This week’s episode of Glee wasn’t all about how some B-list gleester was going to turn the beat around and feel the percussion while pursuing some high school dream and finding themself in the process. No. This week’s episode was all about long distance relationships falling apart!
Wait… didn’t Riese have this idea just the other week? Unfortunately Riese’s set list would have been 100% better.
Perhaps this isn’t the best time for me to recap an episode all about long distance relationships and the inevitable breakups that ensue. I’m sitting here ten weeks into my brand new life at med school. Ten weeks of wondering when I’ll start counting in months. Ten weeks of starting over. Ten weeks of watching my and everyone around me’s relationships crumble beneath the med school fist. Ryan Murphy just knew college was far enough in to make this episode hurt. Brava Glee. Brava.
Just for context, here is the email I sent to the team before the episode was even over
We open on the star-studded, whimsical, over-zealous, bully-ridden halls of McKinley High to two of the new characters who I still couldn’t care less about. C’mon writers. Jake is still a lame diluted version of Puck and Marley’s personality still has the fizzle of the Whole Foods brand knock-off of San Pellegrino that’s been sitting in my room for a week.
Nearby, Brittany and Blaine cry alone in the dark about how their lovers are far far away in exciting places doing exciting things.
But what about Rachel’s lover? Wasn’t he supposed to be off serving the country and maybe becoming a character I don’t loath? Nope, he just showed up at Rachel’s door. Starsweep to that New York City Tangential door where Finn explains what the fuck he’s doing in New York City Tangential.
Turns out the Army doesn’t take Mr. Potato Heads. Also he shot himself in the thigh accidentally on day 16 of basic training. Which is actually pretty impressive because I’m pretty sure soldiers don’t even get bullets until week four.
Since his discharge, and apparently instant gunshot wound recovery despite having hit a major artery, Potato Head had just been backpacking across Georgia for four months. I think that is code for dicking off in Hotlanta, since it only takes about 9 hours to get across Georgia. Also, I think it’s a little silly he didn’t even bother popping over to Charleston, South Carolina or Jacksonville, Florida. But then again, who am I to say what a potato enjoys for a road trip.
Rachel appropriately flips a shit at Finn about not speaking to her the whole time, but then rolls over like a puppy and invites him to follow her to all of her classes all week. It is truly painful to think about.
Meanwhile, back in Lima, Santana is back! Huzzah!
She’s home to break the world record for largest pile of laundry. Santana is wicked cute about it and admits she’s not doing laundry at school so she knows she’ll always have to come home every few weeks and see Brittany. She’s also chosen this moment to dress all housewifey. So obviously I generally approve of the situation. The two then proceed to have the most chaste kiss of all time, just to remind the audience that lesbians don’t have hot make-out sessions, they just give each other butterfly kisses.
Brit-Brit is also super sleepy because she’s been up reading Desecration: Antichrist Takes the Throne, part of the Left Behind series, which is apparently about the Christian End Times and the rise of the Antichrist. I was fully prepared to have Intern Grace make a hilarious mock-up of this obviously faux book series until I found out these are actually a real thing. So basically Brittany is in this super-Christian End of Days Book Club thing that’s being run by Kitty aka New Quinn.
Flash through time and space to McKinley where Blaine gets a call from his Fashion Intern Boyfriend!
Unfortunately just as he calls, Kurt gets pulled away on business. And it’s really hard for Blaine. But for me, because I’m a selfish brat, it’s just as hard to see Kurt’s confliction. To see how much it upsets Kurt to upset Blaine, while it simultaneously makes him furious that he has to balance his high school boyfriend with his big new life.
Kurt: Look, I know this is frustrating, it’s frustrating for me too. I don’t want to miss our phone dates, but, you know, this could be a career for me.
Blaine: I get that, I do, I really get it… I… I really miss you. A lot. Okay? I miss talking with you and I miss hugging you and I miss having awkward high school gay sex with you.
Funny, you would think Kurt would be able to keep in touch with Blaine by writing him epically long letters during his two hours commute to work. For his part, Blaine is wearing a shirt from J. Crew that I totally own. I just wanted to throw that out there.
Meanwhile, Finn follows Rachel around school lamenting that he is a potato and there is no place for potatoes at art school. Except perhaps in a interpretive video piece zoomed in on your hands peeling potatoes in order to represent your Irish heritage. Just for example.
Blaine and Finn sing “Barely Breathing” together, which I love because that song was my fucking jam in the 4th grade. While Finn stares at how amazingly better than him Rachel is, Blaine pokes some guy on Grindr. At least I think he pokes him… I’m not really sure how Grindr works.
Me: Um. Do you know how Grindr works?
Carmen: hahah. I think you put up your pic and then men in your area tell you to come over. And you are like ~yes ok. And they are like ~you are so hot. And then they fuck you and give you jobs!!
Back over in the middle of nowhere loft, Rachel, Finn and Kurt prepare for a night out at Callbacks, the local bar that all the NYADAADADDADADA students go and sing at on Fridays. And by local I mean all the way across the city. Finn is appalled to discover that in NYC you’re supposed to get dressed up and pay a $20 cover just to go and buy $15 drinks.
And while I was pretty appalled to discovered the same thing, Rachel and Kurt are completely unable to identify the very basic signs of depression in their boyfriend/step-brother. Like his obvious feelings of worthlessness and/or helplessness. Or how about his difficulty making decisions and being pessimistic. How about the big red sign that flashes on his forehead that says “Loss of Interest in Activities Once Enjoyed” when Finn mentions he hasn’t sung since Nationals. Or, of course, his chronic diarrhea. You think they would have noticed that.
And then Blaine shows up!
So the quatro (the quad?) roll up to the oh-so-classy piano bar, Callbacks. There’s no mention of fake IDs or how the hell they got in, assumingly because an index card that said, “These four kids are 21” would probably be sufficient ID to get them into any bar in New York. Rachel orders a virgin amaretto sour. At this point I’m seriously considering making myself a non-virgin amaretto sour, and then pouring it down the drain after one and switching to Jack. Just a thought.
Brody rocks up all hip and completely boring so he and Finn can awkwardly meet. Seeing Rachel with Finn in tow just makes me think of all those girls I knew freshman year who would drag their high school boyfriends to campus parties just to ignore them all night and come out when they were juniors.
Rachel really wants to sing with Finn, but in Finn’s most passive aggressive moment ever he insists that Rachel sing it with Brody. Just kidding, there’s no way that was Finn’s most passive aggressive moment.
Rachel and Brody hop on stage and sing Demi Lovato’s song with that nifty giving your heart a break wordplay situation. It’s one of those awkward moments when Lea Michel sings a song 100% better than the original artist. Finn pouts the whole time like he didn’t just tell Rachel to do it. I’d like to pretend that Finn’s totally constipated look is from the realization that he needs to let Rachel fly free like a butterfly. Except, um, didn’t he already figure that out at the end of last season? Am I dumb for thinking that was the breakup episode?
Let the record show that Rachel looks awesome in that white blazer with shorts.
Blaine then proceeds to do a Damian Rice version of Teenage Dream. For the record, the lyrics seem way more sexxxxx relating when you sing them slowly. Oh right also Blaine starts crying and just repeats the chorus over and over.
But Darren Criss absolutely sells it and for two minutes and 28 seconds I had the terrible awful no good feeling that I was actually watching a 17-year-old kid train-wreck style embarrass himself in front of all of his boyfriend’s friends. It was a long two minutes and 28 seconds.
As they walk home, the couples pair off to talk about All The Feelings. Finn hounds Rachel about how he doesn’t fit into her life and voila manifest destiny she admits she and Brody kissed. Finn is not pleased. Doesn’t Rachel know that he gets to leave for four months without a word and pretending to be the army, that his little woman is just supposed to hang around her apartment, chaste, washing her hair every night?
At just exactly the same moment, Kurt confronts Blaine about his uncomfortable on-stage feelings explosion. Blaine admits to having “been with someone.” In the biblical sense. And poor Kurt looks like someone stabbed him with his favorite oversized hippo broach right in the heart. Blaine explains that this is really all Kurt’s fault for not being there. For being the horrible bad guy who wanted more from his life than the same town he’d been living in for years. The bad guy who forced Blaine to follow his dick to the nearest dick for some feelings-free Grindr man action.
Blaine: What matters is that I was by myself. I needed you. I needed you around and you weren’t there…. and I was lonely. And I’m… really sorry.
Kurt: You don’t think that I’ve been lonely? You don’t think that I’ve had temptations to get some lovin’ down at the Metropolitan? To get my Grindr sex on?!
But you can see why Blaine would be interested in this. The Grindr sex, that is. I mean, how is a young man with raging hormones supposed to say no to that? I mean, those teen gays, they are just hormone deviants who can’t keep it in their pants. Not like those docile lesbians who just fold laundry and link pinkies and kiss from four feet away from each other.
If you couldn’t already tell, I think there is something problematic going on here in the difference between the way the lesbian and gay couples are being presented.
So yeah. Everyone fessed up to their cheating and everyone blamed each other.
And then they sang “Don’t Speak”. Because they are a bunch of middle school students in 1999. Finn sings lead and it is literally the most tragic of all tragic kingdoms.
We conclude with Finn sneaking out in the morning. How fucking mature.
Ugh let’s take a page break.
Starsweep to Lima, where the Left Behind Club is officially the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard of. Kitty thinks the End of Times is coming and has somehow built a club around that. I don’t know about you, but my high school didn’t allow religious clubs. I dunno, I guess we were just old fashioned about “separation of church and state” or something.
The club meets after school at Breadsticks where, despite it being the school week again, Santana tags along to see what crazy misadventure Brittany has gotten herself into.
The club meeting actually, technically includes tricking a girl who’s “on the fence” about the whole Rapture Thing into believing she’s actually been left behind by staging a whole faux-rapture. See, as it turns out, Kitty isn’t just a rehashed version of Quinn. Instead of being self-absorbed and obsessed with small town success, she’s actually just batshit crazy. I have to applaud whomever came up with this idea, as long as it was originally written as a creative TV show bit and not as something the kids are actually doing these days.
Completely unimpressed, Santana says she and Brittany should leave, suggesting that perhaps this whole End of the World thing isn’t good for Brittany. But Brittany doesn’t want to leave the club because… um she doesn’t want to get left behind in the rapture because it hurt so much when Santana left her behind and went to college…? Yeah the logic here was a bit flawed. But regardless Santana realizes how upset Brittany has been about her leaving.
Back over at McKinley, it’s either later in the day or the next day — who the fuck knows. Potato Head wanders into Mr. Schue’s office and Will reacts like we give a shit about either of these characters. And Finn starts to cry just like he did that time he thought he’d knocked Quinn up. Statistically speaking there are 1,302 things I’d rather see on Glee than this brofest. Side note: why isn’t Potato Head crying into his mother’s arms? Or his step-father’s arms? Remember all that time spent building up those characters who I like a gagillion times better? Let’s use those characters.
So obviously instead of utilizing any of those characters, Finn just sits in on Glee Club rehearsal.
Finn: Why did you do that to him?
Blaine: I don’t know. There’s no excuse.
And here I think Blaine’s character is realer than ever. In high school shit just happens. Every girl you cheat on. Every girl you don’t call for weeks and weeks. Every girl you breakup with for no reason and regret it immediately. In high school it just happens. Things fall away from you and you’re too young to know why and you’re too inexperienced to know how to fix it. In high school, unlike the rest of your life, I think that’s actually okay. We’re allowed to do a few shitty things while we’re still learning who we are.
But Finn isn’t in high school anymore. So why the hell is he ignoring his girlfriend like a child and hanging around in the choir room?
So what is Glee Club doing today? Preparing for Sectionals right? Shit no! They’re planning the Fall Musical, which they somehow commandeered from the rest of the school. Obviously Finn saves everyone from everything ever by suggesting they do Grease. Do I lie and say I don’t love Grease? Nope! I totally do! Besides, nothing says Glee like a musical that was originally about working class kids in Chicago dealing with budding sexuality, rock music and religion/class conflict being watered down time and time again until all that’s left is upbeat music strung together by a drivel-thin G-rated plot line. I think it’ll be great.
If Santana doesn’t sing “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” then I quit.
Later that night, Will comes home and announces to Emma he’s won some arts thing he wanted and now he’s going to go to DC for a little while. Will wants Emma to come because they’re engaged and apparently she has some sort of imaginary High School tenure at her job. Instead of having a remotely mature conversation that you might expect out of two engaged grown-ass people, they get in a huge fight that makes no sense. I get when the kids act like kids, but I can’t care about the adults if they’re also going to act like kids.
Elsewhere, in New York, Kurt receives flowers from Blaine and dramatically drops the note in the trash in slow-mo. It’s a metaphor.
Back at McKinley, Santana still hasn’t returned to college for some reason. Instead, she sings Brittany a Taylor Swift song. For a second, I thought that this was going to be Satana’s big moment to be the big ‘ol lezzy she is and say that the two of them need to always care about each other because they’re each other’s one true love. But, um, then it started raining all over their faces and shit turned kind of dark.
Brittany: Sad songs make me really sad and I don’t want to be sad.
So instead of proclaiming her eternal love, Satana breaks up with Brittany.
Santana and Brittany break up.
At least it’s like the most mature break-up ever. Ever. I don’t think I had a break-up that was this mature until I was twenty-four. Actually, I want to revise that: I’ve never had a breakup this mature. Obviously I sobbed.
Santana: I haven’t been a good girlfriend to you. I can’t come home on the weekends and pretend things are the same as they were because they aren’t. And I don’t want to be like all those other long distance relationships [read: everyone else on this show] that hang in there for a few months and then break up when someone eventually cheats and then things get weird.
Then Santana explains that she had what she actually calls an “energy transfer” with a girl who looks basically a ton like Paige from Pretty Little Liars.
Santana: I had an attraction. And you may have had one [read: last week with Sam] or you might have one and… that happens. Let’s just do the mature thing here, okay? This is not an official break up, but let’s just be honest. Long distance relationships are almost impossible to maintain because both people are rarely getting what they need. Especially at our age.
I want to write that down somewhere and read it every time I have to break off a relationship because someone is moving. Excuse me while I go sob for another minute or thirty.
Back over with the new characters we don’t care about, Boring Punk breaks up with Psycho Quinn but still doesn’t want to be with Oak Tag Personality.
Back over with the old characters we don’t care about, Rachel shows up to Lima to confront Finn on the McKinley High stage. My first thought was, “Holy shit, she fucking flew all the way to see him and drove around town trying to find him? That’s ridiculous.” As it turns out Rachel had the same thought.
Rachel: Yeah I would have just come here first, if you would have picked up your phone or answered my text messages. Instead I had to get on a plane and then drive around town looking for you like an idiot.
Rachel explains that when Finn left originally, she thought that by having her go to New York he was setting her up to have the big fulfilling life she always deserved. Rachel uses the phrase “This is how a man loves” about the whole situation, but that makes me want to find the nearest trashcan and heave. Instead, Finn was a childish little baby , and Rachel tells him so. She tells him she doesn’t need him to protect her from things or save her from things or help her make choices; that’s she’s a grown woman.
Rachel: We’re done.
And it’s brilliant. It’s like the old Rachel is back, but instead of being driven about what solos she should get and what titles she deserves, she’s driven about what she deserves in a partner. Yeah I said partner. It was that real.
Cue Coldplay’s “The Scientist” for instant emotions and relationship flashbacks.
So basically everyone broke up, except maybe the grownups who are just acting like children for a hot minute. Part of me wants all TV high school couples to be together forever, but a big chunk of me wants to grab them all by the shoulders and shake them. I want to shake them until their relationships physically fall apart from my shaking, because that’s what they need. Because in their new big cities and jobs and colleges– even in their old high school– they need to live every day. They need to meet new people and forget about other people and discover things about themselves they never knew were there. There is so much life after 18, and you can’t get a fresh start or even a fresh ending waiting by the phone, feeling incomplete and refusing to meet anyone new.
Maybe people can live their lives that way, but it sure makes for shitty TV. The reason this season has felt so goddamn stale is that the five characters I give a shit about are paralyzed by their relationships.
Even though I specifically hate hate hate that I was just dragged through Brittana’s breakup, it will be okay if Glee rewards us with Santana finding a new hot college girlfriend. Yes it’s important for us to see a hot girl-girl high school couple in a loving committed relationship, but it’s also important for everyone to remember that you don’t have to stay with your first love. Your high school girlfriend doesn’t need to be your wife just because you met her first. You will meet other girls and they will be amazing beautiful shiny stars whose hair smells like lemons, too. Or maybe pomegranates.
So while this all sucked, at least now the show can move forward. Blaine can get into some fraternizing with the enemy Sebastian and cause some major drama with New Directions. Kurt and Rachel can hit every gay bar in New York as they live their own little mini Sex and the City show-within-a-show. Finn can be the useless and directionless potato we already know he is, to make up for all that time we had to watch while he gave everyone advice like a fucking putsy know-it-all. Santana can bang faux-Paige from Pretty Little Liars and maybe even get an alternative lifestyle haircut. Who knows, maybe we’ll have some new characters to obsess over. And Brittany, sadly, will probably go back to one-liners in the back of the class.
But we can always hope for better.
As for this week, my keen nose for obvious plot lines says Finn is going to direct the musical under the guise of helping out, which will either lead to him being a complete control freak and breaking down about his failed life or inspire him to become a music teacher.