“It's not about doing your best anymore, it's about doing better.”
While Will Schuester is slightly crazy for being so adamant about improving the New Directions glee club and winning nationals – and as a result kicking out any member of the glee club who acts out – it seems that maybe this blunt mantra isn’t just the goal of Mr. Schu, but of the entire Glee team. And they’re surely improving.
For the first time in Glee history, audience engagement relied not only on music, but on story.
The character who became the star of this episode was Mike Chang who is – despite my previous assumption – quite the quality singer. It makes a loyal fan wonder what took them so long to give him his own number. His “Cool” from West Side Story was pretty killer – clearly enough to get him cast in the show and equally enough reason to have the audience wonder why he is not one of the characters vying for a spot at the fictional New York Academy of Dramatic Arts (NYADA, for short).
The scene prior to his audition for the role of Riff was one of the most interesting scenes I’ve ever witnessed as a Glee fan. The metaphorical appearances of Mike’s father and girlfriend Tina made the story seem more genuine than it ever has despite actually being comparatively rich in fantasy. And the moment in which Mike dances with his mother – symbolizing how he’s living out the dream that she never had the chance to – was more poetic than most of the other purportedly heartfelt scenes of early Glee.
And this episode as a whole – despite moments of deep melodrama – was the most strong in character development and theme that Glee has shown thus far. Empowerment, whether it be against society’s expectations, personal expectations, or any other external force’s influence, was the central focus and was very well achieved.
The music, as well, fell perfectly into place. From Dreamgirls to individual songs by the cast of the film (Jennifer Hudson and BeyoncéKnowles), every song was formatted to fit into the story without stretching the meaning of lyrics to their breaking point.
But the most surprising development of the night was the decision to take almost a month off from new episodes of Glee. Perhaps this should not be a surprise to anyone who has waited for extended periods of time to see new episodes of this show – in retrospect, long breaks have become almost a routine of Glee. Yet, with all the loose ends revealed at the conclusion of this episode (Mercedes deciding to move onto Shelby Corcoran’s glee club, the McKinley High presidential elections being undecided as of yet, etc.) maybe it was clearer than ever that they wanted a break with an inconclusive ending. Of course, it was no Mercedes and Sam burgeoning love ending, but I guess they can’t always be creating new love triangles.
Despite its typical reliance on music to make up for its story, Glee is not all lost. If “Asian F” is any indication of the future, there’s hope for all aspects of the show to do better.
The Music of “Asian F”
“Spotlight” – As usual, Mercedes can sing and make a room stop and hearts melt. She was the focus of a great deal of this episode, and this song was strong.
“Run the World (Girls)” – While I’ll admit to never being an avid fan of Beyoncé, this fit in well as a choreographed piece – which is what Brittany does best.
“Cool” – If you perform West Side Story, I will automatically be pleased. And obviously, Mike Chang is a singer no matter how hard they’ve put him down in past seasons. I can only hope to hear him more this season.
“It’s All Over” – The Dreamgirls theme continues following a Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé song, and this was a good ensemble piece. It seemed a little contrived that it was able to fit itself into the story, but still maintained interest.
“Out Here On My Own” – Duets are one of the best parts of Glee and this song drove not only the musical interest of the show, but also the plot. Rachel and Mercedes start on a relatively equal playing field, but the focus on Mercedes’ portions of the song makes the audience believe that she is the more suitable choice for the role of Maria. It worked as a really good mechanism towards the whole story.
"Fix You” – It felt a little strange to hear Will singing in front of all the Glee kids, but this was still a good performance with real reverence toward its original.