I take my recapping duties seriously, but really, do you expect me to remember anything that had happened in “Saturday Night GLEEver” once I saw Santana strutting down the hall in her white suit singing “Stayin’ Alive”? Good luck with that.
My brain might have short-circuited, but according to my notes and the record of my reactions I left strewn over Twitter, something good finally came out of The Glee Project – and it’s not just the fact that it’s finally possible to use the phrase “More Unique” and have it be grammatically correct. With the debut of Wade/Unique (Alex Newell) singing “Boogie Shoes” in a pair of size 13 glitter platform sandals, we got pretty much the only performance of the night that felt infused with true disco energy.
“What will you be when you grow up?” and “Follow your dreams” were the night’s hybrid themes, all set to the soundtrack of 70s disco-blockbuster Saturday Night Fever. I’d listened to the songs before I saw the episode, and other than Mercedes on “Disco Inferno,” couldn’t tell who was singing what. That’s because everyone was pretty much singing in a falsetto register, with lead and backing vocals blending into a nearly-indistinguishable mix – which may have made it a little harder to appreciate the individual performances, but was certainly true to the Bee Gees‘ musical legacy. Although I was left wondering why Kurt didn’t get to solo, given his vocal range. One of those mysteries of Glee.
The episode opens, as so often happened to me when I was in high school, with a disco ball appearing on the classroom ceiling. Blaine, a boy who was born to boogie if ever there was one, jumps up and starts singing “You Should Be Dancing” with Mike and Brittany.
I love watching these three dance. Blaine isn’t in their league exactly, but he can hold his own just fine, and more than makes up for any slight deficiency of moves with his singing. All three of them strut and boogie out of the classroom, down the hall, and into the auditorium, where their choir-mates and Will are in the audience.
Near the end of the song, Brittany tosses her pony tail and gives the sweetest smile to the camera (in my mind, it was toward Santana in the audience), and you just know this girl loves the nightlife as much as Blaine does.
Which makes Blaine, Brittany and Mike a minority of three, because the rest of the Glee kids yell out, “Disco sucks!” when Will suggests they might want to do disco numbers for Nationals this year, where the theme will be “vintage.” (Flashback to Will’s high school Nationals win, a full-on disco routine. And, let me note, one of the few times the Glee writers maintained continuity with something established in a past episode.)
All of which sends Will to his new BFF Sue‘s office to fret and worry over the lack of ambition demonstrated by Mercedes, Santana, and Finn. Because we had to get that theme anviled in there somehow; otherwise, the episode is nothing but music, pretty people dancing, and Finchel kissing. (Bitter? Moi?)
Sue’s prescription for fixing what ails the “No Directions” Glee Club kids is swag and Saturday Night Fever. Will signs up for the cure.
Out in the hallway, Kurt and Mercedes are chatting in front of their lockers, making me all nostalgic for the days when their friendship was actually, you know, something that we saw and heard from time to time. Kurt’s thrilled Mercedes got into two local colleges, he says, “but what about NYU?”
And that’s when, despite abandoning last week’s “no spoilers” rule, I was surprised to see a new student appear. How did I not know this was happening? I checked the Glee, Brittana, and Klaine tags on Tumblr multiple times a day. You let me down, Tumblrers. You let me down.
He tells Kurt and Mercedes he’s their biggest fan. “I’ve been to every last one of your performances,” he tells them. “Except West Side Story. I boycotted that one because you two weren’t Tony and Maria.”
Kurt’s all glow-y at the praise, and asks him his name. He says he’s Wade Adams and admits he’s in Vocal Adrenaline, but insists he’s not a spy. He just wants their advice about something.
Turns out Jesse St. Douchebag is the new coach of Vocal Adrenaline, and he definitely didn’t learn anything about nurturing his students in his brief time at McKinley. “The star of Vocal Adrenaline is Vocal Adrenaline,” he shouts at Wade in a flashback. “No one is special. You’re the Borg. Don’t like it? There’s the fricking door.”
Speaking of continuity, I’ll just point out that last season, Jesse said the secret to winning was to pick one performer and build the whole performance around them – which is how we saw Jesse used when they were competing in his senior year, even though it doesn’t really match what we saw Vocal Adrenaline do before Jesse was introduced as a character, so really, I guess, there are multiple show choir universes and who knows which one we’re in now?
Anyway, Mercedes is sympathetic. “God, he’s awful,” she says when Wade finishes his story. But he’s nothing, Wade says, compared to the kids at the school, or his parents. Kurt looks at him in concern, and Wade tells them he copes by imagining he’s someone else: “The real me.” He says his alter ego is named “Unique,” and when he was afraid to come to McKinley and talk to Kurt and Mercedes, he just imagined what Unique would do.
Which is to strut down the hall in a full-length fur coat (I’m going to hope it was fake) and shades. And we see the scene start over, with Kurt making his comment about NYU, and then breaking off. “Hold that thought,” he says to Mercedes. “Someone with exquisite taste is wearing…”
“Joy by Jean Patou,” says Unique, snapping off her shades. “Kurt Hummel, Mercedes Jones, Unique worships the red carpet you walk on. If you two had a love child, it would be Unique.” I was totally smitten.
Kurt seems a tiny bit out of his element, but says, encouragingly, that Unique sounds great and he hopes Wade can build up enough courage one day to be him.
“Actually,” Wade says, “Unique is a her.” And Kurt looks very surprised, because this child really needs to get out of Ohio.
Wade tells them he wants to go on stage at Regionals as Unique, because “that’s who I feel like I am inside.”
Kurt nods, and says, “Unique.”
Wade asks the two of them what they’d do in his shoes, but we don’t see what answer they give.