Glee is such a different show now than it was just two weeks ago that by the time the Gleek of the Week is rolling onscreen, it’s difficult to know what you think about what you just saw. Particularly when the episode takes on interracial dating and hate crimes -- and those are more or less just the B and C plots. While those storylines ended up being presented somewhat clumsily, and with probably one too many in play, the episode’s theme rings out clearly: everyone is growing up, which means making tough decisions. We really aren’t in Lima anymore. It doesn’t matter what Mr. Schue said or how he said it, whenever he said it; everyone either learned their lessons while at McKinley, or they'll learn them the hard way now, away from the safety of high school.
Knowing that the end is coming after one and a half more seasons, I guess the show has to make some big moves to keep things rolling forward -- hence a few logical leaps we're asked to accept in favor of character development. The show's full-time focus is coming back to the original gang at a particularly uneasy, unbalanced time in their lives -- but it's a freeing and romantic time too. Getting to know this Glee is like getting to know myself when I was 19 or 20 all over again (but with more show tunes, thank goodness): It's confusing and frequently funny, and I'm banking on it all being worth it.
I almost always love with an episode begins in song, because it tends to set the tone for the whole story. "Sad and beautiful, with a flair for the dramatic" came through loud and clear on "No One Is Alone," performed over the opening candlelight vigil walk. It’s the first of an almost full bill of songs (Mercedes numbers excluded) written by living legend Stephen Sondheim. And in an episode that was a little shaky on logical foundation, the additional support of Sondheim’s masterful lyrics is appreciated. Rachel opens up the flawless number beautifully, and just as I’m assuming the walk is probably for Kurt (per the preview for this episode), he joins in by her side. Chris Colfer’s lower register is an unexpected treat, and the song ends up walking them to the site of a hate crime committed against a friend of their neighbor's. A
The episode was at its best in the random bits of weird humor sprinkled amongst the serious issues, like Sam’s newfound love for The Facts of Life. From a childhood spent with TV Land, I could identify the sounds of Ms. Garrett and the gang from the second Mercedes first walked down the stairs to find Sam eating Lucky Charms out of a mixing bowl. Facts always makes me think of two things: 1. Handyman George Clooney, and 2. Being quite young and hearing an interview where Lisa Whelchel (oh, you weren't watching Lisa Whelchel interviews as a child?) said that everyone started calling the show "FATS of Life" in its later years, which made her feel very angry. Sam sees it a little differently: "It’s about this old redheaded lady who runs this boarding school for lesbians. And then I think the lesbians’ school burns down, so now the old redheaded lady opened up this pot dispensary called Edna’s Edibles. They all work there." Sign me UP.
Anyhow, Mercedes joins in, because who wouldn’t after that tantalizing description? Of course, Sam can’t sit still for two seconds before asking her why she broke up with him. She tells him she had her reasons and then helpfully rattles off every single other girl he dated in the Glee Club. (Wow, did he really cruise through the main credits.) But then that "obvious sexual chemistry" Sam keeps talking about seems to finally overwhelm her and -- boom -- they’re making out.
NEXT: Fur kills, but fake fur keeps you warm...because it's winter outside, you knuckleheads.