Technical difficulties prevented me from reviewing last week's episode, "Whitney," but I have to say that this was the sad episode that last week's was supposed to be. Obviously, a tribute to Whitney Houston is going to carry with it some inherent sadness, but the gleeks and their teachers themselves came out of that episode closer and looking to their future. In this episode, nothing went right except for Kurt impressing the NYADA judge. It was mostly good TV, though, because there were surprises even behind the more predictable storylines. I'll start with Kurt.
Clearly Kurt made the right choice to go with a flashier, less tried and true number. And I don't know if it was that hard to reach the bar set by Hugh Jackman, Tony award notwithstanding, but his audition number was certainly him. I actually wondered all along if he was the one who would have to find an alternate career path, but maybe he'll take NYADA by storm. On the other hand, the official word hasn't come. There could be another twist coming.
I welcomed the return of Shannon Bieste, but this was so sad. I remember hoping Bieste would win Cooter Menkins and be happy. She and Burt Hummel are the two practically perfect people in Glee. Dot-Marie Jones does a really good job playing Bieste, and she did well with this story line too. She really did seem lost and devastated at the same time. I think she did a great job of convincing us, the viewers, that people like Bieste can find themselves in this situation as easily as anyone else can.
We haven't seen a lot of Puck this season, since his part in stopping Quinn from stealing Beth away from Shelby and, also, sleeping with Shelby. He tried to lure Finn to California in the last few episodes, but that wasn't about him. It did, however, nicely set up his story in this episode. He finds himself now seemingly unable to graduate, and without money to move to California. Will he be okay? Will he find another way to graduate? Actually, none of the story lines in this episode, even the sad ones, seemed entirely hopeless. Puck might be able to get another chance to take his test, or he might be able to pass through summer school. Or, he might just be able to move out to California as planned. He's still not out of options.
First of all, I loved seeing the old Rachel Berry with a gold star. Her monologue in the beginning was really kind of thrilling. I knew, though, that it might easily be a setup for her failure, which it was. I am glad that it was forgetting lyrics that tripped her up and not losing her voice, as I had expected. That, I think, would have been more devastating. Can she get another chance and go to NYADA after all? It doesn't look likely, but who knows? As with Puck, she has options, even if she doesn't get into NYADA. On the other hand, her assumption that Finn and Kurt would be in New York without her next year was surprising and intriguing. I don't know what the real plans for season 4 are, but that would certainly be an unpredictable plot line. Personally, I'd be very interested in watching Rachel try to fight her way to New York after all. I'd very much hate to see her settle, but if she has to claw her way there, it could be interesting. I love Rachel and think she deserves her dream, but maybe this would make her better in the end.
Also, as for Finn, did he seem a little too upbeat after Rachel's choke? He was shocked at first, but he seemed to me a little too happy in the choir room helping Puck study. We saw him hugging Rachel later, and I don't doubt he was sad to see Rachel so broken. But, I just don't think Finn gets it still. Part of Rachel's monologue, "My fiancé couldn't be more excited...or supportive," seemed more like a line to convince herself rather than a statement of fact. I'll admit Finn has been doing and saying the right things a lot lately, but he seems to have been doing them more because "this is what Rachel expects" instead of doing them because he really does support her.
Brittany: I just went to my first student council meeting, and I found out that we have another prom this year.
And, mostly because of Rachel's "Uh oh! I've been caught!" expression
Rachel: You're gonna be amazing, all right? I believe in you, and no one can sing this song better than you can.
Kurt: Even Michael Crawford?
"The Music of the Night" from The Phantom of the Opera--This was kind of a boring performance, but that was what they were going for.
"School's Out" by Alice Cooper--Clearly Mark Salling (Puck) is most comfortable singing these rock songs. He did a pretty good job, but it also worked well to prove the point. As with "Hot for Teacher" earlier this season, Puck made his point daringly and well.
"Cell Block Tango" from Chicago--Actually, I was thinking the same thing Sue and Roz "Black Sue" Washington thought. The girls had missed the point, but it was an empowering song. And, I liked it a lot.
"Not the Boy Next Door" from The Boy from Oz--I wasn't really blown away by this, but it might have had more to do with the song than the performance. It was okay, but I wasn't nearly as impressed as Carmen Tibideaux.
"Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl--Obviously, we didn't hear all of this, but I'm including it because it was a good choice for Rachel to choke on. I thought it was brilliantly ironic that she would forget a song she's been singing since she could talk.
"Shake It Out" by Florence + the Machine--These girls do sound good together. Again, irony was the theme because we found out during the song that Bieste hadn't left Cooter after all. So, the song advanced the plot, and it's always a good thing in Glee when musical numbers serve that purpose.
"Cry" by Kelly Clarkson--I was so sad during this song, and that just made it better. It was an excellent choice to end this sad episode with, and Rachel, via Lea Michele, showed why she should have nailed her audition.