Previously on Glee, New Directions prepared for Nationals by saying the word “Nationals” a hundred times a day, while Sue tiptoed around in the background peeking around corners and twirling her handlebar mustache and promising to tie Mr. Schue to some rail road tracks if he didn’t bring home the big trophy. Blaine and Tina and Sam and Artie felt really sad about leaving McKinley, a deep, deep sadness that took root in the choir room and grew a grief tree as big as a Redwood that they watered with their tears and nostalgia all the years of the senior year of their life. And something about something with Marley and Ryder and Jake.
It’s Nationals time, for real, which means Mr. Schue has decided to start doing choir director stuff. His first order of business is to call Sam into his office and tell him he’s the new Finn, the real leader of the glee club, a thing that is insane because you can’t spring that role on somebody two minutes before they graduate, and also Blaine is the real leader of the glee club, which Mr. Schue would know if he didn’t spend his days trying to impregnate his wife in the janitor’s closet. But hey, it wouldn’t be a Nationals episode if plots weren’t coming out of nowhere for the singular purpose of sucker punching you right in the place where your heart used to be before this show forced you hole up in a cave above Whoville, scowling down at the noise because it’s an echo of a song you used to love. (And by “you,” I mean “me.”)
Speaking of which sucker punches: Burt and Carole drop in on the glee club to talk about how proud Finn would be of all of them and how you only get one chance to live your life and so they should do it now. They sing Randy Newman‘s “I Love L.A.,” and while they’re dancing around, a strand of space-time weaves its way around them and teleports them out to the west coast. Huh. So that’s how all the teenagers and starving New York artists on this show move around the map with such ease. Music makes space and time wibbly-wobbly.
The only snafoozle the group runs into re: The City of Angels is that Special Agent Sue Sylvester has called ahead to the hotel to say that if a middle aged guy with a perm tries to check in with a bunch of teenagers, someone should call the FBI. While Will is sorting that out, Mercedes glides in, looking like the superstar she always was and totin’ a fake chihuahua in her arms. Turns out she was selling her album—”Hell 2 the No,” duh—in a grocery store parking lot one day, and the next: Kanye West’s housekeeper bought and gave it to him and he gave it to Kim and Kim gave it to Seacrest and Seacrest gave it to Sony, and now she’s writing six songs for probably Katy Perry in exchange for her own record deal.
I don’t love a lot about this episode, but I do love the idea that Santana and Rachel, both of whom were always stealing Mercedes’ thunder, took their high school bullshit to New York while she fled in the complete opposite direction and quietly achieved superstardom in like 90 days.
Also staying in New Directions’ hotel is Throat Explosion, led by the French-Canadian vocal stylings of Jean Baptiste. Blaine (of course) knows Jean Baptiste’s whole life story because he (of course) read all about it on the show choir blogs (of course). Jean Baptiste also knows all about Blaine. He gets up in his space, but his intimidation tactics are thwarted by Sam, who says Throat Explosion’s awesomeness will only get New Directions “out of their comfort zones and send them over the top.” They’re so embarrassed for him—even though they’re all wearing black turtlenecks and literally named “Throat Explosion”—that they skedaddle.