This week’s episode of Glee was all about knowing yourself and being yourself, and it brought a lot of changes for some of our favorite Glee kids. They explored what Rachel would be without her voice, Puck without his popularity and edginess, Mercedes without her independence and Kurt without his sexuality.
Puck, for example, got a taste of his own medicine this week. After a dermatologist shaved his mohawk (his mom spotted a suspicious-looking freckle when she was washing his hair) his cool factor dropped and he soon found himself being tossed into the dumpster by the very kids he used to bully himself.
How did Puck try to get his popularity back? By hooking up with Mercedes and latching himself on to her new found popularity. “That black chick from Glee club used to suck, and now she’s all kinds of popular,” he noted. “Get ready, black girl from Glee club whose name I can’t remember right now. The Puckster is about to make you his.”
Meanwhile, Rachel was annoyed that most of the Glee club was just mouthing their way through vocal exercises. I remember doing that when I was in the school choir as a kid! Thank god there was no one around as intense as Rachel Berry. She went to Mr. Schue with her complaint and he responded with a new challenge for the Glee kids – Perform a song that best represents how you see yourself.
Honestly, the lesson was kind of a cop-out. Don’t the kids always sing about how they feel? But it resulted in so many great performances that I was willing to overlook the lame-o Glee homework.
Rachel kicked things off, planning to perform Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”. I embarrassingly like this song, but luckily for the 98% of people who are Miley “haters”, Rachel sang the first few bars surprisingly off-key until Mr. Schue informed her that she’d lost her voice. It was disappointing, since I could see Rachel taking the song even more seriously that Miss Hannah Montana herself, but the botched performance was worth it just to see Brittany’s facial expressions – was she enjoying it? Did she even know someone was singing? What goes on inside that girl’s head?
Finn accompanied Rachel to the doctor’s office to get the scoop on her missing voice, and once again tried to convince her she should be with him and not Jesse. Did they name Rachel’s new love interest Jesse St. James just so Finn could perform “Jessie’s Girl”? Because if so, good call! Finn was totally in his element with that performance. And the best part was that the show was just getting started.
Next up was Puck, who devoted his performance to convincing Mercedes that they should be together – after all, blacks and Jews have a history of sticking up for each other. His example was Sammy Davis Jr. who was both black and Jewish (Bluish, I’ve been told) and he brought in his homies from the jazz club to accompany him on “The Lady is a Tramp”. I love Puck. I loved this performance. And thanks to his dancing, I loved it even more than “Sweet Caroline”.
The performance worked, and suddenly Mercedes was swooning over the Puckster. Or, at least, the attention he was giving her. But she checked with Quinn first, and Quinn was surprisingly cool with the duo. (Also, mystery solved – Quinn lives with Puck now. And his mom won’t let her eat bacon.) She warned Mercedes that Puck was just using her, but Mercedes didn’t care. In fact, it was almost better that he was using her. No one had ever paid her any attention before. “Now I’m such a steaming mug of hot chocolate that one of the studliest guys in school wants to use me to harvest some mojo,” she explained. Fair enough.
With the Glee kids performing songs to represent themselves, it would be foolish not to include Kurt. His struggle with his own sexuality and his relationship with his father has been the most emotional and raw storyline on the show. As Kurt saw his father hanging out more and more with Finn, he started to feel less and less adequate. When he confided in Sue Sylvester she questioned whether Kurt could even know whether he was gay or straight, as he was only 16 and had never kissed a boy or a girl. “So you like show tunes,” Sue said. “That doesn’t mean you’re gay, it just means you’re awful!”
Kurt decided to go straight to bond with his father, which meant dressing like a lumberjack and performing John Mellencamp tunes. After his dad explained that “Pink Houses” was not about decorating, but how the 80s were a tough time for everyone and that the American dream is not all it’s cracked up to be, Kurt performed it for the Glee club with a hilarious growl in his soprano voice. Mr. Schue knew Kurt wasn’t being true to himself, but Kurt was having none of it. “I’m not a box,” he told him. “There are more than four sides to me.” But there was one person who was totally down with Kurt’s performance – Brittany. “You’re pretty much the only guy in this school I haven’t made out with because I thought you were capital G gay,” Brittany told him. “But now that I know you’re not, having a perfect record would mean a lot to me. Let me know if you wanna tap this.”
So Kurt started dating (or something?) Brittany. The made out in his bedroom, though he was more interested in her rootbeer flavored lipgloss and asking her to describe what it was like to kiss a boy than he was in her.
When Kurt’s dad walked in on them, the result was both funny and heartbreaking. Kurt had left a sign on the door saying to keep out, he was making out with a girl. Naturally, Kurt’s dad thought it was just the beginning of one of Kurt’s murder-mystery dinner parties. (I need to be invited to one of these!) Kurt’s dad was confused, and tried to convince Kurt that he was good either way – whether Kurt was gay or straight. Later, when Kurt performed “Rose’s Turn” and his father saw it, the emotion was almost overwhelming. I’m glad that the struggle between Kurt and his father wasn’t just dropped after Kurt came out, because that’s not how it works. Even though Kurt’s dad accepts Kurt for who he is, he can’t help but feel disappointed. And Kurt can’t help being hurt by that. It’s rough, and the scene was very touching.
Back to the more lighthearted side of Glee – they sang “The Boy is Mine” this week! It was my favorite performance of the episode. This was one of my favorite songs when I was about thirteen years old, and seeing it performed by Mercedes and Santana was amazing. It made me wish Monica could make a comeback. (I was never really on Team Brandy). Mr. Schue broke it up when the duet started to turn into a shoving match, but by the end of the episode Mercedes had taken herself out of the running to be Puck’s main squeeze. After Puck got his mojo back and started throwing people in dumpsters again, Mercedes realized he wasn’t the kind of guy she wanted attention from. While I wished that the Puck/Mercedes/Santana love triangle could have lasted longer, and I’m bummed that Mercedes quit the Cheerios, I’ll be glad to see her rocking some awesome clothes again. That cheerleading pantsuit was getting dull. I also love seeing more of Mercedes. I’d like to put in a song request for a future episode – can we have Mercedes singing Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”? Mercedes has the right ‘tude for that tune.
We also got to see a little emotion from Rachel this week. In fact, I think it was the first time that we’ve seen a more vulnerable, less annoying side of Rachel Berry. At first she was freaking out that her tonsillitis would ruin her voice forever, and she’d have nothing. “I’m like Tinkerbell!” she told Finn. “I need applause to live!”
Finn took her to visit a friend of his so she could get her priorities straight. His friend Sean had been a star football player who was now paralyzed. The storyline was saddening, but also felt a little manipulative to me. Meeting Sean, who had lost everything, brought out the softer side to Rachel. But Sean losing use of his entire body was so much more serious than Rachel losing her voice, that I almost felt angry with Rachel acting so melodramatically about her tonsillitis. Perhaps that was the point – when Rachel’s voice returned, she visited Sean to offer him voice lessons. Even though the story felt a bit forced, the result was touching. Rachel took Sean’s hand, which he couldn’t feel, and they sang U2’s “One”. The performance evolved into the entire Glee club singing the song, and it was a great performance.
A lot was fit into this episode and it felt a bit cluttered, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There are still some loose ends – how long will Quinn stay living with Puck? Are Rachel and Jesse still dating, or did he actually dump her last episode? And why didn’t Brittany get to have a “this is how I see myself” solo? But still, I really liked the episode, and would be lying if I said I wasn’t currently blasting “The Boy is Mine”.