Television Review: ‘Glee’ Takes on ‘Grease’

Television Review: ‘Glee’ Takes on ‘Grease’

Last we saw of “Glee” before the break, it left us reeling from the heartache and wanting to know the emotional impacts left on the characters involved in breakups. This episode was a seamless and lighthearted transition into the next chapter of the season.

The episode begins, months after the last episode, with Finn working in Burt’s tire shop. He is lost, directionless and without confidence after his breakup and the reveal of his army discharge. Artie resourcefully enlists Finn’s [reluctant] help in directing the school’s play “Grease.”

We shift to Blaine (bowtie-less) mourning the demise of his relationship with Kurt. Blaine, looking emotionally ravaged and distraught, gives us the first glimpse of the epic music that is Grease. The depth of his talent shines through on his version of “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” Blaine, who would make a fabulous Danny Zuko (in looks and talent), turns down the role due to the romantic nature of the play and how he feels ill-equipped to fulfill that role due to his recent heartbreak and current emotional turmoil.

Artie has recruited the help of previous Glee club members, Mike Chang and Mercedes Jones (choreography and vocals respectfully). The mini-reunion between four of the original cast members was authentic and the affections between the characters can be credited to the friendship and rapport between the actors.

We come to Will Schuester and Emma Pillsbury talking to Coach Beiste about him going away for the ‘Save the Arts’ project and her unwillingness to put her life second to his. I, for one, like this independence in Emma and it shows the strides she has personally taken since we were first introduced to this meek-ish woman. A genuine and heartfelt request from Will to join him leads Emma to agree.

A strategy session regarding the Danny Zuko situation leads Finn to the idea of discovering another misguided jock who can sing to fill in for the lead role. In a conversation with Beiste, we are reminded of the appreciation for this magnificent character (and actress) with her understated but powerful words of encouragement and support. We are then introduced to academically struggling Ryder Lynn (played by newest cast member/Glee Project winner Blake Jenner).

Wade and Marley audition with a lackluster/not unique (pun intended) performance of Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).” Not sure if it was the wrong song choice, the vocals, a mix of the two singers’ voices together, or a combination, but this song was borderline out of tune (first for this viewer!) and it did nothing for me.

That was followed by an attempt to convince Ryder to audition for the play and Finn, in typical Finn fashion, compares the joy of Glee club to “…a really good poop.” We are acquainted with the vocals of the newcomer in a duet on Foreigner’s Classic Rock song “Juke Box Hero.” It was an impressive performance. Did I see Danny Zuko – No, but it was clear why he won “The Glee Project.”

I was rolling my eyes at the overdone and trite cheerleader cattiness and insults slung by Kitty towards Marley and Jake (who I still claim is a sexy Puck/Blaine hybrid). Jake and Kitty’s audition song of ‘Neon Trees – Everybody Talks’ proves that the blonde cheerleader role will again be filled by the performer with the weakest vocal talents. Her portion left much to be desired and were underwhelming.

Sue unnecessarily interferes and protests Wade “Unique” Adams being cast as Rizzo. The real motivation is revealed and Sue once again proves there are more layers to her in her protectiveness of this student. This scene is interspersed with Principal Figgins being his typical clueless and comical self and ends with Finn slipping and insulting Sue’s baby (who was hinted at in the previous season would have Down’s syndrome). The regret on his face was instantaneous.

The final song of the episode was a fun rendition of Grease’s “Born to Hand Jive.”

Unique’s breakdown about not fitting in was a nice emotional touch. I have never been a huge fan of this character and always felt he was good vocally but the character was too over the top. This peek into the struggles of the character and the resonating strength helped make him real and more personable.

Emma explains that she doesn’t want to go with Will and in a moment of maturity they have an open discussion about the situation and the adoration and respect between this couple is admirable.

Will tells Finn his plan to leave and leaves the Glee club in his capable hands. The episode ends with the patented and enduring image of Finn’s half smile.

Final (extra) thoughts:

  • I missed Rachel and Kurt but enjoyed the back to basic feel of this McKinnley High focused episode.
  • Ryder was cast as Danny Zuko and Marley as Sandy.
  • Finn really came through as a leader in this episode.
  • I missed Tina Cohen-Chang and felt the explanation of her absence as being angry at Mike for showing up without telling her was a last minute and uninventive excuse.

Author: Karen Walsh

Glee: The Role You Were Born to Play
Season 4, Episode 5
Original Air Date: November 8, 2012