It’s time to put our imagination hats on. If you know what I look like, just imagine my face. If not, here I am (but basically four years older) and I’ve actually managed to get my hair back to that length which is exciting (maybe just for me). Okay, now you can see my face. Now imagine it with an absurdly frustrated brow and I’m sort of just shaking my head back and forth. There’s just this slight look of exasperation on my face to even things out. That face is basically how I felt about last night’s episode of Glee. Don’t get me wrong. It was downright brilliant at times and was one of the most intense episodes of the series. It had its moments that nearly matched the suicide scene from “On My Way“, but Glee‘s biggest problem reared its head in just the worst way imaginable. Glee attempts to be a dramedy, and that’s fine. However, there are certain plots that are just so serious and sensitive that you can’t shoehorn endless jokes in around them. It ruins the mood of the series and Glee is not well-written enough to pull of that kind of mood whiplash (Freaks and Geeks it is not), and so what could have been one of the best episodes of the series is simply another episode of Gleethat failed to live up to its own potential.
It’s the week of Rachel and Kurt’s auditions for NYADA which would make for a busy enough episode as is but as we’re soon to find out, things are going to get much more complicated. Kurt is considering doing a very lavish (and fire-hazardy) rendition of “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera. However, he’s bored by it. He thinks it’s too safe but Rachel convinces him to play things safe because if he goes to risky, she believes (and she legitimately believes this) that Kurt could be subconsciously sabotaging himself. When it comes time for him to have his audition, he switches back to his riskier song choice at the last minute (in his gold lamé pants under his costume) and wows over the scout from NYADA who applauds his bold song choice. When it’s Rachel’s time to perform (doing “Don’t Rain On My Parade” because as we’ve known since Season 1, she’s known it since she was 4), she chokes and the scout (Whoopi Goldberg) refuses to let her start over a second time. A devestated Rachel recedes into the woodworks and is heartbroken (and obviously completely devestated) by the episode’s end. We also find out that Bieste’s husband Cooter (I had actually forgotten they got married) has been beating her and although they make the girls in the New Directions go through a whole lesson about abuse against women, Bieste lies to Sue and the girls and returns to Cooter by the end of the episode. Puck’s dad also returns to town and despite actually studying for his Geography final, Puck fails the one exam he needs to pass in order to graduate from McKinley. Shit got real.
Here’s my take on the performances which were actually mostly all pretty excellent. I’ve seen “Music of the Night” live (not on Broadway but in Pantages theatre in Canada where it played for many years) in Phantom of the Opera, and while Chris Colfer might not be Michael Crawford (loved the joke they even made about it), I thought he nailed the song. I would have loved to actually hear a duet between him and Lea Michele with her as Christine. Puck did an alright job with “School’s Out.” It’s not an especially challenging song, and he did it justice even if I wasn’t wowed. While the teachers called the girls out for their version of “Cell Block Tango” as not meeting what they wanted from the assignment, I thought their choreography and deliver was still sexy as hell and now I want to watch Chicago all over again (so many showtunes this week. And I LOVED it). Chris Colfer gave one of his best performances of the series with “Not the Boy Next Door” from The Boy From Oz. He definitely made Hugh Jackman proud, and if Kurt doesn’t get into NYADA, I will really be shocked. While I wasn’t crazy about a punk rock version of “The Rain In Spain” from My Fair Lady (which I also want to watch again now), it was an interesting and inspired song choice. I thought the girls of the New Directions did a really haunting job with Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out” and the way it interespersed with the scenes of Bieste going back to Cooter were heartbreaking. It’s not one of my favorite Lea Michele performances but boy did she sing the hell out of Kelly Clarkson’s “Cry.” If there’s one thing that girl does well, it’s turn every single solo performance into a master class in how to add dramatic subtext to a vocal performance.
I’m going to keep this review short so this will be the sole recap of the story. The stuff about Bieste being abused by Cooter was some of the strongest material the show’s ever done. Especially the scene where Bieste breaks down and says she forgave him because she doesn’t think anyone else will ever love her. Dot Marie Jones owned that scene, and as someone who’s known women who have suffered from domestic abuse, I understand the “battered housewife” syndrome all too well. If Dot Marie Jones is wanting an Emmy nomination, this episode is her tape and she just tore my heart out. I would have never thought she could give that wonderful of a performance and the dynamic between her, Roz, and Sue was really well played. However, they also rushed the shit out of this story. This deserved so much more attention, and by putting it an episode with two other very big stories, it undersold how important an issue like this is. It belittled it by putting it on the same level as choking in a big performance or by not passing a test. Also, Sue kept making jokes like always and it just never seemed appropriate. Glee has always had mood problems, but they’ve never been as prominent as they have been this episode (which is a shame because all of the scenes [even the ones that should have had their own episode] were all great. They just didn’t connect well).
I just can’t do any more writing tonight. I could write a good 2000 word review of this episode (Game of Thrones) style, but I just want to actually do something besides write this evening. I haven’t played Xenoblade Chronicles in like a week, and I don’t want to somehow not end up beating that game after putting over 30 hours in to it. Anyways, there were a lot of great moments in this episode. It’s assauging my fears that Glee isn’t going to try and neatly wrap up every story of its graduating seniors (which it doesn’t have to now that they’re almost all coming back in one form or another. Still don’t have any fucking clue how that’s going to be feasible), and because Rachel choked (and didn’t resolve the problem by episode’s end), Glee proved it can still shock me in ways that don’t involve teacher’s sleeping with students or students trying to get babies taken away. There are now four episodes left in the season. Please, Glee, for the love of God, see us to the end in a satisfying manner.
Final Score: B+