When you get the mother of all lead-ins airing before your show, you'd better make it count and pull out all the stops. In this case it means having spectacle for the sake of spectacle (cheerleaders with fireworks shooting out of their breasts, an elaborately staged Michael Jackson song), introducing a novice audience to all the show's main characters even if they have nothing to do and don't figure into the plot at all, and a storyline that revolves around football. Regular fans know that it's a break from their regularly scheduled "Glee" and don't mind if the show feels different, but how much of that massive TV audience (the viewership was nearly double the previous record for the show) will be fooled into thinking that "Glee" is really about football and cheerleading and will tune in next week?
"Need You Now". B+. Nothing like a little Lady Antebellum to show a team of neanderthal football jocks that glee club is cool. On one hand, Puck remains stuck in his usual semi-acoustic balladeer rut (solid but never spectacular) but on the other hand, the chemistry between him and Rachel was unexpectedly great and made the performance seem special.
"She's Not There". C-. Oh, I get it, they're zombies. And they're singing a Zombies tune. Mr. Schue, I disagree: there's nothing awesome about watching people stagger drunkenly around a stage.
"Bills, Bills, Bills". C. I've been fairly forgiving of the Warbler's past performances, but this one was ... the phrase that comes to mind is "full of themselves". I liked how they reveled in their overbearing whiteness and managed to come up with genuinely original takes on the songs they did. This performance was just too much though. The producers of Glee know they've got a mini-phenomenon on their hands with Darren Criss and his band of preppy gleeks and they've chosen to exploit that by having them exaggerate *everything* from freaky dance moves to OTT attempts at "getting down", to Criss' herky-jerky hand motions and pained "soulful" facial expressions.
"Thriller"/"Heads Will Roll". C+. "Glee" never manages to pull off a half-decent mashup, and this one was no exception -- these songs don't mesh together in the least. I also couldn't make any sense of the group choreography. Too much wandering around trying to twist themselves into weird shapes, not enough synchronicity (ironic, considering that the moral of the episode was about people from different social sub-groups learning to work together and appreciate what the others are doing). The makeup and costumes were pretty rad though. This episode was also about becoming bored as the result of constantly searching for (and expecting) unrealistically large spectacles to entertain oneself. This was supposed to feel like an "event", but for me it was just there, and not nearly as impressive as plenty of other "spectacle" performances in the show's history.