Despite their win at last month’s regionals, the New Directions are feeling less confident than ever that their fellow McKinley High students will help them raise money to get to nationals in New York. Meanwhile, Artie, Tina, Mike and Brittany are doubtful they can raise money to attend a Smarty Pants competition in Detroit. Inspired by advice from Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow in what is allegedly her last appearance this season), Mr. Schuester plans “A Night of Neglect” in which the New Directions will sing songs by neglected artists to raise money for the Smarty Pants. In this very predictable episode, Sue tries to dismantle the glee club, Mercedes goes diva (but comes back) and no one actually sings a song by a neglected artist. Here’s what they did sing.
“All By Myself”
Filipina pop star Charice returns as Sunshine to help the New Directions out with her vocal talent and 600 Twitter followers, even though she’s a member of rivals Vocal Adrenaline. Much to Rachel and Mercedes’ chagrin, she demands to be the last performer of the night, pulling out all the stops with Celine Dion’s late Nineties hit as reflection of her power (“It’s lonely at the top. I’m so short!”). Her take is properly restrained until she hits the power notes, providing a viable threat to Rachel and Mercedes’ diva singing and rendering everyone else in the club a fan (was Puck crying?). Naturally, Sunshine and her Twitter followers make a last-minute decision not to show up when the big night arrives.
“I Follow Rivers”
Tina embraces Swedish indie pop star Lykke Li’s excellent second album (“She’s Bjork meets Florence and the Machine”) and covers her eerie, Sixties-sounding “I Follow Rivers” in a mostly spot-on rendition. Meanwhile, Sue’s latest attempt to rid McKinley of the glee club involves recruiting Vocal Adrenaline coach Dustin Groolsby (Cheyenne Jackson), Will Schuester ex-wife Terri Del Monico and former New Directions coach-turned-pot dealer Sandy Ryerson in a League of Doom. Sandy recruits a squad of hecklers to show up at the benefit, and they boo a crushed Tina off the stage.
Holly Holliday once again saves the day, convicing the hecklers their time is better spent elsewhere. Despite warning current flame Will Schuester she is “both awesome and unavailable at the same time,” Holly decides to break up with Will and take a job teaching French in Cleveland after seeing his tender reunion with a newly single Emma. Adele’s romantic lament serves as the break-up note — but while spunky, whimsical Holly handled Cee Lo and Joan Jett with ease, serious Holly’s vocals lacked the texture that made Adele’s version so heartbreaking. It’s our least favorite Holly tune, by far.
“Ain’t No Way”
After Rachel, of all people, convinces Mercedes to break free of her Lauren-inspired diva persona (demands include a fresh fluffy puppy to dry her hands with after washing them), Mercedes brings the house down with her take on the Queen of Soul, backed by a gospel choir. It’s the best number of the episode and a reminder of Mercedes’ powerhouse vocals. But, even though Rachel surrenders her performance to Mercedes, somehow the number turns into a Rachel Berry Reflection as she watches Finn and Quinn together.
Even the long-overdue return of Cheyenne Jackson as the sunglasses-and-Blue Tooth-sporting coach of Vocal Adrenaline (“I’m handsome, good looking and easy on the eyes!”) and Brittany’s stellar skills with naming feline diseases couldn’t compensate for the stale feeling we got from this episode. The topic of “neglected artists” left the door wide open to add to the show’s list of quirky covers (as long as we don’t get “Run, Joey, Run” part two), but just this once, Glee stayed on the safe side.
Last Episode: New Directions Head to Regionals in ‘Original Song’