LOOK WHO’S BACK THIS WEEK! HOORAY. Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel (Lea Michele) travel back to Lima to attend the McKinley High School musical, Grease. The two have not seen their ex-boyfriends since they split in New York City two episodes ago. Expect the tears to fall again. Sigh.
The Glee club newbies have starring roles in Grease. Marly (Melissa Benoist) is Sandy and Ryder (Glee Project winner, Blake Jenner) plays Danny. The evil psycho cheerleader, Kitty (Becca Tobin), pissed that Marly nabbed the starring role she wanted, bullies the vulnerable girl in the meanest way possible.
Will co-directors Finn (Cory Monteith) and Artie (Kevin McHale) pull off Grease? Tune in to find out. I’ll be back with a longer recap later.
I might be the only human being who is NOT a fan of the 1978 movie Grease, starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. I’m not a fan of the soundtrack either. So, I wasn’t expecting to like this week’s episode “Glease” as much as I did.
Like “West Side Story” last season, the action and themes from the musical are woven into the lives and of the characters. Grease did not top the West Side Story arc, for me, but it was satisfying nevertheless.
The New York City storyline was back this week. I missed it last week so much, But while my heart still lies with the original cast, I’m not going to lie, but for the first time, I became involved in the storylines of the new kids.
Seriously hard to watch: The cruel Kitty messing with Marly’s head. Kitty is the meanest of mean girls. Quinn at her worst was never this evil. The scenes where Kitty was literally toying with Marly as if she were a helpless little mouse were really difficult to watch. Kitty’s East Coast mirror image is Cassandra July. Her total eff over of Rachel is even MORE painful, because the character isn’t written as a caricature the way Kitty is. Cassandra is clearly damaged goods and has lost all ability to feel empathy. There’s nothing sadder than women hating on other women. It takes a lot of self-loathing to be so cruel.
Kurt and Rachel come face to face with their exes, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t go well at all. Kurt still loves Blaine, but can no longer trust him now that he’s cheated. The rest of the season, I hope, is about Kurt learning the lesson of forgiveness and acceptance–and Blaine learning to be less co-dependent on Kurt. That’s real-life growing pains. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
The schism between Rachel and Finn seems murkier. What is it exactly that’s keeping them apart, other than the long distance? It’s a ton of confusion for both of them. Finn is in the midst of figuring himself out. Until that happens, he can’t commit to Rachel or anybody else. And Rachel is on the difficult and lonely path to a career in theater. She won’t be ready either until she grows up and becomes a little harder and sure of herself. This week, Finn is closer than ever to finding himself. But Rachel still has a few lessons to learn.
Santana is still positive that she and Brittany need to be apart, but how relieved did she look when she learned that Brit is still single? Santana’s practicality could dissolve in a second. And those most practical and healthy of the couples, Tina and Mike are considering a long distance relationship after all.
A couple of notes on the newbies: Blake Jenner was the best actor on The Glee Project, which is one of the reasons he won. His portrayal of football player and mensch, Ryder Lynn is utterly charming. Becca Lynn’s Kitty got her first solo this week, and her Broadway chops are evident. She’s a fine singer and comic actress.
The episode opens with Will telling the Glee club that he’s leaving for DC at the end of the week. The kids are freaked out when they learn that not only will they have to navigate sectionals without their teacher, Finn Hudson will be taking over in the interim. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing at all!” complains Tina. Guess who else isn’t happy? Sue Sylvester calls Finn and Will to Figgins office.
Sue is frustrated when she learns that Glee is an extracurricular activity—therefore no teachers necessary! (Really? That’s not how it worked at my school. Whatever). Sue instantly becomes her bad old self, leaving the office enraged– a path of destruction in her wake. Do the writers of this show have so little imagination that we have to go back to Season2 Sue, except with Finn in place of Will?
Cut to Cassandra July’s dance class. She’s invited a few upperclassmen to help her teach, which means HELLO BRODY who immediately partners up with Rachel. Cassandra overhears the two discussing an audition Rachel has scored with a well-known director for an off-Broadway production of “The Glass Menagerie”. Brody promises to help her prepare for the call. Immediately, Cassie warns Rachel that the tough director will crush the inexperienced girl’s dreams. Rachel insists that she can take it. And hey, why doesn’t Cassandra try out too? For the aged Amanda? That sets Cassie right off.
Smirking evilly, Cassandra turns her steely blue eyes on Brody, offering him a TA position that would keep him REAL BUSY for the next few weeks. He agrees to get started after he assists Rachel over the weekend with her audition. Cassandra is obviously going to be the fly in this particular ointment.
Back at McKinley. Oh look. There’s Tina STILL MAKING COSTUMES. Marly’s Sandy outfit doesn’t fit anymore. Is she gaining weight? MAYBE SHE SHOULD STEP ON A SCALE BEFORE SHE JUMPS TO CONCLUSIONS? Kitty arrives for her fitting and to note Marly’s “noticeable weight gain.” Cut to Kitty secretly taking in Marly’s costumes. Kitty warns Marly that her metabolism is grinding to a halt, and that she’s on her way to a body like her overweight mama’s.
Magnanimously (not) Kitty invites the gang to her place for a sleep over, only including Unique after Marly insists. Later, back at the lunch room, Marly asks about her mom’s weight gain. Mom battled the bulge all through high school, but the weight gain really accelerated when her marriage to Marly’s dad went south. Marly confesses that she’s afraid she’ll be overweight one day too. Mom insists that it’s something Marly can control, offering to diet with her. Mom has so little self-esteem herself, that her advice is doing her kid more harm than good.
Finn confronts Sue in the teacher’s lounge. She tries to throw him out, but he’s there to apologize for calling her Down’s syndrome baby a retard. Sue is having none of it. She’s convinced that Finn has hate in his heart. Oh and what’s more? Sue has booked the auditorium for the next two weeks. Finn and the gang are going to have to find another place to rehearse. Haven’t we been down this road before? YAWN.
Finn convenes the guys (sans Blaine) at Burt Hummel’s tire shop, where he is working on an old Jalopy. This is where the boys, including choreographer Mike, are going to rehearse “Greased Lightning” full on method! Ryder has never changed the oil in a car. Jake can’t believe he got the part of Danny over him. In a scene reminiscent of Kurt and Rachel at the Wicked theater in NYC, Finn tells the guys to imagine an audience and lights. The boys launch into the performance. This is pure fun fantasy with the action cutting between the garage and a bright white stage. Finn is leading the troops!
Back in New York, at the NYADA dance studio, Kurt is helping Rachel warm up while he receives Grease update texts from Tina. He wants to go back to Lima to see the production. Rachel is all WE ARE NOT. Cassandra walks into the studio and wants to know what they are talking about. Kurt is very impressed with her abs! She continues to call Rachel “Schwimmer”.
Kurt explains that their exes–as well as a slew of their HS friends–are in a production of Grease back home. The two are debating whether to go. Cassandra’s interest is piqued. She talks Rachel into going, even offering her frequent miles she can’t use (because she got banned from an airline forever after a bloody mary fueled panic attack) Gee, I wonder why she cares. RACHEL WHY CAN’T YOU SEE THROUGH THIS. It’s no use. Rachel can’t resist. Besides, Kurt is going with her or without her. He hasn’t seen Blaine since the break up. He’s not eating—he’s living off Ambien and the Notebook. HE needs closure. And he can’t do it alone.
It’s time for the slumber party. The girls arrive with every kind of junk food imaginable. Marly wonders if anyone brought a healthy alternative. Kitty has a solution! She takes Marley into the bathroom to introduce her to the joys of Bulimia. Kitty swears binging and purging will ensure a super-model thin body forever. Kitty leaves Marly in the bathroom to experiment with barfing. Back with the rest of the kids, she Kitty dons a black wig and sings ‘Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee.” It’s a clear mocking of Marly and her Polly Purebread ways. Marly, who Kitty chastises for being so touchy, is crestfallen to find the girls laughing at her expense..
Finn once again finds himself in Principal Figgins office. This time, it’s with Sue, Wade/Unique and his parents. It turns out the parental units only learned that their son would be playing a girl part when Figgins called to congratulate them. They make it clear that they accept Wade for who he is, but he’s got to keep the cross dressing at home. They are afraid he’ll be hurt, and indeed, it comes out that he has been bullied in the halls of McKinley. It was one thing to perform in girls clothes in Chicago, but that’s not going to fly in Lima. Unique will not be playing Rizzo. Sue, of course engineered the whole thing and Finn is furious. Sue can’t believe he’s surprised because it’s “classic Sue Sylvester”. No Rizzo. No Show. But as long as we’re repeating history, we know that Finn will find a way to prevail in any case.
This is all about Finn following in Will’s footsteps, isn’t it?
Santana is tapped to fill in for Rizzo at the last minute. Couldn’t Sue just have Santana banned because she’s not a student? Oh never mind. This is Glee. But. Uh oh. Tina was expecting to take over as Rizzo! Who is going to play Jan if Tina doesn’t, says Finn. The girl is never going to get her day in the sun, is she?
Ah. Kurt and Rachel return to the halls of McKinley. They stop by their old lockers for a little nostalgia. Just as the graduates are reminiscing about how Kurt escaped a date with Mercedes by pretending to be in love with Rachel, Mercedes arrives right on cue. HUGS ALL AROUND. Ahh. BFF REUNION! Mercedes is taking classes at UCLA while she sings backups part time. She’s also hanging out with Puck. Mercedes brings them back stage. “Everybody is going to freak when they see who is here.” DUN DUN DUN.
Backstage, Marly’s costume is tighter than ever. Kitty reminds Marly that two fingers will take care of her problems. Could Kitty be any more despicable? Kurt and Rachel run headlong into Blaine who is surprised to see them. As if the scene weren’t awkward enough, Finn arrives. After some SUPER uncomfortable small talk, where it’s revealed Rachel will audition for her first play, Finn mercifully ends the encounter by saying, “It’s cool you came to see our show.”
Immediately Kurt feels like the trip was a mistake. After declaring he won’t get through act 2, Rachel says she’ll be sitting right there holding his hand. “We are never ever going to let them see us sweat.”
The first number is Blaine as Teen Angel singing “Beauty School Dropout” in a sea of pink. Sugar is cast perfectly as Frenchy. Blaine is dreamy. REALLY dreamy. He catches a glimpse of Kurt out in the audience and he breaks character for a second. Kurt looks down as they make eye contact. Kurt looks so sad.
Ryder goes looking for Marley and finds her puking in the girls’ bathroom. Shocked, he tells her to stop. She’s sobbing. “My mom’s the town joke. I’m going to end up just like her.” Ryder tells her a cautionary tale about his cousin who tried all the tricks to keep his weight off for wrestling, puking, starving, and laxatives. Then last march….in the middle of a match. “He died?” asks Marly. No. HE CRAPPED HIS PANTS IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE SCHOOL. She laughs. Ha. I’m so glad the writers didn’t go there.
“I don’t want to kiss a girl who has puke on her breath,” declares Ryder, “Either on stage….or later.” Ohhh. ROMANCE. As Marly heads back to the stage, she sings “Look at me there has to be something more than what they see. Wholesome and pure. So scared and unsure.” This is the moment I stopped hating Marly. She’s finally a human being with real fears and flaws.
Santana and Brittany have a heart to heart backstage where they confess that they miss each other. Santana says the only reason she agreed to do the play was to see Brittany again. Brittany confesses that she’s still single. Santana, still trying to behave like a practical grownup says it would be fine if Brittany were dating someone…but she’s really glad that she’s not. Brittany suggests that for her big number, Santana should think about how they broke up, but it still hurts a little bit. Santana is stung. Behaving like a grownup sucks.
Santana takes the stage to sing “There are Worst Things That I Could Do”. Oh, and I’m reminded again about how Naya Rivera is one of my favorite singers on Glee. As Wade takes a seat in the audience, the action cuts to New York, where a shirtless Brody dances with Cassandra. “And throw my life away for the dream that won’t come true,” sings Wade. “I could hurt someone like me, out of spite or jealousy” sings Cassandra. It’s a perfect trio of longing and regret. At the end of the number, Brody and Cassandra kiss. Poor Rachel.
Mike pulls Tina aside backstage to tell her she was incredible as Jan. All week he’s been thinking that maybe they should not have broken up. Tina says the split really tested her and she’s discovered that she likes herself. But she misses Mike. They can talk about it. The pair hug. At least one couple is going to have a semi-happy ending this week.
Ryder is completely overwhelmed when he sees Marly dressed as a sexy Sandy for “You’re the One That I Want.” He tells an unconfident and nervous Marly not to worry. “You’re going to destroy this.” Kitty arrives to drop the news that a snarky critic from this school paper is sitting in the audience and will have a review up practically before the show is even over. “You can’t listen to her,” says Ryder. Marly knows it in her head, but not so much in her heart. Ryder kisses her. Jake is watching. Jealous. Aw.
Ryder and Marly hit the stage for “You’re the One That I Want.” Out in the audience, Rachel imagines herself onstage as Sandy singing with Finn as Danny. Suddenly, we’re back at McKinley Season 1, when the two sang the song while an impossibly young Kurt looks on. Oh, remember this from the pilot? So cool. Back to the present. Kurt and Blaine, dressed as greasers, sing on stage. Mike is on stage and so is Brittany. This is “fantasy Glee” at its best. The number ends and Rachel is overcome with emotion. She runs off to the ladies room to call Brody on his cell. Cassandra answers. Sorry Scwimmer. Brody is in the shower. Rachel is confused, but Cassandra painfully lays it out for her. She blew off a weekend she could have spent rehearsing with Brody for her audition to hang out with her loser ex-boyfriend. The hot piece of ass she left behind got lonely and one thing led to another and now they are at Cassandra’s place. She confesses that basically she just taught Rachel a nasty life lesson about throwing herself at upper classman and having the temerity to tell her teacher that she needs to get back in the game. Cassie IS the game, and the newbie better not forget it. Rachel hangs up in the midst of Cassandra calling her privileged and self indulgent. Rachel has been played. Played hard.
Rachel runs into Finn out in the hallway. She congratulates him on a great show. He says the whole time he was thinking “What would Rachel do.” He calls her his “moose”. She smiles, “muse.” “I know,” says Finn, “I just wanted to see you smile.” He wants to know why she’s so upset, but she won’t tell him, only that it’s not about him. He knows it’s about Brody, because she only cries a certain way when it’s about a boy. He should know. Finn can’t understand why they can’t be friends. Maybe they shouldn’t talk at all anymore. “No contact,” he says. “When you come back to visit, I don’t want to know about it.” Rachel agrees. “You used to be the guy who made me feel like the most special girl in the world…now it just feels sad and confusing. The worst part is that it doesn’t even feel that bad anymore.”
Kurt arrives to tell Finn that he’s wanted in the choir room. Enter Blaine, who wants to talk to Kurt, who immediately turns his back to walk away. “I’m not interested.” Blaine tries to talk to Kurt about what happened with Eli. Kurt doesn’t want to hear it. “What are you going to tell me,” he says, “That it wasn’t serious? Do you think any of that matters to me? Relationships are about trust, and I don’t trust you anymore. I was stupid to come back.” With that, Kurt spins around to join Rachel, leaving Blaine behind, devastated.
Back in the choir room, Artie is reading the review from the dude who was supposedly going to take them down. Much to Kitty’s chagrin he LOVED everything about Grease, and in very flowery language. Oh the dude is only a sophomore at McKinley. Are we going to meet this guy? Will says his goodbye to the club, knowing he’s leaving the group in good hands with Finn. Out in the hall, Will gives Finn a farewell hug. But Finn isn’t nervous. The success of Grease leaves him with the confidence to take over New Directions, and perhaps the world.
Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee – Kitty
Beauty School Drop Out – Blaine
Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee – Marly
There are Worst Things That I Could Do – Santana, Cassandra, Unique
You’re The One That I Want – Marly, Ryder, Rachel, Finn, Kurt, Blaine
Dynamic Duets (4×97) Promo