What The World Needs Now Is Not This
The Glee kids take on hip, edgy composer Burt Bacharach, as Rachel faces her fears and Santana and Brittany stand up to intolerance.
Glee set the bar so low over the last two weeks that this episode only had to be competent to be watchable. And it mostly was! It basically felt like a totally forgettable Season 2 or 3 episode of Glee. Am I making you excited to watch it yet? No? Well, let's get right to what you can skip then.
You Get Enough Germs To Catch Pneumonia
Sam and Rachel flirt awkwardly in the hall at McKinley. As he walks away, Rachel starts singing "I'll Never Fall In Love Again," also awkwardly. In his own space, Sam picks up the next verse. Oh hey, it's like a musical! People are singing their emotions in a non-performance setting in order to tell the audience a story, in a way that asks that we suspend our disbelief, which we willingly do because these are the rules established by this genre and the music conveys something mere speech could not! After two weeks of all-performance numbers, it's exciting to not only have singing in the halls but to have it make total sense. Plus, I like this song, even if I don't buy that these two would ever really be into each other.
The Theory Of Everything?
Brittany is in her room working on some sort of math formula that involves a cube on which she's drawn a cat face and a tail. Her parents come in to talk to her, and they're played by Ken Jeong (whose name is apparently Pierce Pierce) and Jennifer Coolidge (brilliant). Mom asks if she's ever wondered how she ended up a mathematical genius, "even though I'm of average intelligence and your father is of below average intelligence." Turns out Pierce isn't her real dad, Stephen Hawking is. Oooookay. Unfazed, Brittany tells them that she and Santana are getting married.
Rachel and Sam meet in the hall and both apologize for blowing off their date the night before (which it wasn't at all clear happened, so maybe I need to be a little less excited about the musical storytelling). They each admit to maybe possibly sort of having feelings for each other but it's complicated and scary. They part with a friendly "Love you!" and then realize how awkward that is!
Workin' Too Hard Can Give You A Bacharach-ach-ach-ach-ach-ach
Rachel and Kurt announce that this week's Glee Club lesson will be Burt Bacharach, and then explain to these teenagers who Burt Bacharach is. Artie, Brittany, and Santana are there for some reason. Kurt introduces their secret weapon, Mercedes, who makes a thoroughly obnoxious entrance, handing out CDs and being all "I'm famous, aren't you glad I'm going to mentor you?" Glee, we have very little time left together; don't make me hate Mercedes.
In the teachers' lounge, Mercedes grills Rachel about Sam. Mercedes thinks they both should get back out there, and is fine with it being with each other. She also encourages Rachel to use her time at McKinley to "rebuild" on her way back to New York. She's heard about a new original musical a friend of Russell Simmons is producing and Mercedes got Rachel an audition later in the week. Rachel says she's not ready. Mercedes says that "the best thing about having our gift...[is] it's always there like a good friend. When you open your mouth, there it is." Mercedes has arranged some inspiration for her in the auditorium.
You Should Hear What They Say About You
Mercedes and the random teacher extras start singing in the lounge before we quickly cut to Mercedes, with Santana, Brittany, and Rachel on backup, in full '60s girl-group drag doing "Baby, It's You." I'm not sure how singing backup for Mercedes is supposed to inspire Rachel, but it's always nice to have the original Glee Girls back (*cough* Quinn *cough*). Rachel admits she does miss Broadway but she still can't. Maybe she shouldn't have broken her contract to go do that stupid TV show in the first place? Nope, still not over it.
Just Do It
Brittany wants to hire Artie to be her wedding planner, because he's a director. After jokes about scissors (again with this, all-male, presumably all-gay writers of Glee?) and tuna ("Lord Tubbington snuck that in there" -- eye-roll), they get to "Heaven" as a possible theme, and Brittany starts to sing (hey, it's a musical again!) "Wishin' and Hopin'." We fantasy-sequence to Heaven, where Artie can walk (and dance!), and Sam and Blaine sing backup as angels. A bunch of random women are bridesmaids/or maybe brides/angels too -- why not the women who are actually on this show all the time? Lord Tubbington has wings and a giant can of tuna and even he doesn't look like he wants to be here. Let's be clear that this song is about how the only way to get a man is to "do the things he likes to do," change your appearance for him, and basically put out, and changing the gender for our lesbian couple doesn't really make that any more appropriate for a big wedding number.
Back in reality, Brittany suggests The Underworld might also be a good theme. I think we're already there.
Short Scene, Short Skip
Mercedes rallies the boys (new and old) to help Rachel get her groove back by making her homesick for New York.
Oh Abuela, That Flower's Long Gone
Brittany and Santana go over the guest list for the wedding. Santana balks at inviting her abuela. She says she would forgive her for being intolerant in the past if she thought Alma would change, but Santana knows she won't. Cut to Alma's house, where Brittany arrives in a very odd nurse's uniform. Hey, Santana's abuela is also Jane the Virgin's abuela! Does that make them cousins? Anyway, Alma didn't order a nurse, but lets Brit in anyway, because everyone on this show is an idiot.
The Passions of Brittany
Brittany speaks Spanish, apparently, and wins Alma over with telenovelas. Alma spots Brit's engagement ring and asks to hear all about her "husband." Brittany suggests they go out for some fresh air and some fondue. Because the best way to win over your fiancee's intolerant grandmother is to put her on your inexplicable, possibly imaginary web series, Fondue For Two. Alma looks appropriately confused. Brittany asks her about her husband, and tells a little story about Eleanor Roosevelt. She suggests that it might be easier to elope, and Abuela makes a lovely speech about how important it is to be married surrounded by family. Even if you're lesbians?? Santana, watching on her computer, is horrified. (I think. I know how hard Hollywood is on women and I don't want to criticize her personal appearance but Naya Rivera has had something done to her face that makes it really hard to read her expression this week.)
I Know It's Crazy, But It's True
In the auditorium, the boys perform "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" (you know, "when you get caught between the moon and New York City") for Rachel. They're all in top hats and tails, and Rachel flashes back to the couple of times they could afford to shoot on location. It's sweet. Rachel says she's still not ready, and Mercedes says she's not leaving until she is. Or maybe, you know, take the hint? Also the suggestion here is that Mercedes is actually having a really successful music career. Didn't Rachel spend the last of her savings to restore Glee? Little help, Mercedes?
How Have You Managed To Make Brittany And Santana Boring?
At McKinley, Brittany is surrounded by new Latino fans. Queso Por Dos was picked up by Univision for two seasons. Santana is pissed that Brit went behind her back. Brittany feels it's their "job as young, hot progressives to educate older, scary farts." They kiss and make up.
Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear? Over There? Over Here?
In the locker room, for some reason, Sam plays his guitar and sings "Close To You." Then he walks through the halls doing the same. I like how much Sam time we're getting this week. He's barely sung all season. He peers creepily in the window of the choir room and we see that he's singing about Mercedes. In the auditorium, he actually sings it to her face. "Isn't that song a little romantic to be singing to your friend?" she asks. She says that she's been dating and he has to move on too. He realizes he's not too upset about this so she must be right.
Fail Again And Again
Rachel asks Mercedes to take over the Glee Club for her while she goes to her audition. Then she has a meltdown. "I haven't been this scared in my whole life. When I was in high school and I had all these big Broadway dreams I just got used to everyone laughing at me. And I figured one day I would make it, and I would show them that I'm not a joke anymore. And then I did and it all fell apart, and I realized that there is a whole different kind of laughing that is way worse. So I can't. I can't fail again." This is maybe the realest this show has ever been, at least about performing and about the business of performing. "Rachel, we're all going to fail again and again," Mercedes tells her. "The hardest part is just getting up, shaking it off and getting on with it."
I'm Through With Promises, Promises
Traveling/audition montage: Rachel sings "Promises, Promises." She nails it.
What's It All About? No, Really, What The Hell Is Going On?
Brittany leads Abuela to the auditorium. The curtain opens and Santana, in a gorgeous red gown, sings "Alfie." Everyone else sings backup on the risers behind a scrim. Brittany joins them. After the song, Brittany reveals her plot to Alma. There is no explanation for why Santana just sang "Alfie." (Is it Alma's favorite song? Some childhood connection? The words have nothing to do with this situation at all.) "You taught me to be a strong Latina woman," Santana says, "to be bigger than the world was ever gonna give me permission to be, and I have. You taught me not just to exist because I'm worth so much more than that. And without Brit, I just exist. She's the love of my life and I'm going to marry her, and I want to share that with you because without your love I think I just exist too." Abuela isn't moved. "I love you, Santana, but I don't love your sin." Brittany, unexpectedly, has had it: "I'm glad you're not coming. The New York Times said half the increase in support of gay marriage is due to generational turnover. That's what smart people call 'crazy uptight bitches dying.'" Even Santana looks shocked, but she stands by Brit and her out-of-character speech.
I Found My Heart
Back at McKinley, Rachel tells Mercedes and Sam how good it felt to be on a Broadway stage again. She doesn't know what will happen but she knows she did her best and it felt good to be home. She and Sam reschedule their date.
I Can Think Of Some Other Things That There's Just Too Little Of
Brittany regrets being so mean to Alma, but Santana is proud of her. In the auditorium for what they think is going to be a Glee Club performance, Artie explains to them that with Abuela not attending the wedding, they have a seating problem. He doesn't know how to add enough chairs to replace hers, because "several other members of Santana's family want that spot." All the originals (who happen to available this week; sorry Quinn and Puck, but hi Mr. Shue!) walk out onstage. "Family are the people who embrace you with open arms, no matter what." Is it dusty in here? Everyone sings "What The World Needs Now Is Love."
Transition to Will's apartment, where he has everyone over for a party, including the current students, whch seems totally inappropriate. There is a redheaded woman with her back to the camera because Jayma Mays isn't in the budget this season, apparently. Blaine arrives without Karofsky and Kurt looks pleased.
Definitely better than the last two weeks but that's faint praise. Rachel and Kurt are right that you can't go wrong with Bacharach; these songs are timeless classics for a reason, and all of the performances are solid, so it's a "watch the singing, skip the talking" week for sure. Even though I like this batch of new kids, with only a few episodes left it's nice that the show isn't really even pretending to care about them, or Vocal Adrenaline or the Warblers (though it looks like we'll be seeing more of them next week). Contrived as it is that everyone is back in Lima, let's wind this bitch down with the characters we know and lo-- have grudging residual affection for.