Glee Recap: Nobody Said It Was Easy

will emma glee break upIf you haven’t watched this week’s Glee, abandon this URL immédiatement! Everyone else, keep on reading and let’s get this discussion percolatin’!

Please forgive any typos or errors in this week’s Glee recap. “Allergies” seem to be making my eyes all watery, and no amount of dabbing is stopping this unfortunate display of “waterworks.”

Okay, okay…I ‘fess up! “The Break Up,” the fourth episode of Season 4, left me shattered. A wreck. Depressed. Despondent. With a mean case of the blues. Positively cream-crackered. But — I have to add — in the best possible way.

RELATED | Exclusive: Glee Boss Previews ‘Break-Up’ Fallout, Promises ‘Nothing Is Set in Stone’ – Plus: Cory Monteith ‘Sad and Nostalgic’ in Episode’s Wake

Sure, it wasn’t easy watching the show’s four central couples get pulled apart at the seams by infidelity, distance, changing life goals, expectations of obedient puppydom, and occasional indifference (nobody said it would be). But life and — let’s be honest — good television are often as much about heartache and hard choices as they are about happiness and good fortune. (And oh, those flashback scenes! THOSE FLASHBACK SCENES, I SAY!)

But let me back up for a moment. In case you were too busy reading up on “The Blue Ribbon Panel to Improve Arts Education,” here’s what you missed on Glee. (For the record, I’m going to try to give the rundown on what happened with each couple in five sentences or less — then weigh in on how successful/realistic the action actually was.)

RACHEL AND FINN | The morning after Finn’s arrival interrupted Rachel and Brody’s first kiss, Finn revealed he’d been semi-honorably discharged from the army for shooting himself in the thigh, but then avoided contacting Rachel because he felt like a “Lima loser” with no direction in life. Rachel brought Finn to all her NYADA classes in an effort to inspire him with a new direction, and then to the piano bar Callbacks for karaoke night, but things got tense when Finn declined to sing and encouraged Rachel to duet with Brody on a Demi Lovato song (nice X Factor cross-promotional synergy there). On the way home, Rachel finally admitted she and Brody had kissed — just once! — and the next morning, Finn fled the apartment and headed back to Ohio, without so much as a goodbye to the girlfriend he’d abandoned for the previous four months. Rachel hopped a plane and hunted him down, and after revealing how she’d hated him for giving her her wings in the Season 3 finale, she’d eventually realized, “This is what a man looks like. This is how a man loves.” Despite that, his lack of communication and all-around aimlessness made Rachel realize they couldn’t be together, at least for now.

Personally, I bought everything about this breakup — from Finn’s devastation that Rachel kissed another guy in the process of finding herself, to Rachel admitting that after four months with no communication, she’d taken it as a hint to move on. (The only thing I didn’t buy was Brody lurking behind the New Directions’ table during Blaine’s tearful “Teenage Dream.” Get a clue, dude!) Whether or not these two crazy kids are destined to be together, it’s clear that Finn is in no position to make anyone else happy — let alone himself — till he figures out what he wants to do with his life. It was sweet that Rachel tried to help her man find a plan in NYC, but self-discovery isn’t about fitting into someone else’s dream. It’s about defining your own. And if Rachel is still available once Finn conquers his insecurities — can we acknowledge that good, successful people can be found anywhere…even in Lima?! — maybe they’ll still have a shot. As Rachel so devastatingly put it, “You are my first love, and I want more than anything for you to be my last love, but I can’t do this anymore. We’re done.” Correct!

KURT AND BLAINE | Blaine continued to feel ignored as Kurt explored his fabulous new life in NYC, and who could blame him when his “I love you” was met with a stinging dialtone? The erstwhile Warbler found distraction by flirtatiously text-messaging with a guy named “Eli C,” and then suddenly arrived in NYC for a suprise visit, where he gave an awkwardly mournful rendition of “Teenage Dream” at Callbacks. (Kurt’s response — “You’re so emotional and weirdly sad — please stop pretending there’s nothing wrong” — was pitch perfect.) Blaine eventually admitted he’d strayed — “It didn’t mean anything. It was just a hookup, okay?” he cried. “I was lonely and I’m really sorry.” — leaving Kurt feeling like he was “gonna die.” Mr. Hummel, though, got in “to the left, to the left” mode, tossing Blaine’s “forgive me” note into the trash when a bouquet of flowers landed on his desk at work.

Again, this trip to Splitsville seemed very well-handled, and realistically telegraphed. Blaine is a nice, bowtie-wearing prepster, sure, but he’s also a randy high-school senior who was getting almost entirely ignored by a boyfriend who’d fled their small-town life and wasn’t making any long-term plans to come back. What’s more, as we saw last season in his flirtation with Sebastian, Mr. Anderson hasn’t always had a one-track eye (even if he isn’t always full aware of the fact). And furthermore, as hurt as Kurt seemed by Blaine’s infidelity, I can’t help but wonder if he didn’t feel a sense of relief. With his new job, new city, and the promise of endless new experiences, it seemed like those texts and Skype sessions with his old beau were more out of obligation than desire, no? I just wished we’d had a scene or two explaining the emergence of this mystery Eli. Is he a McKinley student? A glee clubber from another district? Inquiring minds want to know if he’s hot or not.

BRITTANY AND SANTANA | Santana returned to Lima to do her laundry and discovered Brittany was reading Desecration: Antichrist Takes the Throne, the ninth book in the Left Behind series, as part of her involvement with a new religious group at McKinley. Agreeing to attend one of the meetings at Breadstix, Santana watched as mean-girl Kitty staged a rapture hoax on an unsuspecting underclassman, but it inevitably led to Brittany admitting she’d been feeling left behind and hurt by her girlfriend’s move to college. After an emotional, intimate rendition rendition of “Mine” in the choir room, Santana told Brittany she didn’t want them to become one of those long-distance couples who hang in there for a few months, then “break up when someone eventually cheats or things get weird.” (“I would never cheat on you,” Brittany responded with incredible haste and heatbreaking earnestness.) But Santana, insisting it wasn’t “an official breakup,” reasoned they should “just do the mature thing here” and give each other space, even though, as she put it (activating my tear ducts in the process), “You know I will always love you the most.”

Brittana was probably the least fleshed-out of the breakups this week, but for me, it was also the saddest. Maybe that’s because I can’t help but feel that whip-smart Santana, in her new life at college, will only grow further and further estranged from Brit in the years to come. There’s always been something young and innocent about the connection between these Cheerios, but intellectually and emotionally, Brittany simply isn’t a match for Santana right now. Looking at the week’s three breakups, I’d deem this one Least Likely to Get Back Together. (Just please, don’t let it lead to Brittany covering Taylor Swift’s latest single. I love that song, if I’m being honest, but no.) And who’d have thunk Brittany would be the one to verbalize what Santana couldn’t bring herself to say: “This sounds a lot like a breakup to me.” Mmm-hmm.

WILL AND EMMA | Good news, Wemma fans, the enagement still appears to be on. (I think?) But Will weirdly assumed that Emma would take a sabbatical from her job and join him in DC when he went to work on “The Blue Ribbon Panel to Improve Arts Education” — Oh Em Gee, Schue, stop spelling it out! — and she was not having it, informing her man that she wasn’t about to sit around in a hotel room while he went off and fulfilled his dreams. “This is not that I’m afraid of losing my job. It’s that I like my job,” Emma said, indignant. (Preach, sister!) And when Will insisted they still needed to talk through their decision, Emma dropped this icy (and brilliant) retort: “We just did. You just don’t like what I have to say!”

KITTY AND JAKE | Don’t burst into tears all at once, folks, but Puckerman 2.0 dumped Nasty McBitchytongue after she made fun of Marley’s mom again.

And with that, let’s recount the episode’s best zinger (we’ll keep it to one, since comedy mostly took the week off):

* “I mean, I’m not jealous. I just think it’s insane that all Porcelain had to do to get an internship at is take photos of every ridiculous outfit he’s ever paired with a Cossack hat and a see-through raincoat, and then show up at an interview where he’s lauded as a visionary because his jodhpurs happen to match his riding crop.” –Santana, speaking for everyone everytime everywhere while discussing Kurt’s new job

Before I hand things off to you, let me also grade this week’s musical numbers:

* Blaine and Finn, “Barely Breathing”: A- (Finn sounded great, no?)

* Rachel and Brody, “Give Your Heart a Break”: A (not an endorsement of this duo, but dang they gave the song an upgrade!)

* Blaine, “Teenage Dream”: N/A (How can I grade something I wasn’t really supposed to enjoy? Sniff.)

* Finn, Rachel, Kurt, and Blaine, “Don’t Speak”: B- (Didn’t pop for me emotionally, given how much s— was going down as it was sung)

* Santana, “Mine”: B+

* Finn, Rachel, Blaine, Kurt, Santana, Brittany, Will and Emma: “The Scientist”: A (Yowza, the flashbacks to our couples’ first meetings/kisses were really perfectly selected and placed.)

And with that, it’s your turn. What did you think of “The Break Up”? Whose problems hit you hardest? Which split made the most sense? And which one (if any) didn’t make any sense at all? Take our poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!