Glee Review/Recap Season 5 Episode 2 ‘Tina in the Sky With Diamonds’: Let Glee Be

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Again, I’m awed by how well Glee channels the Beatles to deliver one of its best hours. Season 5, Episode 2’s “Tina in the Sky With Diamonds” made superb use of all six of its Beatles songs (make that seven, counting Tina’s brief, unexpected and rocking Revolution), advancing plots and characters while setting up the season to come. (Or two seasons — remember Kurt, Rachel and Santana’s two-year promise?)

This episode had no more major missteps than last week’s equally vibrant “Love, Love, Love,” the only rough spot being the jump from its moving finale of Let It Be to the promo for next week’s “The Quarterback,” the tribute to Finn and Cory Monteith that many of us both anticipate and dread.

But this week is this week, and the complainers and haters can stuff it. Finn’s and Cory’s death had to wait for this season to properly launch with the long-planned Beatles two-parter. (Besides, they weren’t in the last three episodes of Season 4, either.) So for now, let’s focus on celebrating this series’ best season-opening send-off since its pilot.

How do I celebrate? Let me count the ways.

First and foremost, of course, Rachel gets the lead role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. This not only is a validation of all things Glee, but also a fitting fate for the actress who plays her, Lea Michele.

With no disrespect to Barbra Streisand — just an appreciation of show biz chops built during decades of covering entertainment as a journalist — I’ve long felt that Lea Michele not only is a better singer-actress than Babs (the audacity!), but that it’s not even close.

That’s how much I believe in this tiny gal from the Bronx with the huge talent — and, from the sound of her show-must-go-on resolve, huge heart.

People, here we come.

Next, this episode also set up a sweet romance for Naya Rivera’s Santana and the new Dani (Demi Lovato), a musician in a Melissa Etheridge mold, as they bonded to the tune of a beautifully harmonized Here Comes the Sun. (And damn if it’s not good hearing some Beatles songs sung by women — just as it was a kick seeing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band performed raucously onstage, something the lads from Liverpool never did after quitting the road before its creation.)

I also briefly savored Tina’s unlikely crowning as Prom Queen (well, it is just a plurality vote), followed by the horror of her Carrie-like torment via new Cheerios bitch Bree (Erinn Westbrook — no relation). But in true Glee spirit, with a little help from her friends Tina retook the stage triumphantly to the tune of rousing epic song Hey Jude, for which Darren Criss sang Paul McCartney’s wails with a vengeance.

Even Get Back worked wonders with its artfully choreographed piano motif, coming across better onscreen than it had audio-only. Only Sam’s Something was a letdown, played as it was with quirky humor (for the school’s new lovable nurse) despite the elegance of George Harrison’s songcraft.

And so concludes the most ambitious musical tribute of Glee’s 90 episodes and four-plus seasons to date.

It was a bold move, and it worked. Glee did not disrespect the Fab Four, but instead did them justice, with largely faithful renditions rather than reinterpretations, buoyed by Glee-style harmonies and choral vocals and accented with superb rock drumming and guitar work by Glee’s house band.

But now comes the daunting hurdle of next’s week’s closure show, when Glee confronts a loss so tragic it’s almost incomprehensible, certainly for Lea Michele. A glimpse of her sobbing in Matt Morrison’s arms in the preview was all I needed to know: It’s going to be painful.

But it also may be special. One of the many beauties of this bold little show is the closeness of its characters to the actors’ real lives, and how the actors’ human truths inform the characters’ humanity.

Next week, such reality goes to a whole new level. It’s gonna hurt, but it must be done. And perhaps with the pain will come an undeniable depth that only makes Glee that much more special.

— Bruce Westbrook

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