Alright, Glee. That’s what I’m talking about. After a very disappointing return from the mid-season finale, you’re back at full-power with what was without question the best “tribute” episode of the entire series. I wish that it has not been four days since I watched this episode because some of the plot details have become sort of hazy in the buzzed state of mind I’ve been in thanks to my sinus pressure and allergy medication because the only other episodes from this season of Glee that I thought were as good as this one were “On My Way” and “The First Time.” So, while I’m going to have plenty of rave things to say about how much I enjoyed this episode (whether it was the uniformly beautiful musical performances, the actual storytelling on display during the “tribute” episode, or the numerous times the episode made me cry), this will likely be a relatively short review just because of the sheer amount of writing I have to get out of the way today. Regardless, I’m still managing to find myself amazed about how much I was able to enjoy an episode dedicated to Whitney Houston even though I wasn’t especially familiar with a lot of her music before I watched this episode.

Several of the students in the New Directi0ns are having trouble coping with the death of Whitney Houston despite the fact that it occurred over two months ago. Emma believes that the kids in the New Directions are equating the loss of Whitney with their own impending loss of their childhood as they graduate from high school (which is sadly coming so soon 😦  ) in a similar manner that Emma did with the death of Princess Diana. She suggests that Mr. Schue use their connection with Whitney Houston as an opportunity for them to get at the heart of any issues they need to work through before they all leave McKinley High. There were three stories at the heart of the episode. Kurt and Blaine are experiencing their first real relationship problems since they had sex for the first time. Kurt feels like Blaine is ignoring him and he begins to flirtatiously text another gay teen that he met at the music store. Blaine considers this cheating (it totally is) and it takes a heart-to-heart with Emma as a counselor for them to realize that they’re both struggling with the fact that in a couple months high school will be over and Blaine will have to stay at McKinley while Kurt goes off to college. The second story involved Joe and Quinn. Joe is helping Quinn go through her rehab and he’s realizing he’s attracted to her. She likes him as well, but Joe’s feelings are complicated because he doesn’t want to compromise his religious faith (i.e. have sex) which is ultimately good for Quinn because she doesn’t want to have another baby. The last story is about Emma and Will. Will wants to move the wedding up to May because he’s afraid that if the wedding is in the fall none of the kids in the New Directions who are graduating will be able to attend even though they’ve become like a family to him.

Let’s start with the musical numbers which were all good. That never happens on this show anymore. That used to only be the case back in Season 1. The opening number, “How Will I Know,” literally gave me chills. It was one of the classiest and most haunting performances of the series and it was the best way to open up the episode which let us know they wouldn’t be exploiting Whitney’s legacy. The a capella  arrangement and the almost gospel feel to it was just beautiful. Heather Morris might not have the best voice on the show but her version of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” gave her a chance to dance, and that’s always a ton of fun. She sounded good but obviously was nothing compared to Whitney’s voice. The duet between Samuel Larsen and Dianna Agron on “Saving All My Love for You” was almost as good as her duet of “Lucky” with Chord Overstreet last season. Plenty of simmering sexual tension and their voices sounded great. For one of the only Rachel/Santana duets, “So Emotional” was a knock-out punch. Naya Rivera and Lea Michele should have sung more songs together over the course of this series. There was a lot more chemistry between these two vocally than there was with either of them with Mercedes. Chris Colfer made me cry with his gorgeous rendition of “I Have Nothing.” He probably hasn’t had a better solo since “As If We Never Said Goodbye.” Boy can he sing! Darren Criss gave another very fun song for the week with “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay.” This was a serious step-up from his weak take on Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know.” The last song, “My Love Is Your Love” was good if not especially memorable but it’s always nice to see the whole group get in on a song in a non-competition episode.

Unlike other tribute episodes (especially “The Power of Madonna” or “Brittany/Britney”), there was an actual storyline in this episode that really continued to push so many of these characters down to their final moments as high schoolers on the show. Everyone in the cast is going in so many different directions. I have no idea how we’re going to bring them all back together on one show next season unless it’s like Game of Thrones and certain people just aren’t featured every episode. I haven’t made it much of a secret that Kurt’s my favorite character on the show, and I was surprised by just how much I was beginning to dislike him for the way he was treating Blaine by texting that other boy. However, it was all saved by a very touching scene with Mike O’Malley (who probably doesn’t have many appearances left as Burt Hummel) which totally made me cry. They have one of my favorite father/son relationships in the history of television. Also, the scene where Kurt and Blaine went to the counseling together also had me in tears. They’re such a great couple and I know their relationship isn’t going to survive Kurt leaving so I have to appreciate these last couple episodes they have together. My only complaint is that Darren Criss’ acting in those moments were absurdly wooden. He’s a great singer and dancer but he is not one of the better actors in the cast.

Part of me wants to write more but part of me also wants to not actually do any more writing today. So I’m just going to bring things to a close here. If this season still has 22 episodes like the past seasons, then there are five episodes left. For once, I don’t actually think their final competition will be the last episode. I’m guessing that Nationals will be the penultimate episode of the season with Graduation acting as the season closer. If you were a Vegas oddsmaker and you were trying to figure out what the odds are going to be that I will crying during the Graduation episode, don’t worry. It’s about 99%. I figure both my dad and I will need to have tissues nearby for the serious crying that will be going down when this group of kids that we’ve become pretty attached to over these last three years leaves. I’m curious which kids in the main cast that are graduating won’t be returning at all next season. I’m guessing we probably won’t see any more of Santana, Brittany, Mike, or Puck. Which is sad but the show has to make room for the new kids who will eventually fill the slots in the New Directions.

Final Score: A-