The Beginning: The Glee Project cuts right to the action this week with the contestants' homework assignment given out in the first scene. Their task is to learn how to act vulnerable while singing Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You." Can we all agree this is a terrible song? Or at least a not very good one? Thanks guys.
A lot of the contestants are really happy that the theme of the week is vulnerability (this is something actors like to portray, I guess), but they're less thrilled about the choice of song (Charlie wonders how you can act vulnerable against a disco beat). Like last week there's a little bit of tension over who gets to sing what line; again Mario won't let his favorite options go, and Lily and Aylin also duke it out. It seems perhaps Lily hasn't learned to cool it after her brash showing last week.
The Homework (featured song: Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You"): Lea Michele–huge. Samuel Larsen–not that huge, but appropriate for the show. Glee Project's week three guest judge returns to the grandeur of week one with its parent show's other big star, Cory Monteith, aka Finn Hudson. When the contestants see Cory in their midst, they go nuts, especially the ladies. Of course, Finn doesn't stick around for too long–just enough time to see that Charlie was indeed right; it's really weird to see these 11 kids acting all morose against the cloying, brain-destroying beat of Clarkson's hit. Despite the mismatched visuals in the chorus room (that no one seems to notice), Shanna (week one's homework winner) AGAIN gets complimented for her performance–that's three in a row. But Tacoma, WA resident Nellie (who to this point has been relatively quiet) wins the challenge based on the strength of her voice and physicality. Her prize: a one-on-one coaching session with Monteith. Dreamy!
The Video (featured song: REM's "Everybody Hurts"): For vulnerability week, video director Erik White decides to tackle the problem of teen bullying. That means that, instead of their usual choreography sessions (which you may remember were brutal last week), this time the contestants only have to focus on acting. But first they've got to rap with Erik about times they've been bullied and felt insecure. This leads to a pretty emotional segment where we see a number of the contestants confess past hardships, many of them in tears. Interestingly, Lily admits that she used to be a bully herself until (seriously) she saw the movie Mean Girls and realized what she was doing. Erik plans to take the stories the contestants tell him and include them in his final product in some way.
Before the video shoot can actually start, though, the contestants must once again visit the recording studio with vocal coach Nikki Anders. A lot of them do really well here; special attention's paid to Aylin, Shanna, and Nellie. Of course, there are a few struggles; Mario has a difficult time hitting the right pitches, and Ally receives a note for the third time that she has trouble dialing back her theatrical emotions.
Once the video shoot starts, things get a little disorienting. It turns out the video's being filmed in double-time and, we're told, will be slowed down to half speed to create an interesting effect in editing. That means everyone's lip-syncing their lines at double speed, something Lily has a really hard time with. It's also weird to hear this mega-sappy REM song sung at Chipmunks velocity, but whatevs. Besides Lily, another contestant who has trouble of a totally different kind is Charlie; during a scene where he's meant to be bullying the blind contestant Mario, he decides to improvise the move of stealing Mario's cane from him, which is a really dangerous thing to do. His mentors are not happy with this. However, they do end up using this shot on the video, which kind of undermines their argument, no?
In general, though, the video ends up going a lot better than last week. Casting director Robert Ulrich notes his happiness with the whole thing, singling out excellent performances from Abraham and Blake, who Robert thinks is the "best actor of the group." Lily gets really into the video too; she certainly channels her Mean Girl past to fake-wail on Aylin in a scene. It's pretty intense.
Last-Chance Callbacks (featured songs: Duffy's "Mercy," Coldplay's "Fix You," "Over the Rainbow"): Last week, you may remember, choreographer Zach said that the challenge in picking the bottom three was choosing who "sucked less." This time, notes Robert, the mentors have pretty much the opposite problem; everyone did a great job, so they had to scrutinize performances a little more closely than usual. One person who totally escapes censure is Blake, who Robert says "hit it out of the park." We called him our favorite to win last week; it's still looking pretty good for him, no? It's also worth noting that transgendered contestant Tyler is safe from the bottom three for the first time on the show.
Who isn't safe? In the end, the bottom three come down to Charlie (who Zach is REALLY pissed with), Mario (who had a tough time in the studio), and Lily (who couldn't lip-sync to save her life). This week Mario inherits Lily's problem of not taking criticism well; when Nikki says he disappointed her in the studio, he responds by saying that he's "classically trained" and typically doesn't have pitch problems. Alright, dude. Lily, meanwhile, saves her bit of ego for her alone time with the camera crew, saying in an interview that she actually did really great in the assignment but "for some reason the mentors didn't see that."
To the performances themselves, Lily recalls her Shania Twain act from last week with a sultry version of Duffy's "Mercy." Glee producer Ryan Murphy tells her point-blank that he doesn't consider her an underdog, that maybe she's taking the sexy thing too far. Lily's response to this is to break down and cry, arguing that her real talent is just her singing sad songs with a piano, but that the show hasn't let her do this yet. She actually almost begs Ryan to stay on Glee Project. Ryan actually seems won over, telling Lily, "You did what you needed to do."
Charlie's up next with his take on Coldplay's "Fix You," and he does some really interesting, unexpected stuff with its vocal melody. Ryan loves that he didn't know where the song was going at any point. "We don't want to be a damn karaoke show." On his incident with Mario's cane, he says to Charlie "you seem to me to be someone who is always inclined to go for the brave choice," which Charlie agrees with, but Ryan warns him that in acting that's not always the smart move. However, when Charlie leaves the stage Ryan tells Nikki and Zach that he's "maybe my favorite thing I've ever seen on this show." So it looks like Lily and Charlie are safe, right? Things don't seem too good for Mario.
But Mario does a killer job too, delivering a sensitive rendition of the classic Wizard of Oz tune "Over the Rainbow." And he, too, breaks down when Ryan calls him on his inability to take criticism. Mario laments that in his haste to express himself he's easily misunderstood, and Ryan seems to get it, noting that he thinks "people would be inspired by not just your talent but how much you have a need to express the talent." These three performances have led to what Ryan calls "the most intense bottom three ever." Tough decision, right??
Back in the Glee House, Mario criticizes other contestants, showing that he maybe wasn't totally genuine in what he told Ryan. After they politely point out to Mario that sometimes he says things that are a little insensitive regarding the talent of his peers, he acts persecuted, saying he never feels listened to and that they don't think about his feelings. "I'm offended by the way what I've said is being misunderstood." I mean, sure, it was a tough week and Mario just faced down a major challenge, so he's allowed to be a little emotional, but still he's showing his fellow contestants a lot of contempt. After this scene, maybe we're thinking it'd be okay for Mario to go home?
The Elimination: But GUESS WHAT, dudes, NO ONE is going home. Maybe because the show lost two contestants last week, or maybe because the decision was just too darn tough, Ryan Murphy decides that all three contestants live to fight again. I was pretty sure Mario or Lily'd be going home (I mean, Murphy is in love with Charlie), with a little more confidence that Lily'd be staying. Maybe it's weird that I want to see people fail just for having a bad attitude, but I don't think I'm alone on this.
The Favorites: Again, Blake seems like he can't be stopped. Shanna has gotten nothing but compliments. Aylin has really found her footing and is definitely one of the most compelling people to watch. And it seems Charlie's star is rising…
What did you think of last night's episode?