A weekly assessment of “Glee,” based on its musical numbers.
Sam Evans — otherwise known as Chord Overstreet, the actor who exited “Glee” as a regular after the end of last season — made his anticipated return to McKinley High in this week’s episode, entitled “Hold on to Sixteen.”
Or, to put it in the blunt terms that only Santana Rivera can, Trouty Mouth is back in town.
And Trouty Mouth’s reappearance on “Glee” raised a lot of questions. Among them: why was Finn so adamant that, with Rachel suspended, the New Directions needed “star power” and that said star power could only be provided by Sam? Doesn’t Blaine have star power? And what about his recent recruit Rory (Damian McGinty) — is he suddenly a pot of bland, boiled Irish potatoes?
And since I am raising questions about Sam, here are some more: if he’s so poor that he must work as a teen stripper in a Kentucky bar to scrape together cash, why do his parents live in such a nice house? And since when is his father Bo Duke? And how was Sam able to so easily transfer back to McKinley? And why was he allowed to just hop into extracurriculars in, like, a day after being out of the Ohio school system for much of the semester? Obviously the answer to all of these questions is: because Chord Overstreet had to come back!
But the lack of basic logic here — not to mention some clumsiness in a couple of the climactic sectionals performance — made this a less strong ”Glee” episode than we’ve seen in recent weeks. Fortunately, all will likely be forgiven next week, when the Fox sing-a-thon makes the wisest move of all time by including a cameo appearance by Chewbacca in its Christmas episode.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, we’ve got to assess this week’s musical numbers.
Sam and New Directions: “Red Solo Cup”
I’m not a huge fan of Toby Keith, but watching Sam strum his gee-tar while his fellow Gleeks sang the praises of plastic drink receptacles was a fun change of pace. I also especially appreciated Kurt’s constant confusion during this number; the look of perpetual befuddlement on his face mirrored the one on mine as I tried to figure out how, exactly, Sam switched schools and states so darn fast. Did I mention that bugged me? Grade: B+
The Unitards: “Buenos Aires”
Remember Harmony (Lindsay Pearce from the “Glee Project”), who intimidated the showtunes out of Kurt and Rachel earlier this season? Well, she returned for sectionals to once again knock off their NYADA-aspiring socks with this song from “Evita.” Harmony was fine, the number was fine and the grade is: B.
The Troubletones: “I Will Survive”/“Survivor”
Wearing dresses seemingly made out of Jiffy Pop foil, the all-girl group went the empowerment route by smushing together these strong-women anthems from Gloria Gaynor and Destiny’s Child. As always the vocals by Mercedes and Santana were strong. But somehow, these two songs didn’t slide together as seamlessly as, say, the two Adele tracks in that mash-up just a few weeks ago. Grade: B+
Tina and the New Directions: “ABC”
I’m breaking up the New Directions’ sectionals performance into three parts since that’s what the show did. It began with a spirited cover of this Jackson 5 classic, anchored by Tina. Which, frankly, was strange after Finn made such a fuss about Sam’s star power. Still, a solid performance. Grade: B+.
The New Directions: “Control”
The boys — including Blaine and Sam — finally took center stage for this song, the least effective of the three Jackson numbers (this one, of course, by Janet.) The choreography seemed a little awkward and occasionally out of synch. For me, this felt dated when it could have been retro-fresh. Grade: C.
The New Directions: “Man in the Mirror”
Okay, you had to know that — spoiler alert — the New Directions would triumph at sectionals after being given 10 minutes to perform. Seriously, their routine lasted longer than most Super Bowl halftime shows. Anyway, their hand-clapping take on this Michael Jackson ballad was the best of their three songs. It was undermined slightly by the totally unrealistic response it generated from Mike Chang’s dad, a man who wasn’t speaking to his kid when this episode started but, after watching him sing about “making that change,” told his son to “apply to dance schools, all the best ones.” If only minds could be transformed that quickly in real life. Grade: A-
The reformed New Directions: “We Are Young”
Quinn not only decided to stop acting like a deranged, immoral blond psycho at Rachel’s urging, she also took it upon herself to coax the Troubletones back into the New Directions fold. The reunited show choir celebrated their regained supergroup status by crooning this forthcoming number from the indie pop band fun. It was the most effortlessly joyful moment of the night. Grade: A.
Now it’s your turn to rank this week’s “Glee” numbers, from best to worst: