Sunday, December 9, 2012

Glee Episode Recap: "Swan Song"

Here's what you missed on Glee:

Kitty is an evil pyschobitch who totally wants to kill Marley because she's going out with Kitty's ex-boyfriend so Kitty somehow talked Marley into becoming an anorexic because it really is that simple and the writing really is that bad. So Marley fainted onstage. In the meantime, Kurt and Rachel had a big party and Rachel made up with Brody and Kurt is back on speaking terms with Blaine, which is kind of important so that Hummelberry can be aware of what's going on in Lima, and that's what you missed on Glee.

Marley passes out on Glee
Marley, can you hear me? Can you hear me? A frantic Unique is barking orders; her best friend has passed out, and she needs space. Kitty, looking very worried, asks if anybody has anything Marley can eat, because she knows why this happened. I am a little surprised that she is concerned. Blaine has a juice box in his backpack. Nightbird to the rescue again! Marley tries to reject it, and Kitty is VERY insistent that she drink it.

Uh, Kitty... is this not what you've been scheming for all autumn? What exactly was your plan here?

Santana gets it immediately.

Jake mentions that Marley has been skipping lunch regularly, and Ryder - if he's thinking clearly - will remember that she's been throwing up deliberately. Santana flat - out accuses Kitty of trying to turn Marley into an anorexic - which I still think does not ever happen, and certainly not this quickly. Will arrives. A nurse is on the way. Good. A professional whose job it is to assess this kind of situation. If Santana has already figured it out, I'm sure a trained heath care professional will as well.

Will pulls out the first of what will be many Contrived Rules Suddenly Put In Place to Create Conflict by informing everybody that they can be disqualified for leaving the stage for any reason... including, presumably, a fire, terrorist attack, or the physical collapse of a student. "That's a rule?" asks Finn. Well, yes, Finn. It got added to the rule books today, right before you went onstage. Five bucks says Sue is the person who lobbied for that rule change, because here she is, cheerfully announcing that the Warblers have won Sectionals.

Well, yeah, of course they have. They'd have done that even if Marley had not fainted, because... Gangnam Style.

Blaine takes advantage of the fact that Kurt is now speaking to him to call New York, where Kurt and Rachel are cleaning up from the Kiki. Kurt feels bad for Blaine; if Blaine had not left the Warblers, he'd be on his way to Regionals right now. And that's true, although... if Blaine had not left the Warblers, he'd have lost Regionals last year, so it kind of evens out.

Should Rachel call Finn? Uh, Finn does not want to talk to her, right?

Kurt explains the Winter Showcase to us


Kurt sees this as a sign that he must not screw up his second and final chance to audition for NYADA and Carmen Thibadeux, who is now a scary opponent for him even though she praised him very highly the only time they ever met. Speaking of Carmen... Kurt gives us some expository dialogue that shows Carmen, who is Dean for the first time this year, going through her long-standing annual tradition...uh, as Dean... of hand delivering Winter Showcase invitations to the ten finest students in all of NYADA. Only the cream of the crop, advanced students who have been preparing for months for their moment to shine. No random strangers in off the street allowed to sing here, no sir, at this very prestigious annual showcase led by a woman who has been Dean for a year. Past participants include winners of Emmys, Tonys, and one Oscar winner.

Jennifer Hudson, is that you? Or could it be... Meryl Streep? Evidently, Carmen did NOT become Dean at NYADA this year after all, and Rachel is not part of her inaugural class. Don't worry... that does not even begin to be the worst continuity error they make in this episode. But the proudest moment of the careers of these illustrious people was the moment Carmen handed them their ticket.

Jennifer, toss the envelope and go polish your Oscar instead, because the Academy tends to reward good work, and Carmen's just arbitrary, inconsistent and random in every single judgment we've seen her make since she first came on Glee.

And now that we know for sure that getting this silly envelope is the crowing glory of a young performer's entire professional life until the day they die, it pretty much stands to reason that Rachel's getting one of these things as a Freshman in her first semester because Brad directed the episode and she's his special, special snowflake. Rachel gets the envelope even though she choked at her audition, she can't dance and she's been fighting with the dance instructor all year. Right.

Rachel has a Golden Ticket.  Where's Mr. Wonka?

Fun fact: Kurt and Rachel have an old-fashioned turntable with vinyl albums. Well, sure. This is the same kid who sang "Blackbird" to a cassette tape. Clearly, Kurt is a traditionalist.

 Finn arrives in the choir room to see that an army of Cheerios have swarmed in like looters during a major blackout. Apparently, at McKinley High School, extra-curricular clubs like Glee Club do not exist because they are fun, because they hone performing skills, solidify friendships, develop leadership ability or even just sing pretty songs. At McKinley, clubs only exist for trophies. I want to know what kind of trophies the superhero club is preparing for. (Maybe they have to win costume contests at a Con, or some such thing.) Sue has commandeered their rehearsal space because she doesn't have three or four of her own. Interestingly enough, Brittany and Kitty are not helping with this project, and that's too bad. There was potential for a really weird, sad, awkward moment that they chose to ignore.

Indeed, this could have been a very sad and interesting episode for guilt-stricken Kitty all around. They really missed an opportunity to develop her here. See, this is why the newbies can't get any depth.

Finn and Sue fight over the trophy

Sue grabs the Nationals trophy and prepares to run over it with her car; Sue does not appear to understand that while the room may now be hers, the trophy is not. Finn grabs the other side of the trophy, and they play tug o war all the way into Figgin's office, where the stupidest school administrator in the history of television compares their loss to the end of a season for a football team. Of course, the football season is over because there is no inherent entertainment value in watching a football team with no opponent; at least in theory, good Glee Clubs are fun to watch whether they have competition or not. That's... kind of why we all watch the 19 episodes a year that are not about one of the three annual competitions.

Figgins also says they can't use the April Rhodes auditorium anymore, even though it's called the April Rhodes Auditorium because she bought it for them so this specific thing could never happen to them again. I see the opportunity for a fabulous guest star visit and a comic lawsuit over this decision, but... they just accept that the choir has no place to rehearse. This goes in the file under "Contrived Rules set up just to cause conflict".

As soon as she takes possession of the keys, however, Sue feels... empty. Possibly this is because when she finally succeeds at her objective to Destroy the Glee Club, her narrative purpose is basically over. Imagine a cartoon where Wiley Coyote gets that darned Roadrunner in the first minute of the cartoon... and they still have four minutes to go. Now what? And while she may have really enjoyed upsetting Will and foiling Finn, she is actually a teacher, and is strangely a little worried for the rest.

Will Tina become a drug mule? (Well, at least she'd have a story line.)
Will Artie have to sell his legs to Science? (And why does Science want them?)
Will Blaine be performing on the bathhouse circuit? (Will there be photos reblogged on tumblr 2000 times?)
Will Brittany become a finance major because Glee was holding her back, (and if she does, why is she still wearing a Cheerios uniform?)

Sue asks the cosmos for a sign that she was doing the right thing, and gets it in the person of Brad the Piano Guy in one of the two or three genuinely laugh-out-loud scenes of the episode. It is apparent that Brad's silence is the product of sullen rage, not a vocal chord impediment. He hates these kids because they keep ordering him to play songs without telling him what they are, and you know all that mind reading can make a guy cranky.

Brad speaks!


He's so grateful, he doesn't even mind that he's out of a job.

 Finn and Will sit everybody down in the bare choir room... which they aren't supposed to be allowed in any more... and Tina, who has been continually informed that a Senior Year without Rachel would be HER year to shine, is feeling very bitter. Tina did not get the memo Santana sent out about how Kitty forced Marley into the most contrived case of anorexia in the history of teen eating disorders. Even though Jake knew Marley was skipping lunches, and Ryder knew she was purging on purpose, and Santana came out and told everybody exactly what was happening, Tina has decided that this is all Marley's fault. Wow, Tina. It took us four years to discover that you are a heartless bitch with absolutely no compassion for a girl who collapsed on stage. Gee. Can you please go back to not talking?

Also, while we fans have been continually referring to Marley as Rachel 2.0, I am a little confused here. Tina wants us to know that Marley is no Rachel Berry. Well, given that Rachel Berry 1.0 has conviction, drive, self-respect, and more brains than God gave a turtle, I'd agree with this. However.... didn't the Glee Club declare Blaine to be The New Rachel? Marley certainly did not nominate herself for this title.

This script is really bad in a lot of places. Here I am defending Marley. Guys, I don't even LIKE Marley. She's my least favorite regular Glee character of all time, right below Kitty, but this is just ridiculous.

Finn tries to turn the conversation to a happier tack by reminding everybody that they've got a holiday concert coming up. (That makes the girl I used to be, still hiding away inside, very happy. I always loved being in the school choir during Christmas time.) Unfortunately, the Glee Clubbers have momentarily forgotten that Glee Club is about opening yourself up to the joy of singing. If they can't strut around as Sectionals Champs while singing their Christmas Carols, they don't wanna sing at all.

Sam makes a poignant point. For most of these kids, and virtually everybody I actually have any affection for at all, there will be no next year. This is it for them. That does include Tina, forced to stand in Rachel's shadow and promised the spotlight in her senior year.

Carpe Diem, Tina. We never know for sure what the future will hold.

A late breakfast for Brittany

And now the show gets extremely uncomfortable for me to watch, just bathed in the glow of wave after wave of second-hand embarrassment. I am embarrassed for Brittany as she sees a line of cheerios standing on end for her on the floor. I am embarrassed for her as she gets down on the floor next to them. I am grossed out for Heather Morris as she starts eating them (but I guess it's better than candy bar turds covered in kitty litter) and I am confused when this unconventional breakfast offering leads her to a classroom where Sam waits for her. Apparently Brittany forgets to eat breakfast on Tuesday because weekends confuse her, because this week Brittany will have the brainpower of a mentally challenged toddler. (Rendering her unfit for a romantic story line.)

Sam has decided that Santana used to pick on him, not because he was the boyfriend that finally put her off guys for good, but because she knew The Truth about how Sam has been Totally Into Brittany since... never. See, when Santana was around, Sam was totally into MERCEDES.

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Was this just a dream?


He sang beautiful duets with her. He pined for her. He begged her to dump her boyfriend for him. He helped her realize her dreams. And now... it never happened. We have been wondering why we never saw them break up, but apparently, it is because they never existed.

That's... pretty damned poor, Glee. It was the only love story arc Mercedes ever got.

OK, in Alternative Reality Glee, Sam has been Totally Into Brittany since before Santana graduated. Uh huh. Sure.

So now Brittany is the only person who understands Sam, which is going to be very disappointing to Blaine, and Brittany is ready to be totally into Sam, even though she just saw Santana earlier this week and the old wounds should have been scraped a little bit.

So, now that Dumb Ken and Excruciatingly Dumb Barbie are going to be a romantic pairing, they are going to sing a duet together, because that's the mating ritual on Glee. And the song is... "Something Stupid."

Of course it is.

And a dull, lifeless version it is, too, easily the worst song of the week. It's also much, much, much too early in this romance for them to be staring into each other's eyes and singing "I love you."

At the end of this, Sam goes in for a kiss and Brittany breaks the internet. She can't kiss Sam yet. Is it because she just saw Santana? Because they've been a romantic pairing for two minutes? Because he's got bad breath? No, apparently it's because the writers of Glee are now quite deliberately and pointedly insulting the more opinionated members of their audience. Every lesbian in the world, apparently, is deeply overinvested in Brittana as a couple and they've been hounding Brittany's Facebook and twitter. She fears violence.

Well, sweetie, I don't know if just developing a new love interest would warrant that kind of violence, but deliberately sneering at people will guarantee it. And once again... I was not a Brittana shipper. I thought it was a grossly unbalanced combination but this was just rude.

The next scene is almost a complete waste of time. We are in Cassie's dance class. Lather, rinse, repeat. Cassie decides to pick on Rachel. Lather, rinse, repeat. Rachel makes some innocuous request that gives Cassie the opportunity to insult her and sneer at her. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The only sense I can make of this is that Cassie does not approve of the fact that Rachel has gotten a golden ticket - maybe because NYADA tries to train triple threats and Rachel still can't dance for squat. And this whole argument really is nothing more than a pretext for these two to end up in a nonsensical "dance-off" to All That Jazz. At the end of it, we learn that Cassie is a better dancer than Rachel is.

You don't say.

And Rachel decides she'd probably better sing rather than dance during her showcase. In other relevant and earth-shattering news, it's helpful to drink water when you are thirsty. At any rate, what kind of head teacher pumps up her own self-esteem by beating a FRESHMAN at the skill she teaches? How pathetic is that?

You know, at the very least, this scene would have made more sense if Cassie had come in to hear Rachel chatting with Kurt on the phone about how mean and unfair Cassie is and how the Golden Ticket would force her to respect Rachel or some such thing.Then Cassie might have felt that Rachel was getting arrogant and needed a smackdown.

Quote of the week: "Nothing I do here is random or unintentional." Actually, those two words describe more than half of what happened in the script this week.

Glee burned barns down in their haste to completely destroy all continuity this week, and the complete oblivion of Samcedes was probably the worst example of it, but now we are up to a scene that drove me completely nuts the first time I watched it.

Excuse me, Mr. Hummel, but are you under the impression that I liked your first audition?  However did you get that idea?

Carmen Thibideaux is working on Showcase arrangements when Kurt peeks into her office. He has learned a very important lesson from watching Rachel's experiences last year. If you really want to get into NYADA, stalk Carmen Thibideaux. Burst into her office unannounced and beg for a second chance, because doing a fine job the first time is not something she respects.

Of course, it helps that Carmen has forgotten that she heaped layers of praise onto him when she saw his first NYADA audition. She looks disgusted to see him, extremely disdainful and she informs him with a sneer in her voice that as a performer he is devoid of complexity and depth. "You gave me surface when I was looking for soul" and she appears to be very angry with him that he has asked for another opportunity to audition for her.

Given that showing vulnerability and heart is actually Chris Colfer's primary strength as a singer, this is really extremely hard to swallow. It's especially hard to swallow in light of the feedback she gave him when they first met each other. I will never forget, because in a season that was absolutely miserable for Kurt and every fan who cared for him, "Choke" was the ONLY bright spot all year long. This was my commentary on the recap for that episode:

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In the audience, Will, Blaine and Rachel applaud. Carmen Thibadeaux does not. She makes stern notes, and then says a little coldly, that Hugh Jackman won a Tony for The Boy From Oz, Kurt makes a terrified little nod. Carmen feels that Hugh would have been... as impressed... as she was. Carmen praises his bold choice and his willing to take a risk. I personally don't think the risk was what made this impressive; I just think it was a great song that Chris knocked out of the park, because he WAS comparable to Jackman in a way that he wasn't to Crawford.

What has happened, obviously, is that the writers of Glee found it useful at the time to make Kurt appear successful so that he could contrast with Rachel's failure, and then they had him be rejected so that it could contrast with her success. There has been absolutely nothing in Kurt's NYADA arc that was actually written in order to make any sense on its own terms; it's all been counterpoint to whatever Rachel happens to be doing at the time, and the result is an incoherent hot mess that makes Carmen come across as exceptionally arbitrary, cruel, and given to irrational whims. Certainly not somebody who would be the Dean of a really prestigious arts school. And at this exact moment, when Kurt has just been told in no uncertain terms that he has no chance whatsoever of being allowed to take Carmen's feedback and try again...the writers pull away from his story and go someplace else. Once again, Kurt is handed a fat, smelly turd of a situation, one of the most crushing and conclusive defeats of his life, and he's not allowed to have any reaction at all.

 Fortunately, we are now up to one of the most successful scenes in the episode. The members of Glee Club, faced with the fact that their club is done for the year, have reacted in an amazingly realistic and sensible way... they all went out and found something else to do! Artie is looking pretty fine in his nifty new drum major outfit, while Tina and Blaine have joined the Cheerios. Apparently, Kurt has never explained to Blaine how sadistic Sue can be to her Cheerios. On the other hand,, Kurt DID get a 14 minute solo at Nationals with Sue, the only competition solo of his entire high school career, and it may be that Blaine wants some of that.

Hey, maybe there IS life after Glee Club!

Why did Sue let them in? Demographics, ladies and gents. She needs a handsome, non-flammable gay guy and a "yellow" girl to give her homogenous Cheerios a more inclusive look for National television. (Of course, Sue's not averse to inducting a gay boy even if he is flammable, but her memory appears to be almost as bad as Carmen's.) And since they both dance pretty well (better than Rachel does) they should work out fine. This actually appears to be a pretty reasonable fit for both of them, now that I know why they did it.

Jake and Ryder have joined the basketball team and Unique is hilariously attempting to learn Roller Skating 101 so that she can be on the Floor Hockey team. That could be Consistent. Comic. Gold. for the girl who continues to be the best new character of the year. My god, Alex got better fast. And this is my favorite: Joe has joined the Interfaith Paintball League, where Jews, Christians and Muslims can shoot at each other, laugh, and end it all in a big group hug.

I really like that. They are handling Joe and his religious faith better than they have most sensitive things on Glee. So... they've all moved on to join activities that aren't, you know, CANCELED... but what are they going to tell Finn?

Even though they've been told they have no place to go, no space in which to meet, the Glee Club manages to all gather in the same place (the April Rhodes Auditorium that she bought for them) to inform Finn that they are cheating on him with other clubs. Finn is furious, betrayed, horrified.

"It's the healthy thing to do" says Tina.

"IS IT???!!!" barks Finn.

Uh, yeah, Finn. It really is. Although you might have a point about Sue Sylvester. And yes, Finn, Artie dragged you out of the tire shop, yes, but see, there was a REHEARSAL SPACE at the time and it was POSSIBLE to do something. He calls Artie's cool drum major hat ridiculous and tells them he was able to book the auditorium for six minutes. Well, that's OK. On Glee, nobody needs any rehearsal time for any performances ever under any circumstances anyway, so why is the rehearsal space even an issue?

Marley promises to be at his six-minute rehearsal, and Tina blames Marley again, because you know that never gets old, and why isn't anybody investigating the claims Santana made about Marley's anorexia? Why isn't Kitty taking any heat for her part in all this? And... everybody walks out on Finn, because there's really nothing else to say.

Finn was in more than one club when he was in high school. Why can't they do the same? Why the zero sum game? And... they leave Finn and Marley alone as the auditorium lights go dark. See, that's why they walked out on you, Finn. Besides which, you guys would have lost Sectionals anyway, because... Gangnam Style.

Finn is furious that they all got lives.

I do notice some brief interaction between Jake and Marley before he leaves...they are clearly still an item. Now, explain to me again why Ryder didn't speak up about the bulimia to his best friend, who is dating the girl who fainted? Explain to me why this is still some big secret and the entire group has not turned on Kitty rather than Marley like a pack of angry wolves? And hell's bells, why is this episode about the desperate need for new extra-curriculars rather than the desperate need for medical help for Marley?

This anorexia storyline has been an offensive, irresponsible disaster from the very first frame, and continues to be so now.

 Brittany bops up to Sam, rejects his offer of chapstick, and asks him on a date. They would have to do this during the five minutes Finn carved out for rehearsal on late Friday night. Yeah, you might as well go on that date, kids. Brittany has figured out that her relationship with Santana is legitimately over, and has been for two months, so she might as well go out with the only person who makes her smile now. That's actually a pretty wise and rational statement for a girl who was eating cereal directly off the floor earlier this episode. OK, kids, I will make you a deal. I will tolerate this very dull partnership of the two blond village idiots if you guys promise to do two things:

1. Please stop pretending Samcedes (a much more interesting pair) never existed and
2. Stop deliberately baiting the lesbian blogger community (look, you just did it again).

Brittany very deliberately and carefully gives all those Brittana fans out there direct orders on how they are allowed to feel about this, and kisses Sam. Love is love? These two are already in love? They've been dating for fifteen seconds.

Love is love.  Now, everybody... DUCK! Brittana shippers are MAD.


Back to New York.

The auditorium at NYADA is gorgeous, the faces of the concert-goers joyless, the mood pretentious, self-important, and stuffy. It's time for the Winter Showcase. Carmen tells the that NYADA faculty chooses ten students that exemplify the best of what they are trying to achieve, and I find myself wishing that she'd admit that Carmen herself chooses her own ten favorite students. See, Rachel has at least one very, very bitter enemy on the NYADA faculty. I would think that in order to be chosen by the "NYADA faculty" at large, you would have to be generally liked by the entire staff and have never been in danger of being permanently barred from your dance class because you are a lousy dancer and you repeatedly mouth off to the teacher. I love Rachel, and god knows Cassandra is a hateful hot mess, but this does not work. Well, maybe each faculty member got to choose one or two kids, and Carmen chose Rachel. Maybe that's why Cassandra was extra cranky in dance class that week. I would have liked to have seen that staff meeting. Maybe we could have had a funny scene at NYADA for once.

The first performer is ballet dancer Alexandra Blesushi, who has seen Black Swan one too many times and is under the unfortunate impression that Nina Sayers is a role model. I understand that we may be seeing this girl again.

Meanwhile, Brody arrives on the great staircase where Rachel is trying to dial down her own nervousness. She's looking rather stunning in white, I've got to say. Brody tells her that he was also nervous at his first showcase, and I am wondering who on earth would put Brody in the showcase. It must have been his sophomore year, because he's a junior now and he didn't make the cut as a freshman. Maybe Brody should have just said "at my showcase" because there is no mathematical way he's been to more than one. And clearly he must have done it as a dancer, because it probably wasn't his acting or singing. Do they have a showcase for rocking abs?

Brody and Rachel speak for a few moments just to remind everybody that Rachel is a special, special snowflake, and Rachel kisses him. I wish they could have taken some time out to console Kurt for being rejected a second and final time. However, that's OK because he's not a special snowflake. He's just a sidekick. Oh, there's Kurt. Is he looking depressed about the death of his dream? No, he's just there to let the star know she's due onstage. There's a good boy.

Rachel's Winter Showcase. Being Rachel is Good Enough.

Rachel immediately goes in and begins to do yet another impersonation of Barbra Streisand with a wonderfully powerful rendition of "Being Good Isn't Good Enough". This is enough to remind us that she really is one of the best singers in Glee and really ought to have more solos than Brittany does this season. And Kitty. And Blaine. And Blaine. And Blaine. And even Marley. Really, what's up with that? It used to be that we couldn't shut her up; now having Rachel really sing is becoming something of a rare treat, so they had to stuff two songs in for her where one should have been sufficient just to make up for lost time. It appears that the first song is about giving the middle finger to Cassie. Brody eggs the audience into screaming for an encore - well, there's a good boyfriend - and this Jewish girl sings "O Holy Night", her favorite holiday song.

Say what?

Interestingly, it's probably the more important of Rachel's two solos, because her triumph here is set in very poignant contrast to what's going on back at Lima. Finn is sadly packing up New Direction's trophies as the Cheerios practice in what used to be his choir room. By the end of Rachel's solo, she's got other people singing along - hush, folks, we are here to hear Rachel - and Finn wheels the trophies out, looking very dejected. Ah, it's good that Rachel got an encore, because I think Finn would have done a lousy job with O Holy Night. They'd have made Blaine sing it.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, Carmen Thibideux notices that Kurt Hummel is sitting quietly in the audience, being the loyal loser sidekick to this gloriously triumphant diva, as he has been for the past two years. What she does next is unexplained, but you can almost bet money it would not have happened if he had not been there to support Rachel. As Carmen's little pet goes up to embrace her closest friend, Carmen gets a hint of a smile on her stern face , praises Rachel's performance, and throws down a gauntlet.

"We'll have a brief intermission, and when we come back, if he thinks he's ready, we'll have a performance from Mr. Hummel."

Excuse me, you want me to do WHAT????

The only reason why this is not still making me throw things at the television is that on Glee, preparation and rehearsal are completely unimportant when getting ready for a show. All you need is absolute raw talent and determination to do well, and it may in fact be that Carmen is acting under the same logic that has Jake taking over a dance solo for Ryder without practice at Sectionals. We can call this the "100% inspiration, 0% perspiration principle". So, one of a few things may have happened here:

- Carmen is cut from the same malicious cloth as Cassandra and she wants to see if she can humiliate Kurt for the crime of barging into her office. Either that, or she's hoping he'll run screaming from the room, never to return to the NYADA campus. Yes, this does mean she'd be undermining her own Winter Showcase by letting it be potentially marred by a bad performer, and I think that's unlikely. Apparently, she knows he's going to kill this.

- She suddenly remembered that she praised him to the skies at his initial audition and she's really been giving him mixed messages. She decides she's been unfair and wants to make up for it.

- She secretly loves it when people stalk her for extra chances and she lives to reward such behavior.

- She figures that if he's caught off guard, and has to sing a song he already knows by heart with no preparation, all he can possibly do is park and bark, which is apparently what she prefers. There is no time for a scaffold or a pair of gold lame' pants. It may be that she figures, if he's hanging around with Rachel Berry, that he's basically cut from the same cloth and cannot possibly pass up an opportunity to perform. She also assumes he's got a bunch of songs he knows well.

At the intermission, Rachel, who has been working with Carmen all semester, explains Carmen's behavior to Kurt and to us. Kurt thinks Carmen is insane, and he's right. Rachel thinks she wants to see how he performs under pressure. That's... quite a gamble, Carmen, for a boy you've crushed like a bug twice. Kurt suggests a song from Phantom, and the girl who pleaded with him to sing "Music of the Night" last year now says he really can't do Phantom in front of this crowd. However... "Being Alive" from Company might work... even though Carmen has explicitly said that it's been terribly overused.

Rachel offers Kurt some encouragement.

Well, yes, Kurt, you can do it without a costume or props. It's very much a park and bark song, a soul-baring wail from a desperately lonely man who has no love in his life. And at this point, we get a glimpse as to why (at least with this retcon) Kurt has been so consistently unsuccessful with every single audition he's ever given. When given a chance to prepare, Kurt tends to come up with bells and whistles, but the most epic Chris Colfer performances in the history of Glee have - every single one of them - been him alone on a bare stage, very emotional about something or other. He may be crying because his father is dying, or screaming because he feels like his father doesn't love him. He may be waxing nostalgic about his return to McKinley or weeping over a dead bird, but this is where Chris consistently kills it, and I do suspect that the writers are acknowledging this. Rachel reminds Kurt that the most universally celebrated solo of his entire Glee career was "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." Of course, that song was dedicated to Burt. Who will this be dedicated to?

Even though "Being Alive" is a song about lacking love in your life, Rachel very pointedly does NOT suggest that he dedicate this song to Blaine. Nope. This is just for him. She's right.

And it's about damned time.

 Kurt gets very stiff when he's nervous, with rigid arms. It's a consistent little tic that Chris remembers faithfully - we saw it at Regionals when he was a Warbler, too - and he takes the stage.

Nervous, Kurt?

"I'm Kurt Hummel, and I'll be auditioning for the role of..." Kicker? That's the last time he ever got to win ANYTHING by himself. Three very long years ago. "Audition for the role of NYADA student."

He does mention that although he's loved "Being Alive" since he was six, this is the first time he's really understood it. We can guess that being terribly betrayed by the person he loved most - and then be denied the opportunity to express that pain at all for over two months - may be informing this performance, because I do agree. The lyrics are applicable. However, it's not expressly stated, and I am glad that Glee decided to be subtle about something for once. I have to wonder if this is why Kurt was not allowed any voice at all in the breakup for such a long time - because they wanted it to flood out here.

Chris told reporters that the music staff originally wanted this in a higher key, and he had to fight to be allowed to use his rich lower register for this "man song." The result is glorious. He begins with nervous trepidation, almost shaking. Carmen watches him with great intensity. I do think she really wants this to work. By the time he reaches the bridge, he's beginning to get swept away by the feeling, and his fear is gone. He knocks this out of the park, and the entire auditorium rises to their feet.

Being Alive

Kurt Hummel, solo performer, has just gotten the first standing ovation of his entire life, and it happened - not in Lima, where he should have been a huge fish in a tiny pond dominated by such great talents as Finn Hudson, but in New York City, in front of the most pretentiously self-important snobs possible. And yes, Carmen is pleased. This is clearly what she wanted.

He cries. Somehow, Kurt always ends up in tears.



Rachel calls Finn. What is she calling to discuss? Does she want to console him for losing Sectionals? Does she want to tell him this amazing story about how Carmen suddenly asked Kurt to sing at the Showcase and he's just gotten the biggest ovation of his entire life? Nope. This is about her. She won the Showcase. Me me me me me. She never even mentions what happened to Finn's brother. Yep, Rachel's been at NYADA for a single semester and she's already achieved the single biggest honor that school can possibly give her. This is like what would happen if the Glee Club won Nationals their very first year. There's nowhere to go with her NYADA arc now. She's ready to graduate. I'm not saying her songs weren't sublime - they were - but this was a huge narrative miscalculation on the writers' part. Of course, if Mr Loser Sidekick gets a standing ovation, Rachel's got to beat that somehow, because he can never, ever be allowed to shine in a venue where she does not shine brighter.

OK, she's a Special Snowflake. Well, if that's the case, would you all at least stop writing her entirely out of episodes? Either she's the star or she's not. Make up your minds. Anyway, in the midst of the celebration of all things Berry, she does stop to remind Finn that the most important thing about music is not trophies. It never has been, and that's why it's so stupid that Figgins thinks they don't need rehearsal space anymore. Glee made Puck friends with Artie, gave Brittany the chance to dance with Mike. And the ships are important too. Don't forget the ships! God knows, this show exists entirely for people to keep jumping their ships! So Finn needs to encourage the kids not to give up on their dreams. Well, he's pretty much on the same page here, so this is not an new idea. Finn also should not give up on his own dreams.

Finn is back on speaking terms with Rachel

Of course, it's hard not to give up when the only person who shows up at 9:45 on Friday night is Marley. However, she's come up with a more workable solution.

 Finn listens to Marley's idea, and begins an email to all the other Glee Club members, as strains of "Don't You Forget About Me" from The Breakfast Club are heard in the background. He writes:

Dear Glee Club,

I realize most of you think it's stupid for me to write this essay telling you who I think you are. What do you care? Our season is over. They see us as they want to see us - as losers. As a brain (Artie), an athlete (Jake, Ryder, Sam and all of the Cheerios) a basket case (clearly Marley, right now, and maybe Unique too) a princess (wait, maybe not, because Sugar bailed) and a criminal. (That would be Kitty. Joe defies category again.) But what we should be learning is that each of us is a member of this Glee Club, and we've still got half a season to finish, or Kurt and Rachel are going to have to carry this whole show by themselves. (Of course, if they were both NYADA students, that might actually be a bit more workable, but I am not going to tell you about Kurt's audition because Rachel didn't even think it important enough to tell me.)

Anyway Rachel won the showcase at NYADA, which reminded me what performing is really about: winning competitions. No, no, somehow Rachel winning yet another competition while we languish in failure reminded me that performing is really about the love of music. Marley has figured out that we can rehearse outside in the courtyard in Ohio. Oh, and the average outdoor temperature in Lima, Ohio in early December is about 45 degrees.  It will get colder later in the winter. So if you are with me, and you want to sing in the snow all winter, come meet me at 5:00 p.m. Sound good? Has everybody had their flu shot?

Finn

Oh, I'm sorry. That's not really what he said. He forgot to tell them that they were rehearsing in the courtyard. And maybe that's why, at 5:00, only Marley and Finn are there, freezing their butts off, sitting in that courtyard. Marley apologizes for being tricked into developing anorexia, because she was naive and self-centered, and Finn says, "Wait? You fainted because you were naive? Would you care to back up and explain that one to me again? Oh, wait. Santana already did. And does this little speech mean that you are very, very sorry that you were an anorexic and you will never, ever do it again, as if this were a momentary LAPSE IN JUDGMENT????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Awful, awful, terrible, irresponsible story line. A complete nightmare. Some of the worst work Glee has ever done. If Marley is magically healed I am going to lose it.

Fortunately, the real reason why everybody is late is that Finn did not tell them where they would be rehearsing and they've all been looking for him for the past fifteen minutes. Finn begins to comfort himself by singing "Don't Dream It's Over" and Marley joins in as a duet. For one panicked minute, I wonder if Farley is about to become the new romantic ship, and how awkward would THAT be? Well, she is Rachel 2.0 after all, and Finn is not only Finn 1.0, missing Rachel 1.0, but he's also Will 2.0, and Rachel 1.0 used to have a crush on Will 1.0, and they sure love recycling story lines, so Finn, get out of there before you get arrested for statutory rape. But then, thank goodness, everybody else begins to figure out where rehearsal is, and they all show up.

Don't Dream, It's Over on Glee
 Blaine and Tina first, because Blaine simply cannot pass up a chance to sing in the courtyard and Tina deserves her Senior year with Glee Club one way or another. Then Brittany and Sam come in, and Artie arrives from the other side. He's got Sugar with him. Oh, crud, that's not his girlfriend, Sugar. That's the girl who has yet to bear any consequences at all for what she did here. Marley runs over to greet them with a big smile. You have got to be kidding me. Finn hugs Kitty. Seriously? Ah, here's Joe, Ryder, Jake. And they are all so happy singing together in the snow.

OK, show's almost over. Let's see. The Glee club is back together, they've got a place to rehearse, Marley is magically cured, Kitty is not getting punished, and Rachel is a special, special snowflake who has everything handed to her. We are in the very last minute of the episode. Is there any other loose end to tie up here?

Oh, yeah. Kurt's got a letter in his hand. He finally got into NYADA. We have time for a really quick hug from Rachel, since she is only person who cares about this. Won't it be much easier for him to be her loyal loser sidekick if he's actually in more scenes with her, after all?

"I got in."



2 comments:

  1. One minor mixup: the episode was written by Stacy Traub. Brad directed it. Great recap as usual!

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  2. Hi, missing your recaps, are you ok?

    ReplyDelete