Glee finally, finally, finally returns to our lives, and in this episode President Will keeps turning everything into life-ruining “teaching moments.” (spoilers ahead in FlyBy’s final Gleecap)
Quinn (We still haven’t gotten used to seeing her out of her uniform) is stuck relying on her fake baby daddy Finn, but he’s broke, so she’s stuck looking like she could use her some public health insurance. Puck, though, is still asserting himself as the father, and shows Quinn he’s resourceful enough to make money even after his “dip and nunchaku” expenses. When the club behaves insensitively toward Artie, Will challenges the team to hold a fundraising bake sale for a handicapable bus and places all the singers in wheelchairs for the week. With the sale underway, it becomes increasingly clear that Puck can provide for Quinn better than Finn, and things turn violent between the best friends. Only with Rachel’s help does Finn con his way into a job and manage to keep up. Meanwhile, Artie admits to a crush on Tina – “I want to be very clear. I still have the use of my penis,” he informs her – and scores a kiss. But when Tina confides her stutter is fake, Artie, who is always left out, feels betrayed that anyone would sabotage her own chances at fitting in, and he resentfully ends their date. Finally, Kurt (who is apparently trying to bring karate headbands back) feels slighted when Mr. Schue doesn’t give him a chance at a female solo, so his Mellencamp-loving, flamethrower-toting dad steps in to fight the school. After a mysterious and harassing phone call, though, Burt Hummel has to face his own discomfort with his son, and Kurt decides to sabotage himself, allowing Rachel to score the solo in order to spare his father more grief. “I love you more than I love being the star,” says the divo.
“Dancing with Myself” by Gen X
Artie’s first big number shuns the original recording of Billy Idol’s punk classic and instead emulates Nouvelle Vague’s acoustic cover, turning a bouncy, carefree tune into a ballad about loneliness and invisibility. FlyBy has been reserving its A’s for showstoppers – “Rehab,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Somebody to Love” – but this is one of the best numbers we’ve seen on the show. The sequence is a film unto itself: the use of diagetic and non-diegetic music, the use of the stage and its wings, the amount of information imparted without a single line of dialogue. It’s a heartbreaking, wordless little story with great choreography.
“Defying Gravity” by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth (metaaaa.)
When the soundtrack version of this number leaked to YouTube, FlyBy lamented. It’s chintzy. “Vanilla,” as Mercedes charges. Turns out they saved the good stuff for the episode. This arrangement is more balanced between the characters, lacks the droning endlessness of the CD version, and suffers less from the (still-underwhelming) ending. Rachel makes a perfect little Idina, and we’d be first in line for Wicked starring Kurt. But what’s best about this number is the struggle Kurt brings to it. “I’m through accepting limits ‘cause someone says they’re so,” go the empowering lyrics, but his performance turns the song into a tragedy about accepting limits, and he’s near tears from the first note to the final, self-sabotaged moment.
“Proud Mary” by CCR
FlyBy had never noticed, but apparently “Proud Mary” is about living without regrets and about community and about charity. Who knew? Cheesy, yes. But thematically appropriate. We loved seeing Artie, Tina, and Mercedes all featured, and we enjoyed the wheelchair choreography and the ramps. Unfortunately, though, the number is a little boring and not quite the production the episode deserved as a closer.