Yep, they were holding something back last week. I wasn't thrilled with the storyline advancement in this episode, but the music was off the charts.
"Unpretty"/"I Feel Pretty". B+. Not only was this the first mashup in the show's history that they didn't completely ruin, it flowed so seamlessly that you wouldn't have known it was a mashup. Quinn and Rachel were sitting right next to each other but barely acknowledged each other's presence -- the tension was palpable and they might have well have been singing in different time zones. It was like watching two basketball teammates pull off efficient, sometimes breathtaking moves even though you know they don't like each other.
"I've Gotta Be Me". B. This might have been Finn's best solo vocal to date, and in a genre that I didn't think he could pull off. Well technically he didn't exactly pull it off because he handed off the dancing portion of the song to somebody else. The chemistry between the two was cute, but they never gelled. They were more or less spectators for each other's respective contributions.
"Somewhere Only We Know". B-. This might have carried actual emotional heft if Kurt had shown the slightest sign of being anything less than ecstatic to be studying at Dalton Academy over the past few months. Or if he'd ever talked about how badly he'd like to return to McKinley high, even once. Still, I can't hate on the song.
"As If We Never Said Goodbye". A. And just like that, they flip the switch and make Kurt's return seem like a big deal. Like the glee club members, I watched this in stunned silence. Chris Colfer sold the excitement of his character perfectly, always balancing precariously between breaking into fits of laughter or tears of joy while delivering a flawless singing performance. This got five minutes and an entire TV segment to itself (commercials both before and after) and why not? Who could possibly follow that?
"Barbra Streisand". B+. A flash mob doing a two-word novelty song in a mall needs to go all out on chutzpah if it's going to be entertaining, and this certainly accomplished that. Just who were some of those odd characters getting down among the crowd? Puck's dancing and Kurt's facial expressions were the kinds of little details that emerge on repeat views that really help make the performance great.
"Born This Way". C+. I didn't like the T-shirt moralizing (and weren't they supposed to reveal negative, or hidden traits? How do "no weave" and "likes boys" fit the bill?) and they didn't do anything other than walk in circles around the stage, but when a high-octane performance of a great Lady Gaga song is the worst thing on the episode, you can't really complain.