Kristina Carroll ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
“Gleeks“ breathed a sigh of relief two days ago when Glee came back on TV after its month long hiatus with the episode “The Role You Were Born to Play”. The result, however, was slightly disappointing. What was meant to be the first of a two-part “Grease” special, actually turned out to have very little “Grease” and a lot of miserable characters. The thing that really held the episode together was the music.
In the previous episode, basically every couple in the show broke up, leaving everyone completely miserable. Blaine showcases his misery through a great performance of “Hopelessly Devoted to You”. This performance, which also served as his audition piece for the musical, did a great job of highlighting Blaine’s strong desire to be reunited with ex-boyfriend Kurt Hummel (who disappointingly did not make a single appearance in this episode), and it ended with him in tears. He explains to Artie and Finn (Finn is helping Artie direct the musical) that he cannot play the role of Danny, because he is so emotionally unstable. He then asks them to consider the role of Teen Angel for him, before sulking off stage.
Finn is disappointed by Blaine’s refusal to play the male lead, and he decides to go to the football team to look for others to possibly fill the position. While at practice, he sees freshman Ryder, played by Blake Jenner, the winner of this past season of “The Glee Project” Ryder is an outcast both on and off the field, but has some killer dance moves. Finn sees a piece of himself in Ryder, and decides to have a conversation with him about possibly joining Glee Club. Ryder’s reaction is almost identical to Finn’s back in season one, in that he basically refuses, saying that he does not have the talent required to be in that type of club. Then, Finn gives him a mini pep talk in which he says that he can improve his academic standing (which is not so great due to his learning disability) by adding an extra-curricular like glee club, and obviously Ryder agrees to join. In order to help him prepare for his audition, the two do a duet of “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner. This was a great performance, and the two of them really sounded good together, which will probably result in more duets in the future.
Ryder also expresses interest in new glee club member Marley, by telling her that her mom (who is usually the laughing stock of the school because she is so overweight) is the best because she always gives him extra meatballs. When Jake sees Marley and Ryder flirting, he turns to Kitty in order to make Marley jealous. This leads to a sing off between Marley and Ryder, and Kitty and Jake, in order to determine the two leads. The two pairs, along with other random characters, sing “Born to Hand Jive” as their audition song. (And of course, they do the dance…)
Surprisingly, Ryder is a very likable character. Personally, I was not too excited by Blake’s appearance on Glee, because he was not my favorite contestant on The Glee Project, and I could not picture him playing anyone but a younger Finn Hudson. However, I think that Ryan Murphy did a great job of creating someone who clearly has Finn’s qualities, but then again possesses some new characteristics that haven’t been represented by anyone on the show yet.
A major problem in this episode is the issue of deciding who is going to play Rizzo. Unique openly asserts that he wants the role, and sings a duet with Marley of “Blow Me” by P!nk. This was a great performance, and definitely made you feel for Unique. Kitty and Jake also do a stellar performance of “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees. Aside from Blaine’s rendition of “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, this was my favorite performance of the night. It was fun, energetic, and proof that Kitty actually does have a good voice. Although I want to see Jake and Marley become a couple, now I will not be as angry if things stay how they are, simply because of the way that each pair performs with each other.
Sue has been seriously lacking in screen time for the past few episodes, and only makes a brief appearance in which she warns Finn not to cast Unique as Rizzo, because he is a male. She asserts that she is merely looking out for the boy, and is afraid that him landing the role will also land him a great deal of trouble with his classmates. Finn goes off on Sue, and calls her newborn baby “retarded”. For once in her life, Sue is speechless. Finn immediately apologizes, but it is clear that this time Sue has really been damaged.
As for Will Schuester, he has final departed for Washington D.C., leaving Finn in charge of the glee club just before their musical. This is especially stressful for everyone, but thankfully, it does not seem as if Will and Emma’s relationship is ruined. They agree on a long distance relationship, and leave on good terms. At least one relationship was not completely destroyed by the previous episode…
However, the most exciting part of the episode was not one that involved any of these characters. Instead, it involves bringing back two of last season’s most loved glee club members…Mike Chang and Mercedes. They come back as volunteer choreographer and vocal coach for Grease, which meant that they would be featured in the second Glease episode.
At the end of this episode, the cast list is released, and it is disappointingly predictable, with absolutely no conflict or shocker. It goes as follows:
And that brings us to last week’s episode, “Glease”:
This episode was simply average, in that nothing really exciting happened. Although it did manage to bring back Kurt, Rachel, and Santana, it was almost pointless because their return to McKinley did not accomplish anything…everybody is still miserable.
Back in New York, Rachel is training with Brody (her new love interest) at NYADA, explaining to him how she is auditioning for an off-Broadway musical. Her teacher Cassandra (Kate Hudson) overhears her talking, and says that she should not audition because she is not ready. Rachel, however, does not listen, and instead encourages Cassandra to audition for something herself.
Meanwhile, Kurt is trying to convince Rachel to go back to McKinley with him to see their production of “Grease”. Rachel is hesitant about the idea, because she does not want to face Finn. Kurt, on the other hand, is dying to make things right with Blaine, because he is lost without him. Cassandra urges Rachel to go with Kurt, and even offers up her frequent flyer miles. Eventually Rachel agrees to go, and they board a plane to Lima, Ohio, where they are soon reunited with their old friends.
At McKinley, everyone is running around like crazy people doing last minute preparations for the musical. Marley, who is playing Sandy, is possibly having the most problems out of everyone, as her costume keeps shrinking. Terrified that she is gaining weight like her mother, she is unaware of the fact that Kitty is sabotaging her by making alterations her costume when nobody is looking. When the two of them are alone, Kitty suggests that Marley make herself throw up, because it’s the only way to slim down in such a short period of time. Thinking that there is no other option, she follows Kitty’s advice. This entire thing is going on in Kitty’s bathroom, on the night of a sleepover with all of the girls of the glee club, and Unique. While Marley is vomiting, Kitty takes advantage of the time to sing “Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee”. This was a boring performance, and did not really do anything for the storyline. On the night of the show, Marley finds that the costume has gotten even tighter, despite the fact that she has been starving herself all week. Again, Kitty suggests using the bulimic technique, and soon we see her vomiting again in the school bathroom. Luckily, however, she is interrupted by Ryder (what he is doing in the girl’s bathroom, we will never know), who tells her to stop because she does not need to lose weight. He says that she is beautiful the way she is, following up his compliments with a kiss.
Although Unique landed the role of Rizzo, things are not exactly going smoothly for him. Sue, who threatened Finn beforehand to not cast him as a female character in the musical, calls Finn into her office. When he comes prepared to fight for Unique’s right to play whatever gender he wants, he realizes that this is a much bigger issue, and his parents are there (also on Sue’s side). They argue that if Finn gives Unique this role, then he will be bullied relentlessly by his classmates to the point where it will be physically dangerous to him. Finn thinks that this is ridiculous, and storms out, forced to find somebody else to play Rizzo. And whom does he choose? None other than the one and only Santana Lopez. Her appearance makes for a complete Glee reunion, which was probably one of the few high points of the episode.
At the end of the musical, which turned out as being a hit thanks to Finn’s superior directing skills (that mysteriously came out of nowhere), Rachel got up and ran into the hallway crying. Finn found her, and soon realized that the reason she was crying was not for him, but was because she just got off the phone with Cassandra, who spent the night with her New York love interest Brody. This results in an argument between the two of them, in which they decide that they never want to see each other again. Just as Rachel and Kurt are about to leave, Blaine chases after him and asks him if they can talk. He tries to apologize and tell him how terrible he feels, but Kurt cannot forgive him. After both relationships end even worse than they were before, Kurt tells Rachel that she was right, and that coming back to McKinley was a bad idea. They return to New York and proceed with the start of their new lives.
The songs featured in this episode were “Beauty School Drop Out” (Blaine), “Greased Lighnin’” (Ryder and Sam), “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” (Santana), and finally, the grand finale, “You’re The One That I Want”. This last song was the only creative one out of all of them, because during it Marley’s and Ryder’s faces transformed into Rachel’s and Finn’s, and then Kurt’s and Blaine’s, in order to show how badly Rachel and Kurt miss being a part of glee club. The other songs, however, were very unoriginal and lacked the spark and creativity that the cast usually incorporates into their music.
Overall, these episodes were slightly disappointing, compared to the drama-filled episodes of previous seasons. However, they still managed to hold my attention, and definitely left me wanting more. Hopefully next week’s episode will bring back the elements of Glee that make it such a great show.