This week, I was lucky enough to see a screener of “The Break Up” ahead of time. I’m not going to spoil a thing, but I will say the critics aren’t lyin’ when they say that this is one of the best Glee episodes EVER.
It is at once romantic, heartbreaking, grownup and true. It may be a little TOO realistic for the young fans who have idealized the couples that are at the center of tonight’s drama. Kurt and Blaine, Rachel and Finn, Santana and Brittany and Will and Emma are all put through the ringer as their relationships are tested. Some couples do bust up. And one in particular will–heartbreakingly–never be the same no matter what happens. There are certain shippers who will be extremely upset after tonight’s show. Particularly the young, who, like I said, idealize these couples.
But me? I love the new, mature turn Glee has taken this season. There is some behavior that’s shockingly out-of-character. A huge mistake is made–but there really are no bad guys. Just some very human, and in most cases–YOUNG folks–doing the best that they can.
The music is absolutely sublime, and augments the drama perfectly. Darren Criss performs “Teenage Dream” LIVE at the piano bar and is easily one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever seen on Glee.
Get your tissues ready people. The dilemmas posed for each couple are relatable and woven together perfectly. Kudos to Ryan Murphy for a well written script. And to the actors who bring the characters movingly to life. Darren Criss keeps getting better and better. That Cory Monteith is the most underrated actor on Glee becomes clear as you watch. Chris Colfer, Lea Michele and Naya Rivera are absolutely flawless, as they always are. This is some of the best acting I’ve ever seen from Heather Morris.
Darren Criss posted a sweet thank you to fans on his facebook. Reed it here.
Click to Listen to the Music from The Break Up
Will the world of Glee ever be the same again? The name of the episode “The Break Up” is misleading. By the end of the episode, there are multiple break ups and one pairing that looks to be in trouble.
Ryan Murphy, the boss himself, wrote the episode, frustrating Glee fans such as myself. But not for the usual reasons. Damn. When Glee gets it right it REALLY gets it right, making me wish the show could move forward with some consistency.
The introduction of the New York story line has been fantastic. Mostly because of the maturity of the themes. That grown up feeling informed this episode of Glee all the way through, as the graduated seniors face life outside of highschool and apart from their significant others.
The couples split for different reasons. For Finn and Rachel, it was a relief for Rachel to FINALLY stick up for herself, declaring herself a grown up woman who doesn’t need a man to “set her free.” Or dictate her path. Finchel’s breakup was sad, but ultimately empowering for Rachel. That girl, focused on her goals is who I became a fan of early on. Watching her follow Finn like a puppy dog last season was frustrating. Finn is typical of so many young men who are trying to find a way to be a man in a difficult scary world. Rachel finally realizes that they can’t be together until he figures out some stuff on his own.
Santana has always been a pragmatist. And here, she makes a clean break with Brittany before things get too weird, or one of them cheats on the other. Santana realizes that one or the other of them will be tempted while they are apart. Easier to split now that later. It’s sad, but sensible.
If only Blaine and Kurt learned that lesson. This break is the most heartbreaking of all, because it left the most damage. Seemingly out of character, Blaine hooks up with a guy via Facebook. And when I say hook up, I mean he yes, he really CHEATS in the biblical sense. After, he’s wracked with so much guilt that he heads off to NYC to see Kurt. He confesses what he’s done, and in the end, it appears that Kurt will never forgive him. Out of all the couples these two will have the toughest time finding their way back to each other.
Will gets a job in Washington that will take him away from Lima for a few months .The problem is? He wants Emma to take a sabaticcal from McKinley to accompany him. She loves her job and doesn’t want to leave. They argue, but we’re left with the sense that these two adults will find a way to work it out.
The serious themes in “The Break Up” are dealt with so realistically that I wonder if it will be too much for some of the young teens who watch the show. Some of those kids have idealized the core couples the way they may idealize their own young relationships. A face full of THIS IS HOW IT IS may not set very well with young fans. But if they hang in there, they might learn something. Like, love isn’t always forever, but a break up doesn’t mean the end of the world. It can be empowering, in fact. And in the case of Klaine, I’m optimistic that the lesson will be about forgiveness and recognizing the humanity in each of us.
The world of Lima Ohio wasn’t left out of the loop. The episode opens with Jake catching Marley using her free lunch tickets. But guess what. He uses them too!
“It sucks being poor,” he laments. Jakes mom was a real estate agent before the recession and now she’s the only black waitress at the Lima country club, and the old white guys don’t even tip her. Jake reveals another secret. He takes dance lessons! Shhh,
Meanwhile, Brittany and Blaine sit at a lunch table nearby watching the budding romance. Blaine becomes nostalgic, “Do you remember when we started dating Santana and Kurt?” Blaine reminisces. “Back before people were so busy and so far away? We had so much more hope and innocence. Every day was just like Valentine’s Day.”
Brittany replies. “We’re still young; shouldn’t we still be experiencing those things?” She’s got a point.
Cut to New York. Rachel wakes up. It’s lunchtime and Kurt is in the kitchen making eggs. He’s glad he wore earplugs last night, because he didn’t want to hear “any of that.” Rachel confesses that she and Finn—Oh, you’ll remember that he showed up at her door just as she and Brody got down for a kiss—just laid in bed all not holding each other and not talking. Finn ambles into the room. Kurt takes his cue. “I’m going to the park to watch drug deals go down,” he announces. “Nice to see you little brother,” says Finn.
Rachel wants to know why he’s here. “I can’t do this anymore Finn.” She wants to know why he isn’t in the army. Turns out he was—for 16 days—until he shot himself in the thigh with “Rachel”. The name he gave his gun. No really. He got a semi-honorable discharge and was so embarrassed that he disappeared. He’s been hiking in the Georgia mountains for the past 4 months. “I couldn’t face being seen as a Lima Loser.” Finn admits.
Painting over that heart scrawl on the apartment wall devoted to Finn? Kissing Brody? All that moving on is out the window. Rachel is totally sucked in by Finn in his presence. She tells him, “You’re here right now, with me. We’re in NYC–the greatest city in the whole world. What better place for you and I to find you a new dream.” Rachel suggests that Finn sit in on her NYADA classes. If he loves it, he can move in and they’ll spend the year finding a way for him to get in.” It’s as if Rachel doesn’t understand Finn at ALL or she is in deep denial about what makes him tick. I’m going for the latter. This episode is going to be an exercise in Rachel facing the truth.
Back in Lima. Santana is home from college, doing her laundry with Brittany. “I’m not jealous. I just think it’s insane,” she says of Kurt’s quick rise to the top at Vogue.com. “All Porcelain had to do to get an internship with Vogue.com was take photos of every ridiculous outfit he’s ever paired with a Cossack hat and a see-through raincoat and then show up at an interview where he is lauded as a visionary…”
Brittany suggests that Santana could follow her dreams too. Her mom gave her the money to go to New York. She could go. Santana says she loves being in college. Her schedule’s crazy, but she loves being a cheerleader. And, she loves that she’s never more than a few hours away from Brittany. The crazy rumor that all the water in Louisville is purified fun off from the Kentucky Derby stables isn’t the REAL reason why she does her laundry at home. It forces her to come back and visit her sweetheart every couple of weeks.
Brittany confesses that she was up late the night before reading the “Left Behind” series. Santana finds this revelation to be super-weird and is worried the books are too intense. It turns out Brittany has joined an after school club run by the inane and evil cheerleader, Kitty. The group gets together to discuss hell and damnation and fun stuff like that.
Blaine is strolling down the hall as his phone buzzes. It’s Kurt. “Hey stranger,” says Blaine. Kurt has been so busy at his new Vogue.com gig, he’s barely had time for phone and skype dates. Sometimes he even declines Blaine’s phone calls. The lovers’ reconnection doesn’t last long, as Kurt is playing receptionist for boss, Isabelle, and the phones are ringing off the hook. “I don’t want to miss our phone dates, but this could be a career for me.”
Blaine, frustrated, responds, “I get that…but I really miss you a lot. I miss talking with you, I miss hugging you and I miss messing around with you…” Blaine is scheduled to visit Kurt in two weeks, but what’s a guy to do in the meantime? Kurt cuts Blaine off abruptly. “Joan Didion is calling. She always has the best gossip. I will call you or text you on a break.” And with that, Kurt clicks the phone–too fast to even hear Blaine’s “I love you.” This is not good.
As Finn watches Rachel perform from the back of one of her classes at NYADA, he realizes that she’s exactly where she belongs. “I’ve never seen her so alive” he says to himself in a voice over. “She thrives.”
“I just wish I could find a place for me” he says. “I definitely don’t’ belong here.”
“I’d never get into NYADA,” Finn tells himself. He imagines himself running a hot dog cart outside of Madison Square Garden. “I used to be the man of her dreams, but now we aren’t even in the same world,” he says before “Barely Breathing” begins. It’s a duet between Finn in NYC and Blaine in Lima. Both feel that their lovers have left them behind.
Finn sings as he watches Rachel dance. Blaine performs sitting in the auditorium to an empty chair on stage, imagining Kurt sitting in the audience. Blaine sings as he looks at Facebook on his phone. Wait. WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING? He’s “poking” a guy named Eli C. NOOOOOO. “What’s up sexy?” Eli posts back, “You want to come over?” Blaine gets up and walks away.
Next scene, Finn, Rachel and Kurt are getting ready for some Friday night fun in the big city. The quartet’s destination is a piano bar, Callbacks, where all the NYADA kids go to party and sing around the piano. Finn admits that he hasn’t even sang in the shower since Nationals. There’s a knock on the door. And it’s Blaine! Kurt is so happy to see him. They hug AND FINALLY KISS. Is this our kiss for the year set in a Very Special Episode, Ryan Murphy? I hope not. But FOX is still playing games because it’s pretty quick–the camera cuts away in the middle. Blaine is REALLY surprised, but happy to see Finn.
At the bar, Kurt asks Blaine if he’s OK. Blaine says he’s just tired. Kurt is so happy to be taking him out on his first night in New York. “You’ll never forget it.” he says. Indeed, he will not.
Brody arrives greeting a friendly Finn. Brody encourages Finn to sing a duet with Rachel. She really wants to perform “Give Your Heart a Break” as a duet. Finn suddenly becomes a little test, because he senses that something is up with Brody. “Why don’t you guys sing it together? It’s a NYADA tradition right? You guys are both NYADA students.” FROSTY. “Let’s do it!” says Brody. The duet is acoustic with piano and REALLY REALLY REALLY good. Finn watches with a mixture of pride and sadness. He knows Rachel is slipping out of his grasp.
After, Rachel insists that Kurt do his Sweeny Todd mega medley (META!) but like Finn, Kurt is feeling slightly out of practice too. “Vogue.com intern sings without warming up. Not happening.”
But Blaine’s got something he wants to sing. He sits at the piano and we hear the familiar tinkle of “Teenage Dream.” Holy shit. “I want to sing a song that’s very special to me,” Blaine says, “This is the song that I sang the first time I met the love of my life. Kurt. This is for you.”
Blaine sings and it’s raw, emotional. His eyes are wet with tears. Kurt quickly realizes that something’s wrong. So do Rachel and Finn.The entire scene is heartwrenching. Darren is singing live rather than lip syncing to a recording. It’s easily the most emotional performance I’ve ever seen on Glee. By the end, Blaine is completely spent.
Cut to the couples walking in a park. Rachel wishes Finn had sung with her. “Nah, I don’t fit in. This place is just too big, the people too talented. Even in Ohio I knew I wasn’t meant for this.”
Kurt tries to tease what is wrong out of Blaine. “You’ve been so emotional and weirdly sad,” Kurt says to Blaine. “Please stop pretending that there’s nothing wrong.”
And with that, Blaine drops a nuclear bomb, as he tearfully admits, “I was with someone. “ Kurt looks as if somebody pulled his entire world out from under him.
Meanwhile, Finn wants to know what’s up between Rachel and Brody. “Don’t lie to me,” he says.
“I couldn’t get in touch with you,” pleads Rachel, “You weren’t answering my calls or my text messages. I didn’t know where you were or even if you were OK.” Finn realizes that his suspicions are true. “I only kissed him, but only because you told me that you wanted me to be free.” Remember that Finn? “I can’t believe I said that,” he admits, “I was so stupid.”
Kurt wants to know who the boy was that Blaine cheated with. Was it Sebastian? No, but it really doesn’t matter who it was, because it didn’t mean anything. “I was by myself. I needed you. I needed you around and you weren’t there,” cries Blaine. “I was lonely. And I’m really sorry.”
Kurt is absolutely devastated. He’s sobbing. “You don’t think that I haven’t been lonely. You don’t think that I’ve had temptations?” He asks, incredulous. “But I didn’t act on them, because I knew what it meant. “ Blaine continues to apologize, but Kurt turns away, crying.
The quartet sings “Don’t Speak,” alone, and to each other. The couples sing in split screens, then in bed side by side, but not really together. They turn away from each other, not talking and shut off their lights.
The next morning, Finn attempts to sneak out, but Kurt is already up and catches him. “You can’t just run away,” warns Kurt. “I was waiting for somebody to come out,” He says sadly, “I was hoping it would be Blaine.”
“Are you OK” asks Finn.
“I kind of feel like I’m going to die,” says Kurt, curled up in a chair. “Six months ago, did you ever think things would be like this?” “Sometimes I miss high school” says Finn, before he gives his brother a hug goodbye.
“Do you want me to say anything to Rachel?” asks Kurt. “No,” says Finn, before he quietly slips out the door.
We’re back in Lima and the scene turns comic. Thank God, because my head is about to explode. Kitty, the psychopathic cheerleader and Jake’s current squeeze, stops by Marley’s locker to hand her a flyer to her wacky “Left Behind” club, before announcing that the book of revelations predicted twitter! It’s one of the 7 signs of the apocalypse–along with porn, unexplainable weather, Martian rovers, BARNEY FRANK (MY GUY!), the Middle East and MSNBC. As Kirk Cameron said. It’s never too late. Until it’s too late. Despite dating her, Jake side-eyes kitty the entire time.
Speaking of side eyes. Santana accompanies Brittany to the meeting, which takes place, like everything in the world of Glee, Breadstix. “Hi! I have a question. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT,” asks Santana after one of Kitty’s particularly nutty rants. Tina’s freshman assistant, a nervous Asian girl named Dottie, is still on the fence. “Sorry I made you come to this,” Jake says sheepishly to Marley. “You’re half Jewish, right?” Marley giggles, “Does that mean you’ll float up to heaven at half speed?”
Kitty lures Dottie to the ladies room by telling her a Japanese woman who doesn’t speak English needs her help. Brittany wants to lend a hand. But Santana holds her back. “I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on here,” she says icily. Kitty sends everyone out of the restaurant in a “left behind” drill. Dottie comes back and sees that everyone has gone, leaving their stuff strewn all over the tables, and she freaks out. Kitty jumps out from under a table. ‘That’s what if feels like to be left behind!” When Marley and Jake come back and see poor Dottie cowering in a corner, Jake says, “That’s enough, Kitty. This has gone way too far.” Marley’s had enough. “I just really don’t like that Kitty girl. And I can’t believe you do.” She takes off.
Santana has also had enough. “Can we please go home? I don’t think this club is good for you.”
“I’m not leaving. Being left behind sucks,” pouts Brittany. “It’s just a stupid prank” Santana reminds her. But she doesn’t get it. Brittany is not talking about the rapture. She’s joining ridiculous clubs with names like “left behind” because that’s exactly what Santana did when she left Ohio. Brittany points to Dottie hyperventilating in the corner. “That’s exactly what it felt like,” she says.
Will is overjoyed when Finn makes a surprise visit to his office at McKinley. Finn wants to talk, and before you know it, he’s sobbing in Will’s arms. And I mean REALLY CRYING. There is so much damn crying in this episode of Glee.
Later, Finn is sitting alone in the choir room when Blaine walks in. The confrontation is immediate. “Why’d you do that to him?” asks Finn. “I don’t know,” says Blaine, beside himself. “There’s no excuse. He won’t even talk to me. I don’t even know if we’re broken up.”
The rest of the Glee club fllters in one by one. “Do you know who that is?” Jake asks Marley. She shakes her head. Sam introduces Finn, who says he’s just passing through, visiting family. “I thought you joined the army!” exclaims Tina.” But, before Finn answers any embarrassing questions, Will interrupts. “He did, but things don’t always work out as planned. “ Will invites Finn to stick around as long as he needs to. And now, we know what Finn will be doing for the time being. Immediate problem solved.
The next order of business is to discuss the school musical. Will passes out a list of possibilities, and after some discussion, Finn suggests “Grease”. “Guys like it. Girls like it. People like my mom like it. It’s about high school and growing up and being true to yourself. The songs rock.” Well, I don’t like it! But I’ll leave that bitching for another time. I LOVED West Side story last year, but it turns out the FOX brass did not like the ratings.
Later, at home, Will breaks the good news to Emma that he’s been selected for the Washington Blue Ribbon Arts panel. The only rub, is that Will wants Emma to take a sabbatical from McKinley so she can move down there with him. She’s got tenure! Emma is all, “Well what about my job?” She realizes she could take a sabbatical, but she LIKES handing out crazy pamphlets to misguided kids. Will is miffed, “I thought you were supportive of this.” She IS but for him. It’s HIS dream. What’s she going to do in Washington while he’s working? She can’t believe that he expected her to just follow him around like an obedient little puppy dog. Emma storms out of the room.
We’re back at Kurt’s desk at Vogue.com. A huge bouquet of red and yellow roses has arrived. They are from Blaine. The note says, “Kurt, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Xo Xo Xo Blaine.” Kurt’s cute male co-worker—the one who had horrible ideas for unexpected leather in the last episode–walks by and says, “Well, someone is either seriously crushing on you or seriously trying to make up for something.
“The latter,” Kurt says glumly. “Ouch,” says the co-worker, prying,“Is he cute?”
“The cutest” whispers Kurt looking sadly at Blaine’s note. Co-worker flashes a huge smile, “Well, that sucks. I’m sorry. You need to go binge shopping? Isabelle is summoning us to the conference room. I can cover for you!” Oh, boy. Could Mr. unexpected leather be a future fling for Kurt? I’m getting that vibe! “I’m ok. I’ll be ok,” Kurt shakes his head, as he watches Blaine’s note drift into his wastebasket. SOB. Not exactly an official breakup, but Kurt and Blaine have A LOT of work to do before they can be together again.
Santana has summoned Brittany to the choir room. “Sophomore year I used to sit back here and count the times that you smiled at me and died when you didn’t. I miss this place so much. It’s where we fell in love–where I could say things with music when words weren’t enough. And I need to tell you something that I don’t know how to say.” Santana launches into a gorgeous, acoustic version of Taylor Swift’s “Mine” that’s so lovely and so moving it broke my heart. “You are the best thing that’s ever been mine.”
“Sad songs make me sad and I don’t want to be sad,” says Brittany when Santana finishes.
“I haven’t’ been a good girlfriend to you,” Santana admits. “I can’t come home on the weekends and pretend things are the way they were, because they aren’t. I don’t want to be like all those other long distance relationships. Hang in there for a few months and then break up when someone eventually cheats and things get weird.”
“I would never cheat on you,” says Brittany.
Santana says she would never cheat either. But then she cops to locking eyes with a Virginia Woolf reading lesbian in the college library. Cut to Santana in the library having an “energy exchange” with a funky coed. Santana admits to having an attraction. “You might have one, and that happens,” she tells Brittany.
“Let’s just do the mature thing here,” says Santana, “This is not an official break up, But, let’s just be honest. Long distance relationships are almost impossible to maintain, because both people aren’t really getting what they need. Especially at our age.”
Brittany has tears streaming down her face. “This sounds a lot like a breakup to me.”
“You know I will always love you the most,” says Santana as they kiss and hug goodbye. “I love you too,” says a teary Brittany.
Jake stops by Marley’s locker to apologize for dragging her to the Left Behind club. “I just don’t get it,” she says, “I don’t see why someone like you is with someone like Kitty. You act like you don’t care what other people think. But you are obviously as desperate to fit in if you’ll date somebody like her.”
Jake blows up. “You have no idea what it feels to be really on the outside. The black kids think I’m too white. The white kids think I’m too black. Kitty is funny and hot. And yeah, she’s a little crazy. But she likes me, and when I’m next to her, no one makes fun of me. For once.” There you go. The truth.
Kitty arrives just in time to insult Marley. I heard they were opening a McDonalds house in Lima just for you and your finger licking lard loving Gilbert Grape looking mama.” Jake tells Kitty to cut it out, or he’ll break up with her.
“You do not want to break up with me. I’m like a bad Carrie Underwood song once I get going,” warns Kitty.
“Well, I’ll take my chances. We’re done,” says Jake as Marley stands by, shocked.
“You did this. You are both going to regret this turn of events, because I will tell you one more thing. OBAMA’S GOING TO LOSE.” And…I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Kitty.
Marley thanks him for standing up for her at the cost of his relationship, but Jake realizes it’s all good. When Marley suggests they go through sheet music together for Grease (She’s thinking of auditioning for the role of Sandy!) Jake gets weird and begs off, leaving a a confused Marley standing in the hallway. Methinks Jake has a few more secrets…
Rachel finds Finn is in the auditorium going through sheet music. She’s flown in all the way from NYC to find Finn. She tells a surprised Finn that she’s been looking all over for him, but she should have been known he’d be in the auditorium. “This is where you proposed to me,” she’s says to him. It’s also where they first met, had their first date, their first kiss. “This place is kind of like our Jerusalem. All roads seem to just lead us back here,” says Rachel.
Finn would not answer Rachel’s calls and texts. She had no idea where he was. “I didn’t have time to think,” says Finn.
“You had 4 months to think. I hated you for what you did to me at that train station,” Rachel gathers steam, “But then, when I got to New York, I thought how much you loved me, and how hard that must have been for you. “
“And I thought. This. This is what a man looks like. This is how a man loves.”
Rachel is just getting started, “But you. Not telling me where you were for FOUR MONTHS and sneaking out before sunrise without saying goodbye. That is not being a man, Finn.”
“I’m trying to give you your freedom”
“I DON’T NEED YOU TO GIVE ME MY FREEDOM. I AM A GROWN WOMAN”
Rachel. Has finally found her power. YOU GO GIRL.
“I don’t need you to hide from me, to keep me from doing what is right for me.”
“Like that Brody guy?” snaps Finn.
“I didn’t do Brody. Ok? And don’t you think I would have rather been with you.”
“Didn’t you say he was on Broadway. Right? He’s got 3 percent body fat. Who am I? I barely even graduated high school! And my life has absolutely no direction.” Oh, the pity party.
“Don’t you get it. No matter how rich or famous or successful I become, when it comes to you, I’m always going to be that moon eyed girl who freaked you out at her first Glee rehearsal.”
Rachel is in tears. “You were the first boy who made me feel loved. And sexy and visible. You are my first love and I want more than anything for you to be my last. But I can’t do this anymore. At least not now. WE’RE DONE.”
Finn, has hit rock bottom. “What am I going to do with my life?” he asks, “I don’t have my girl, I don’t have a job, I don’t have a place in this world. “
“You have you,” says Rachel, “And that’s better than anyone else on the planet as far as I’m concerned.” They kiss goodbye.
Finn begins to sing “The Scientist.” Blaine joins in, and then Santana. “Oh take me back to the start.” Kurt appears next to Blaine. “I was just guessing at numbers and figures.” Brittany now. And then Will and Emma. And finally Rachel.
And then….TEARS. We see montages of all the couples in their early days: Rachel and Finn kissing for the first time at their auditorium picnic, Blaine and Kurt running hand in hand in slow motion through the halls of Dalton. “I’m going back to the start” Rachel belts. Brttany and Santana cuddling in the choir room. Will and Emma kissing for the first time. The song ends. Fade to black. Finn is alone standing on stage in a spotlight. The spotlight clicks off.
Barely Breathing – Blaine and Finn
Give Your Heart a Break – Rachel and Brody
Teenage Dream – Blaine
Don’t Speak – Blaine, Kurt, Finn, Rachel
Mine – Santana
The Scientist – Finn, Blaine, Santana, Kurt, Brittany, Will, Emma, Rachel