SPOILER ALERTS. SERIOUSLY. SEASON RUINING SPOILERS AHOY
Holy fuck. I feel like there isn’t a more appropriate way to begin my review of the shocking mid-season finale of Glee. I apologize for the profanity, but if you’ve seen the episode, you can at least see where I’m coming from. Because the gods of scheduling hate me, I was unable to watch “On My Way” when it aired last night because I was covering a Frankie Rose concert for work (which you can read about here) which was pretty disappointing (except for the awesome openers) so I was doubly pissed that I had to miss Glee. At the show, I kept receiving texts from my sister telling me how amazing the episode was and an expletive ridden text after its final shocking twist so to say that I was on the receiving end of a torturous wait to get home from work today so I could finally watch the episode would be an understatement. The interwebs were ablaze with talk about the episode, and I had to go out of my way to avoid any and all spoilers (and since part of my job involves me scouring the internet for music related news, it was very difficult). Thankfully the wait was worthwhile because last night’s Glee was easily one of the three best of the entire series if not the very best period. It was, without a doubt, the most emotionally intense hour of Glee I’ve ever sat through and one of the most courageous and brave stories that network TV has dared to tell.
After he was spotted at Breadstix with Kurt in last week’s episode, Karofsky has been unceremoniously outed at his new high school and walks into the locker room to see the word “fag” spray painted over his locker. It’s even worse after he rushes out in shock from the locker room because he is now a victim of the same kind of hateful and vicious bullying he put Kurt through all over the internet. After hearing one hateful message after another via cyberbullying, Karofsky decides to kill himself though his attempt (by hanging) thankfully fails. Karofsky’s suicide attempt creates major waves back at McKinley, among both the student body and the faculty (even a ridiculously docile Sue who is now pregnant and being kind to everyone), as everyone wonders what more they could have done to stop this from happening. Karofsky’s suicide attempt even tempers the uber-villain Sebastian as he feels guilty for mean comments he had made to Karofsky in the past, and it inspired him to make peace with the New Directions and to help organize a fund-raiser for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” charity. After Mr. Schue has a talk with the kids about never letting something in their life get them so far down that they would consider taking their own life (because in a characteristically cheesy Mr. Schue moment, he talked about being suicidal after being caught cheating on a test), Rachel and Finn decide to grab life by the balls and get married right after Regionals.
I’ll cover the individual performances of Regionals in a bit, but needless to say, McKinley won. Had the Warblers won and ended the New Directions’ chances right then and there, that would have been ballsier to me than the big twist at the end of the episode. After the competition, Kurt went to visit Karofsky at the hospital. Kurt was still feeling guilty for rejecting Karofsky (as well as not returning his phone calls), but Karofsky apologized to Kurt yet again for all of the hell he put him through and how strong Kurt was to deal with what Karofsky did when Karofsky couldn’t take similar treatment for even a day. Kurt agrees to help Karofsky through all of this and makes an offer to be his friend which Karofsky warmly accepts. Quinn has been re-accepted to the Cheerios by this newly nice Sue, but when she is on her way to her house to pick up her bridesmaid dress for Rachel and Finn’s wedding, she is distracted by text messages and gets nailed by a fast moving car. The episode ends and we have to wait til April 10th to find out if she’s dead or alive. Are you fucking kidding me?
This is going to be a long review. You’ve been warned. Darren Criss started out the episode with “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant. While I can’t make up my mind on whether or not it was a completely asinine idea to stylistically cut this performance back and forth with footage of Karofsky’s decision to kill himself, it remains one of Blaine’s most impressive performances of the season and arguably one of the most haunting moments of the series. It will be with me for a long time. Darren Criss sang the hell out of the song, and there’s going to be a whole paragraph about Max Adlers’ performance later and why he need’s a special guest star nomination at the next Emmy awards. The Warblers were in my complete and honest opinion better this year than the New Directions who I’m hoping are giving their one mediocre competition performance of the year. Whether it was Grant Gustin’s silky smooth delivery of “Stand” by Lenny Kravitz as well as on “Glad You Came” by the Wanted or the excellent choreography of the entire Warblers crew, they just seemed more put together and cohesive than the New Directions who almost invariably become a one person show. The New Directions had three songs but only one of them worked for me. I simply didn’t care for their mash-up of Nicki Minaj’s “Fly” with R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” or Rachel singing solo on “Here’s to Us” by Halestorm (I write about music and have no idea who this is). However, the Troubletones surprisingly brought it covering Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”.
Let’s take the twist at the end out of the equation for a second (because I feel like it’s very contrived and distracts from the main theme of the episode which is choosing life) and praise Glee yet again for being the only show on American network TV that is willing to tackle issues like gay teen suicide, homophobia and gay-motivated bullying. I have known so many kids over the years that have struggled with the issue of sexual identity in our close-minded and intolerant society, and the recent spurt of gay teen suicides that are tearing apart so many households in this country is finally drawing attention to the issue, although it still often seems like the road to a society where gay kids can live openly and without fear is impossibly far down the road. Ever since it turned out that Dave was actually gay, he quickly became one of the most interesting characters on the show. Max Adler played him so well, and if ever TV has had a perfect representation of the confused, gay jock, it’s Karofsky, and I’ve been calling a Dave suicide attempt since last season (I thought it was going to happen after prom). The writing during the lead-up to his attempt was simply phenomenal. It was almost too painful and honest and raw to watch. I was sitting there crying and yelling at my TV for Dave not to do it (I thought he was really going to die). Then, they topped it off with the most heartfelt and sweet scene between him and Kurt. If you can watch this series and still be a homophobe and think gay kids deserve treatment like that, then you can kindly go fuck yourself and stop reading my blog. I don’t want your traffic.
I hope that Max Adler returns to a more consistent spot in the main cast after his powerhouse performance last night. There was such a raw power to those moments right before he hung himself. Like I said in the last paragraph, it simply felt so real that I could barely stand to watch it. Max Adler is responsible for much of the strength of those moments. When he wound up in that locker room, you knew things were going to be bad, but watching him go from shock, to tears, to doomed resignation was such powerful television. Virtually every single second that he was on screen this episode had me in streams of inconsolable tears and the quick shots of his father (Daniel Roebuck) trying to resuscitate his son were among the most difficult to watch. The whole notion of what needs to be done to help young homosexuals in this country realize that they aren’t alone and that we as a society love them and care about them (rather than be like Rick Santorum and want to get rid of them all) is a very important issue for me, and Max Adler and Chris Colfer (as well asGlee’s writing team) need recognized for the courageous battle they’re waging against homophobia.
I have plenty of other things to say about the episode. I could talk about how I still hate the idea that Finn and Rachel are getting married (and how it could possibly cause the death of Quinn!) or how it seemed ridiculously sudden that Sebastian became a good guy because he felt guilty for bullying Karofsky (though he had no remorse for blinding Blaine) or how any respect I had for Mr. Schue at the beginning of the show is gone because the writing for his character has gotten so unbelievably terrible over the years or how the show can’t seem to consistently pick good competition numbers for the New Directions, but I really need to watch last night’s Justified as well which I also had to miss for that awful Frankie Rose concert. I hate how angry it makes me when I think about homophobia. Like, I preach a message of love and peace and understanding but then the ignorance and hate in other people’s hearts just tears me up inside and drives me crazy. I could opine on all of these topics but I’ll spare you reading any more of my inane ramblings and simply say that “On My Way” was easily one of the best episodes of the series and it gives me hope that with enough work, Glee can remain on the right track.
Final Score: A