'The Glee Project' recap: 'Romanticality'

It's all about faking it effectively this week

"The Glee Project"

"The Glee Project"

Credit: Oxygen

The theme for the week is romanticality, which isn't really a word at all, as my automatic spell check keeps reminding me by changing it to romantically, but hey, this show ain't about proper English, it's about singing and dancing! So, let's get to exactly that!

The homework assignment was "More than Words" by Extreme, and our intrepid GleePros are paired up so they can sing goopy '90s lyrics to one another. Shanna with Michael, Ali with Blake and Lily with Aylin. Aylin and Lily don't look entirely comfortable with this pairing, but they look considerably more comfortable than Michael and Shanna. Shanna points out that this is all on Michael, who is stiff under the best of conditions whether or not a girl is involved. I'm a little surprised that he's still on the show, except that the guy count is dangerously low. Send home Michael and pretty soon every video will look like a sapphic love fest.

Robert introduces a special guest -- Nuno Bettencourt, lead guitarist for Extreme! He'll be playing guitar as the kids get all snuggly to this most excellent prom song. Robert admits he lost his virginity to "More than Words." TMI! TMI!

Darren Criss  is the guest "Glee"ster for the day. He explains that romance is about being vulnerable. If that's the case, I have some massive doubts about how well this week is going to go. Not only do they have to be vulnerable, they have to be vulnerable with the same people they're competing against. I know, actors do it every day, but it's a hard skill to master.

They perform for Darren, and as expected, Shanna and Michael are the most wooden of the bunch. But at the other end of the spectrum, Lily and Aylin look like drunk chicks who've been dared to make out at a dive bar. Kudos to them for going for the gusto, but this borders on camp. Somewhere in the middle Blake and Ali have a sweet, quiet moment that hopefully doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

Darren thought they were all very distinct and different, but he thought Michael and Shanna were distinctly stiff. He thought Aylin and Lily were over-the-top, as "Glee" isn't an R-rated summer comedy. But he noticed that Blake and Ali were very vulnerable and relaxed, so he gives the win to Blake, possibly because it would be tacky to give Ali three wins in a row.

For the video, they'll be pairing up yet again for… "We Found Love" by Rihanna. They will play high school students in detention over the weekend. "Breakfast Club"! Less emoting, more making out, but basically the same concept.

As the winner of the challenge, Blake gets to pick his partner, and he wisely chooses Ali. Darren then finishes the job of pairing people up and puts Aylin with Shanna and Michael with Lily. Lily is disappointed, because the fire she has with Blake will be harder to recreate with Michael. I was unaware of the fire with Blake, but good for her.

Brook, Zach's assistant choreographer, is taking over for Blake while Zach is working on "Glee." She has everyone circle around their partner, and that's about all we see of the choreography. Lily knows she and Michael are going to have to work on the touchy-feely thing, while Ali wants to get out of her chair, as she thinks it will help the scene. I have to hand it to Ali; no one can question her commitment. I would hate to be her insurance carrier or her primary physician, but she's meant for Hollywood.

Into the recording studio we go! Nikki is looking for harmony, which will not be easy, as most of the GleePro kids have no experience with it. Aylin struggles a bit, but gets through it. It's when her partner Shanna steps up to the microphone that everything falls apart. She's too soft, then too loud. Shanna has a great voice, but she's having a hell of a time modulating it.

Nikki expects Michael (aka The Tin Man) to be a challenge, but, weirdly, he nails it. Lily also nails it, finding her soft and sweet side. Nikki says Lily has become a studio singer, and she means that in the best possible way.

But Nikki is most impressed by Ali. Blake, however, is off key. Nikki thinks she's found the crack in his armor -- harmony. He messes up and messes up and then messes up some more. Apparently, this is a big crack.

Video shoot! Director Erik explains the storyline to the kids. It's basically "Breakfast Club," but with lots and lots of making out. He wants to see connection and chemistry. Zach is shocked when he sees exactly that between Lily and Michael. Lily comes down a notch and Michael comes up a notch and, yes, they meet in the middle. This is definitely a surprise -- I mean, even Lily didn't have high hopes for finding chemistry with Michael.

Blake is sure he can do a great job -- thanks to his one-on-one with Darren! Flashback to the one-on-one. This wavy dream sequence thing is really lame, producers, FYI. Anyway, in the meeting Darren talks about love. Blake tells Darren he has a girlfriend, and Darren suggests he draw on that memory of love to act. This is not exactly a big insight into Method acting or anything, but Blake nods seriously.

Apparently, Darren's advice pays off, as Blake's scene with Ali impresses Robert as creative and playful. He especially likes it when Blake pulls Ali out of her chair, as that makes it real to him.

Unfortunately, no one likes Shanna and Aylin's scene. It looks too forced and too choreographed. I would suggest that's mostly because they're running around and trying to hold hands and kiss at the same time, but okay, forced and choreographed it is.

Zach, Robert and Nikki don't know who to send to the bottom! Yes, yes, they do, but it's important to pretend. I think they all need an acting lesson just to get through these extremely staged scenes every week.

The video, as usual, is awesome. Even Shanna and Aylin don't look forced once their best moments have been edited together.

Time to announce the final three! Robert lavishes praise on Lily for dialing it down and showing her soft side. The judges also point out that Ali is, yet again, dead on. She and Lily are safe.

Robert tells Michael he's received the stiffness note yet again from a guest judge -- and when someone new comes in every week to give the exact same note, that's a problem. Nikki tells Blake harmonies are important to "Glee," and he's got a weakness. Aylin was a little too much. Robert tells Shanna that she was stiff at first, then over-the-top with Aylin. Shanna will be performing for Ryan, as will Aylin and Blake.

I would love to tell you all about these performances, but my DirecTV cut out until the last ten minutes of the show. Great.

The good news is that my TV kicked back on just in time for me to see Shanna tell Ryan that she thinks Michael should be in the bottom three, not her. Ryan doesn't argue with her, and in fact says he wants to see this kind of feistiness in her performance -- if she can return next week. I'd like to point out that Shanna is absolutely right -- Michael is the weakest link here, and he's really staying in this because he's one of two guys left. But whether or not Ryan will be happy she's pointed this out, I don't know.

Ryan says Shanna didn't deliver enough to feel safe. He liked seeing Aylin's softness, but she also forgot some music. He also thought Blake was coasting, but as he has a Y chromosome, we know he's not going anywhere.

Time to post the results. Aylin is worried she's going home. Shanna is worried. Blake is nervous. Blake is the only one who doesn't have to be nervous, really. But I would hate to have to choose between Aylin and Shanna. They're both powerhouse singers.

Not called back: Shanna. Wow. The girl never got a negative note, and bam. I'm really sad to see her go, honestly. But I think she has a real future on Broadway rather than television -- she has a theatrical sensibility (and voice) that may be too big for television. She leaves with two suitcases and twenty bucks in her hands, and she's going to make it. I don't doubt it.

Next week, there seems to be a lot of emoting. Crying, tearing of hear, that sort of thing. Should be interesting!

Do you think Shanna was right that Michael deserved to go? Which couple did you like best? And do you think Michael has some final four security?

Everything: Glee

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Liane-bonin-starr-sm
Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.
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