Glee Review/Recap Season 5 Episode 1 ‘Love, Love, Love’: A Lift From the Lads

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Since Cory Monteith’s tragic death July 13, Glee fans have wondered how the series could cope. Thursday night we found out. As show-biz troupers like to say, “The show must go on,” and Glee did, persevering with a long-planned, rousing, defiant return buoyed by the lads from Liverpool.

What better way to come back for this daunting Season 5 than Episode 1’s Love, Love, Love, whose music celebrated the heady — make that gleeful — spirit of the early Beatles?

And as a child of the ’60s, there’s something I must point out.

While I’m not equating Monteith’s death with the historical weight of a presidential assassination, I must note it was the Beatles who lifted America’s spirits 79 days after JFK’s death when they first hit American prime-time on The Ed Sullivan Show. And now, 75 days after Cory’s death, the Beatles have lifted Glee back where it belongs: as a life-affirming show about tolerance, the power of music and love.

This had to be the most “everything but the kitchen sink” episode ever of Glee’s 89 shows to date, including the return of rivals Vocal Adrenaline, the Haverbrook School for the Deaf Choir and the Dalton Academy Warblers (with Grant Gustin’s Sebastian), as well as Amber Riley’s Mercedes and Mike O’Malley’s Burt, all for Blaine’s climactic proposal to Kurt — which he accepted — after an all-out All You Need is Love.

The story also progressed by revealing that Rachel was impressive in her acting audition for Broadway’s Funny Girl revival, apart from being considered too young and untried for the responsibility. But she wowed her potential co-star (Ioan Gruffudd) and director (Peter Facinelli) with an unlikely, impromptu A Hard Day’s Night at Broadway’s Spotlight Diner where she and Santana now work.

We also learn Kitty and Artie are an item, which plays as an extension of her intervention late last season to make sure Artie’s mother nudged him to attend film school (a scene I always felt was originally meant for Finn before Monteith bowed out for rehab). And we learned Sue wrangled her way back into power by framing Figgins for misdeeds and taking over as principal.

Indeed, a lot happened in this episode, which also crammed in eight Beatles songs, none of which I enjoyed more than I Saw Her Standing There, the earliest Fab Four number, as performed by Blaine, Jake, Sam and Ryder in classic Sullivan-show style. I also loved the girl-next-door cheering section and Artie’s black-and-white video monitors, which were straight from the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night, as were such little touches later as a phone-booth shot.

Lea Michele’s Rachel also had an anticipatory reflective moment of missing Finn — her on-and-off boyfriend onscreen, played by Michele’s real-life boyfriend, Monteith — by singing a plaintive Yesterday as she revisited the sites of their big New York date at the end of Season 2. God bless her for the way Michele is valiantly soldiering on, as I know Rachel will after Finn is declared gone in Episode 3.

Kurt and Blaine’s Got to Get You Into My Life, with its marching band, did more to evoke Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk video than the Beatles, while Drive My Car, scoring carnival bumper cars, was more diversion than plot-driving. But Artie and Kitty’s You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away was magical, and Blaine’s frantic cry for Help was almost equally fitting lyrically while adding more great Beatles rock ‘n’ roll.

In short, even with so much story going on, it was the music that most enthralled me. Hey, it was the Beatles — as will be next week’s conclusion to the two-part tribute, whose six additional songs, along with the four from Glee’s first four seasons, will bring its Beatles total to an impressive 18.

Then will come the sobering tribute to Finn and Cory, and then we’ll see how Glee truly fares beyond its rousing Beatles comeback and its closure-seeking episode. But given the evidence of Glee’s best season-opening show since the pilot, I wouldn’t bet against this first traditional musical in the history of television. It’s a medium that the Beatles served well, and for four seasons now going on five, Glee has, too.

— Bruce Westbrook

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