Welcome to the 15th episode of the fifth season of Glee, a high-stakes Nickelodeon game show that combines trivia questions with occasionally messy “physical challenges” such as catching 3-4 pies in a pair of oversized clown pants. This week’s episode tentatively indulged itself in terrifying topics including but not limited to really hard crossword puzzles, mango chutney, long walks on the beach, Jessica Rabbit, pot brownies, shoulder implants, VD, scrunchies and scented candles.
This week on Glee, Mercedes got to be a whole entire full character with friends and romance and feelings! Also sad things happened. Also this week has been sort of a shitshow for me w/r/t CEO/CFO/misandry stuff and Santana is still on vacation, so apologies in advance for the brevity!
We open at a candlelight vigil! I LOVE CANDLELIGHT VIGILS. No sorry actually I have no jokes about a candleight vigil? What am I supposed to do with this material.
Here it is on video:
After an inspirational title card, we cut to backstage at Funny Girl, where Sidney’s telling the cast that he really needs a hit — a “real, real hit” — so if they were planning on being really terrible they should reconsider that and instead rest and use lots of bath beads and cucumber eye lotion creams.
Then Rachel begs Sidney to let her out of rehearsal so she won’t miss her Midwinter Critique at Fake Julliard this week and after much hullabaloo, he consents.
Later that same day or perhaps a different day or week or generation or star system entirely, Sam’s watching The Facts of Life and sloppily eating several cereals at once from a giant bowl when Mercedes comes downstairs, undoubtedly unable to sleep thinking about what happened to Malaysian Flight 370.
Mercedes: “What the hell are you watching, anyway?
Sam: “The Facts of Life, it’s amazing, it’s about this old redheaded lady who runs this boarding school for lesbians, but I think the lesbian school burns down and so old redheaded lady opened up this pot dispensary called Edna’s Edibles. They all work there.”
Sam says he’s had trouble sleeping since moving to New York and can only snooze to the soothing sounds of Blaine reading him Star Wars fan fiction and wants to know why Mercedes broke up with him in Season Three. She says she needed to figure out who she was, which he says is a load of crap, which’s true but unsurprising because Glee. Mercedes says she doesn’t have time for the dude who dated all the dudettes, but he’s upset that their relationship was “over before it even began” despite their “obvious chemistry.” “I just wanna watch the lesbian show about weed and go back to bed,” says Mercedes.
Then they have sex.
Cut to the Barbie Bushwick Dreamhouse Loft for The Monday Potluck, where Mercedes is checking out the flier for the vigil from the opening scene. The kiddos explain that their neighbor got “beat up” which Kurt says is “a nice way of saying he was gay-bashed.”
The children gather around the table to discuss.
Artie: “It’s so depressing, hate crimes in America keep decreasing, but in New York, they’re actually increasing.”
Mercedes: “Yeah, why?”
Blaine: “Well, a few ignorant idiots just hate the idea that we’re finally being accepted. They hate the fact that we’re marrying, they hate the fact that we’re moving into neighborhoods that are supposedly ‘straight’ so they lash out by trying to kill us.”
Rachel and Kurt say they hope everybody comes to their Sondheim Challenge Midwinter Final Event Spectacular and Arite wants to know why Mercedes and Sam are playing footsie. Mercedes blames Restless Leg Syndrome.
Cut to The Brooklyn Bridge Park where Sam and Mercedes are having a stroll while Sam lezzes out about their relationship, insisting that they’re PERFECT for each other and now that they’re in New York they can be the people they always wanted to be! The person Sam wants to be is a person who can butter Mercedes’ muffin whenever she consents to it. Mercedes says Sam is out of his “tiny little mind.”
Then Mercedes throws her coat in the river and tells Sam to go home so she can have some alone time. And by “alone time” she means singing “Natural Woman” adjacent to Jane’s Carousel.
My Mom used to play Carole King’s “Tapestry” on Sunday mornings when she made us french toast challah and I would wake up to this song and be like oh hello world, I am a tiny human! Here it is for you to savor and keep close to your heart:
Cut to a cute restaurant on a cute soundstage, where Mercedes and her cute friends/back-up singers Tesla and Shaynice are enjoying a meal and discussing the situation with Sam.
They disapprove ’cause she just got to New York and shouldn’t be dating men from high school in Ohio now that she is a Big Star. Then Sam shows up to be accidentally racist, talk about modeling and stand up for too long when he should be sitting down.
Sam: “I just got a haircut also, if anybody is wondering.”
Mercedes: “Where is that waitress?”
Sam: “Well you guys have beautiful hair. Yeah. What, is this like a, is this a, is that a weave or is that real?”
Mercedes: “Oh god.”
Shaynice: “No actually um, both of us have real hair.”
Testla: “Yeah, Mercedes too. Yeah, she is also not wearing a wig.”
(Mercedes makes a face)
Cut to the Mid-Winter Showcase, starring Rachel Berry and Gay Blaine doing “Broadway Baby” while Whoopi Goldberg sits there in her fabric and her sweater and makes disapproving faces.
Whoopi says it was an excellent performance but she’s flunking them both because the assignment was to perform ALONE but instead they performed TOGETHER and RUINED EVERYTHING. Then she decides to have mercy on their strange little souls and let them perform again but this time ALONE. Rachel panics ’cause she can’t fit another Midwinter Extravaganza into her Funny Girl schedule.
Whoopi refuses to let Rachel reschedule for after opening night AND says that Rachel’s doing shitty in all her classes and that she needs to decide whether she cares about school or just “wants the spotlight.” Furthermore, she insinuates that although Rachel’s chock-full of talent and drive, she lacks foundation, listening skills and taking-direction skills.
Whoopi Goldberg: “That’s why you need NYADA. You’re not ready.”
Rachel’s like okay then, I quit!
Honestly, it’s what she should do. Schools like that help you get on to Broadway or in the movies, but if you’re already there, then you’re already there. It’s not like she needs to get her performing arts degree to have a back-up career. Mostly now I can stop having so much anxiety about her schedule!
Back on a scenic New York neighborhood street Mercedes’ friends say that even though Sam does a damn good impression of Vanessa Huxtable, Mercedes can’t date him because he’s white and “if you date a white dude, you’re gonna alienate all the black women you want to buy your album and you’re gonna piss off black men too and the only people who are gonna buy your record are albinos.”
That’s not true. I’M GOING TO BUY MERCEDES’ ALBUM. Anyhow, so then Mercedes goes home, where Sam has converted to dry cereal, and breaks up with him!
Mercedes: “I mean think about it Sam, how many black female artists do you see dating white dudes? I’ve been thinking about it all day and I can’t think of one.”
Diana Ross? Eve, I think.
Mercedes: “What white folks don’t understand is people pay attention to that kind of stuff. It makes a statement and I’m not sure if that’s the statement I wanna make, not now.”
Sam says when they were in Glee Club they had friends of all different colors, shapes and sizes, which may or may not be relevant. Mercedes says that in the real world she can’t date him and he should probs move out. Leave it to Glee to find a way to make their first storyline about the challenges of interracial relationships one in which a white man is victimized and black women are presented as unfairly judgmental! Nice one, Murph!
Back in midtown, Rachel meets up with Kurt for dinner and he’s upset that she quit Fake Julliard because “an education at NYADA will give you options for the future.” I think he’s confusing Fake Julliard with ITT Tech or Columbia.
Kurt: “Broadway is a fickle business. What if this is the last role you ever get?”
Rachel says she’s not into spending shit-tons of money on a school whose classes she can barely attend and then she launches into a speech delivered very much in the spirit of Girls, I think we can officially confirm at this point that Lea has been watching Girls, this is like when I read too much Lorrie Moore and suddenly everybody I write about is named after plants. JUST KIDDING THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH LORRIE MOORE.
Rachel: “You know I am so hurt right now that you are standing in the corner with a failure like Carmen Tibideaux and not your best friend.”
Kurt: “I’m not on Carmen’s side! I’m on your side!”
Rachel: “No, you’re afraid, okay? You’re afraid to venture out. You need a place like NYADA where it’s all just one big safe group and nobody takes any risks. That way you guys can just avoid the fact of having to grow up and be an adult.”
Okay that doesn’t even make sense.
Following this unseemly spat, Kurt exits the establishment to lumber home when he spies a gay man getting beat up in a dark alley.
Thus Kurt of Lima dashes into the alley to save the day and he ends up getting beat up in his stead. The gay-bashers ride off in their pick-up truck, leaving Kurt alone and wounded in the dark.
Cut to Blaine’s place, where Sam is feeling sad about Mercedes.
Sam: “It’s really hard to be a straight white man these days.”
Blaine: “We should probably change the subject.”
Blaine’s barely started raving about a new edition of Star Wars fan-fic when he gets the call.
And then Sam calls Mercedes.
And then Mercedes calls Artie.
And then Artie calls Rachel.
And then everybody is in the hospital.
Because so is Kurt.
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This episode gave me a lot of feelings and I totes agree that the hate crime felt half-baked. A) Everyone has different reactions to trauma, but Kurt seemed so fine about being beaten up that it wrang false. Like he didn’t have one emotion about being physically and verbally assaulted? Just happy to “still be here”? They showed people holding posters from “Anti Violence Voice” at the vigil, which I thought as a reference to the Anti Violence Project (avp.org), but then there was no discussion of Kurt potentially reaching out and seeking counseling or reporting the assault to that organization or relying on the community for support. I wish Glee would engage seriously with effects of trauma that young LGBTQ people experience, if they are going to have a storyline about it. B) The people most at risk in NYC are not young white cis gay men, but young trans women of color. Of course people like Kurt still are at risk for violence but not in the same way. But now that Glee has kicked off all it’s other characters they don’t have a trans woman of color on the show so I guess they will not be talking about trans issues anymore. Not that they did it well anyways. C) I was a little surprised there was no PSA or trigger warning type thing about the violence. So many of us either have been or know people who have been assaulted like that and it was rough to watch. The assault was pretty intense and I wanted to be more prepared for it.
Also, I just want to point out that Degrassi just had two really great episodes exploring institutional racism, specifically how young men of color are targeted by the police and how hard it is to deal with that, and omg Glee like can you work with the Degrassi writers to learn how to handle discussing oppression on TV already or what.
This recap reminded me that I still haven’t found my lost copy of Lorrie Moore’s new collection, so now I’m about to tear my room apart for the third time in as many days looking for it OR text my ex asking if I lent it to her (probably not, and hopefully I won’t) so thank you for that.
On the bright side, captions are on point as always. I haven’t watched glee since season two but these recaps are solid gold.
My first comment!
I absolutely love your Glee-caps, Riese! They are some of the best out there – just the right balance of humorous and thoughtful.
Why did they make an episode about gay bashing without having Santana, their leading lesbian, in it? I would really like to have seen how she reacted to what happened to Kurt, since this hits so close to home for her. Missed opportunity.
Aw thank you! And yeah, I wish that Santana had been in this episode (and all the episodes), although Glee seems oddly resistant to ever giving Kurt, Santana, Blaine, Brittany or Unique any moments of solidarity with one another. It’s like only one person or couple gets to be LGBT per episode.
Glee still trying to be Degrassi w/r/t these after school specials. I’m glad this one went over well for Ryan Murphy but bring back Santanaaaaa
Oh, nice to see how every gay guy in NYC is white.
1) I really wanted Sam and Mercedes to get busted for littering.
2) While I appreciate the effort, gay-bashing isn’t the same as tried to stop a robbery and got the sh*t kicked out of him while happening to be gay. This it what it came off as to me. Not every violent crime is automatically a hate crime.
3) The whole thing with Mercedes and Sam was handled very badly because first she decides not to date him because he’s white, then decides to date him for the same reason. All the while his racist behavior has been given a complete pass!
4) Rachel. She doesn’t have time to do the show, the diner, and school. Okay, that’s valid. Why is she still working the diner? And she throws a hissy fit about having to show up again the following week, but then she does anyway to support Kurt. If she could take time for other people’s performances, why can’t she just sing after Kurt?
5) I don’t know why I get frustrated by all the stupid plot holes because it’s Glee and I should already expect them.
I wanted to yell at her, “MERCEDES, YOU JUST ENDORSED LITTERING! AND THAT WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD COAT TOO!”
And where was the “You can’t just throw things in the river” lady when Mercedes was dumping her coat in there?
I watched Glee for the first time in forever and I spent most of the show wondering if the rainbow “Get Better” balloon at the memorial was a reference to the “It Gets Better” movement and what this show has come to.
Am I the only one that is convinced that Whoopi Goldberg is a lesbian??/surprised that she’s old enough to be a great-grandmother?
She’s got to be a vampire or something.