It's only been two months since the last tribute episode, so it's about time Glee tackled another milestone in pop culture history, right? This time around, it's disco – more specifically, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack – as a part of a plan that Schue and Sue cook up to both prep the glee club for Nationals and help some of their graduating New Directions currently without direction find some. The episode errs more on the side of Serious Emotions and less on the side of Whimsical Fantasies (a/k/a the direct opposite of "Britney/Brittany") – except for the final, and best, Glee Project guest star arc. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
"You Should Be Dancing"
The ringing bell inspires Blaine to start tapping out a rhythm to the Bee Gees tune and pretty soon he, Mike and Brittany (and a conveniently placed disco ball) turn the classroom into a disco. In other words, this episode is starting off pretty similarly to "Michael," right down to Blaine kick-starting the episode-long dance party. The dance moves are as slick as you'd expect from the show's top three movers, but Blaine's breathy voice has nowhere near the allure of Barry Gibb's unmistakeable falsetto. In case you were as mystified as we were about the episode's start (which, let's be honest, wasn't as random as many others), Blaine helpfully explains to Schue that the Nationals theme is "vintage" so he, Mike and Brittany argue that disco fits the bill of being "something old, but something with a lot of energy."
Schue is equally as inspired and not at all fazed that he, once again, didn't come up with a lesson plan. Instead, it's time to reminisce about using a disco song to win Nationals back in the day with a flashback to his glee club singing KC & the Sunshine Band at warp chipmunk speed. Unfortunately, the glee club is not as enthused: "Disco sucks!" Schue, also worried about the futures of soon-to-be graduates Finn, Mercedes and Santana, goes to Sue, who lays it out for him and reveals another one of her previously hidden obsessions.
Sue: "Let's be honest, you've been out of ideas since Madonna week... let's do Saturday Night Fever!"
Schue: "I love that album. There's one problem: the glee club hates disco."
Sue: "But they love swag. Let's give them something to fight about!"
Sue loans the New Directions her "very own, personal, one-of-a-kind, lit from within, shatterproof, plexiglass dance floor" with which to pay tribute to the dansical. Tony's story as portrayed in the movie is, in fact, their story – one of not being sure what to do with one's life but feeling alive when performing. Hint, hint, you crazy soon-to-be graduates.
First up, a dance competition where the winner scores a replica of John Travolta's iconic leisure suit – something the boys immediately lust over. Cue Schue kicking off "Night Fever" with an uncomfortable falsetto that goes down easier thanks to his doing a great Hustle with Sue. Blaine and Joe join them, and Joe hits both high and low notes with surprising ease. The dance floor turns into something out of Soul Train with everyone taking a turn and Sam channeling his stripper past. In case you couldn't predict it: soon everyone is having a great time, despite their previously proclaimed hatred of disco. Also in case you couldn't predict it: Finn, Mercedes and Santana are the finalists in this not-so-secretly rigged contest. Schue quickly lets them know the game is fixed and that their actual prize is an assignment. Wait, what? Either way, each member of the trio has to perform a song from Saturday Night Fever and share their hopes in front of the group. This is Schue's big master plan to get them to figure out and follow their dreams. OK, then.
"I have the dream. I just don't know how to get there," Mercedes says to herself in a voiceover. In fact, Mercedes' desire is so hot, it's "a freaking inferno." Like, say, a "Disco Inferno"? Why, yes, indeed. And to prove her point, Mercedes lets it rip down the halls of McKinley into the choir room, punctuating her soulful vocals with throaty growls to emphasize that, yes, Mercedes has a dream. So don't you worry, Mr. Schuester. Her dream is, unsurprisingly, to be like Mariah, Whitney and Aretha – someone who sings "big, juicy, Number One hits that inspire people." Also, we could have told you that. In season one. But her dream is being thwarted by her dentist dad and a fear of moving out of Lima. Maybe Mercedes should try out for American Idol next season in some kind of crazy Fox crossover fever dream. But before we can really entertain that thought, Sam again beats her over the head with adoration at the episode's end by showing her how he's posted a video of her performance on YouTube to 484 positive comments – he wants to prove to her that she can do it and should head out to L.A. to pursue her dreams. He believes in her, y'all! It's sweet, and she takes it to heart, but we still think the Idol crossover could be the best/worst thing ever. Nigel Lythgoe and Ryan Murphy, are you listening?
"If I Can't Have You"
Santana's song of the week is "If I Can't Have You," originally done by the Bee Gees but later recorded by Yvonne Ellerman. It seems like she's singing yet another love song for Brittany, which Schue takes to mean she's heading to law school with a plan to make marriage equality a reality. Just kidding! The song was really about Santana's love for fame. Unfortunately, while she proclaims to room, "I'm gonna be famous if it's the last thing I do," Santana has yet to articulate how that will happen. Also unfortunate: the song is too high and doesn't allow Santana to show any of her power.
Brittany takes Santana's dream to heart and splices footage of their sex tape together with her cat (overdue Lord Tubbington cameo!) doing household chores. Voila, viral video! Voila, fame! Voila, Santana being mortified. Also: who knew Brittany was so skilled at video editing? Brittany has adopted the role of Santana's manager and suggests she get on a reality show, stat, like Hoarders or Fear Factor. "Just let me know how far you want to go for fame," she says with a parting kiss on the cheek. Later, Sue comes to the real rescue, scolding both of them. "What's so disappointing is not that you want to be famous, is that you don't care how you get there," she says. Santana agrees and Sue's there to help: Santana now has a full ride to the University of Louisville for cheerleading, thanks to one of Brittany's better brainstorms. She may not pursue a life of cheerleading, but it doesn't matter: her future is planned! Mission: accomplished.
"How Deep Is Your Love"
Rachel and Finn reunite after last episode's tiff. They're so happy, and she tells Finn that the only reason they've been so focused on her dream is because they haven't taken time to consider his. But he's still dreamless, and an online quiz telling him his profession should be "competitive eating champion" hasn't exactly cleared things up. She maintains they don't need to move to New York; her true happiness "isn't some place. It's someone." To prove her point, she tells Finn she's – surprise – prepared a song, Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love," once again taking the literal route when declaring her love for Finn. As an extension of this renewed love declaration, she sets up a guidance counselor appointment in which Emma gives Finn brochures for Ohio schools to peruse as she, Rachel and Schue fake-smile their way through planning Finn's future. The only genuine moment is when he thanks them – and then promptly tosses the pamphlets in the garbage upon leaving.
Carmel High's Wade Adams (played by Glee Project runner-up Alex Newell) is a Kurt and Mercedes superfan fleeing the evil reign of current Vocal Adrenaline coach and former Rachel Berry paramour Jesse St. James. Oh, Jonathan Groff, how we missed your face on our TVs. It's good to have you back, even when you are roaring things like "I CAN'T HEAR YOUUUU" in poor Wade's face. Wade then proceeds to introduce Mercedes and Kurt to his confident alter ego, Unique, who basically looks like Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley, who he says would be Unique's grandfather – Beyonce would be Unique's grandmother, Mercedes and Kurt her parents. Yes, Unique is a girl. And Alex has come seeking advice for how to perform as her at Saturday's regionals. (Alex Newell won over Ryan Murphy on season one of The Glee Project by dressing in drag and singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls.)
Sue, of course, gets wind of this and tells Mercedes and Kurt to encourage Wade's dream – not squash it – because Wade's implosion will mean Vocal Adreneline loses and the road to Nationals is paved for the New Directions. She gives them a pair of platform high heels to send, which they do, and then they second guess themselves but it's too late to stop Wade before the show. So they watch from the sidelines as Unique takes the stage, platform high heels and all, to do an aptly titled "Boogie Shoes" that leaves Mercedes and Kurt watching open-mouthed. Jesse tries to stop the performance, but he, too, is left standing in shock when he sees the crowd eating it up. LIke we said last week, the show's best moments these days are from guest spots – and this is no different. The Wade storyline is a perfectly crafted vignette that captures the essence of what Glee is about. Plus, of the four Glee Project contestants to score a role on Glee, this will likely be the only one that anyone remembers.
"More Than a Woman"
Schue confronts Finn about tossing the brochures in a rare wise-teacher moment, and Finn confesses he wants time to stop so he can always feel the joy of being on the football field with the crowd going nuts or giving a stellar performance with the glee club. He questions Schue's confidence he can find something to replicate that feeling, so Schue makes him watch Saturday Night Fever. "It's not the broken dreams that break us, it's the ones we didn't dare to dream," he tells him.
Finn's response to Rachel and Schue is to sing "More Than a Woman", dancing with his fiancèe as the other New Directions couples sing and dance back-up. Though thematically in line, Rachel's "How Deep Is Your Love" didn't strike an emotional chord; Finn's song – eerie Barry Gibb impersonation and all – manages to convey his feelings for her better than all his talk. He also tells her he's figured out what he's going to do next year: move to New York. Actually. For serious. And he wants to go to the Actors' Studio (uh, apparently every Broadway-themed show on TV was contractually obligated to reference the Actors' Studio this week?). Much like their back-and-forth through song that resulted in their engagement, Rachel and Finn's back-and-forth about New York somehow manages to convince us that they really know what they're doing. Until they don't in about two episodes, but let's not think about that right now.
To celebrate everyone's happiness and newfound direction, it's time for a spirited group number and what better way than with something called "Stayin' Alive?" There's an expected three-way tie for this week's competition (everyone wins in glee club!), and Santana, Mercedes and Finn all show up in custom-made leisure suits and gold chains. Then it turns out that everyone has a leisure suit and wears them onstage while dancing their way through the aptly titled number. It's hard to say which episode's dance moves were more impressive: "Michael" or "Saturday Night Glee-ver," and once again, Finn's vocals help Glee faithfully tackle the Bee Gees.
Bottom Line: First of all, where the eff were Quinn and Artie? We catch a glimpse of the latter during the finale, but the former was nowhere to be found. Will next week's Whitney Houston tribute episode explain it all? We'll find out. While we commend "Saturday Night Glee-ver" for skillfully executing its plot-relevant tunes (and found ourselves dancing in our seats), we have to express concern for the fact that it was just so easy for everyone to figure out their futures in the course of a single episode. For something so near and dear to their viewers' hearts, Glee should have played it a little more realistically and not tied everything up with a bow.
Last Week: Somebody That I Used to Know