The strongest story of the night was Rachel's. It harked back to her first appearance in the pilot. Rachel is, and wants to be, a star. It's nothing new, but with the looming season finale, it's not a bad rehash of iconic Glee imagery.
Kurt's NYADA (New York Academy of Dramatic Arts) audition was strong. In the audition, he successfully switched songs in the 11th hour - changing to 'Not the Boy Next Door' was a bold but fun move. The dean of NYADA (Whoopi Goldberg) practically threw the acceptance letter at him.
But because this is TV and we like pain, Rachel choked on her performance. She forgot the words. It was easy to assume she wouldn't complete 'Don't Rain on My Parade', because she performed it at Regionals, or Sectionals, or Nationals, or Semi-Regionals, or something. It's still a solid moment, though, and Lea Michele is a pretty remarkable performer when given the material.
There was also a story about Puck giving up on school (singing 'School's Out', naturally), then meeting his dad and not wanting to give up on school, then studying (and singing 'The Rain in Spain', naturally). It doesn't really matter.
What did matter, and what the show unfortunately had little respect for, was Coach Beiste's domestic abuse plot. Storylines like these should be given centre stage, using the characters and the world to challenge viewers or explain the issues that our world faces. If Glee wanted to tackle something of this magnitude, it should have dedicated more time to Beiste.
A normal episode of TV would take this idea and perhaps do a B-story with the kids to mirror and reinforce the A-story. It's how you structure and successfully bring home a theme or message.
As it is, this episode of Glee thought Puck dancing around school in a leather jacket had the same weight as domestic violence.
The story is fine. Roz Washington sees the girls making a joke and walks over to them to explain that domestic abuse is a real issue in today's world. This leads her to recruit her super friends - Sue Sylvester and Coach Beiste - where we find out that Beiste's husband Cooter beat her one night when he was drunk. It's well played by Dot-Marie Jones, but the other storylines do take away its power.
I would normally blame the credited writer for this messiness, but I can't. Glee is a combined effort. Different stories are written by different writers, and it's a fundamental problem. A writer on their A-game could be brought down immensely by someone else phoning in their work (or just handed a story that wasn't very good to begin with).
The confluence of events that needs to happen to make Glee a good show is, in fact, quite remarkable.
The show can't convey theme successfully, it can't tie things up in a nice bow and it's all guesswork as to whether it'll hit home. And this week it absolutely didn't.
- Once again, that Kurt and Rachel story really worked for me. I can understand people being frustrated at Rachel choking - it's out of nowhere and she's been singing the song since she was four - but I've always liked the fact that she is so much happier being a big fish in a small pond than vice versa. Whenever she gets close, she's insecure and nervous. I like that. It's a nice consistent trait, as frustrating as it is.
- There's no way Goldberg wouldn't go to Nationals and see her, right?
- What's up with Puck once again being overly sentimental of his Glee bros? It's... weird.