Glee S5 E11 – “City of Angels”

The seniors try to lead New Directions to victory.

The seniors try to lead New Directions to victory.

Glee is counting down right now – to the 100th episode, to saying goodbye to Ohio – and we spent this week’s episode doing some work that recalls past, present and future for the McKinley kids. “City of Angels” spotlights this year’s New Directions, taking them to LA for Nationals with some very special friends and a mission.

Win this one for Finn.

The bittersweet tenderness of this episode starts from the very first scene, as Will anoints Sam the de facto leader of Glee Club. Of course Sam has been doing work without this blessing – he’s recruited three hot Cheerios to up their number to the required nine, he’s been doing choreography with Blaine and Artie. It’s all good.

But Will needs to talk about Finn, and about his transformation of the Glee club – by being a leader, and guiding all those talented misfits to victory. Sam doesn’t think he’s Finn but Mr. Schue has faith in him. Has faith to step up if something goes wrong. Which, way to set a guy up, dude! Tina interrupts to say “they’re here.”

“They” are Burt and Carol, everyone’s favorite set of parents. They are warmly greeted by Blaine, Tina and Artie then settle in for a quick pep talk. Finn loved Glee Club and he loved this group. Winning Nationals was the best thing that ever happened to him – but they suspect coaching these guys for the win would have been even sweeter. So don’t win it for Finn, don’t cry – just enjoy the moment and give it your all.

The Hudmels are going along as chaperones and I duck out to pick up an extra box of tissues. The writing is on the wall.

But first, let’s kick things off with a song!

Will kicks off Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A” – so appropriate – with Blaine, Artie and the group backing them up. The double-decker tour bus, the smiles and laughter (and a visit to Pinks!) – it’s a great intro for the start of Nationals. They’re taking the Hudmels’ advice and living in the moment with a great salute to Los Angeles.

Mercedes comes to cheer her friends on!

Mercedes comes to cheer her friends on!

In the hotel lobby, Glee Club hangs around waiting for their rooms (there’s a problem, quelle surprise) and trying to see some famous folks. Their first sighting? Mercedes Jones! Things have turned around for their former club-mate; she has a record deal in place, thanks to selling her CD to Kanye’s maid! Seven degrees to Ryan Seacrest and things are going her way. She’s there to offer them moral support!

Which they’re going to need.

Because a) their rooms aren’t ready because Sue pretended to be a policewoman and told the front desk that a fifty year old man with a perm abducted twelve emotionally disturbed teenagers…

And b) they are about to meet their main competition – Throat Explosion!

Well, first Blaine has to explain who Jean Baptiste is (does no one read the show choir blogs?! Answer: No.) and his French-Canadian circus acrobatic stylings. Jean – played by Skylar Astin in an absolutely perfect guest starring turn – knows who his rivals are. And clearly he reads the show choir blogs, because he knows who Blaine is as well.

The tense stand-off is broken up by Sam, who identifies himself as the leader of New Directions and assures Jean and his merry band of Throat Exploders that a challenge just makes them want to succeed!

Jean Baptiste looks forward to their set and also the crushing of them in competition. Bye! He and his turtle-necked followers file out and Mercedes leads everyone off to discuss show choir drama, leaving Sam and Blaine to recap the moment.

Blaine: He smelled like a winner.

Sidebar: Skylar Astin is perfection as the slightly off-kilter Jean Baptiste, getting the tone of being a Glee guest star just right – funny but playing it straight. And the scene highlights the comic timing of Chord Overstreet and Darren Criss. Would it be too much to ask for Jean to show up in New York City?

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