Here we are at the start of Episode 8. Dani’s gone. Charlie’s gone. Tyler’s gone. Nellie’s gone. All of the unique, vibrant personalities seem to be fading one by one while the least charismatic ones stay on without a struggle. As I catch up from last week, I hate to say that I am feeling somewhat cynical. Basically, I am suffering from some Glee Project feels and I’m nervous about what breakdown will greet me at the end of this episode. But let’s jump in anyway.
Robert greets the remaining seven contestants with this week’s theme, tenacity, and this week’s homework song, “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. Okay. Maybe things are looking up. Tenacity is a fantastic word, and if there were a reality TV show based around singing only songs recorded by Beyoncé Knowles, I would watch it. As Aylin says when she looks over the lyrics: “Honestly, all these lines are awesome.” Honestly, I agree with you.
At the gym, we get a glimpse of this week’s guest mentor: Amber Riley, AKA Mercedes. Woot woot! The good vibes continue.
The kiddos’ performance of “Survivor” is good, although it mainly just makes me want to listen to the Destiny’s Child version and watch Beyoncé crawling around in the sand again. Which I just stopped writing to do. And it was worth it. You should probably do it too.
But back to the moment at hand. The most tenacious part of their performance was Ali leaning back in her wheelchair and rolling herself down those riser steps all on her own, a badass move which Amber Riley also noted in her feedback. This move probably helped Ali to win the homework challenge — for the second week in a row! Look out for Ali, y’all.
They announce the big group number, which includes another kind of (less sexy) Survivor, but this time not in the song title but in the band name — Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” I’m ready to bust out my sweatbands.
No choreography with Zac this week, so we head straight to vocals with Nikki. Sigh. I have to say that I am coming to dread vocals with Nikki, especially after that androgynous debacle with Abraham last week. I’m tired of Michael screwing it up every week but no one seeming to really care in the end; I’m tired of her scrunching up her face and making demeaning comments to her sidekick.
Things go pretty much like normal this week. She loves Blake. I think Blake is really cute and kind, and his voice is nice. But that’s all. It’s nice. If he were in my high school, he would get the lead in the spring musical. But if he were in New York City or Hollywood, he would be in the background. But apparently Nikki and Ryan think he should be on Glee. I don’t get it.
Moving on to the video shoot with Erik, they have yet another challenging shoot ahead of themselves: having to make it through a difficult obstacle course all in one take. While lip synching, of course. If any one of them mess up? Back to the beginning for all of you! As they all describe the different tasks they’re supposed to do, ending with Ali making a basket in the basketball hoop behind her head, I start to wonder if this assignment is even possible. I also start to wish I had some alcohol to drink with each take they’re going to have to do, because I already know they are going to do a lot. And getting drunk fast is fun, sometimes.
Actually, they go pretty far on just their second take, until Lily realizes that she doesn’t have enough time to strip from her sweatsuit to her gym clothes as quickly as she’s supposed to. They call in her BFF Aylin to help her strip. They coordinate this without giggling awkwardly too much, which I give them credit for.
However, as the takes start to get into the double digits and there appears to be some trouble with the jump rope section — dammit, it’s always the jump ropes, am I right? — Zac aptly comments that they “just seem to be defeated.” Defeated is the perfect word. They all look sweaty and tired and done with it. This is hard. Also, I’m glad I didn’t actually start drinking because I would have alcohol poisoning by the end of this.
As often happens with exhaustion, things also start to get dangerous as Abraham trips while running at one point and literally smacks his face into a door and twists his ankle. He gets back up and tries to play it off but I am ready for this shoot to be done.
But it’s not. After take 25, when they have it almost perfect, Shanna, red-faced and panting, goes outside to puke in the trash can. Awesome. I mean. This was a good idea. Sometimes reality TV really sucks.
As the takes get in to the 30s and everyone is just in pure pain, it seems like everything has been perfected up until that final basketball shot that Ali is supposed to make. This is so much harder than running up stairs and jumping through a hoop, and it’s also so much more pressure. My anger about this whole set up is offset a little, though, by everyone being so nice to Ali about it when she starts to finally show some frustration. There’s nothing like people who are competing against each other being really nice and supportive of each other to make my heart melt.
But if there’s one thing to say about this video, it’s that these kids certainly show tenacity. They eventually problem solve by collectively lifting Ali up into the air, chair and all, so that she can more realistically plop the ball through the hoop. And it works. Praise glory hallelujah.
While they all put forth a valiant effort, in the end the bottom three are Michael, Abraham, and Lily. The pressure is so clearly on at this point that Aylin begins to cry during her feedback even when she’s receiving a compliment, and Abraham starts to let it all get to him in the practice room.
First up for the last chance performers, we have Michael singing Ben Folds Five’s “Brick,” who shows that when he’s not in the vocal booth with Nikki, he actually can sound pretty swell. Ryan Murphy, however — who is sans black cap this week, thank goodness — tells him afterwards that essentially, he is good, but will he ever be as good as Blake? Probably not! Haha, Michael! We all love Blake! Blake is the best! We’re just setting you up for failure because we’re not allowed to just choose Blake now!
Abraham is up next with one of my all time favorites ever, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” I feel it is near impossible to do this song well without being MJ himself, and I was especially nervous for Abraham with how wrecked he seemed in the studio, but he does a decent job. When Ryan asks him about why he faltered this week, however, he seems to put too much blame on his injured ankle. While his injured ankle probably did suck a whole bunch, what the contestants need to know by now is that excuses — and meekly working your way up to those excuses — will turn Ryan off.
Lastly, we get to hear Lily perform yet another last chance song with a tune from Funny Girl, a tune that she clearly hardly knew before she started practicing it, but man does she hit it. It’s too bad this week isn’t Theatricality anymore, because she is perfectly theatrical without missing a note, even when she flubs up words. I know Lily can act catty and egotistical, and it can get on my nerves too, but hot damn, do I think she’s talented. They would have to be out of their minds to send Lily home on this one.
So which boy will it be?
The judges begin to discuss their options, and — oh, oh, what is this? Abraham is suddenly shuffling back on stage. Oh dear. The mentors exchange nervous glances. Abraham makes a little speech about how bad he feels about his performance this week and how much he deserves moving forward, even getting to the point where he says that he will not leave until he wins or Ryan writes him a part on Glee. The whole time my brain is yelling: awkward awkward awkward awkward! It doesn’t seem bold, just strange and repetitive.
I feel that these kids all believe that Ryan Murphy really understands and roots for them. Yet hardly any of them know how to actually react around him. This move clearly is not going to impress him.
And sadly, I’m right. The call backs are posted. Which boy will it be? The one in the high red boots. The one who isn’t the straight white one.
I feel torn about this because based on this week’s performances, I actually do agree with the judges. But at the same time, I love Abraham, and I just feel worried about which at-all-interesting contestant will be eliminated next.
But for those of you who are feeling similarly disappointed and wondering what’s left in it for you, in the preview for next week’s show, Aylin pronounces it to be “a very lesbian week.” Well then, Aylin! You got me. I will see you there.