Glee Season 3 Episode 8 Review/Recap ‘Hold On to 16’: Hold on to this episode

GLEE: Finn (Cory Monteith, L) and Blaine (Darren Criss, R) observe the competition in the "Hold on to Sixteen" episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, Dec. 6 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Adam Rose/FOX

“Hold On to 16” indeed. Hold on to this episode, for it may be the most upbeat Glee ever.

Everybody loved everybody. Finn and Blaine made peace — even bonded — while crazy Quinn and Mike’s strict dad had sudden changes of heart, as did New Directions’ exes in the Troubletones, who came back to the fold (lured by promises of lead vocals) after ND won Sectionals. With no Sue in sight, for one magical night, Glee was one big happy family.

For now — and perhaps through next week’s holiday show. But you know crises and crying will return, so hold on to “Hold On to 16” if you, like me, love happy endings. This had Glee’s all-time happiest.

Not to mention more of this season’s best songs. I even dug the Jackson love-fest (for the J5 with ABC, Janet with Control and Michael with Man in the Mirror) as ND’s typically hasty yet amazingly well rehearsed competition set. What made such songs work was the group feel — the sharing. No stars here, but a team effort that didn’t just click, but soared.

Great to see Glee Project’s Lindsay Pearce again as the Unitards’ Harmony for Evita’s Buenos Aires, and her hint that, as a sophomore, she may return next year. And the Troubletones’ mashup of Destiny’s Child’s Survivor with Gloria Gaynor disco hit I Will Survive was another rousing girl-power moment in a show that’s becoming known for them.

But it’s anthems that have helped put Glee on pop culture’s map, from Don’t Stop Believing to Somebody to Love to Sing. And this show had one of its best: Fun’s We Are Young, finishing the episode with exhilarating unity. Damn, that song fires me up. Sign me up!

Maybe there’s something to be said for those “theme of the week” episodes I used to decry when they belabored and bludgeoned their message like maddening mantras. Last week’s love for ladies and this week’s savoring 16 (or at least teen togetherness) have worked narrative wonders. Thanks for the title, John Mellencamp, via your lyrics for Jack & Diane — not that you’ve had a song on this show apart from Kurt’s “Little Pink Houses” in Season 1, which was done as irony. R.O.C.K. in the USA, anyone?

Yes, the reversals of Quinn and Mike’s dad were too pat and abrupt, but they served the story, as did the seven songs. And let’s not forget Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup. Though I’m no country fan, I welcomed its bouncy infectiousness, just as ND welcomed back Sam (Chord Overstreet), a character who’s grown on me as he’s been given hard-luck depth.

So yes, I’m holding on to this episode as one of Glee’s finest. Call it mere wish-fulfillment if you must, but I love seeing everyone happy and unified for a change. Plenty of time for drama down the line. Let’s cherish such good times, just as our favorite show choir learned to cherish the special privilege of being young and unified, at least for one last school year.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

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