Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 6 ‘What the World Needs Now’: Love, Sweet Love

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For anyone who felt Glee was light on music to this point in Season 6, then Episode 6, What the World Needs Now, should have satisfied your craving. An eight-song tribute to Burt Bacharach (neglecting to name lyricist Hal David) had me humming from the opening moments.

But storywise, it was a stall.

Yes, Brittany and Santana inched slowly toward the altar, but revisiting Santana’s intolerant grandma was nothing new — just a new chance to put rigid, anti-same-sex-marriage folks in their place. (I loved Brittany’s put-down, but also appreciated her later lament that she’d been mean.)

Yes, Rachel and Sam inched slowly toward a romance, and his “I’m there in a moment” former flame Mercedes encouraged it, returning to Lima to tell Sam that she and he were just friends.

But the only true big move this time was the other part of Mercedes’ conflicting mission: getting Rachel back to New York to audition for a Broadway show.

The conflict? Mercedes to Sam: “Date Rachel — and help me get her back to New York.” How can he be on board with both things?

But as everyone in the show and everyone watching at home knows, and as Rachel herself was told by Mercedes, “New York is endgame for you, Rachel. It just is.”

Thus, while Ryan Murphy and company maneuver to end Glee by giving Brittana and Klaine shippers their own desired endgames, they’re also setting the stage for Rachel’s triumphant return to the place she belongs.

And did she ever sound like she belonged there while singing Promises, Promises, the rousing title song of a Broadway show? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Can Lea Michele belt it or what? Oops — rhetorical again.

Pop hits by Bacharach also served the story with their toe-tapping ebullience (few composers are so joyous), from Sam’s sweetly unplugged Close to You (the Carpenters’ first big hit) and Samchel’s gentle duet for I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, both about their hesitant courtship, to the tuxedoed glee club guys’ Arthur’s Theme, which also nudged Rachel back to the Big Apple.

But one song was a huge head-scratcher: melancholy ballad Alfie for Santana’s reconciliatory sing-out to her grandmother. That 1966 movie title song is about a lustful womanizer (Michael Caine) who finally confronts his essential loneliness, just as Warren Beatty did in 1975’s Shampoo. Huh?

Oh well — we still had the most fun number of the night in Mercedes and company’s girl-group performance of the Shirelle’s Baby It’s You (whose descending minor-key “sha-la-la-la-la” melody Katy Perry copied in Legendary Lovers), and a stirring choral finale of Bacharach’s best song and this episode’s title tune. (As for Wishin’ and Hopin’, its heavenly dream theme didn’t do it for me.)

In a season of nostalgic touchstones, it was also good to see Brittany felines Lord — and Lady — Tubbington and revisit her web chat show Fondue for Two, this time as a Hispanic Queso Por Dos. Nor has Glee neglected the enlivenment of new characters, as with Britt’s zany parents played by Jennifer Coolidge and Ken Jeong, while also learning that her biological dad is Stephen Hawking. (Though absurd, it makes warped math-genius sense.)

Also,  we finally got to see Will’s wife Emma, albeit as a from-behind stand-in, with Jayma Mays busy on her own show (though she will appear in next week’s episode).

Speaking of which, now it’s on to Transitioning, whose promo showed a first look at Coach Beiste as a man. Gulp!

Was I complaining that Glee’s final season wasn’t moving its plot enough? Sorry about that.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

 

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