I’ll be honest. I groaned when I saw that part two of Glee‘s Beatles tribute on FOX was called “Tina in the Sky With Diamonds.” If you follow my Gleekonomics column at all, I have periodically complained about Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) as a character in the past, finding her grating and adding little to no value to the series. My mind was not changed about her by this episode, but she did feature less prominently than I had feared, not even getting to make it far into the opening number, “Revolution,” before being cut off, and as a consequence, the installment wasn’t bad, overall.
Tina’s mission in “Tina in the Sky with Diamonds” is to be prom queen of McKinley. Inexplicably, she is nominated. Bree (Erinn Westbrook) initially tries to ruin Tina’s chances at the crown, disappointed by a recent streak of Cheerio losses. But after failing to win Kitty’s (Becca Tobin) support for the goal, Bree decides to let Tina win (I assume by rigging the vote?), and then has Tina’s very-occasionally-seen sidekick, Dottie (Pamela Chan), dumb red slushie on Tina, a la Carrie.
Unlike Carrie, though, Tina has friends, who quickly clean her up and comfort her with a wonderful “Hey Jude,” changing her into Kitty’s gown and sending her back out, head held high. I can’t say the sequence is very touching, given that Tina is at the center of it, and her head has grown so huge before being knocked down that she deserves the penalty. However, the New Directions coming together for one of their own is in keeping with true Glee fashion.
I wonder how long Kitty can keep one foot in both worlds? Her arc from mean girl to sympathetic glee club member has happened more quickly than Quinn’s did in the first couple of seasons, and with the introduction of Bree, suddenly Kitty is challenged with an either-or choice. Kitty is still in the squad, as far as viewers know, but it seems likely Bree will bully her out of it sooner rather than later.
Which is fine. It’s always been a challenge for Glee when it tries to make its geeks popular, and it never quite works right, including Tina and Artie’s (Kevin McHale) nominations for king and queen in this episode. The sooner that band-aid is ripped off and Kitty is sorted into one group, rather than two, the better for the story, even if it’s not quite the right message to send to kids.
Bree isn’t going anywhere because, rather than be punished for her stunt, which Coach Roz (NeNe Leakes) awkwardly praises while demanding consequences, Principal Sue (Jane Lynch) rewards the girl, making her Head Cheerio. Sue’s reason for doing so is that the glee club needs a villain to reach its potential, which might give a logical reason for her own evilness over the past few seasons, though it’s way too misguided to make Sue seems reasonable. I did love Sue’s own proclamation that Bree comes out of nowhere, true, since the character was only recently added to the series, despite most of the characters pretending she’s been around for awhile. It’s a nice meta reference.
The other thread happening at McKinley this week is much more sweet. Freed from the shackles of having to take Tina to prom, something he really doesn’t want to do, Sam (Chord Overstreet) falls for Nurse Penny (Phoebe Strole, Hamlet 2), a bumbling college student who Sue has hired to give out immunizations. She’s nerdy in a cute way that matches Sam’s odd charms, and they make a great pair. Perhaps it comes a bit too easily, but if Sam is nearing the end of his tenure on the show, a strong possibility with his impending graduation, she could be his happy ending.
I just wish he had sung “Penny Lane” to her. Yes, that would be cheesy, but Glee is nothing if not cheesy. Sam’s “Something” is a pleasant enough number, but it skips the over obvious song choice.
In New York, Santana (Naya Rivera) is also falling in love, when she’s not making hilarious vaginal yeast commercials. Her new girlfriend is fellow waitress Dani (Demi Lovato, Sonny with a Chance), a full-blown lesbian, which is new for Santana. Dani comes on a little strong at first, but by the time she duets “Here Comes the Sun” with Santana, they do seem like a natural fit.
I was a little concerned with Lovato’s inclusion on Glee. She’s part of that Disney pop-princess conglomerate, and the success of such stars post-Disney is mixed. Lovato is not the best actress Glee has brought on, but she’s not the worst, either, clearly having some acting chops. “Tina in the Sky With Diamonds” has not sold me on the relationship, but it hasn’t been the awful mess I was expecting, so we’ll wait and see.
Finally, Rachel (Lea Michelle) gets the part in Funny Girl. This wasn’t a forgone conclusion, but it’s not a big surprise either. She needs to move forward with her career, and this is good way for her to do so. Perhaps it is quite a big part for someone with so little experience, but Rachel is a formidable talent.
The only regret here is that surely Rachel will not have time to continue to work at the diner. Thankfully, Kurt (Chris Colfer) now has joined the staff, so the diner scenes can include him, as well as Santana and Dani. But this does remove Rachel from the equation. At least she still leaves with her fellow alum, so she shouldn’t be totally separate.
As for the more random musical numbers in “Tina in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is kind of weird for prom, but works OK, “Get Back” is a fun little piece with cool piano choreography, and “Let It Be” is a great way to end the two-part tribute, involving both the McKinley and New York contingents. I think the first half was stronger in songs and story, but this follow up hour isn’t bad. There are still many great Beatles songs I’d love to see the show do, but I guess that will have to be another time.
Next week, we get the Goodbye Finn tribute episode, which is sure to be a tear-jerker. Rumor is, Rachel will not appear until the end of the episode.
Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.