‘Glee’ recap: 4×13 ‘Diva’

8:15 pm EST, February 8, 2013

This week on Glee, everyone’s a diva. Finn and Emma lead New Directions through “diva week,” with the goal of instilling a fierce, competitive spirit in the club.

Tina uses the challenge to go after the impossible, and she’s not taking no for an answer, and Santana returns to McKinley to teach the newbies what true star power looks like. Meanwhile, in New York, Rachel’s rising star has been feeding her ego in a bad way, and Kurt takes her down a peg. You can read our full recap below.

We drop straight in, this week, to Kurt’s inner monologue as he explains to us Rachel’s growing primadonna behaviour as she begins to make a name for herself at NYADA. We see her selfish behaviour in their home, her limelight-hogging in classes, and perhaps most distressingly, the way she is ignoring Kurt on campus and surrounding herself with sycophantic fair-weather friends who follow her around, feeding her ego. Kurt, looking on critically, decides that Miss Rachel Berry needs to be brought back down to earth, quick-sharpish – and that he’s the man for the job.

In the teacher’s lounge at McKinley, it appears that Emma has come to regard Finn as a friend and equal as she vocalises anxiety about making all the choices by herself in regards to her upcoming wedding with Will. We learn that Will is returning from Washington at the end of the week, and as Finn makes a coffee and sits with Emma, he enquires whether the couple will be going on honeymoon – he’s wondering how much longer he will have the glee club for. Emma says that she’s sure Will won’t just turn Finn out, especially as he successfully coached an inexperienced team through to Regionals. This leads Finn to express his concerns about Regionals and his club’s lack of serious competitive drive – the lack of powerhouse voices like Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt and Santana, and more importantly the lack of attitude. Emma suggests spurring the New Directions on by pitting them against each other, reminding Finn that Will had previously made members of the club compete. Finn is delighted by the idea, and invites Emma to be the guest judge of the week’s activities.

Finn brings Emma to glee rehearsal where the pair introduce “diva” as the week’s lesson theme. “The Online Urban Dictionary defines a diva as a fierce, often temperamental singer who comes correct. She is not a trick-ass ho and she does not sweat the haters,” Emma reads from cue cards, going on to explain how she herself has channelled her inner diva as a demanding restaurant customer. Members of the glee club start to bicker behind the teachers’ backs, sassing each other about who is going to win the top spot. Unique, of course, starts marking her territory as New Directions’ prime diva, and Tina challenges this, saying something fantastically transphobic along the way. Marley puts Tina in her place, Blaine tries to interrupt the girls to state that guys can be divas as well, and Brittany claims that they’re all delusional, as she’s going to be winning. Do you know how she knows that? It’s because she’s a-a diva, she’s a, she’s a-a diva.

The girls of New Directions – Brittany, Tina, Marley, Kitty and Unique, as well as Blaine, face off with one another in a fantasy version of Beyonce’s “Diva,” all glammed-up catwalks and extreme rock star formal-wear. The outfits are awesome – especially Blaine’s giant red boa, vinyl corseted jacket and curls, and Marley’s one-sleeved pants-less purple unitard – and the group of wannabe divas return to their seats from their surreal performance just in time for Emma to finish her story: “and that is how I made the manager cry at the Cheesecake Factory – by being a diva.”

It seems that Rachel’s vocal warm-ups have woken Kurt an hour before his alarm, but as soon as she sees him awake she asks him to make her some special tea. He snarks at her, and Rachel demands an explanation for his “very rude no.” Kurt lays some truth on her – that since winning the Winter Showcase, she’s becoming hard to deal with. Rachel immediately accuses Kurt of jealousy at her success, despite the fact that they were becoming inseparable. Kurt rolls his eyes and tells her that they became close because Rachel had become tolerable, but now, with her “weird, naked boyfriend” and all her weird hangers-on, that she has become like “an annoying, self-righteous Lima Rachel on steroids.” He’s not wrong.

Rachel ignores his insult and bitches back at him, telling him that the only reason Carmen had let Kurt audition at the Winter Showcase was because he was Rachel’s friend (probably not true, hey) and Kurt scoffs derisively, saying that even though she won the Showcase, that his performance was the one everyone was talking about – that he’d blown her performance out of the water. Rachel goes stone-faced at this, and Kurt continues, saying that he could out-perform her again, and challenges her to something called “Midnight Madness.” Rachel, full of condescension, tells Kurt that he shouldn’t bother, and Kurt, matching her fake sweetness note-for-note, asks why. Rachel reminds him that she already beat him once, in a diva-off. Season 1, “Defying Gravity,” remember? Kurt smiles all through her spiel, and then drops some knowledge that apparently he’s never revealed to Rachel before – that he’d purposely thrown that competition. Rachel is nearly speechless, not believing him, but when he elaborates on why he’d done it, she realises that he is telling the truth and is completely horrified, wailing that it was her first big win, something she’d based her confidence on. Kurt’s unsympathetic, sighing with pretend pity and telling her to get ready for “Diva-Off: Part Two.”

Back at McKinley, Blaine’s coming down with a bit of a cold, and Tina has noticed, because Tina is a stalker. Tina quickly provides him with a care package, obviously doing anything she can at the moment to get noticed and needed by the object of her affections. Blaine accepts the offering, but says he probably won’t use the night-time cold medication, as it affects him quite badly in the drowsiness department and he can’t afford that right now, due to needing to focus on diva week. Interestingly, his drive does not seem to be based in his own competitiveness, but more in standing up for open-mindedness and the idea that men can be divas too.

He decides to show the rest of the guys how to bring some diva attitude by channelling the late, great Freddie Mercury, and we cut to the choir room, where he begins his performance of “Don’t Stop Me Now” in full Freddie get-up, including the hat (but thankfully sans the mustache). It is about time the show made more use of Darren Criss’ skills as a musician – remember how Cory Monteith used to drum all the time, and Mark Salling played guitar? – and he opens the song playing piano himself, kicking the piano stool out to stand and rock out when the song hits its full speed. It is an absolutely awesome performance – Blaine Anderson was made to sing this song, and the way that the club joins in on the backing vocals feels like a natural singalong, and it is just damn cool. Everyone – teachers, students, Blaine, and most importantly, me – is delighted with this rendition of a legendary song.

The next day, Finn and Emma discuss the concept of the intangible, immortal quality of a diva – the way they walk, talk and breathe brilliance – and they introduce a special guest diva to demonstrate this: Santana Lopez. She flounces into the choir room with a few of her Louisville Cardinals cheer squad team mates and blows the room away with a fantastic performance of “Nutbush City Limits.” Rather confusingly, the impressive choreography does not include even one repetition of the Nutbush’s traditional, well-known dance routine, so it’s kind of like singing the Macarena without doing the Macarena… but it still sounds and looks amazing, though Glee has clearly been missing its old, frequent opportunities to include many specaiily framed shots of shaking cheerleader butts. The show makes up for it here, don’t you worry.

Brittany looks confused and a bit distressed from the moment Santana walks in, but she gets up to high-five her ex-girlfriend at the end of the song. She compliments the performance but asks why Santana hadn’t told Brittany she was coming to town, and Santana poses what she deems to be the more important question – why hasn’t Brittany told her that she is dating Sam? Brittany continues to look uncomfortable as Santana explains the way she’d found out – we see a flashback of Tina rather bitchily calling her to tell her – and Santana then defiantly introduces one of her fellow college cheerleaders, Elaine, as her “out-and-proud, lipstick-loving, AfterEllen-reading” girlfriend. Glee, I’m not 100% sure that name-dropping AfterEllen is going to make it up to the “lesbian blogger community” you managed to insult in this whole Bram debacle, but gold star, you tried.

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