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*Side note: none of the promo pics for this episode featured Heather Morris. Big WTF?

Glee: 4.02 – “Britney 2.0”
Written By: Brad Falchuk
Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Glee‘s second episode aired tonight and it wasn’t as strong as it’s first. This was their second tribute episode to Britney Spears. While it might’ve been done because of their love for Ms. Spears, my guess is that FOX forced it as a companion piece to follow The X Factor. And I think that showed in the final product.

The main storyline revolved around Brittany…the blonde cheerleader. Heather Morris is great in small doses, especially delivering one-liners in an airhead affect. But she not as strong when she’s asked to carry some heavier material. Brittany goes into a tailspin when Sue kicks her off of the Cheerios for low grades and Brittany feels alone when she doesn’t have Santana to run to for comfort. Brittany hits a low. She walks around in a ‘World’s Best Grandma’ t-shirt because that’s what she discovered in the lost and found box. Will notices this and proposes a Britney Spears week to inspire Brittany and get her back in the game, because they are going to do a performance at the schools pep rally on Friday. The inspiring begins with Blaine & Artie doing a mash-up of Britney’s “Boys” (re-conceived to “Girls”) and Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend”. It’s an odd performance that doesn’t really work.

Later, in a much better performance, Sam, Joe & Tina perform an acoustic version of “3”. Towards the end, Brittany gets up and attempts to shave her head. They stop her before she does it. She then goes out into the whole, is bombarded by Jacob Ben Israel & his blog crew, and Brittany uses her umbrella to swat him away. Both of these things mirror the real life breakdown of Britney Spears.

New Directions are worried about Brittany being stable enough to perform at the pep rally. Brittany said that she will be, but will need to lip sync because her voice is not very strong. New Directions performs “Gimme More” and it’s not very good. Although the lip sync thing is hard to notice because the show lip syncs every performance anyways and it’s not always good. But it’s supposed to mirror Britney’s disastrous VMA performance in 2007. Will calls all of them back to the choir room and reams them out. “We do not lip sync!” But once again, this is odd because the show lip syncs everything that it sends a mixed message.

The whole Brittany plot gets conveniently solved by the end. Sam lures Brittany to the auditorium where he gives her some confidence and tells her that he will be her Santana. He will have her back. Brittany is inspired by this and goes to meet with Sue. Brittany got an improved grade on a history test and is getting tutoring help from Will & Emma after school. She’s on the road to finally graduating this year.

The second plot of the episode at McKinley involved delving further into Jake Puckerman, played by newcomer Jacob Artist. I liked his brief appearance in the season premiere, but this was a little too much too soon. I would have liked a slower introduction instead of everything at once.

This whole storyline starts with Marley in the hallway, pining over Jake. Unique shows up and tells her that Jake is nothing put trouble and is a womanizer. Guess what Britney song is performed next! “Womanizer”. It’s a really horrible performance. The staging is bad and it’s one of those surreal performances that take place in multiple locations and doesn’t even make sense in the musical universe of the show.

Will is still trying to breakthrough to Jake and help him out of his troubled ways. What was he doing this time that made Will angry? Riding his scooter through the hallway. Call the police! Jake then heads out to the bleachers and has a heart-to-heart with Marley. They end up singing (what a shock!) a mashup of Britney’s “You Drive Me Crazy” and Aerosmith’s “Crazy”. It’s a fine performance, but the chemistry between Jake & Marley isn’t as strong in this piece. Seems a little forced.

At lunch the next day, Marley’s lunchlady mother is being made fun of again. Jake stands up to the jocks that are doing the teasing and gets in a shoving match. Will breaks it up and takes Jake to the choir room, where his half-brother Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling is back) is waiting for him. Puck tells him that he needs to grow up and Will & New Directions are going to help. It’s a corny scene that doesn’t work at all, and in 30 seconds Puck leaves because he needs to get back to L.A. So he flew in to counsel his half-brother that he just met? Perfect sense.

The story ends with Jake and Marley in the hallway. Jake is nervous but Marley says that she will council him through his first rehearsal. But this is interrupted by the new bitchy cheerleader, Becca, who announces that she and Jake are dating. Marley leaves and is visibly upset. Once again, something else that doesn’t make sense. This is Becca’s first appearance in the episode and all of a sudden she’s been carrying on a relationship with Jake. It’s completely forced drama and the show could’ve come up with a better way to keep tension between Jake & Marley without fabricating a relationship out of thin air in the eleventh hour. Jake goes to his first rehearsal, where Marley performs one last Britney song, “Everytime”. It’s a fine performance and serves it’s performance as melodrama for Marley & Jake’s “no”mance.

The final storyline of the episode revolved Rachel still trying to make it at NYADA. The dance instructor Cassandra July, played by Kate Hudson, is still giving her a tough time. By the way, is this the only class Rachel is taking? Isn’t she supposed to be working on vocals or acting or anything? Anyway, Kurt and Rachel are in their surprisingly big apartment in NYC (in Bushwick) and Kurt gives her the background on Cassandra’s big breakdown. A few year ago, she had a Patti LuPone-esque moment and accosted an audience member who had a cell phone.

Rachel asks Brody, the other new cast member Dean Geyer, who help on her tango in Cassandra’s class. Brody agrees and they prepare a routine to Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again”. It’s a fun performance, and the slower arrangement of the music was really cool, but there wasn’t much tango in it. Despite that, it was well choreographed and I loved see Melanie Moore from SYTYCD as one of the other dancers. The use the table as props really well and the flashlights are random but cool-looking. Cassandra is still not overly impressed by Rachel’s technique and this leads to Rachel telling her off. Cassandra kicks Rachel out of her class.

Rachel goes to apologize to Cassandra. While Cassandra doesn’t want her back, the school has a policy that a warning has to be given first before she is kicked out. Cassandra goes on to describe her struggles and opens a little bit to Rachel. Later, Kurt and Rachel are painting their apartment. Rachel makes a big circle with Finn painted in the middle. She misses him and he doesn’t call her, which Kurt says is because he loves her too much (what? explanation please). While they are painting, Brody shows up with flowers and confesses his love to Rachel. She turns him down by saying she’s still with Finn. Brody says that he will be there for her when she’s ready. During the end montage, Rachel is showing painting over the Finn she had on the wall. Foreshadowing the end of the relationship?

Overall, the episode was a big stepdown from the premiere. The writing was back to its mediocre level with plot contrivances that don’t make much sense. There were a few good musical moments. “Oops” was well choreographed and the simpler “3” stood out among the other messes. I didn’t even mention the opening “Hold It Against Me” performance from Brittany and the cheerleaders. It was the worst of the episode. Over produced and edited to a headache induced level. I was so impressed by the premiere that I felt the show was taking a turn for the better. This episode made me think that less, but I am still a little hopeful that they can get this mess sorted out and make better episodes. They are capable! Last week proved it.