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'Glee' recap: Moonwalking with Michael Jackson

February 1, 2012 |  9:50 am

It was Michael Jackson tribute night Tuesday on "Glee," and viewers were treated to more King of Pop songs than they could shake a sequined glove at. The music was good; the dancing, better. And the storyline, while not a thriller, was satisfying enough, moving the plot along and several key characters closer to graduation. There were a few choice lines, too.

To break those key "Glee" elements down:

The music and dancing: From Blaine and New Directions' take on "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" –- crotch-grabbing through the halls of McKinley High -- to the New Directions and Warblers facing off in an underground parking garage while singing "Bad" to Santana and villain Sebastian battling to best each other with "Smooth Criminal," there were lots of musical highlights among the nine Jackson songs featured in the episode. It was lovely to see Mercedes show her softer, less diva-ish side on a duet of "Human Nature" with Sam.  And Quinn has never looked more beautiful than she did during "Never Can Say Goodbye." The New Directions' take on "Black or White," on which they were ultimately joined by the Warblers, is worth watching again for the morph sequence alone. (Watch the original Jackson video here.) But the best dance moment featured a sorely underused "Glee" resource: Kevin McHale, who plays wheelchair-bound Artie.

In a wonderful fantasy sequence, Artie, furious at the consistent mistreatment suffered by New Directions, rises from his chair and -- backed by Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) -- dances the heck out of Michael and Janet Jackson's "Scream." The sequence was liberating -- McHale can dance -- but also (appropriately) frustrating, reminding us of how much we miss from Artie because he's confined to that wheelchair. Sigh.

The storyline: While the episode placed a heavy emphasis on the music of a single artist, it did moonwalk through a few key plot points as well.

1.    Quinn -- no longer crazy, cruel and untrustworthy -- got into Yale early admission, her application perhaps boosted by an essay about triumphing and maintaining a spotless GPA while also persevering through an unintended pregnancy.
2.    Kurt's a finalist for NYADA. The reaction of his father, Burt, to the news is typically heartwarming: "I am so proud to be your dad."
3.    Rachel also is a finalist for NYADA. But she didn't find out until the very end of the episode, and by that time she'd already despaired for her future, which led her to …
4.    … accept Finn's marriage proposal. Yes, Finn put a new musical spin on his proposal to Rachel, and she agreed to the engagement. "You're the love of my life, and if I can't have it all, at least I'll get to have what matters. Yes, I'll marry you," she said, after their voices mingled on "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." But that was before she got her letter from NYADA.
5.    The Warblers versus New Directions rivalry heats up. Sebastian, now captain of the Warblers, has stolen the McKinley crew's planned set list for Regionals -- and he turns out to be even more villainous than we realized, damaging Blaine's eye by throwing a rock-salt-containing slushie at him. 
6.    Oh, and by the way, Santana, too, has plans for the future. She's hoping to escape Lima Heights and get into a school that isn't "a FEMA trailer or a prison yard." But do you think she really gave Sebastian the tape she made of him admitting to tampering with the slushie, after going to all the trouble of taping the recorder to her "underboob"? Mightn't she have given him a dummy tape? One wonders …

Best lines:

"When I was 1, my mom showed me the VHS tape of his Motown special, and when he did the moonwalk across the stage for the first time in history, I uttered my first words: 'Hot damn.'" -- Artie

"I owe the King of Pop a deep debt of gratitude. He was the first one to pull off the sequined military jacket, long before one Kurt Hummel made it iconic." -- Kurt

"Rachel, he was best friends with Liza Minnelli and Liz Taylor." -- Kurt

"I think it’s time that I show you a little Lima Heights hospitality." -- Santana

"WWMJD? … What would Michael Jackson do?" -- Mr. Schue

"You're like a modern-day eggs benedict." -- Puck

"My suggestion is that we drag him, bound and gagged, to a tattoo parlor for a tramp stamp that reads 'Tips Appreciated' or 'Congratulations, you're my thousandth costumer.'" -- Santana

"Stevie Wonder did pretty good with no eyes at all!" -- Finn

"Hey, Andrew McCarthy! ... You may look like the villain out of a cheesy 80s high school movie, but you should know that I am fully prepared to go all Danny LaRusso on your ass." -- Santana

"This is not violent. This is clever. I taped it to my underboob.” -- Santana

"If Kurt taped this to his junk, we'd never hear the end of it. We'd have a whole week of songs about it." -- Santana

"I can't stand the stench of public schools." -- Sebastian

"This is what we call taking the high road, which I was shocked to learn has nothing to do with marijuana." -- Puck

What did you think of the Michael Jackson tribute episode?


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-- Amy Reiter

Photo: The glee club performs in "Michael," a special episode of "Glee" celebrating the music of Michael Jackson. Credit: Justin Lubin / FOX