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Gleeview: Michael
Spoiler Alert!

By my count, this was the sixth tribute episode of Glee in its short history.  From my perspective, it was the second best, behind "Theatricality" from season 1.  The music for "Michael" was great.  The production was great.  The acting was exceptional (*cough*Lea Michele deserves an Emmy*cough*).  I think the only reason it wasn't quite up to the standard of "Theatricality" was its somewhat more disjointed story.  I really liked the episode's story line development, actually, and some might say the character development made that disjointedness worth it.  It just wasn't quite as smooth as the "Theatricality" episode.  That's just a minor factor, though, and it's debatable.  "Michael" was a great mix of music and drama with a little humor thrown in.

I'll just address all the individual characters' developments together, with the exception of Rachel, Finn, and Quinn.  Firstly, Sam and Mercedes kissing obviously doesn't put them together officially, but it's progress for them.  It seems they're destined to get together very soon.  That's good news for me because I like them and Sam is much more interesting with Mercedes than without her.  Next, Kurt is a finalist for NYADA.  I loved the scene with his father.  Burt Hummel is practically perfect, but he did have to grow into knowing how to deal with a gay son especially in a small town.  The scene was just as much about him seeing his hard work growing into raising Kurt reap rewards as it was Kurt getting his dreams.  Being a finalist isn't getting in, but I'm assuming that what they're going for is that being a finalist can go on a resume and it's an advantage one can use in his or her career regardless.

Finally, Quinn seems to have gotten her happy ending, so to speak.  Obviously, the ending here is just the beginning, but that's just the nature of high school.  How a person ends high school determines how he or she begins adulthood.  Quinn seems to be finally on the right track.  Her speech to the glee club was nice to see.  The fact that she was, at least in part, trying to reinforce her message to Rachel was the more significant part for me, though.  Her "speech" to Rachel was interesting to say the least.  Take what you want from it, but it was honest, candid and unselfish advice for Rachel that showed she cared.

That brings me to Rachel and Finn.  Obviously, I've been less than enthusiastic about this pairing, but I have always appreciated its complexity.  Finn's proposal in the last episode was obviously one of the less subtle developments, but it was in keeping with Finn's character.  And, Rachel's acceptance of his proposal in this episode was very Rachel.  "You are the love of my life" is a very impulsive Rachel thing to say for a 17-year-old high school senior, but also the rest of what she said revealed Rachel Berry's psyche.  Deep down she's an insecure girl who grabs onto anything or anyone who can give her the security and love that she craves, and "I may not get to have it all, but at least I'll have what matters if we're together" reflects her need to be wanted.  I must say I'm glad this happened now because it gives them time to bask (Valentine's Day) and then time to sort out their issues or figure out it was a mistake.  Her NYADA letter did come eventually, and now she's confused again.  Finn did say he would come to New York with her.  That's a step in the right direction for him, but he's still not seeing that her future and their relationship are at least equal.  His own future seems vital to their relationship, and if he can't at least find something in New York besides hanging off her arm, then their relationship is shaky.  Her reaction to her NYADA letter reveals that she knows that, and if they do end up together I hope it's because Finn has considered all of these factors and done everything he can to make a future for himself without impeding Rachel's.

The bottom line is that Quinn was right, and I'm just really happy she was the one to deliver that advice to Rachel.  At least it made it really clear for Rachel what she might be giving up for Finn if she tries to hold on too tightly.

Favorite Lines:
Rachel:  No, I think he's an amazing performer, but I've never really just got what he was about.
Kurt:  Rachel, he was best friends with Liza Minnelli and Liz Taylor.
Rachel:  No, all I'm saying is that I just...I haven't connected with him the way that I have with the likes of Barbra or either of the Stephens.
[Questioning look from Artie]
Rachel:  Sondheim, Schwartz.

Santana:  Brittany, lock the door.
Brittany:  Oh, I don't know how to do that.

Musical Rundown:
Obviously, all music was by Michael Jackson originally, with some help as noted.

"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"--It was interesting to see Blaine and the Blaine-less Warblers perform in the same episode.  We saw it at Sectionals, but this was more stark because it was less confined.  Darren Criss is a good performer, and he's much better without the Warblers.  This was good.

"Bad"--This was nicely done.  The production was high end, but I was glad to see it as part of the story.  And, the slushies in this episode were a nice creative touch.  This is an obviously iconic number, and I think New Directions and The Warblers did it justice.

"Scream" (feat. Janet Jackson)--It was at first quite jarring to see Artie get up out of his chair (though he did it before), but once that passed, I liked this.  I think this is Kevin McHale's (Artie) kind of song, really.  It's musical with a hard beat, and I think that complements his voice.  Harry Shum, Jr. (Mike) was there for his moves, but he did an adequate job with his supporting vocals.

"Never Can Say Goodbye" (Jackson 5)--Dianna Agron (Quinn) seems to get one, maybe two, chances to showcase her voice every season.  She always delivers.  The soft, sultry breathy quality to her voice may, for some, be a weakness, but it's really not.  There were three really great performances in this episode, I think, and this was one of them.  I hadn't heard this but had heard about it and had high expectations, and I was not disappointed.

"Human Nature"--This was probably the weakest of the nine numbers in the episode.  But, it wasn't bad at all, just a little dull for me.  Chord Overstreet (Sam) and Amber Riley (Mercedes) are good singers, and they did fine.  I just wasn't blown away.

"Ben"--This was sweet and soft and nice.  I really don't try to make things always about Lea Michele, but she always shines.  From what I can see, she's willing to let others have their place in a performance.  But, she always seems to be star, regardless, in duets and small group numbers like this.  This was not one of those aforementioned Top 3, but it was excellent.

"Smooth Criminal"--This was one of the Top 3 for me, mainly because of Naya Rivera (Santana).  She is, I repeat, perfect for this role.  It was really good to see Santana use her fierceness for good, at least mostly.  The singing performance, plus 2CELLOS, gave me goosebumps.

"I Just Can't Stop Loving You"--This was the other Top 3 performance for me.  Despite it being a "positive" step for Finn and Rachel, Lea Michele made this worth it.  If there's one thing that she does too much, only because she's trying to appeal to a more pop-oriented audience, it's that she let's her voice go sometimes leading to a "yodeling" quality to her performances.  She did not do that here when she could have, and it was better for it.

"Black or White"--This was a nice way to end the episode.  A good New Directions number always wraps up episodes nicely, especially when there's a short but significant scene right after.  It cements the episode into the viewer's memory, and I thought this was an excellent example of that.