Glee Review/Recap Season 4 Episode 16 ‘Feud’: I was right, baby

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I’m not going to mince words. I’m not going to wait politely until deep into this post to mention something in passing as an “oh, by the way” remark. I’m going to say it right now, right here, right off the bat, just as I have for weeks in this blog, in my tweets and in reader comments on other websites:

Rachel was not gonna be a mama, she was not even pregnant, and those who kept saying she was preggers basically sounded like naive sap Will in Season 1 when he bought into Terri’s absurd fake pregnancy. Puh-lease!

No way would Glee ruin the show-biz future of its key character by saddling her with a rugrat. Wasn’t gonna happen. Even brief plot synopses of future episodes indicated as much. (Why would Rachel audition for a Funny Girl role she couldn’t accept?)

In short, those who claimed that a Rachel baby was on the way were wrong, and I was right. I told you so. And I have a right to say that.

Now, can we move back to the real world of Glee — such that it is, given the flights of musical fantasy bestowed on us in Episode 16’s Feud, starting with its killer opening number.

In terms of movie-musical magic for the small screen, does it get any better than Glee’s vigorously seductive and strongly dance-driven How To Be a Heartbreaker — a song which didn’t make me forget Marina and the Diamonds’ potent original, but did get my attention as a fanciful almost-duet between Brody — plying his “gigolo” (male hooker) trade at a stately hotel (LA’s Biltmore) — and girlfriend Rachel, who briefly chimed in from afar.

Loved it. LOVED it. Show me a better three minutes on any show on any network this week. Show me. I want to see it.

But I don’t think it exists. This was Glee at its best, and no other show touches that.

So it was all downhill from there, right? Not necessarily. In fact, I liked almost all of the light pop- and dance-geared numbers, largely offered as combative mash-up duets to play out the alleged feuds between characters. (Tell me: Was Unique’s beef with Ryder that he’d messed up glee club chemistry by kissing Marley? Come on. He should have said up-front that it was Ryder’s refusal to call him “a girl.”)

The tension between Blaine and Sue was much more satisfying and plausible, as Sue virtually blackmailed him to return to the Cheerios he’d briefly joined — to the tune of Nicki Minaj’s in-your-face Super Bass, with Sue in bewigged bitchy glory amid garish production values, while Blaine lamely sang Mariah Carey’s wispy I Still Believe by his lonesome.

More tension was acted out for Will’s Bye Bye Bye entwined with Finn’s I Want It That Way in a context of the ’90s boy-band rivalry between ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.  Loved that number — but hated how Will couldn’t be a man at the end and forgive a contrite Finn. What a jerk. But that’s Will — darker than he should be.

Speaking of dark, Finn’s whaling on Brody — and trashing a New York hotel room — was too violent for me. Yes, Finn “grew a pair,” as Marley had urged, but he also took things too far. Such violent anger isn’t healthy or good for anyone or for any reason.

But I do see why he was enraged. Hell, I was too. Know why? It wasn’t because Brody was exposed as a lying prostitute. I already knew that. It was that Brody, with no way to justify it, said the most agonizingly cliche line in all of movies and TV:

“I can explain.”

Ever notice how people ALWAYS say this when they’re caught in something bad and can’t really explain anything? And ever notice that people who say this NEVER get around to explaining? They just waste time by insulting our intelligence in declaring that they can explain. But they never do —   because they can’t. Indeed, only people who have no explanation at all nonetheless insist on lamely saying “I can explain” in movie after movie, in TV show after TV show.

Hollywood, think of something else. That’s horrible. I wanted to kick someone’s ass too.

But not really — not when I was so entertained by eventful story progressions tied to what at first seemed a lightweight array of old pop and dance songs but turned out to be a vibrantly energized musical foray on Glee’s grand fantasy stage. After How To Be a Heartbreaker, I’m particularly talking about Santana’s Cold Hearted, via Paula Abdul, performed at a NYADA class in a preposterous but glorious impromptu dance-down bluntly accusing Brody of dirty deals to his face.

That Santana — she speaks her mind. Often, it’s to a fault. This time, no.

With such fine music, Feud was a fulfilling and often grandly entertaining episode, especially after last week’s misfire.

And did I mention I was right about Rachel’s baby forecast?

Trust me — I gloat not so much because I saw it coming as in relief that it won’t happen.  Unless you’re Reality Steve, you never know for sure — you only expect, count on, and hope. That’s what I was doing here.

But boy I’m glad I was right. Now, back to business:

Rachel, start polishing up your Babs movies and those songs you know from the womb for that Funny Girl audition. There’s a big Broadway world out there still waiting for you.

There always was — and there always will be.

— Bruce Westbrook

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