It’s only the season’s second episode of Glee, and here comes ... Britney Spears! She helps the kids of New Directions shake off their hangups and feel empowered -- even Shue becomes less uptight. Will it help them become cool and get everything they ever wanted?
Er, no. Well, maybe. But anyway, it makes for an entertaining episode.
Shue announces to the kids that he doesn’t want the music to “attack the audience”; rather, he’d like for them to do some adult contemporary music. Easy listenin’, like Christopher Cross. The kids counter by asking them to do Britney Spears. Brittany objects; since she’s named Brittany S. Pearce, she’s lived her life in the shadow of Britney Spears. Ah. Funny.
Perplexed by the kids’ attitude, Will asks for advice from Emma. But their conversation is stilted, and anyway it’s interrupted by her new boyfriend, Carl the Hot Dentist. Played by guess who! Go on, guess! (Ok fine, it's John Stamos.) In some kind of show of not-being-intimidated, Will invites Carl to give a tooth talk to the Glee Club kids.
Which leads to each of the kids visiting Carl’s office, getting gassed up on nitrous, and having Britney fantasies. Here, in quick succession, are:
Musical Number #1: Brittney, “I’m a Slave for You.” This. Is. Amazing. We’ve been hearing about how we’ll see more of the ridiculously underused Heather Morris this season, and here she is -- not just delivering ever more hilariously deadpan one-liners (“This room looks like the spaceship where I got probed.” “When I smile, I look like an adult baby, but with boobs.” “Finn can fly?” "It's like a Jewish cloud!"), but also showing off the skills she honed as a backup dancer for Beyonce. I have two things to say: DAYUMM! And also, to my 14-year-old stepson: TURN OFF THE TV!
Musical Number #2: Brittney and Santana together, “Me Against the Music,” with Heather Morris again tearing it up as Britney and Santana in Madonna’s white three-piece suit. Shot-for-shot like the original, and hot. It’s really nice to see the ladies on their own! And guess who shows up at the end? Go on, guess! (Okay, it's the real Britney, in the first of three cameos!)
Musical Number #3: Rachel’s turn, doing “Baby One More Time.” She’s a good match for the song, though I’m a bit concerned about the weight she lost over the summer. Ah, and at the end, she woozily wakes up and asks, “Is this real life?” Just like the kid on YouTube. How I love self-referential pop culture!
Musical Number #4 is Arnie’s Britney fantasy, “Stronger.” Here’s where it starts to break down for me. I know Arnie was in a boy band, and last season we saw that he can dance. This is his fantasy, so why’s he in a wheelchair? Eh, doesn’t matter; he also comes out of it feeling empowered and ready to try to join the football team again.
Interwoven with these musical numbers is the rest of the plot of this episode: Shue wants Emma back, and tells Carl so; Carl says Emma chose him -- and Shue is too uptight. Kurt concurs and gets sent to the office for it. Shue attempts to be more Carl-like by buying the same sporty Corvette in yellow, but is humiliated when his ex pops up out of nowhere, dripping in fur she bought with her alimony checks, and points out he can’t afford it.
Meanwhile, Rachel is just awful. She’s downright glad Finn’s off the team, because if he’s a loser, he won’t be tempted to stray from her. But Finn yearns to be back on board -- and thanks to Arnie’s Brit-fueled empowerment, both of them are put on the squad. Rachel tests him by asking Quinn to try to get him back -- for some reason, poor Quinn does this, and she looks doubly humiliated when he turns her down. Ack! All this so Rachel can realize she trusts in Finn’s love?
Finally, it’s the day of the homecoming pep rally, and New Directions performs “Toxic” by one Britney Spears. It is hot. Super hot. Shue performs with them, having realized this is his Corvette -- if he lets loose, maybe Emma will love him again. She’s duly impressed ... but Sue Sylvester ruins everything by hitting the fire alarm, screaming, “It’s a Britney Spears sex riot!” Instead of enjoying the students’ adulation, New Directions watches them run out the door.
“Injured” in the “riot,” Sue says she’ll sue Shue (say that five times fast, why don’t you?). Will turns to Emma and admits he was trying to impress her; she says she was impressed, but not enough to leave Carl. Her pep talk falls on deaf ears as he sadly trudges back to the Glee room.
Finally, Rachel asks permission to sing a special song. No more Britney, Shue requests. No, she wants to return to his original idea -- adult contemporary, soft rock. She sings Paramore’s “The Only Exception,” which, I’m sorry, is way better than Christopher Cross, but I guess that’s the point. Anyway, it’s a paean to giving yourself over to the leap of faith that is true love ... or is it an ode to the fleeting feelings of crazy romance that can’t last? Ah, Glee. You get me every time.
What did you think of this week’s Glee?
Image via Fox.com/Glee