‘The Glee Project’ Recap: Sue Sylvester, Slushies and Swimsuit Tension (VIDEO)

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We’re officially within the Top 10 of The Glee Project Season 2, with only nine contenders still standing and singing their hearts out for that coveted role on Glee. It seems like the show has finally focused on celebrating talent, rather than type… at least, that’s what we hope for it going forward.

We hate to say it (okay, no, we don’t), but until this week it felt like a lot of kids were skating by because of their interesting backstories, rather than actually being able to vocally blow Ryan Murphy and Co. out of the water. Sure, there may still be one or two we’re still questioning in the Top 9, but for the most part, competition is fierce. And this was the week for those few who have been playing it safe or just not opening up as much to really bring it — because this week was “Fearlessness” week.

Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t yet watched “Fearlessness.”

Sue Sylvester herself, Jane Lynch, was the guest mentor this week on The Glee Project. She stepped into the chorus room with Robert Ulrich to hear the remaining kids take on Heavy D‘s “Now That We Found Love” for homework. It took a few years, but Glee finally seemed to agree with the general consensus that Will Schuester should not rap anymore. Let’s hope after tonight, The Glee Project realized its skinny white kid contestants shouldn’t rap anymore, either.

While technically proficient (well, except for Nellie who stumbled and forgot a few words) and certainly on point for going outside their comfort zones, we’re glad we were watching from home where we could do a “They’re kidding me, right?” double take safely without cameras watching. It was more stilted speaking and stunty posturing than confident rapping. We have to hand it to Lynch, though; she never missed a beat.

While Lily ultimately won the homework assignment — much to Aylin’s runner up dismay — it was Charlie who stole the most focus again this week. First, during the homework assignment when he went around slapping his co-stars’ behinds (we can’t help but wonder what elaborate backstory he created for that character!). Then, again, when it was revealed that he and Aylin were having trouble keeping things strictly platonic and professional. Ah, young “love;” it seems like the only thing in the world at the time, but if it comes between an aspiring performer and his or her dream role, watch out, because it’s about to be trampled!

Prior to selecting Lily as the winner, Lynch let the contestants in on the little secret that often the best things come from places of fear (“I’m surging on caffeine and fear!” she half-joked). To that note, their music video shoot for the week forced Nellie to go even further outside of her comfort zone when the group was asked to don Speedos and play members of a high school swim team. And it forced everyone to take Slushies to the face as they half-playfully, and half-actually competitively, chased each other around the pool with plastic cups in their hands for a mash-up of Pat Benatar and Blondie‘s (respectively) “Hit Me With Your Best Shot/One Way or Another.” Just when we were finally over having that former song stuck in our heads from Community’s use of it during their paintball war, The Glee Project brought it back!

Unlike every other week thus far, though, there was a wardrobe fitting instead of a choreography session prior to the music video shoot, which spurred a surprisingly mature heart-to-heart about “junk” being on display like superheroes. From there, the group went into the recording studio with Nikki Anders, who immediately caught onto Charlie’s distraction and Michael’s reluctance to try something new (in this case, a note he feels is too high). But it was when the group was on-set at the pool that things got really… wavy.

Nellie was once again given the sultry solo, and Nellie was once again uncomfortable with it. We’re just going to say this: If Ulrich or choreographer Zach Woodlee or director Erik White didn’t think she had something special, she wouldn’t be given something so subtly complex. And yes, playing sexy and playing a teenager is very complex because it’s a fine line between cutesy and creepy.

Ali really mustered up her courage, though, and went above and beyond to prove that she could not only be fearless but also be just like everyone else when she fought to be slushied. Since her body doesn’t handle extreme temperatures well, and since sitting out of her wheelchair requires her to hold herself up, rather than deflect Slushie chunks by twisting and turning, production was going to let her sit out of the solo shots. She convinced them otherwise, and despite a scary moment at the end when she couldn’t quite catch her breath, she powered through and proved resilient. And honestly, any pool scene that doesn’t feature the one in the wheelchair flinging themselves in the pool is a success in our book (sorry, Artie!).

Small moments of celebration aside, it was business as usual when determining who had successfully showed off their “Fearlessness” and therefore were safe this week. MVPs were easy to come by with Lily who was deemed “owning” this video, and Ali, who went outside herself to get the job done. Criticism fell to Charlie, who had the first line in the song but  didn’t deliver on energy, as well as his lady love Aylin, whose focus was also off. Nellie was called out for needing so many takes, despite delivering a killer performance eventually. Michael was told he needed to “do more” not to fade into the background of these more dynamic performers, and Nikki pointed out how long it sometimes takes him to apply the notes he is given.

In the end, it was Aylin, Charlie, and Nellie who all ended up in the bottom three and had to perform last chance numbers in front of the panel. Call us the “mean girl” of the group, but there was some kind of vindication in Aylin and Charlie being pitted against each other. After all, The Glee Project is basically a long, televised job interview, but they were treating it like summer camp instead.

Aylin reached deep for affect with (some of which didn’t quite fit) Rihanna‘s “Take A Bow,” while Charlie put his own artistic spin on Tom Jones“It’s Not Unusual To Be Loved By You,” and Nellie blew Beyonce‘s “If I Were A Boy” out of the auditorium. After Charlie jumped off the stage to serenade the panel in front of their faces, even changing some of the lyrics to be about him and his situation, he straight-out begged Murphy to keep him. But it was just too little too late. His lack of focus and inability to take direction did him in for good, as Aylin and Nellie both received callbacks, while Charlie was cut.

While Murphy said he believed Charlie week after week when Charlie said he wanted to be on Glee and “could get there” with his performance and professionalism, Charlie was the type of artist who “marched to the beat of his own drummer” and rewrote songs to fit his personality and created outside of the box characters above and beyond the show. He was a big personality. And tonight The Glee Project stopped asking him to tone himself down to fit a mold; they released him to go do his own thing elsewhere.

Buzz Moments

OMG!: Unwinding after a long day on set by playing naked basketball. ‘Nuff said.

Thank you, TV gods: This week’s music video once again paired Nellie and Blake for the teensiest of moments, but the chemistry was palpable immediately. We knew it wasn’t just a fluke during “Sexuality!” There’s just something about those two that makes us want to see more from them… together.

Awk-ward: Lily used her one-on-one time with Lynch to ask her if when she’s in a scene with other people, she’s actually focused on being in character. Um, that’s what acting is, sweetie!

Hotness: The sheer power of Nellie’s singing ability during her last chance performance was so raw, so powerful and so beautiful.

Fab-u-lous: The underwater camera shots during this week’s music video allowed for a more fun, whimsical side of what are usually such polished performances.

Can. Not. Wait.: Without the wild card factor of Charlie stealing focus week to week, will we finally get to learn more about the until-this-point quiet underdogs like Abraham, Blake, and even Shanna?

Celebuzz Meter (1-10): 7

Watch this week’s music video below.

Do you think Charlie deserved to get cut tonight? Who would you have sent home instead? Sound off in the comments below!

Danielle Turchiano