Even for Glee, butt stuff is a strange theme. A lingering shot of Blaine bending over in his dark jeans is one thing. Then someone’s dad starts singing Jonathan Coulton’s arrangement of “Baby Got Back” while backing that thang up, and it’s the fifth least ridiculous element to the scene. Then a montage shows the Warbler boys taking steroid shots in the ass. There's a Uranus pun. And speaking of Jonathan Coulton, stealing his arrangement without credit is a pretty asshole move, assuming that’s what happened. Adam invites Kurt to watch them sing the song. “No strings,” he says. “No, seriously. We didn’t pay for this one.”
Setting that aside, “Sadie Hawkins” is difficult to take seriously, and not only because Finn’s bright idea is to take his LGBT-friendly club and make the girls ask the boys to a dance by way of singing songs to them. The ridiculousness just keeps mounting. Tina’s crushing on Blane now? And she sings a romantic dance invitation to him and expects him to be into it? And he can’t just politely agree to go to a dance with Tina as friends? And he isn’t annoyed that Sadie Hawkins dances are just a spin on the same traditional gender roles that don’t apply to his love life? He’s lovesick over Sam? Okay, that I get. Somebody’s been reading my fan-fiction, er, these reviews. So Blaine gets over it just because Tina tells him they’re going to the dance together as friends? Tina and Blaine solve their problems by doing nothing? Is this a trick? Is the point that Tina and Blaine didn’t actually solve their problems and wound up with even bigger unrequited crushes? Am I going to be typing in questions forever now?
Lauren Zizes is back. You remember, the independent girl who thinks she’s hot stuff and walks around McKinley like she owns it. The one who had Puck all moony for half a season. Yeah, well now she’s sad and pathetic because boys don’t ask her to dances or something. Sugar’s there at her side, and Artie opens the dance with a bitter speech about not being asked, but happy ending: Sugar and Artie wind up together. Deja vu! It’s almost like Sugar and Artie were a thing a few episodes ago. And Finn gets another scene in the faculty lounge, in which he pours himself a cup of coffee after spitting it out a few weeks ago, the one joke in history that made me like Finn. Glee’s smorgasbord continuity can have a powerful effect in certain circumstances, but this is just arbitrary plot filler. Nice of Glee to remember that team member who helped New Directions finally get to Nationals, though. Like offering a hand and then pulling it away with a slick “Too slow.” At least Zizes gets her mojo back at the end. Good thing Joe accepted her invitation to dance. How else could she improve her self-esteem?
On top of the arbitrarily bone-headed characterizations—as opposed to the purposely bone-headed characterizations like Sam, whose conspiracy theorizing delivers us from all this standalone headache—and the continuity snags, “Sadie Hawkins” is cheesy in the grossest ways. We’re talking the congealed ring of Velveeta around what remains of a bowl of queso at the end of the night. Kurt is attracted to the Adam’s Apples, NYADA show choir, even though Rachel warns him off and she’s the only person he knows at the school. Okay, so he’s probably mostly enticed by the titular Adam, who founded the club back in the early ‘90s and has been ruthlessly pillaging other artists’ work for decades but is also cute and has an English accent of some variety. But that rendition of “Baby Got Back” recalls Liz Lemon’s half-time dance at the WNBA game, and all the while Chris Colfer is giving the script his all, really selling how Adam’s ass is successfully seducing him. Taken as a crush, fine. Taken as an audition, Kurt once had a bunch of guys sing “Teenage Dream” just to get him to join, so what else you got?
The list goes on. Rachel goes all Megan Draper about Brody being late for dinner and not having a cell phone because this is television, and Brody defuses her by saying that she is priceless, sweeping her off her feet to the imagined music of Ryder singing “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and offering to buy a place nearby. Is it really this hard to get laid in New York? Rachel stays on-theme with the asshole response. “Why don’t you just move in?” she asks, already preparing an elaborate lie to tell Kurt. But then that’s Rachel, all boyfriend and no friend. And that’s nothing: Puck and Kitty start to like each other. If she gets pregnant, Glee can really start over again.
Actually that might not be so bad. Blaine crushing on Sam—shot in stolen impressions, happy memories, close-ups of lips—is a welcome re-do of Kurt crushing on Finn, an attempt to learn from that storyline’s mistakes. Nothing is stressing Blaine more than the need to avoid seeming predatory. He can’t even enjoy his crush without thinking about how it might look. And now he doesn’t even feel comfortable with his best friend, Tina’s assertions about her own friendship with Blaine notwithstanding. Speaking of which, Tina crushing on Blaine is exactly like Rachel crushing on Blaine, except it’s running longer than an episode. After spending an episode last year telling Tina she’d be the star this year, Glee sidelines her until it needs someone to humiliate. And then it tells us “Sadie Hawkins is about empowerment.” It’s time for Tina to move to New York, take over that half, and lay down the law with Rachel and What’s His Chest.
Fortunately, “Sadie Hawkins” has some style—the out-of-time sequence of Kurt’s invitation to check out the Adam’s Apples, the step-by-step transition from fantasy musical number to classroom reality, the surprisingly evocative conspiracy sequences like the anticipatory serial-killer shots of Blaine at the dance before Sam rushes in—and it’s dependably funny throughout. Brody’s auditioning for Magic Mike: The Musical, Zizes runs the Too Young To Be Bitter Club, Kurt says Brody and Rachel are “as inseparable as the twins in Side Show.” Blaine’s not-getting-it shrugs and supportive smiles during Tina’s song had me busting up. Brittany describes the sounds of Marley’s crush on Jake as “whimpering like a suckling puppy.” Kurt says Adam is 22. Plenty of jokes to surf over this standalone.
Unfortunately the conspiracy plot ties into the serial arc. Sam spends a lot of time studying guys’ faces is what I would note if I were Blaine. The salient point, though, is that Sam discovers that Warblers have been doping. Even Four Loko is against the byzantine rules of competitive show choir. And Sam dug up someone who will testify. Somehow they think disqualifying Dalton will un-disqualify them? And what of the Mennonite mash-up singers? Can I watch their show instead?
- Kurt thinks college is just like high school. So get ready for NYADA regionals!
- Coach Beiste got the strength and courage to join football because of a Sadie Hawkins dance. So many teachable moments with these people. It's exhausting. But as always, Beiste is a good advice dispensary. “Life’s not about waiting to get asked.”
- Tina got the theme of “snowflake” because Sadie Hawkins dances used to be called snowballs and not because it’s January in Ohio.
- In season nine, Brittany is going to be the only character who knows this is a television show. “The music usually starts when I say something like “It’s Britney, bitch” or I do one of my magical turns.”
- I sincerely thought Rachel was going to get run over as she started crossing the street, stopped, and turned back twice in a row. Missed opportunities!