A weekly assessment of “Glee,” based on its musical numbers.
Truthfully, though, apart from a statement from the Parents Television Council that condemned the episode — one in which Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele) lost their virginity together, as did Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) — there wasn’t much of a firestorm about the whole thing. Which might speak to the fact that no one has a huge issue with seeing intimacy between both a straight couple — whose plotline generated as much heat as Finn and Rachel do together, which is to say not much — and a gay couple, whose plotline was as sweet and genuine as Kurt and Blaine are together, which is to say very.
Or it could speak to the fact that “Glee” just isn’t as buzzworthy anymore. Either way, last night’s episode was a very good one, not only because it handled the teen sexuality issue with genuine sensitivity (again, particularly on the Kurt and Blaine front) but also because it taught us that Coach Beiste is just a girl, standing in front of a college football recruiter, asking him to love her; that Sebastian Smyth (Grant Gustin) may be the Kelly Taylor who drives a wedge into Kurt and Blaine’s Brenda/Dylan relationship, which somehow makes sense since Sebastian totally sounds like Luke Perry; that just one week after battling Sue Sylvester to secure the needed funds to stage “West Side Story,” it’s possible to put together a completely polished production of “West Side Story”; and that if you are playing the romantic leads in a musical, it’s not mandatory to be a non-virgin. But it helps. Which is exactly the sort of thing Stella Adler taught her acting charges.
Now, here’s “Glee” by the musical numbers.
Blaine and Rachel: “Tonight”
The episode began with our Maria and Tony practicing their signature number, a number that Artie took as an opportunity to point out their lack of chemistry and inappropriately encourage both actors to become sexually active. Maybe this version of “Tonight” lacked hotness, but if there is a heaven, and in that heaven there is romantic show choir harmonizing to tunes written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, this is what it sounds like. Grade: B+.
The Warblers, featuring Blaine and Sebastian: “Uptown Girl”
Blaine’s return to Dalton Academy led down the same path that all school visits do: to a prep-school recreation of a Billy Joel video. It was sort of cute. But also a little “this is is exactly how my college a cappella group sounded in the 1990s.” Grade: B-
Rachel and Santana (Naya Rivera): “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love”
Rehearsals for this “West Side” number were juxtaposed against other scenes; the foreboding “A Boy Like That” portion played against Blaine’s first meeting with Sebastian, while the more romantic “I Have a Love” served as second screen to Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz’s) story of her first time with Mike (Harry Shum, Jr.). (Random aside: Speaking of Mike, was anyone else annoyed that we really didn’t get to see him do much during “West Side”? After his father disowned him for doing the show, at least give the guy a 30-second dance solo). Anyway, the intercutting between the scenes worked nicely even if the number wasn’t quite a showstopper. Grade: B.
Santana, Puck (Mark Salling) and the full company: “America”
Now this was a showstopper — exuberant, performed with verve and, assuming you’re a musical junkie (and if you aren’t, why the heck are you watching “Glee”?) a total joy. Grade: A+.
Rachel and Blaine: “One Hand, One Heart”
After the arguments between our key couples of this episode, the melodic profession of love between Maria and Tony provided the soundtrack for Rachel and Finn and Blaine and Kurt to experience their respective first times. Beautifully shot, touching, hopefully romantic — it was “Glee” at its best. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clip of the scene online (come on, Fox, help a sister out!) But you can listen below and reminisce about what a nice show-closer this made. Grade: A+.
Which number was your favorite? Weigh in with a comment.