Glee Recap: They Went Back to Ohio

glee greased lightning“This isn’t home anymore.” Those four words from Kurt Hummel served notice to his preppy ex-boyfriend Blaine Anderson that he’d moved on to a life beyond the halls of William McKinley High School. But did Kurt’s message also serve a secondary purpose, summing up the feelings of the show’s core audience about Glee‘s creative direction in its pivotal fourth season? In other words, is Fox’s high-school musical more compelling when it points its GPS to destinations beyond Lima, OH?

That’s not always an easy question to answer. Indeed, as we enter the second trimester of Season 4, I’m frequently finding myself more engaged by the story arcs that don’t involve New Directions’ well-traveled Sectionals/Regionals/Nationals show-choir trajectory. Because I’ve already invested in Kurt and Rachel and Santana and Mercedes and Finn, it’s natural to want to know how they’re faring with internships and auditions and college and the music biz and the hard work of figuring out what to do with one’s entire adult life.

And yet I’d be lying if I said this week’s episode, “Glease,” didn’t hook me in completely. Maybe it’s because the show managed to intertwine Finn’s fate with that of McKinley’s misfit artistes. Or maybe it’s because, as a Glee Project junkie, I was psyched to see Blake Jenner’s Ryder Lynn emerge as undeniable leading man material (despite a ridiculous end-of-episode twist that had him “saving” Marley from cheerleader-induced bulimia).

While I ponder whether or not I want Glee to graduate from high school altogether, let’s recap what went down:

* Kitty began to methodically chip away at Marley’s self-confidence by surreptitiously taking in her Grease costumes, then convincing her rival that she was on the path to looking like her morbidly obese mother. Marley and her mom decided to embark on a diet (instead of her mother being all, “you’re rail thin, gurrrl!”), but at a subsequent sleepover for Grease‘s female cast members, Kitty suggested bulimia as a solution to Marley’s imaginary weight woes. Just when Marley began to try to make herself vomit, though, her costar Ryder stepped in and convinced her he didn’t want to kiss a girl (onstage or off) with upchuck on her breath. A pre-curtain smooch seemed to seal the deal: Marley’s got her groove back, but she’s also made Jake Puckerman a jealous guy. Cue love triangle in 5, 4, 3, 2…

* Despite Sue’s strenuous (and, frankly, logical) objections, Principal Figgins signed off on Schue’s plan for Finn to take over as unpaid advisor New Directions while the curly-haired teacher heads off to D.C. for that “Blue Ribbon Panel” on arts eduction. (Boy, Schue likes saying “blue ribbon panel” more than Emma likes picking out pastel sweater sets.) After refusing Finn’s apology for last week’s “r-bomb,” Sue then tried to sabotage Grease rehearsals, but Finn made do by staging a groovy rendition of “Greased Lightning” at his dad’s tire shop, and generally ignoring the once-again violent cheerleading coach. (I’m gonna come out and say it: I find it irksome, not amusing, when Sue physically assaults McKinley students.)

* Unique’s parents pulled the plug on her plan to play Rizzo, sighting safety concerns after finding out their possibly transgendered son had been bullied after showing up to school dressed in women’s clothing. This prompted the return of Santana, who’d essentially been preparing to play the role since she was a toddler. (Tina, for the record, was not amused at losing the role before she’d even had a chance to throw her hat in the ring. Always the bridesmaid’s cousin, never even the bridesmaid.)

* Back in NYC, Rachel scored an audition for an avant-garde off-Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie, but once again enrgaged Cassandra July by suggesting her dance instructor “get back in the game” at tryouts, too. When Kurt pleaded with Rachel to go back to Lima as a show of support for exes Blaine and Finn’s Grease production, Cassandra offered her frequent flier miles, then promptly bedded Rachel’s love interest Brody. The evil instructor’s bedroom shenanigans didn’t come to a climax, though, till she was able to intercept a call from Rachel and reveal the bah-chicka-wah-wah that had just taken place. Cue Rachel’s tears. Cue Finn spotting Rachel’s tears and realizing they weren’t for him, but for another dude. Cue the starcrossed duo deciding to cut off all communication. Ditto for Blaine and Kurt, since the latter still can’t trust the former. Cheating will do that to a teenage couple, y’know?

* Ultimately, Finn and Artie’s production of Grease was likened to Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel by the McKinley Muckraker’s notoriously brutal critic.

* Bye-bye Mr. Schue — at least till after Sectionals!

And now for the week’s best zingers:

* “If I catch you hiding your dinky between your legs and parading around like Silence of the Lambs, you’re out.” –Kitty, issuing a pre-sleepover warning to Unique

* “I’m living off of Ambien and The Notebook.” –Kurt, describing his post-breakup blues

* “That’s my first-place trophy for Most Tongues Spoken at Bible camp, and this is [a picture of] Mr. Jojo. I rode him for six years — until he broke my hymen.” –Kitty, giving Marley a tour of her room

* “Most little boys don’t want to dress as Shirley Hemphill for Halloween. It’s just so specific.” –Unique’s dad, discussing how he’d understood his son’s gender confusion from an early age

* “You blew off your playdate with the hottest piece of ass at NYADA to go visit your loser ex-boyfriend!” –Cassandra, serving a cold plate of bitchery to Rachel

* “I had a couple of notes, but they were small.” –Rachel, complimenting Finn’s directorial debut

And finally, let’s grade the week’s musical performances:

Ryder, Sam, and the guys of Grease, “Greased Lightning”: A (would’ve been an A-, but upgraded thanks to Sam’s hilarious hair-combing move)

Kitty, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”: B-

Blaine, “Beauty School Dropout”: B+ (those roller-sculptures were divine!)

Santana (with Cassandra and Unique), “Worse Things I Could Do”: A- (can Naya Rivera please be on every week now?)

Ryder, Marley & Pretty Much Everybody (with Finchel, Brittana, Tike, and Klaine fantasy interludes): “You’re the One That I Want”: B (Throw stones if you will, but I just thought this one had a little too much going on. I’d have preferred if they’d just let Ryder and Marley have a number to themselves, y’know?)

Your turn! Was “Glease” the one episode that you wanted? Which plot points hit the target, and which rang false? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Caro says:

    The good news about this episode is that it’s my last. Really, Ryan Murphy? Kitty is basically just some amalgam of Sue, Quinn, and Santana. I get that not everyone is going to like each other – that’s what makes a great show! – but I have seen this all before, and it was annoying when those three were doing it, too. This show is a flop.

  2. Me says:

    I just have no love at all for the new characters. I’ve realized that it was the vets that kept me watching for these past years. I miss Puck a lot. I miss seeing Mercedes. It’s sad when I was most excited that Mercedes referenced talking to Puck in LA. The NY section of the story are boring because they only have Kurt and Rachel there. They need more characters besides Cassandra and Brody to bounce off of. They should have just given up trying to be “realistic” (and when is Glee realistic anyway?) and just moved all the graduated characters to NY. They didn’t all have to be in NYADA. Quinn could have gone to NYU. Puck could have been a bartender and joined a band, etc., etc. They could have all rented that building together and had different apartments. But it would have been a lot more fun than what it is now.

    • Kerry says:

      I agree- they should’ve put the original cast in NYC. Of course its farfetched, but so is having a HS graduate come back to act in a HS musical and having a very recently graduated student take over the glee club! Some of the new cast like Kitty & Ryder could’ve met the oldies there. I cannot stand Marley- she can sing, but is the worst actress. I cannot stand her expressions. I am rooting against her b/c she’s so annoying. I hope Jake is over her soon- he’s too cute! I could care less about Brody & Cassandra, but it could’ve worked if everyone was in NYC and that was part of Rachel’s story. I am bored by Finchel and think that Blaine & Kurt should both find someone they have chemistry with. I like Brittana, but as friends. MIssing Puck, Quinn & Mercedes (these 2 weeks don’t count) so much!!!

  3. davey says:

    Is Matthew Morrison making a movie? Why is he going away on the show?

  4. Ruby says:

    Blake Jenner gives me butterflies in my stomach like I’m 16 again. He’s definitely leading-man material for sure.

  5. gleerewatch says:

    To answer your question…

    I think Glee is interesting the way it is now. I mean how many television shows just follow the characters after high school? A lot of teen dramas do. However, I like that we’re still with McKinley High. I like learning what’s going in New York and with the others but I also like how McKinley is just still there and we have new characters to inhabit it.

    And I kind of enjoy Marley and Ryder and Unique (if you can call Unique new) because they’re…they don’t feel like repeats. Marley is the real ingenue moreso than any other girl who has been on this show. She’s talented but humble and nice and you know? We need really nice girls who aren’t concerned and secretly resenting everyone around them. I didn’t even mind her storyline (though I haaaaate Kitty now). Ryder is funny and sweet and just really really awesome like a lovechild of Finn and Sam but also he’s showing something in his character wholly unique. Speaking of Unique (see what I did there?), she’s just awesome. Her storyline is wrenching because we don’t have many trans (I’m convinced after episode 5) characters on television and to show how Wade/Unique struggles in the world is just…so sad. I just want to give her a hug.

    But most of all, the characters do grow but the show is about high school. I don’t think many people are giving this season a fair chance. Glee sets up the stereotypes first and then subverts the stereotypes. if people don’t let the new people get set up and keep on complaining…no one can be a fully realized character in their debut. And I like to see how it will change with a new dynamic that will be set up.

    I also like seeing how the graduates are fairing.That New York isn’t taking Rachel or Kurt to its collective bosom. That they have to work for their happy ending. That they have people like Cassie in the way. That Finn has a chance to find his own dreams, on his own feet with being part of Finchel. I think what the show is doing in infinitely more interesting then most of what’s on television.

    Glee is a show about tone. It’s adolescence (which lasts until 30) on television. You grow and change but you will always have that one foot looking into the past. I think it’s good that they have both. Because it keeps with the tone of it growing up and out but always acknowledging your roots.

    Also ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’ should have gotten a A+. It’s one of the best things that this show has ever produced. All the parts for the characters were perfect. Their voices were on point. And the way it was shot was just…amazing.

    • Kay says:

      Thank you for this comment. I agree with everything you said. Really great thoughts.

      • gleerewatch says:

        Ah you’re welcome! I just think people are giving this season less credit then it deserves because what they are doing is really fascinating.

        • dilia says:

          i love this season. and i love ryder and kitty (mostly because of becca and blake). jake is decent to. i like marley but she still seems linda mary sueish but im giving her a chance because of course when these guys are put next to characters whove had 3 seasons of development theyll look one dimensional. theyve had like 4 episodes where they were featured. ryders had even less

          • gleerewatch says:

            Yeah with Kitty I’m having a conflicting feeling of liking the actress because Becca is so sweet but hating the character. They’re just making her so…nonredeemable to me right now. I just hope they don’t write themselves into a corner you know?

            I love Ryder so far. He just seems so dorky and I could watch his football dances all day. I think I’ll like Jake more as we start seeing him interact with Puck. But Marley I don’t care if she is Mary Sue-ish. I just had such an instant like for what they were doing. She just seems so nice and humble and…we never had a character that just seemed genuinely kind before with no ulterior motives. Not to say that I don’t think she should stand up for herself but I think that it’s good to have someone truly nice get a reward.

  6. notelling says:

    Cory and Lea always deliver! The scene between them was gold. Same thing with Darren and Chris. Most of the newbies bore me to tears (esp Marley) or make me want to throw something at my TV(Kitty!), except I think Blake and Alex have a lot of potential and could be interesting if there weren’t so much filler. I loved the “Worst Things” between Newell/Rivera and Hudson. But I can’t stand man-slut, Brody. Honestly, I just want a spin off with the grads and to have McKinley be in periphery as part of Finn’s story line. But please keep Sue and Coach Beiste!

  7. Angel says:

    The episode was ok. I agree with the statement about the final number being just Ryder and Marley, I think it was too crazy with everyone in the fantasy world with it. I am probably one of the only people who liked Brody for Rachel, but after his little betrayal, even though they weren’t an offical couple, I sort of think he is a douche bag now. Cassandra can go now, I love Kate Hudson, but I am done with her character. Oh and Marley needs a freaking backbone to stand up to Kitty, seriously, I hate her with a passion. She pushes more limits than Santana or Quinn ever did. Tina’s rant about Finn taking over Glee club was great. They really need to write more stuff for her, and give her some solos already.

  8. IMHO says:

    Get Blaine and Santana to NYC and ditch the rest.

  9. oh well, who cares... says:

    Get Finn to NYC and ditch the rest.

  10. Terry says:

    I ran through most of the show after Sue’s tirade and attack on the students. Her character is so much better when she is funny and not mean. The show is all over the place now and harder to watch every week.

  11. Anna says:

    I will always love the original glee cast but I really adore the 2.0s. They have really big shoes to fill and I think they’re doing wonderfully. IMO Ryan should have made a spinoff for the older kids (like he had talked about doing) and let the new kids have their show. Is it just me?

  12. Tim says:

    I’m really liking the Kate Hudson character a lot. She’s deliciously evil. As for the new kids, they are bland and boring. When they switched the Danny/Sandy song from whocares/whatshername to Finn/Rachel the contrast was telling.

  13. Kobe Busia says:

    I know this is real late, but I truly enjoyed this episode when it first premiered, and I love it even more after seeing it a couple more times. Tina flipping out about Finn taking over Glee Club was hilarious, and the build-ups that led to the musical were solid enough to keep you invested. The musical performances were top-notch, especially Grease Lightning, You’re The One that I Want, Sandra Dee, and Beauty School Dropout. However, Cassandra sleeping with Brody was a really low move, and Rachel crying about it was childish and pathetic on her part, but I still get why she cried. In the midst of all this, the most touching segment in the episode is undoubtedly when Finn pointed out Rachel’s 4 different ways of crying, and it shows just how well he knows her, and I think it could be fair to say that Finn knows her better and cares for her more than any other guy she’s been with, truly emotional and touching. Also, as fitting as Santana was to play Rizzo, Tina should’ve gotten the role, I mean in real life, no one would EVER come back to their old High School just to play a role in the musical. Finally, the bullimia storyline was fine, but the fact that Marley never even suspected someone of tampering with her Sandy costume was completely unbelievable, and demonstrated a contrived level of gullibility on Marley’s part, and the way she responded to Kitty’s insults is so depressing and frustrating to watch. So yeah, great, solid, episode, near-perfect! 9/10