“Here’s another”? I say that in this post’s headline because that’s what I’d give Glee for Episode 3, Asian F: another “Asian F,” which is to say an A minus. No, it wasn’t the gleektacular show promised by some reviews. But yes, it was strong, if not always true.
Again, Glee wrestled with character inconsistencies, such as Rachel’s close friendships with Kurt and Mercedes suddenly crumbling, and not all due to her own blind ambitions. Mercedes, for one, shouldn’t have insisted on beating Rachel and should have taken the role of Maria for her own full week when West Side Story‘s judges made their call. Try that fit-throwing, I-quit rant in a real-world audition, Mercedes, and you’ll never work in this town again.
But I love that Mercedes will thus spread Glee’s musical wealth by joining Shelby’s donor-paid competing club, where she’ll shore up a sure-to-improve Sugar Motta and square off against Will’s bunch. Competition is healthy — certainly for this show.
As for Rachel, she had a bad night, betraying both Kurt and, in a way, Mercedes. Yet I sense an apology in her future.
But messy squabbles aside, this was a sensational show in song and dance, with dance again getting a bigger boost this season, especially in the form of Brittany’s Run This World (Girls), which took Beyonce’s feminist anthem and ran with it to what could be a senior class president victory.
The choreography and performances were among Glee’s best, and sorry Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.), but Brittany (Heather Morris) is this show’s best dancer, not only for her dance skills, but for her sheer abandon. Heather gets into it like no one else on this show — or many others. She’s the real deal. And that outfit!
But Mike, you came through in other ways: as a character, and as a singer. Your scene with your Chanel-charged, proper yet understanding and sweetly supportive mom was a true bawl-buster, and your vocals for West Side Story’s Cool — as well as your moves — were dead-on. Of course you get the part!
I also loved the racist lunacy of Emma’s parents offset by some serious scenes of Emma’s child-becomes-the-woman tortures. Kneeling or not, she and Will are a strong couple. Give them time. The romantic pair who ended Glee’s first half-season with a clinch and a kiss is a pair I think we can count on for the long haul.
Emma reads bridal magazines? I can hear the bells (and Hairspray fans, you know that’s not just a sentence but a song).
And finally I could appreciate another inevitable Dreamgirls tune, with It’s All Over ingeniously woven into Glee’s own narrative. Yet even more so I loved Mercedes’ Spotlight from Jennifer Hudson, a strong pop song which had me at “Are you a man who loves and cherishes and cares for me?” Good question to ask.
Mercedes — Amber — this was your show and you delivered, big time.
Nor should we overlook the Mercedes-Rachel duet-in-editing for Irene Cara’s Out Here On My Own from Glee’s screen sister, Fame (the movie, not the series). As for Will singing lead for New Directions’ soulful, anthemic Fix You (thanks, Coldplay), it left us with an emotional peak to get us through the next three weeks with lots o’ baseball on Fox but no Glee. (Hey, we’ll still get 22 new shows — and one of them double-length — regardless of what dates they air.)
So no, not an A plus. But definitely an A-worthy A minus. I still want more character consistency, but when you get so much else from such a magical and often moving show, you can’t complain too much.
Show me another series in the history of television that’s produced half a movie musical per week, with song, dance and acting woven together so well to tell a tale. Glee is it. Glee is special — even if it is imperfect.
Heck, given its embrace of the underdog, especially.
(Please enjoy my Glee coverage, including reviews of all 47 episodes to date, at this link. And follow my Glee-driven tweets at @BruceWestbrook.)