This week’s Glee, which aired on Thanksgiving, is not the show’s actual Thanksgiving episode. No, that’s next week, because it’s Glee. If you are concerned about erratic air dates, this is not the show for you. In this episode, “Dynamic Duets,” it’s Finn’s first day on the job as a superhero craze sweeps McKinley, the Jake/Marley/Ryder love triangle gets more annoyingly triangular, and Blaine receives a tempting offer wrapped in navy and red. Read our full recap below:
The Secret Society of Superheroes convenes in an abandoned classroom. Their leader: Blaine Anderson. His super-power: hiding control-freak tendencies within a tensely pleasant exterior. Actually, Nightbird, the Nocturnal Avenger, would have had me excommunicated for revealing his civilian identity just then. As the club inducts new members – Brittany “Human Brain” Pierce, Becky “Queen Bee” Jackson, and Artie “I really hope you’re not trying to pass yourself off as a certain telepathic leader of a certain group of superhuman mutants because that would be a copyright violation.” “Er, I’m… Doctor Y?” Abrams – they’re interrupted by Histrionic Freshman Dottie “Chai Tea” Kazatori, who sounds the alarm. After some dramatic shots of our heroes running down hallways and twirling capes, they discover that New Directions’ Nationals trophy has been stolen. On the laptop left in its place, a video of a mysterious figure with face blurred and voice distorted plays. He’s wearing a very familiar blazer – a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers. Nightbird narrows his eyes.
The new kids are too cool to play at superheroes – well, Jake’s too cool, Marley thinks she’s too fat. Since neither of them have to stop the Joker from poisoning Lima’s water supply this Friday, he tries to ask her out. She squirms awkwardly as Ryder struts up to announce that Marley has plans – he’s asked her to come to an away game with him. Jake and Ryder hurl insults at each other, and when Ryder challenges Jake’s badassery, things get physical. Marley stands there ineffectually chirping “Oh guys. Stop!” as they start hitting each other right in her face. Finn catches them and pulls them apart, exuding authority in his new sweater-vest.
Finn’s teacherly confidence fades fast when he tries to start his first glee rehearsal. The kids – especially the ones who started glee with him – don’t respect him as their teacher, he can’t operate the whiteboard, and his Sectionals idea sucks. Nightbird, Nocturnal Perfectionist, cannot handle Finn’s lack of professionalism and he swoops out, off to go rescue their trophy from Dalton. “The one you haven’t even noticed is missing?” he snarks at Finn, mouth all soft and sneery the way it always does when Blaine is at his most condescending and bitchy. “Oh, crap,” Finn exclaims, registering the space where their trophy used to be.
Finn asks his old friend Coach Beiste for some teaching advice. She’s dressed in superhero garb, too – “I’m the Beiste-Master. I’m from the planet Testoestrogen.” Why? “Blaine said I couldn’t be faculty advisor unless I dressed up once a week.” I cannot even, with that statement, I’m dead from the adorableness of Blaine being so persistently anal-retentive and Beiste wanting to be their advisor enough to go along with him. Finn finds McKinley’s new cosplay craze bizarre, and Beiste explains the appeal – that it gives people the same freedom and escape as being on stage.
They address Finn’s problem – that the glee club doesn’t see him as an adult. “Ugh, God, is that what coffee tastes like? How do people drink people drink that?” he splutters, dribbling into his cup in the teacher’s lounge. Coach Beiste suggests that he get in on the costume craze, and use a superhero identity to inspire the group.
Blaine – for the first time in so very long – walks down the mirrored spiral staircase at Dalton. A hundred thousand Warbler fangirls immediately burst into tears. Lingering at the foot of the stairs is everyone’s favorite smarmy meerkat-faced teen gay, Sebastian Smythe. “Of course it was you,” Blaine sighs. “No, it wasn’t,” Sebastian smiles like a ray of sunshine, and reminds Blaine that he’s changed for the better. “That must be boring for you,” Blaine says dryly. “Yeah, it is. Being nice sucks.” I think I might actually finally ship these two, because this was hysterical. They stride through the beautiful halls together as Sebastian sedately tells Blaine that the person he’s there to see – the captain of the Warblers – awaits him. “I thought you were the captain of the Warblers?” asks Blaine, confused. “I thought the Warblers had an elected council, a group of three upperclassmen voted to lead the group?” asks everyone who saw season 2, confused.
Hunter Clarington is the new head Warbler, and he was such a brilliant glee captain at his old military academy that Dalton poached him from them on a full scholarship. He’s “not even remotely bi-curious” and is identifiable as a bad guy because he has a Bond villain cat. The trophy-theft, it seems, was a ruse to get Blaine back on Dalton grounds. Hunter’s heard about the legend that was Blaine Anderson, and since he is determined to lead the Warblers to victory, he attempts to lure Blaine back to his old school. “Why would I ever leave McKinley?” Blaine asks. “Why would you stay?” Hunter replies, which is a valid point, and he goes on to make some more extremely valid points about Blaine’s transfer. “In fact, I hear they even call you ‘Blaine Warbler.’ They know you don’t belong there, so why don’t you?” This is so over-dramatically done, a classic cheesy face-off, but oh, my feels, because it’s true, it’s so very true.
The other Warblers file in as Sebastian claims that they know the real Blaine, that he’s ambitious, driven – a Dalton boy. They present him with a new blazer. “That’s not going to work on me,” he tells them, and Hunter says, if that’s the case, he shouldn’t be afraid to try it on. Blaine does, the fireplace explodes in flames, the cat screeches, and yet another hundred thousand fangirls burst into tears seeing Blaine clad in uniform again, that face above the sharp line of the shoulders of the jacket.
Hunter takes him on a little walk-and-talk, and taps into some of Blaine’s current insecurities about New Directions – that their last Nationals win was a fluke, and that the Warblers will beat them at Sectionals. Hunter doesn’t want to see a Dalton legend like Blaine sidelined in his senior year. The Warbers want him back with them, back on the winning side. Blaine remains impassive, but Sebastian was right – he is driven, in such a structured way, and that’s exactly why he’s so frustrated with Finn. As Blaine mulls this over, Sebastian quips – and I swear this is word for word – “Hey, you know what goes great with a new Dalton blazer? An impromptu song.”
Blaine tries to brush them off, but as they start up their a capella harmonies, he gets caught up and starts to sing. The song is Kelly Clarkson’s “Dark Side,” and as he crosses his arms, looking at his old friends with a nervous smile, you can tell that he’s forgotten what it feels like to be so accepted and encouraged. At McKinley, he’s idolised and used, in the harshest sense of the word, for his talent, yet ridiculed or dismissed for his personality – they treat him as something both more and less than human. Hunter’s motives may be ambitious, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is one of them. The lyrics of the song are very telling, and when he finally gets excited and buttons the blazer hurriedly, I cry. When he jumps on a table, I cry. I pause the TV and I cry and cry.
I miss this so much – not just Warblers numbers, but Blaine’s personality – all his confidence, traditionalism, and silliness. Everything about him that works for Dalton makes life difficult for him at McKinley, and the result is an uptight, depressed young man who fakes polite until his fuse blows. His transfer to McKinley never made sense, for the character. I still do not believe, to this day, that this was a smart move, either plot-wise or business-wise. Glee‘s ratings have never been on such a consistent high as they were during mid season 2.
I am not saying the show should focus on Dalton as an A-plot, because Glee tends to ruin things by over-kill, but I think that the Warblers, including Blaine and his story, would have been more powerful as a treat to pull out every few episodes. The transfer was stupid. Blaine being at McKinley is stupid. And this performance reminded me, once again, of all of that. Blaine looks and feels right here, down to the way he holds himself. This is who this character is, and who he should have always stayed. They finish the number and Blaine hands back the blazer, but Hunter instructs him to keep it, and think about it.