, and the two girls battle in another diva-off: "I have to get my cross-trainers. Want to know why? I'm going to be doing some runs," says Mercedes.
"I've finally convinced Mercedes that in order to do a proper diva-off it has to come from the Broadway catalog," Rachel explains. "I think it's safe to say that gives me a home field advantage." Cue the lesbian lovers' quarrel from Rent, in which Rachel Berry takes on sexually charged diva Maureen, the role Idina Menzel (who played Rachel's birth mom on the show — how meta!) created. While Mercedes' portrayal of Joanne, Maureen's partner, had more sass than Rachel could muster, both ladies sang, leaving Sue to ask, "Where's the hate?" once they were through.
"This Little Light of Mine"
Schue takes Sue to the children's ward of the local hospital, where he sings for kids with cancer once a month. She grudgingly agrees — only if there's no Journey — and Schue leads the kids in a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine" so charming that melts even Sue's heart. "I'll never forgive you for this," she says with tears in her eyes.
"I Know What Boys Like"
Lauren still has Puck wrapped around her finger, despite not giving in to his pleas to hook up. She enlists his help in prepping for her solo glee debut. "I know I'm the hottest bitch in this joint," she says by way of introducing her song in class. "If I were a country, this would be my anthem." She then out-divas the divas thanks to back up dancers Brittany and Tina and Puck's advice to picture everyone naked when she got nervous (this revealed some interesting undergarments, namely, Sue's catwoman suit). There's not really much to the Eighties hit by fellow Ohioans the Waitresses, but Lauren's delivery was hysterical (if a little awkward), reminiscent of Regina George's younger sister dancing to Britney Spears in Mean Girls.
We never thought we'd see the day when Glee sang My Chemical Romance, but it happened, and we were impressed. Sue decides she wants to sing because the glee club hasn't picked an actual anthem yet, and joins them on stage. The bad: Finn and Rachel tried to channel the aggression in the first verse, which came off awkward. (But not as awkward as the red plaid outfits that called to mind a Gap Christmas ad.) The good: By turning down the rock and bringing in a choral element, the song actually came off as a great anthem for the bunch of misfits that is the New Directions. We kind of wish they had put on their choir robes instead and fully embraced the arrangement.
Bottom Line: What it lost in cleverly placed songs (see last week's "Fat Bottomed Girls") "Comeback" gained in one-liners (like Brittany saying to Rachel, "When people look at you they don't see what you're wearing, they see a cat getting its temperature taken and then they hear it screaming") and — dare we say it — plot development. At the end of the episode, Sue reveals her plan to coach New Directions' regionals rival, Aural Intensity, Santana convinces Sam to dump Quinn and start dating her and Rachel's proposal to write original music for sectionals is outvoted — but it's almost okay to her because Finn says the old Rachel is back. And we didn't even get to praise the hysterical subplot involving Rachel asking Brittany to make the Rachel Berry sexy schoolgirl librarian chic style a thing (it backfires).
Next Week: The Rachel Berry house-party trainwreck extravaganza is a go as Beiste and Schue get drunk at a country bar and Rachel and Blaine share a (gasp!) kiss.
Last Week: 'Silly Love Songs' Hits the Right Note