“Dance with Somebody,” directed by Paris Barclay and written by Ross Maxwell, is the quickly assembled tribute to Whitney Houston, who died a little over 10 weeks ago. The first of seven songs heard from Whitney’s catalog is “How Will I Know,” sung by Mercedes (Amber Riley), Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer), and Santana (Naya Rivera). They begin at their lockers and then continue to the library, when we suddenly cut to the quartet onstage in individual spotlights for the rest of the number. Huh?
Why are they singing about “a boy I know” while clutching Whitney’s photo? Is this supposed to be simultaneous inner monologues? If so, why does Will (Matthew Morrison) overhear them? If not, why doesn’t anyone else seem to hear them? And why were they singing in the library? In contrast with Smash, which clearly distinguishes its realities, Glee still has no rules after three seasons.
“It’s Not Right, But It’s OK,” sung by Blaine (Darren Criss), is another song that – while well performed – also defies logic. We begin with Blaine singing in the choir room, cut to a music video with him and four leather-clad backup dancers, cut back to the choir room with his classmates now singing along – and then we get a mashup of music video and classroom realities. What the heck? Why are the classmates not in leather too? Why do they keep disappearing in front of the video’s strobe lights? What have they done with Kurt?
A slightly more straightforward number is “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” which is well performed by Santana and Brittany (Heather Morris), who also shines in the dance sequences.
The purpose of the episode, though, is not just to hear Whitney songs. Will asks New Directions to choose their songs as a way not only to address their grief about Whitney’s death but also to work through their anxiety about graduation and the losses that will entail. However, the show avoids exploring these emotions in any detail, in favor of the usual gift-wrapped endings. For example, in response to Blaine’s musical accusation, Kurt offers “I Have Nothing,” which quickly brings Blaine to tears. Next, we see Emma (Jayma Mays) counseling the couple, which of course ends with the two of them back in each other’s arms by the commercial break.
The episode ends with Mercedes and Artie (Kevin McHale) singing “Your Love Is My Love,” eventually joined by all the gleeks, as Will watches from the wings – the gift-wrapped moment for his slightly creepy and insane storyline.