After a month long hiatus for us to get over the pain of "The Break Up" (and, you know, to show the World Series), Glee is back and gearing up for McKinley’s fall musical. After success with last year’s West Side Story (and failure with season two’s inappropriate Rocky Horror attempt), the high school musical of choice is the teen classic Grease. Relationship drama, an auto shop, a pregnancy scare and a girl changing herself for a man? Sounds life the perfect fit for Glee.
This episode focused solely on the happenings in Lima, so no Kurt or Rachel this week. Instead we got to see the prodigal son’s return as Finn is roped into directing the musical with Artie (and with returning grads Mercedes and Mike helping, too). Finn’s down on himself post-Army and post-break up and back working at his stepfather’s tire shop, but Artie (and Schue, Beiste and well, pretty much every single person in town) assure him that he’s a great guy with lots of talent. Surely directing the musical and mentoring kids like himself will give him the chance to shine. And when I say “kids like himself,” I mean literally.
But before I get to Finn 2.0, first let’s review the first round of Grease auditions. Most of the New Directions seem to know what parts they want, but Blaine is still reeling from his break up. Once again, Darren Criss’ sad puppy eyes were on my TV, and believe me when I say that no one can be happy when that boy is sad. Even though Artie, ever the Blaine fanboy, gave him the lead part, Blaine tearfully turned him down. He’s too torn up about Kurt, who’s still not speaking to him, to play a romantic lead. He concedes to maybe being able to play the Teen Angel, who’s only in one scene (if you’re not up on your Grease 101, that’s the hallucination that sings "Beauty School Dropout" to Frenchy). Blaine is obviously hurting, but other than a short conversation with his new best friend Sam, no one seems to notice.
One other glee-clubber knows what part they want as well: Unique, whose got one of the best voices on the show, wants to play Rizzo. But while Unique identifies as a woman, the rest of the school and town see her as a man. And here’s where Glee got offensive. While attempting to tackle a difficult issue, they floundered. It was Finn against Sue, Finn in support of the casting and Sue vehemently against it. Though kudos go to Alex Newell for his emotional moments, the rest of the scenes dealing with the transgender student were pretty uncomfortable. Finn seemed to be the only one to grasp the idea of using female pronouns for a female-identified person. But nevertheless, the episode ended with Unique getting the part, and with Finn officially getting on the bad side of Sue.
Controversial casting wasn’t Finn’s only achievement as director. He also discovered his own mini-me in football playing nice guy Ryder Lynn, played by this year’s Glee Project winner Blake Jenner. Once he got Finn 2.0 to audition, it sparked a love rectangle with Marley, Jake and Kitty, also known as Rachel, Puck and Quinn 2.0. Yes, we’re back in season one. The four battled for Danny and Sandy while Ryder and Jake both battled for Marley, but in the end Ryder and Marley got the leads.
While the kids went through their drama, the adults had some of their own. Continuing their story from the last episode, Will and Emma were still arguing over Will’s impending trip to D.C. He wants Emma to come with, she wants to stay in Lima with the job she loves. After a lot of sage yet oddly worded advice form Coach Beiste, the unsung hero of the show, the couple have a heart-to-heart and decide that Emma will stay while Will goes, and they’ll finally get married when he returns.
But before he’s to leave, Will drops the bomb of his departure on his old mentee Finn. And seriously, Glee needs to stop using phrases like, “taught me how to be a man.” The episode ended with Will asking Finn to take over the club while he’s away, and though the credits rolled before he answered, I think we all know that he says yes.
Next week Grease is the word, and in case you were dying to know, here is the cast list:
Brittany- Cha Cha
Blaine- Teen Angel
Kitty- Patty Simcox
"Hopelessly Devoted to You"- Blaine Anderson
I could barely see the screen through my tears, but this song was perfect. Darren blew it out of the park both vocally and performance-wise as he poured of mementos of Kurt and watched other happy couples in an Across the Universe-style football scene that made for heartbreaking but beautiful number. A+
"(Blow Me) One Last Kiss"- Marley and Unique
The girls dual audition song had more than enough energy, but their voices just did not fit together. The overall sound was weird and unharmonious, even if their stage presence was just the right side of over-the-top. C
"Juke Box Hero"- Ryder and Finn
A solid classic rock number with a great fantasy concert, their vocals fit the song perfectly and Ryder really looked and felt like a rock star. He certainly deserves the part of Danny. B
"Everybody Talks"- Kitty and Jake
Jake’s voice is actually great for this song. Though it was lighter than the other songs of the episode, the two have a unique sound together that works, plus they’re cute together. Fun, if uninteresting. B
"Hand Jive"- Mercedes, Kitty, Marley, Jake, Ryder
Anything with Mercedes singing is going to be great. The number was fun and high energy, and the choreography was wonderful reference to the Grease scene to get everyone in the mood for next week’s nostalgia-fest. B+