With just one week to go before its season finale, Glee used last night's penultimate episode to set up a few plot dominoes that will no doubt come tumbling down.
Here's the rundown:
Rachel spent most of the episode preparing for her second callback. The competition for the role of Fanny in Funny Girl was down to Rachel and two other girls. (If Rachel's horribly mean classmates were to be believed, those people were Sutton Foster and Mamie Gummer.) And as if Rachel needed another reason to be a ball of nerves: Once Cassandra got wind of her audition, she told Rachel that she'd moved up the date of her dance midterm. Cue: Rachel panic.
Meanwhile, Kurt was dealing with some anxiety of his own as he prepared to visit Lima because his father was having a follow-up doctor's appointment to learn whether or not his cancer was still present. Early on in the episode, we learned that Kurt's nerves had manifested into OCD behavior -- he was only wearing light blue socks, had become weirdly superstitious, and developed strange rituals. Once he was home, Blaine immediately took note of this and became understandably concerned.
Speaking of which, Kurt wasn't the only one back in Lima. Mike Chang and Mercedes were recruited by Schue to lend their expertise to the glee club before Regionals. Mercedes, who had been in Los Angeles finishing up her album, was acting as vocal coach, while Mike Chang made everyone put on their dancing shoes. (Side note: Mike's moves were as good as I remembered. I missed him so much!)
The episode also spent some time on Mercedes' battle with her record producer, who wanted her to have a much sexier image than she was comfortable having. He even threatened to put someone else's face on her album cover. As Kurt said in response, "Hell to the no." It was a nice attempt to give Mercedes a little arc, but frankly, the whole thing was a little lost with everything else that was going on. In the end, she stuck to her principles and refused to give the producers what they wanted. So they released her from her deal. She's a free agent of sorts now and claims she'll be selling her CD out of the trunk of her car. (In the real world, the CD would likely be the property of the record company, right?)
Despite Mercedes' professional troubles, she still managed to be a highly effective vocal coach to the New Class. Specifically, she helped Marley find some confidence, and Mike helped Jake polish his dancing.
My one complaint for the hour was the tragic under-use of the invariably talented Katey Sagal as Artie's mom, whom we met as a result of a storyline about Artie's reluctance to leave Lima for film school in New York. He had initially blamed his mom, but when Kitty looked into the issue further, it turns out Artie was only using that excuse to cover up his own reservations about leaving the protective bubble of his home. He eventually came around and decided to pursue the opportunity.
This of course leads us to believe that Artie will soon be joining the gang in New York, which could be a major storyline win because 1) The adventures of the New York gang are basically everything Smash could have been and I've been digging it, minus the prostitute stuff. 2) It means Artie and his vocal power won't disappear post-graduation. (Yes, guys, Artie is a favorite of mine.) And 3) One and two should be enough.
NEXT: Musical grades