From ‘The Power of Madonna’ to the comforts of ‘Home,’ this week’s ‘Glee’ was a quieter rumination on growing up, believing in yourself, and 1980’s cultural icons. In an episode that was all about finding a place to belong and feeling at home, the glitz was turned down to make room for several emotional performance pieces. And a little Springsteen at the roller rink. It is ‘Glee’ after all, and home is wherever there are microphones and musicians. So let’s get started!
Now that Sue Sylvester has made Kurt and Mercedes a part of the Cheerios family, they are required to abide by her rules. For Mercedes, this means that losing 10 pounds and putting on a gender-appropriate cheerleading uniform by the time a reporter from Splits Magazine arrives to profile Sue (the publication’s choice for Cheerleading Coach of the last 2000 years.) Also, Sue has taken over the auditorium for the entire week, leaving the Glee Club without a home.
Rather than echo the student’s sentiments about how insane this is, Will investigates off-site locations including a cabaret roller rink, where former crush and current lush April Rhodes (Kristen Chenoweth) is running some kind of couples skating class. Upon seeing him, she screams “Will Schuester? I just had a sex dream about you!” and then “Fire. Springsteen. Hit it.” Will and April sing and skate in an imaginary production of “Broadway Starlight Express.” It’s hard to resist a campy roller rink number every now and again, and in their first duet of the episode, Matthew Morrison and Kristen Chenoweth seem extremely at ease with one another, which serves their characters relationship well. Speaking of which, Will’s efforts to get April to sober up last season got her so jazzed up that she needed a drink and now, she is fulfilling her new ‘ lifelong ambition to be a mistress to an incredibly wealthy strip mall tycoon and the owner-operator of a cabaret roller rink.’ The best part of that is the Glee Club has a place to rehearse. With that home secured, Will leaves to deal with subletting the home he shared with his soon-to-be ex-wife.
Other homes being changed and rearranged are Finn’s and Kurt’s. After successfully setting up their parents, Kurt has visions of redecorating the new family’s pad. However, Finn is attached to his living room, his dad’s chair and his dad’s ashes sitting in that chair. That’s home to Finn and he’s not open to things changing. Kurt suggests that the Glee Club ‘explore the idea of a sense of place’ and cues the music. Chris Colfer’s version of the song, “A House Is Not A Home” was a beautifully moving reminder of what a gifted soloist he is. The only thing that felt out of place in the performance was the inclusion of Finn’s vastly inferior vocals. Although it hardly mattered by the time we saw the heartbreaking expression on Kurt’s face at the end of the song.
Viewers who wanted another take on the song were in luck. April shows up at Will’s with a huge fake Louis Vuitton overnight bag for an innocent slumber party. After Will agrees to let her stay, she pops in a CD because ‘sometimes you just need a little Burt’ and neither Glee Club devotee can resist singing “One Less Bell to Answer & A House is Not A Home.” It’s another powerful duet from two extremely capable performers, who impressively bring their own characters’ sadness and loneliness to a song that we heard only a few minutes earlier.
As Will and April reflect on their losses, Kurt begins to see that his dream home is not exactly turning out the way he had expected. Not only are he and Finn not picking swatches together, but Finn is bonding with his dad about ‘guy stuff’ while Kurt is left out in the cold.
Along with all the heavy emotional baggage, Mercedes continues to attempt to lose weight, buying into the Sue Sylvester master cleanse regimen (recipe below) that all the Cheerios comply with. The crash diet leads Mercedes to imagine all her friends as snack foods before passing out. At the nurse’s office, Quinn comes by to take full advantage of this teachable moment. Offering Mercedes a candy bar, ‘Ms Pretty Blonde with the White Girl Ass’ says that eating healthy for her baby made her realize she should be that good to herself. And then, “You are so lucky. You’ve always been at home (ding,ding!) in your body. Don’t let Ms Sylvester take that from you.” Mercedes knows she’s not the fainting type. “You are beautiful. You know that,” Quinn says. Then silently adds, ‘And I think you should sing a song about it. Maybe a song about being beautiful… in every way… and not letting words bring you down’
Mercedes takes the stage at the pep rally and delivers what at first seems like a variation on the Regina George speech from “Mean Girls” but quickly wins me over. Amber Riley is just so likeable and the positive messages about body image and acceptance are important to hear on a show where the cheerleading coach requires members of her squad to starve themselves. Plus, hearing Mercedes take on Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” was a solid pay-off to the character’s storyline. Also, Sue’s inscrutable reactions to a performance which included Cheerios and non-Cheerios alike, were priceless. Ditto on her reactions to the reporter’s comments afterwards. And her delivery of the line, “It’s what’s inside that counts” with a slight shudder. Amazing.
With Mercedes back at home in her body, the Glee club needed to get back at home in their auditorium. Not a problem, since April has purchased what is now called the “April Rhodes Civic Pavilion.” Having been sober for 45 minutes, she’s headed to Broadway to mount an all-white version of “The Wiz.” Judging by her performance of the song “Home” and a $2 million (minus the cost of an auditorium) fortune, she may actually get this latest dream off the ground. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in a Chucky Cheeze some time next season.
Additional Quotes and Thoughts
Sue Sylvester to Kurt and Mercedes: How do you two not have a show on Bravo? Seriously, Bravo, get moving! “The Real Life Kurt and Mercedes of Orange County.” I smell a hit!
Sue Sylvester Master Cleanse Recipe (as promised) - Water, maple syrup for glucose, lemon for acid, cayenne pepper to irritate the bowels, and a dash of ipecac, a vomiting agent. (And a teaspoon of sand if you are, Britney.) Loved the sound effect they used to take us back from that description!
Rachel-free Glee – Given how Rachel-centric the first couple of episodes have been, holding back on her storyline was a good idea plot-wise, even if I personally missed Lea Michele’s singing. And even though I still don’t trust that Jesse St James guy, it was nice to see Rachel looking so happy.
More Puck and more Quinn please!!! – I thought Puck standing up during Mercedes “Beautiful” performance was adorable and made me realize how much I was missing the father and mother-to-be.
Praising Chris Colfer (again) –Seeing Kurt standing off to the side, totally invisible to his father and Finn as they watched the game, was the third time Chris Colfer broke my heart this episode. (The second time was when he went over to Mercedes and says “Thank you. I was wrong” after her ‘Beautiful’ moment) Also, with all the themes about home and belonging, I’m kind of wanting Kurt to sing a slowed down version of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me” about Finn… is that crazy?!? Also, at some point hoping the Glee Club tackles Pat Benatar’s “We Belong.”
So what did you think? Did you like coming back to a quieter ‘Home’ after ‘The Power of Madonna?’ Let us know!
Story by Elissa Farkas
Starpulse contributing writer