Throughout this episode, it will come up many times that the Nor'easters only beat the Vassar Devils by four points and a long list of things the Nor'Easters lost points on will come up. Rather than list them throughout, let me just compile them here: choreography, "set cohesiveness" (which Isaac mentions is basically song selection), diction, intonation, dynamics, blend.
Sam says BONR gives them a chance to perform their ICCA set in a low key environment. As a note, the only other group we'll see in BONR is the Melodores. Nor'Easters go on and find that the audience response to "Jaywalk" is not particularly enthusiastic. I would reference No Comment's firehouse performance, but this is an a cappella showcase. There should be nothing but fans here.
In Illinois, but not for long, No Comment (NoCo) is going on spring break before they worry about their wild card submission. Micah has planned a road trip to Florida where they will beach and eventually meet up with All Night Yahtzee. Several of the NoCo members unused to beach sun, have gotten wicked looking sunburns.
Back in Boston, the Nor'easters watch the video of their BONR performance and seem to agree that "Jaywalk" is the weak link of their set. It's too late to learn a new song but there are other songs they have done. Sam really likes "Jaywalk". A song they refer to as YNTSLY comes up and Isaac explains to the camera that "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You" is a song they did last semester. (No one brings this up, so I'll just mention that this might be where eight new members becomes a factor.) Jimmy points out that new choreography would be a lot of work. They sing the song through with Sam trying out the solo which is new for her. And ultimately, everyone seems in favor of changing. I have no idea how representative of the norm that is, but that's now two groups changing their set right before semis.
The Nor'Easters bring back alum Shams to help with music direction.
In Florida, All Night Yahtzee (ANY) meets up with NoCo. Michael notes that they are all really attractive. Jessie tells them she's finding Florida a little humid. The groups quickly discover they are both performing "Bang Bang" and in answer to my internal question about this, Micah tells us practically everyone has an arrangement of "Bang Bang". They decide to have a Bang Off. We only see snippets, but it is clear that these are different but energetic versions of "Bang Bang". Both groups nod and cheer. (Interestingly, they seem to be doing this entirely in the spirit of fun and don't seem to need to designate a winner.) Michael thinks they should join forces and form a super group. Micah hopes ANY wins their semi, NoCo wins wild card, and they can all meet up in the finals…where NoCo will crush them.
In Boston, alum Ty is back to help with choreography. He tells us choreography is important otherwise they could all just send albums to the competition. Isaac explains that with Ty there are two options, "[Ty's] vision or [Ty's] vision".
Sam has declared Isaac's feet an emergency and taken him for a pedicure. He argues that he wears shoes.
Two days before semis and Sam is having trouble with the syncopation at the start of her solo and it is clear she is reaching her breaking point rehearsing this. Isaac tells her to "think about doing it right instead of what she's doing wrong". Sam knows how it should sound, she just isn't there yet. She tells them she needs to walk out. Isaac and another member follow her and give her a pep talk.
And we're at semifinals. Sam was asked to go pick the group number but didn't want that responsibility (one could say there's a lesson in this somewhere) so Brian goes on stage. However, by the time it's Brian's turn, 9th, 5th, 8th, 6th, 2nd, and 7th have already been selected. Sam has a "strong personal belief" that performance order is important. Isaac says you want the judges to have time to warm up, the audience to get into the groove, the sound "guy" to be all set. So, of course, they are all hoping for 10th. And Brian pulls 1st. Sam says that's the "worst thing" that could have happened. And reminds us this may be her last time on an ICCA stage.
Backstage, another member whose face I can't see well enough goes over to Sam and tries to be a positive calming influence. Isaac gives the whole group a pep talk before they go out. He tells them to be "the first thing the judges see and the last thing that they remember". Jessie mentions that she gets bad stage fright and now she's getting stage fright about stage fright.
Again, we're only shown snippets, although they are getting longer, but the Nor'Easters start off with YNTSLY featuring Sam and Isaac. Then "Say You Love Me" and "Elastic Heart". During "Elastic Heart" Jessie's hand starts shaking. We see close ups of her shaking out her hand, trying to get it to stop, trying to tuck it behind her. I can't tell how it looks from the judges table, but it really does look like a tic to me, not like she's trying to do weird choreography with her hand.
The second they are backstage she is in tears, saying if they lost it's all her fault. Sam tells her they are a group, not individuals, but reminds the camera one little mistake could cost them. Jimmy goes over to talk to her, again reminding her that it was a group performance and everyone worked hard and everyone made mistakes. Isaac is worried because he does not think that was a championship performance.
We see the tiniest snippets of the other groups (feel free to get out your a cappella bingo card): Choral Pleasure, Vassar Devils, Harvard Opportunes, Sigma'capella, Potsdam Pointercounts, Acappellics Anonymous, Charlie Chords, The Mixtapes, Distilled Harmony.
The Nor'Easters think the Vassar Devils and the Charlie Chords did well.
The judges deliberate.
Backstage Jessie tells Isaac she has a stomachache that is from "here to my vagina".
The results are in. In third, the Charlie Chords. In second, Nor'Easters. In first, Vassar Devils. Isaac's response to the camera is bleeped.
Backstage they are all very determined that this is not the end, they will move forward into the wild card round. Brian even suggests this will make them hungrier to succeed. They only lost to the Vassar Devils by five points, so once again it was a tight race. And it looks like we'll be watching two groups in the wild card round.