Glee Recap-Review Episode 15 ‘Bash’: Broadway Adults

Glee-Bash-Episode-1

Well, I’d wanted Glee and its characters to grow up — to shed juvenile high school hijinks and embrace maturity in New York. And it has — but with a price.

This week’s Episode 15, Bash, was about as hard to take as last season’s Shooting Star. Ostensibly, hate-violence vs. gays is rampant in the otherwise wide-open melting pot of NYC, and Kurt — rushing to rescue a kid getting beat up — gets beaten up himself.

But the message here went beyond hate crimes vs. tolerance. The message was about Kurt’s embrace of becoming a man, despite dad Burt’s protective misgivings. And in that regard, Bash helped elevate Glee even farther from the infantilized high schoolers back in Lima.

Rachel grew up, too — sort of. The problem with her plot is that it makes no sense. In the real world, she’d never be working at a diner, going to school full-time, performing in a band and — oh yes — also starring in a Broadway revival of Funny Girl, which should be her only full-time gig at all. So her clash of wills with Whoopi Goldberg’s stern NYADA dean, Carmen Tibideaux, didn’t ring true. How could it? The setup was too mixed up.

While I felt Rachel was rash to quit NYADA entirely over this conflict (ever heard of part-time enrollment?), and while I’m guessing it comes back to haunt her, my gut also tells me she had to make that move. As long as she returns to it, formal education can wait. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to star on Broadway in the role of her dreams cannot. And besides, isn’t elevation to Broadway the kind of thing NYADA is supposed to enable? Dean Tibideaux, meet endgame.

Rachel’s squabbles with Kurt, followed by a BFF reconciliation, also felt abrupt and wobbly dramatically, but then, these are young adults finding their way in a big, rough world far from the relatively comfy confines of high school. Sparks should fly. But solid friendships also should remain, and theirs does.

If anyone in the new core cast (weird how former regulars like Melissa Benoist still get onscreen billing) hasn’t yet grown up, it’s Sam. Good-intentioned but goofy, he needs a reality check more than anyone, but instead his silliness seems to be indulged. And his romance with Mercedes, which I’ve never bought, is part of that indulgence.

As for this episode’s superb music, dusting off old Broadway songs is fine, but Glee can’t make a habit of it. Though the Stephen Sondheim material was beautifully sung and fit the moods of this moody episode, Glee’s ratings are rocky enough without losing the wider appeals of contemporary pop and rock. Be careful.

Amber Riley’s Mercedes balanced things a bit with Carole King’s (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman, one of Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s greatest songs, and her own new tune, the soulful Colorblind. While Lea Michele hasn’t gotten to perform one of her own originals on Glee, it was a classy gesture letting Riley do so. Nice number.

But life in NYC can’t be about niceness. It forces confrontation with real-world adult concerns. As a musical fantasy with so many flights of fancy, Glee can use such grounding. But it also needs to show that heart can survive amid harshness, and that dreams can come true. Finding that balance is the challenge of this impressively evolving series through the end of its six-season run.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

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