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!
The RBI Report by Dr She Bloggo
Glee is still a show! I'm still writing about Glee! I forget sometimes. Unfortunately, "Sadie Hawkins" probably won't do much to change that. Certain parts made me smile, but very little of the episode had me sitting up to take notice.
So, "Sadie Hawkins" was supposed to be about female empowerment... but this is Glee. "The Power of Madonna" and "I Kissed a Girl" were supposed to be about female empowerment too, and we all know how those turned out. "Sadie Hawkins" wasn't nearly as persistently misguided as those two episodes, though, and frankly it was too scattered to abuse the theme too terribly. I mean, yeah, every girl's storyline linked back to a boy somehow, but that doesn't mean they can't be empowered. You can still be an empowered woman with a dude in your life! Don't get me wrong. I'm just tired of Glee's girl storylines being primarily about boy troubles, and Glee's boy storylines being primarily about what it means to be the good guy. (Both were present tonight, unfortunately.)
Let's just go through the list.
Really Awkward Unrequited Triangle
I guess Glee got bored of creating relationship drama through love triangles. Or at least, they have now decided to shake up the usual three-person romance conflict by inverting it and developing a three-legged awkward triangle built on two unrequited (and impossible?) crushes. I'm not really sure what they're doing with this storyline, because it seems so strange that Glee spend time on crushes that (probably?) aren't going to result in kissing or dating or someone else getting jealous. Really, are we just building friendships here? Are we just exploring the teenage angst of falling for someone who unfortunately is not attracted to your gender?
Regardless, most of the Tina-Blaine interaction was solid, simply in that they were nice to each other and supportive. I'll watch friends be friend-like on TV; sure! The thing that I keep getting stuck on, though, is that the writers chose Tina to have a crush on Blaine in the first place. It crops up all of a sudden, and before we know it Tina's singing her Sadie Hawkins invite and we're flashing back to memories of Blaine's ass and a happy jaunt with tater tots? The episode also kind of glosses over the idea that it's entirely possible to invite someone to a dance just as friends. In fact, they never are really clear about what Tina's expectations are with Blaine, and we don't know if we should feel sorry for the poor girl who's knowingly getting her hopes up for a gay dude, or if she's really serious about it at all?
On the other leg of this non-triangle, we did at least get those answers from Blaine. He apparently has crush-like feelings for Sam, but doesn't want to be the "predatory gay," or ruin a friendship. In other words, Blaine has zero expectations, and will continue to pine like a puppy dog. Questions answered! And it was sweet to see Tina commiserate with Blaine and form a nice little bond over his "human and moving dilemma." But I do wish we could have gotten a little more explanation from Tina's POV. Or maybe a reminder that it's possible to fall in love with people beyond the bounds of gender and sexuality - or is that too deep for Glee? Never mind. Don't answer that.
Sidenote: I will ignore Blaine thinking that Tina's empowerment is somehow a new thing for her, since he missed her only storylines back in S1. I will also ignore the reply that she loves his everything because, ooh, gurl, I got secondhand embarrassment.
Jake and Marley
So I guess Jake stopped calling Marley after she fainted during Sectionals, which seems kind of like a dick move if they're related incidents, but whatever. With some random but cute encouragement from Brittany, Marley stepped up and asked Jake to the dance! Not only that, but she was straightforward with him about her expectations for the relationship! I dug it. Although I don't quite know why the conversation was scripted against a backdrop of really enthusiastic dancing, and began with the poetic exchange "You're awesome/No you're awesome."
The conflict for Jake was a bit lame, though. Naturally, Kitty offers her body up to Jake after learning that he accepted Marley's invitation to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Even though she and Marley are supposedly friends now, and the fact that Kitty doesn't even really like Jake? Oh. I kind of miss the days when they bitched at each other and sang duets. Regardless, Jake has to choose between his penis and his heart, as all boys under the Glee treatment come to at some point, and Puck comes along and helps him choose his heart. Which leads to...
Kitty and Puck
If Puck still had his old haircut, I'd say the ship name could be Kitty 'Hawk. But alas. Actually, the thing stopping me from assigning a ship name is the fact that Kitty is meant to be, what, in the 10th grade? The fact that the show literally addressed the underage thing and handwaved it away with a fake ID is super gross to me, even though Kitty and Puck have an amusingly hateful back-and-forth. But this is Glee, a world where Puck macks on Rachel Berry, Rachel Berry's mother, and the not-so-virginal head cheerleaders of 2009 and 2012. A world where all the Cheerios are regarded as bitchy, back-stabbing, power-hungry sex machines. A world where Puck can't spell, but still graduate high school and emerge a screenwriter talent.
I just... I can't.
Culminating the "female empowerment" angle of a Sadie Hawkins Dance, Coach Beiste encouraged the "Too Young to be Bitter" Club to go out on the dance floor and go for the guys they wanted. First: points taken away for putting Lauren Zizes in that club, Glee. Homegirl had Noah Puckerman wrapped around her little finger. She does okay for herself. Second: more points taken away for the "Too Young to be Bitter" Club comprising females only. What, only ladies are lame dateless sad sacks? Party foul. Third: even more points taken away for cross-cutting to Kurt having the "female empowerment" to ask Adam out on a date. Look, it didn't have to be a thematic parallel for Kurt to pluck up the guts to ask someone out. It takes chutzpah to ask anyone out, no matter the gender or sexuality. But by putting Kurt right next to the ladies of the club going up to their dudes of choice... it shuffles Kurt into the group of ladies through narrative and thematic association. Sigh! Friendly reminder that even though Kurt is gay, he is still a man.
("Sadie Hawkins" gets a few points back for the fact that Sugar went up to the boy in a wheelchair and asked him to dance, without any reservations. And then they did. Cuties.)
Meanwhile, in New York...
The New York storylines kind of hinted at the idea that even best friends can drift apart when their lives start to change, and I quite liked that a lot. But unfortunately, it wasn't really about that. Rachel's "All Brody, All the Time" lifestyle was really in place to facilitate Kurt looking into extracurriculars, and leading him to new love interest Adam. We also got a pit stop in Rachel not wanting Kurt to join NYADA's glee club because it's social suicide, and the confirmation that the real Rachel is tied up in a closet somewhere. Seriously, I don't know how the writers are flying the idea that this is the same girl who once screamed "There is nothing ironic about glee club!" Girl takes glee club seriously, no matter the institution or social order. This was practically the original bastion of Rachel Berry's character - may she rest in peace. (The question becomes: when did Pod Rachel abscond with Old Rachel? Did Finn put the wrong Rachel on the train? Was the prom queen crown bewitched to effect a body swap? Or maybe Finn's engagement ring caused Rachel to disappear when she put it on, not unlike the Ring of Sauron? All possibilities.)
As for Kurt, I wasn't too enthralled by any of his scenes with Adam at first, because they were a bit basic in Adam's blatant flattery of Kurt. Until! Oh, until. The dynamic became suddenly fascinating as soon as Adam purposefully (and charmingly, that bastard) reiterated his compliment to Kurt, so that Kurt would accept it without discounting his abilities in favor of Blaine's. What a delightful angle to play, especially in an episode that also features the non-sarcastic question posed to Blaine: "Is there anything you can't do?" I mean, if I really devote brainspace to it, I'm sure I could argue that Blaine complimented Kurt all the time (I can't really remember), that Kurt probably complimented himself all the time (I can't really remember), and that it's kind of weird how a 22-year-old guy is super enthusiastic about pursuing an 18-year-old NYADA newbie. But whatever. It was an interesting construct to bolster the new dynamic. Color me intrigued.
I confess, I'm less intrigued by the strange Brody/Rachel scene tacked onto the end of the episode. More than anything, I spent most of the screentime trying to catch up to the scenario. Suddenly they have a mini-plot in this episode? Something about Rachel making turkey burgers (I hope she caressed the meat with butter in a sensual way) and Brody being late and Rachel being mad and throwing dinner away? What? Did we just fall through a wormhole into a bad 50s sitcom? And then suddenly Brody was making sweeping confessions about lifetimes and snow and they danced to no music and now they're moving in? Could we not have stretched this out in an episode that had room for these two and their rapidly advancing love story? And could we also not have staged half of Rachel's NYC dialogue in the middle of a crosswalk? Because I was legitimately concerned a yellow cab would just come out of nowhere and hit her. (I don't know why, though. It's Rachel, not Quinn.)
Oh yeah, and apparently the Warblers cheated
So that's a plot device to get the glee club back in competition. I guess it was supposed to be funny, the idea that performance enhancing drugs would help with an actual song-and-dance performance? Sure. And I'll pretend I know who Trenton Warbler is.
In all, "Sadie Hawkins" was all over the place, mostly forgettable and contrived, even despite a few nice moments here and there. Final shout-out to the weird editing and cutaways in the episode! Glad to see you're having fun, Mr. Buecker.
The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: B
Dance Numbers: B
Episode MVP: Sugar
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