Mercedes Jones may or may not be the truth, but she sure as heck spoke it in this week’s installment of Glee. And we can sum up her testimony in a simple mathematical equation: Rachel Berry + Broadway = Endgame.
No disrespect to those who ship Klaine or Brittana or Samcedes or even Samchel (a mashup moniker that makes me a little queasy every time I type it). But as the show sails into the midway point of its sixth and final season, I’m most interested in seeing the original members of New Directions stay true to their career goals and long-held personal dreams moreso than I am in demanding they remain coupled with their high-school sweethearts (not that there’s anything especially wrong with that).
Which is why Rachel’s tortured/triumphant return to Broadway — an audition set up by Mercedes with her pal Russell Simmons — turned out to be Glee‘s most thrilling moment all season. Rachel’s rendition of “Promises Promises” brimmed with resilient, I-get-knocked-down-but-I-get-up-again energy, and the crazy/beautiful confidence that catapulted her from unheralded NYADA student to Broadway staaaah over the course of Season 5.
I felt that same surge of happiness — the kind that makes me want to declare myself that thing where you put the letter “k” at the end of the show’s title — during Mercedes’ pep talk with Rachel, midway through Santana and Brittany’s showdown with Ms. Lopez’s homophobic abuela and even upon learning Mercedes’ current single is No. 89 on iTunes.
In other words, this episode based around the music of Burt Bacharach was a top-notch affair. Can we get seven more just as good over the rest of the season?
While you ponder that question, let’s jump into recapping the action from tonight’s installment:
“PROMISES” OF A NEW DAY | As mentioned above, Mercedes scored her pal a chance at returning to the Great White Way — complete with multiple speeches about Rachel’s true destiny. Lea Michele was pretty terrific in bringing to life Rachel’s palpable, post-career-meltdown angst — explaining how she’d realized there’s a whole brand of laughing way worse than being mocked in the halls of one’s high school. But it made her audition — begun in McKinley’s halls, continued through the streets of NYC, and ended on a Broadway stage — all the more perfect. We know now that whether or not she lands the role, she’s gained something far more valuable: A recommitment to her dream, and a belief that she can achieve it.
IN THE GRANDMA SCHEME OF THINGS | The episode’s other big story arc involved Brittany and Santana’s wedding planning — made tricky by Santana’s three-year-long freeze-out by her abuela (Jane the Virgin‘s Ivonne Coll). Brittany went undercover as a home nurse to ingratiate herself in abuela’s life — source material for the episode’s funniest moments, including a Fondue for Two aside in which the older woman expressed shock at Brittany’s cats reading books! — but in the end, the plan backfired. After Brittany brought her to the auditorium to hear Santana’s heartfelt (though oddly chosen) cover of “Aflie,” the older woman doubled down on her disapproval: “I love you, Santana, but I don’t love your sin.” Thankfully, the hour closed with pretty much every major character showing up for an engagement party at Schue’s — and proving that sometimes, family can be the people you choose, not just the ones you’re born with. (Side note: So Blaine came alone to the soiree, eh? More reason for Kurt to get his hopes up? I’ll never be on board with their wedding, I have to admit, but if you dig yourself some Klaine, that had to be a nifty moment for you.)
WHEN IS A TRIANGLE NOT ACTUALLY A TRIANGLE | In a sentence, Rachel and Sam found a bunch of reasons to not keep a dinner date at Breadstix — that is until Mercedes told both of ’em not to worry about her past dalliance with Sam, and to proceed without caution. I’m still not seeing it, but hey, maybe their rescheduled meal will be some kind of turning point? At least dude supports her Manhattan-based dreams, I suppose.
IN OTHER NEWS | Brittany learned from her parents (Jennifer Coolidge and Ken Jeong) that her biological father was Stephen Hawking, but I’ve got to admit the repeated dialogue stating “I’m/he’s not your real father” felt incredibly wrong-minded. (Ummmm…there is a significant linguistic difference between “real” and “biological,” one that shouldn’t have to be explained to the Glee writing staff — even in the lightest comedic moments.)
GRADES FOR THIS WEEK’S MUSICAL NUMBERS
Rachel and Sam, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” — B+
Mercedes (with Brittany, Santana and Rachel), “Baby It’s You” — B+
Brittany, “Wishin’ and Hopin'” — B-
Blaine, Artie, Sam and the new boys of New Directions, “Arthur’s Theme” — B- (loved the flashbacks of Rachel in NYC, though)
Sam, “Close to You” — A-
Rachel, “Promises Promises” — A+
Santana, “Alfie” — A-
Whole Cast, “What the World Needs Now Is Love” — B+
On that note, I turn things over to you! What did you think of this week’s Glee? What musical numbers were your most and least favorite? Sound off in the comments!