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TV Review: Glee – “Diva”

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This week on FOX’s Glee, everyone tries to find their inner “Diva.” Finn (Cory Monteith) uses this technique trying to motivate the students as they prepare for Regionals, since they don’t seem enthusiastic, while Kurt (Chris Colfer) has to bring his diva back to knock an egotistical Rachel (Lea Michelle) down a peg.

Do we really need an episode about divas in the fourth season of Glee? By this point, viewers know who is a diva and who isn’t, and by encouraging outrageous behavior, it does no one any favors. Sure, we are told that “diva” does not necessarily need to be a negative label, but plenty of the behavior exhibited in this installment is not pleasing, and it makes the whole concept a bit obnoxious.

So I guess you can tell already that I did not care much for “Diva,” and this review will be filled with many complaints and few accolades. For Glee-loving, check back next week (I hope).

Once more, the New York plot trumps McKinley, so let’s start with the better of the stories. Rachel is acting too big for her britches, prancing around with sycophants lauding compliments at her, and expecting everyone else to regard her just as highly. This is not new behavior for her character, and given how successful she is at college, not at all surprising at this juncture.

Luckily, Rachel has Kurt around to keep her grounded. He is also a strong personality, and not one to put up with her airs. He does care about her, even when he is frustrated, and while there is a degree of personal satisfaction to be had in humbling Ms. Berry, I think that Kurt also acts for her own good.

What does the trick is Kurt challenging Rachel to a midnight sing-off in front of their peers. The whole event is a little cheesy, but there is nothing short of awesomeness in Kurt and Rachel’s rendition of “Bring Him Home.” It’s a large, dramatic song, and both tackle it was ease, an extremely impressive feat. Still, Kurt wins slightly in the vote, likely because everyone is surprised someone can match Rachel.

Rachel’s subsequent fall is almost as pronounced as her rise. She is ready to give up her dreams completely, until Kurt convinces her to find the middle ground. It’s a good thing that Rachel has Kurt in her life, as he can give her what she needs, when she needs it, and put her back on the right path.

Now, we only need to brace for Kurt and Rachel’s showdown over having Brody (Dean Geyer) living with them.

Lest anyone think Kurt’s victory might make him the new Rachel, Kurt has never been that particular brand of diva. The scene where Rachel’s lapdogs try to switch to him and Kurt shuts them down is unnecessary, but satisfying.

At McKinley, Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) is still after Blaine (Darren Criss), and thinks that being a diva will help her land him. It’s such a dumb, dumb arc that needs to go away soon. Blaine already lets Tina down gently in a previous episode, and still she hangs around, caring for him when he is sick, and has trouble accepting that a gay man will never lover her in a sexual way, even if her “Hung Up” is Tina’s best performance on Glee to date.

I mean, did Tina see Blaine’s “Don’t Stop Me Now?” I know that Blaine is trying to prove that men can be divas, too, but he only checks that box for gay men, as there is nothing straight about his rendition. Which is not a complaint, as I adore Blaine as a character; I’m just saying that it should have sent a clear message to Tina.

Also, as much as I like “Don’t Stop Me Now” and Blaine’s usual singing talents, I thought this number felt a little flat this week. Not sure why, it just lacked the driving energy he normally exhibits.

It’s hard to get too mad at Blaine for not shutting Tina down more fully. After all, he has already laid out for her where he stands, and she has become his closest friend at McKinley, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. He doesn’t want to be alone, and he likes having Tina be for him what Rachel is for Kurt. But he has to sit her down again and lay it all out in a way that finally gets through to her, or this will not end well.

Santana (Naya Rivera) returns in “Diva” when she learns that Brittany (Heather Morris) is now dating Sam (Chord Overstreet) from Tina, further cementing Tina’s status as an unlikeable character. Santana doesn’t want Britanny back, she just doesn’t think that Sam is good enough for her bestie, and is determined to break them up.

This plot reveals Santana’s motivation to be equal parts petty jealousy and protector. She wants to make sure that Brittany is happy, but she is no longer the one who is going to make that happen. Were Santana to toss her hat back in the ring, and it is something she considers when Sue (Jane Lynch) offers her a job at the school, she would have reason to be against Sam. But since Santana doesn’t intend to permanently return to Ohio, and Sam makes Brittany happy, Santana needs to accept things as they are. This episode doesn’t quite take us to that resolution.

“Diva” does deliver Santana to New York, which is a happy development. I don’t know that Santana really fits exactly with Kurt and Rachel, but she is a fantastic character whom I have missed, and her inclusion in their circle should shake up the dynamic in a fresh and interesting way. Perhaps she should have asked to move in with them, rather than just declaring that she lives there now, but it’s still my favorite scene of the episode.

Sadly, Santana’s musical numbers in this installment leave something to be desire. Given her past credits, Santana absolutely belongs in an episode entitled “Diva.” Yet, neither “Nutbush City Limits” nor “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine” are that enjoyable. This is especially regrettable in the latter, since a Sam-Santana showdown should have been an awesome moment. She does slay “Girl on Fire,” but it’s not a very good song in the first place, in my opinion, so I didn’t find any memorable Santana music moments in “Diva.”

Also, if Santana dropped out of college in Kentucky a month ago, why does she show up with Louisville cheerleader back up singers, in uniform, and a girlfriend classmate? Are they still dating? Even if they are, it can’t possibly be that serious, given the way it is presented, and certainly not enough to warrant a trip to Ohio, with friends in tow.

The other arc unfolding in “Diva” begins when Finn asks Emma (Jayma Mays) for assistance motivating the students. She lends her ideas, which leads to the diva assignment, and helps set Finn’s group back on track.

Finn is doubting himself, but Emma is even more a mess, swamped under wedding planning. How does she have the time to give him a hand? Why does he even ask, when, if he really cares, he should be helping her, not piling on her workload?

At the end of this regrettable plot, Finn kisses Emma. This comes completely out of left field, and makes absolutely no sense. There has never been a hint of anything between the two, and even working together in this episode, there is no foreshadowing. Finn and Emma’s fiance, Will (Matthew Morrison), are practically best friends. Plus, Finn is a student until recently, which adds to the ick factor. Why does Finn do this?

Perhaps Finn wants Will’s life. He’s been subbing in Will’s job, why not take the girl, too? Except, Finn hasn’t tried to be exactly like Will. Maybe his clothing style has shifted that way, but he does do his own thing, too.

It just seems like a contrived ratings ploy during sweeps, and is a serious misstep for Glee to make.

I’d also like to complain about the opening number of the episode, a song called “Diva.” It’s kind a fun moment, with outlandish costumes and characters. Yet, Marley (Melissa Benoist) and Kitty (Becca Tobin) change their personalities several times throughout the few minutes, so it kills the flow.

“Diva” is not without its moments, mostly involving Kurt, Rachel, and Santana, graduated students living in New York, but between the lackluster music, more terrible Tina focus, and the Finn smooching Emma disaster, it does not deliver. Hopefully next week, which will feature Will and Emma’s wedding, as well as the gathering of most or all of the characters who have been absent a lot this season, will improve.

Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • Kat

    I think you missed the part where Brittany tells Santana that she knows the latter paid the classmate from Louisville to pretend to be her girlfriend. That explains why Santana showed up with cheerleaders in costume; she probably cajoled all of them one way or another in order to give the appearance that she was still successfully in college. And there was foreshadowing for Finn kissing Emma – it happened earlier in the episode, I think right after he helped her pick the floral arrangement he says something about them working well together and I thought “Oh, oh.” Granted, in typical Glee fashion, the foreshadowing happens all in a single episode instead of weeks leading up to it, so it’s easy to miss and not very unbelievable. As for the Tina/Blaine subplot, I agree that it was totally cringe-inducing, but sometimes girls really do get silly that way, so it was not entirely unbelievable, just gross. I’ve been really frustrated with the writing for Tina. Jenna has a great voice – she could sing more – but they make her character so blech.