Glee Review-Recap Season 5 Episode 16 ‘Tested’: Addicted to Love

Gleetested

I may be a huge Lea Michele/Rachel fan who was denied a single song by her on this week’s Glee, but Episode 16, Tested, passed for me anyway.

Again, stronger stories held sway with more adult themes: Sam and Mercedes’ commitment over casual dating, Kurt’s new manliness stripping Blaine of his confidence, Artie’s sexual indiscretions costing him with an STD and a lost GF.

But I also appreciate how Glee, from its start, has been about art imitating life, with characters and actors’ lives often overlapping. And being a Rachel fan, the most meaningful moment for me was, in fact, a scene with her, as she and Mercedes shared girl talk.

When asked if she was ready to date again, Rachel sadly yet composedly observed that she and Finn always were dating, even when they weren’t, since they seemed destined to be together in the end.

This was an actress also speaking of her own life, and it touched me — it moved me. I don’t think Michele overplayed it, but she played it, and it had to hit closely to home. Too, Glee needed to address the oft-asked topic of whether or when Rachel will resume dating, and this was it.

She’s not ready — not yet. Let’s wait awhile.

That also was the title of a sweet Janet Jackson song scoring Mercedes and Sam’s no-sex relationship, a song which sounded oh so ’80s because, like this night’s other three numbers, it hailed from the synth- and MTV-drenched era of 1983-86.

Those years also yielded Artie’s punchy and reckless Addicted to Love, performed in the sassy, crunching-rock mold of Robert Palmer’s original music video with models pretending to be a band, but a lot more dancing — as well as Foreigner’s awesome balladry for I Want To Know What Love Is, sung by a wailing Mercedes in church with gospel-chorus backing straight out of Like a Prayer back in Glee’s first season .

But for me the night’s best number was Pat Benatar’s Like a Battlefield, with a whole new music video in place of Madonna-aping hookers rebelling against their pimp like a ratty-haired army of Norma Raes. Here, a tense Kurt and Blaine fought with stage swords at a NYADA class. It rocked, and they were fierce. Well done.

But though the story had heft (loved Kurt and Blaine’s tender reconciliation, and Sam’s unlikely if eloquent sweet talk amid dozens of candles), it was all biding time, in a way, for Rachel’s briefly mentioned opening night in Funny Girl, which we’ll see next week.

As moments go, that will be huge.

Will she wilt under the pressure? It’s suggested. But how can she? This is one yearned-for endgame she can fulfill.

In fact, so can Michele. Both the actress and the character were born to play this part, and this time life may imitate art, since a dude named Ryan Murphy now owns the rights to a Funny Girl Broadway revival — the real thing.

See? Art imitates life, or vice versa — sometimes sadly, as with Rachel/Lea’s acknowledgement of her lost love, and sometimes gladly, with welcome changes in the air. And Glee, already changing, will keep it up next season, as we just learned in a Ryan Murphy interview.

To wit, between seasons Glee will jump ahead in time (doesn’t it always?) and also will change locales. So after two seasons with many New York shows, it won’t settle in, but will change yet again, while keeping its core cast together.

How? We’ll hear more from fellow producer Brad Falchuk in June, Murphy says.

But I’m not worried. I trust them. Glee may be imperfect in many ways, but its heart is in the right place — always has been, as it’s so often expressed in the glory of song. Its characters — and actors — are in very good hands, and I believe its own endgame will stay the same: in love.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

 

 

 

 

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