You guys, I can't even come up with a funny, witty, or even referential title for Samuel this week. Like, was he in this episode?
I mean, have screenshots for this post, so he must have been, but he was SERIOUSLY edited down. My first thought is that he must have totally sucked, so in order for the producers to get the final four they were looking for, they had to make him unnoticeable. And given that nearly all of his confessionals were brief and purely observational, I say job well done--Samuel wasn't a competitor this episode, he was a narrator.
My second thought was just that he was exhausted. This challenge was pretty much right up his alley, musically speaking, so he was able to afford a more laid back attitude to the processions. Plus, they all seemed a little sleepy.
There certainly was quite a delayed reaction going on here at least. Samuel almost seemed to be studying Kevin before being all fist-pumpy. Everyone else was already bored with it.
I was surprised to find myself enjoying how he sang this--very calm, raspy, soulful. His voice, naturally, seems a little strained when he sings, so he should have inserted a little more energy into how he was carrying himself. As it was, the performance was pretty sleepy. However, I will admit that I thought he could have won it...until I heard the others sing. As Kevin pointed out, he just wasn't performing to the same energy standard as the others.
Also, this was SO not the challenge to break out the Michael Jackson hand, Dreads.
"I'm the only one in the top four that plays an instrument, and I play drums, guitar, bass, and piano."
Like I said: RIGHT UP HIS ALLEY. Although as Kevin pointed out this wasn't much of a leg up--if anything, he was just teaching them a good lie to tell at a casting call. But we'll come back to this.
"I'm the keyboard!"
I can practically hear the producers screaming from behind camera for one of the interns to bake cocaine into his lunch. Like, why is he always so low energy? This whole season he's been somewhat of a fan favorite, and generally up in the ranks in terms of contenders, but he's been SO under-the-radar. Which, you know, great--be a consistent, respectable performer, but remember that half of your job on this god blessed reality show is to get people to LOVE YOU.
Granted, his appearance, and occasional adorable outburst of personality have gotten me to solidly like him (I do like him, you guys) but I just...I NEED MATERIAL! I try to be fair and give him semi-equal attention because I don't want to seem biased, but damn it's hard trying to pull 1200 words out of this guy, AND keep you guys from hating me for saying them at the same time.
Sorry, that's been building. Let's move on, shall we?
"The best thing about music is that there's no way to be wrong."
Remember how I was right about McKynleigh?
Nah, the kid just generally seemed freaked out by the entire experience--it was exceedingly sweet and heart-warming the way the Samuel tried to comfort him by staring down a camera, telling him that a camera's job is just to make you look good. And of course, the kid hammed it up in an adorable, manner. Very possibly the cutest scene of the season.
Actually, come to think of it, Samuel probably succeeded the most in this mentoring part of the challenge--he was energetic, game, and playful. If this was the character Samuel chose to portray instead of Squinty van Smolder, I'd probably have found him a thousand times more interesting from the get go.
And now that I've been nice to him:
What is with the cast of this show and Quaaludes?! Samuel really has a hard time bringing it under pressure--with the homework assignments and when he's just sort of hanging out, he sings pretty well. But as he's said before, his nerves just close up his throat under duress. Unfortunately Nikki had completely run out of patience by the time they got to him, because woman was barely letting him finish a sentence if it wasn't sung.
Although I have to give him credit:
"Yeah, uh huh, you ARE sucking. Speed this up, I have a date."
"SHAKE ME LIKE A POLAROID PICTURE!"
I think Samuel got Nikki to make the fastest, most significant mood shift she's ever had. Looks like somebody just needed her battery recharged with some bad-ass belting.
I thought their criticism of Samuel pawing at the piano was pretty spot on. It's not a huge thing, seeing as they can always cut to someone else or re-edit the footage so that it plays over a the footage in different timing, but editing equals money, so getting him to polish it up a little was a good note.
This is what I was getting at before, about the instrument experience. It did not really benefit Samuel in this situation to know how to play an instrument because it distracted him from performing--he was thinking too much about how he'd play it in a show, rather than the most dynamic way to portray it onscreen.
As for his last chance performance, it's weird, I initially had him written down as giving the worst one, but watching it back for this post, I couldn't quite grasp why--it was sexy, it was original. It wasn't the most 'Glee' performance he could have done, but it was still a hell of a lot more interesting than Damian's vocal. Then he hit that last note. Let that be (no pun intended) a note to all singers--always nail that last, big note.
Okay, that was a pretty damn good pun.
I just love this shot--Ryan is essentially ordering Samuel to cry, and Ian is like 'Wtf? Since when is Glee sadistic?' Gotta love miscommunications among writers.
So for half a second, it looks like Samuel isn't getting called back, and the collective hearts of teen girls across the nation shatter into a million bits, right before they all start shrieking and giggling that he's still in, despite everyone thinking that he'd be gone. Personally, I thought that I thought Sam should have gone too, but watching the episode over, he really was the only one to embrace the challenge of mentoring a young kid, and for that there was no way they could have fairly cut him.
Good job making it this far, dreads. See you in the final.