‘A Katy or A Gaga’
The episode opens in Lima, and six weeks from Nationals the New Directions still evidently have nothing close to anything prepared but that isn’t cause for concern (if you remember with the Nationals in New York they literally wrote their songs a day before the competition). Instead, the real worry is how they’ll come up against a new hard-core show choir group, known as Throat Explosion – these names never cease to amaze.
Tina stresses that Throat Explosion have taken over their niche of being outsiders and that now they’re nothing more than a “bunch of Katy Perry’s”. An inspired Mr Shue takes a poll to see who in the group identifies themselves as a “Katy” and who thinks they’re a “Gaga”. Then, in traditional Glee fashion, a ‘Diva-Off’ is formed but there’s a twist: those who considers themselves Gaga’s have to perform a Katy Perry song, and the Katy’s have to perform Lady Gaga.
In one of the more mind-numbingly dull subplots of a Glee episode, Penny tells Sam about her love for dark, edgy music and while Sam agrees, Penny points out the True Jackson VP poster in his locker that suggests otherwise (this actually later spawns a pretty hilarious rant by Sam as he defends his love for the show). Desperate to impress her, Sam decides he’s going to bring out his dark side in their performance of Lady Gaga’s Applause. This of course leads to Penny revealing she was lying about disliking cheesy pop music. In all honesty, it’s hard to watch this without questioning whether the writers think anyone actually cares about this romance.
It’s certainly not a great week for Marley. As a Katy, she’s forced to perform a Gaga song though she ends up turning up to sing in a Katy Perry outfit. When confronted about it by Mr Shue, she says she didn’t feel comfortable in a coconut bikini, which is perfectly understandable considering she only recently got over her eating disorder. Nevertheless, she’s suspended for a week for “ignoring” the assignment. Later, whilst venting her feelings to Jake, the two of them end up making out but Jake gets frustrated that Marley isn’t giving into him by pressuring her to have sex. After all, how dare she have boundaries? It’s gross and disappointing on Jake’s part as he storms out to take up Bree’s earlier sexual proposition.
Via Twitter, Throat Explosion announce they’ll be doing Applause for National and, to make matters worse, Sue also suspends all of those in the Lady Gaga outfits for violating the school dress code – except for Marley of course, who never wore hers.
Meanwhile in New York, Kurt has decided to start a band. Santana and Dani agree to join and while Kurt does extend the offer to Rachel as well, she claims it would be too much for her after Finn’s death as well as the Funny Girl rehearsals. The small nod to her ongoing grieving is subtle, but appreciated nonetheless.
Only one person shows up to the band auditions and that’s Starchild (the name is an homage to Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars), played by American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert. He performs Marry the Night and it’s absolutely flawless because it’s Adam Lambert. Whilst Santana and Dani are blown away, Kurt’s not as impressed with Starchild’s ‘look’ and says he wouldn’t be the right fit for the band.
Kurt admits to Rachel about his concern that Starchild being ‘out there’ will hold them back, as he believes his own past extravagance has done for him. But Rachel, the perfect sweetheart that she is, reminds him that it’s his own uniqueness that got him into NYADA and insists that Starchild deserves a chance.
Later at the Spotlight Diner Kurt is approached by Elliott Gilbert, aka Starchild, in regular day-to-day clothing who says he’d be willing to be Elliott if it meant he could be in the band. Kurt says that won’t be necessary, as even if that had been any other auditionee they would have been knocked out of the park by Starchild’s performance. He can be in the band as Elliott or Starchild, whichever he prefers.
Rachel comes home from Funny Girl to find Elliott, Dani and Santana trying to decide on a name for the band. Jokingly, Rachel suggests Pamela Lansbury but everyone else finds it perfect. Kurt begs Rachel one more time to join, saying that even Barbra Streisand found time for other projects during Funny Girl. The episode ends with the New Directions and Pamela Lansbury performing Katy Perry’s Roar.
It’s hard to say whether Glee’s follow-up episode to The Quarterback pales in comparison because of the grace and respect we saw in its predecessor, or whether it would have just been completely underwhelming without the comparison. Either way, it’s disappointing to see yet another episode with nothing sustainable and as fillers go, it wouldn’t have killed it to be more entertaining.