S2: E3 After last week’s self indulgent, Britney-themed romp, I feared we may have lost the Glee we all knew and loved forever. But just when they had us thinking that all they could muster was an unending stream of constant camp, they go and prove us wrong. Last night’s episode toned down the crazy for a minute and proved that the show is still as versatile as ever.
It all starts when Finn makes a grilled cheese sandwich on a Foreman grill, which due to some of Finn’s sneaker-cleaning experiments no longer leaves normal grill marks. The grilled cheese emerges from the grill with what appears to be the face of Jesus – a grilled Cheesus, if you will. (Okay, so obviously they haven’t banished all of the crazy.) Finn, who’s just a little too dumb sometimes, prays to the Cheesus asking to win the football game in exchange for singing religious songs in glee club. Cut to Friday night’s game where Finn wheels Artie down the field (which I’m sure is against high school football rules, or at least against their insurance policies) and the team wins, causing Finn to kneel down and scream thanks to Cheesus. While this is cute and all, I’m getting a little tired of them making Finn out to be some cartoonish halfwit. Bring it down a peg or two.
When he brings up the idea of a week-long glee tribute to Jesus, the club has some mixed reactions. Rachel looks scandalized, Quinn and Mercedes are on board, and Kurt delivers the episode’s main topic of discussion. “The reason I don’t go to church is because most churches don’t think very much of gay people…or women…or science.” And here’s our main conflict: religion.
That morning before school, Kurt brings breakfast to his dad at the auto shop, replacing his usual – “two Slim Jims and a Coke” – with something a little healthier. As any normal teenage boy would, he gives his dad another excuse for missing Friday night family dinner with Finn and his mom (in case you forgot, Kurt’s dad is dating Finn’s mom). Kurt’s dad gives a little speech on how those dinners are the glue between him and Kurt and that if they lose them, he fears they won’t have anything in common. They’ve left enough clues for us to know what’s coming after Kurt goes off to school; those junk food breakfasts finally set in and Kurt’s dad has a heart attack at the auto shop.
Emma and Schue take Kurt to the hospital where he learns that the heart attack put his father into a coma. Kurt stands by his dad’s bedside begging, “If you can hear me, squeeze my hand.” But sadly, his father’s hand doesn’t budge and the show manages to make me tear up before the first commercial break.
As Kurt deals with his father’s illness, the glee club does their best to support him, and in glee club that means singing to him. Merecedes gets a little help from Quinn and Tina to sing “I Look to You.” Way to keep the tears coming, gleeks. Kurt appreciates the gesture, but he still doesn’t believe in God because if there was a God he’d be “a jerk” – making him gay and then making his followers act like it’s a choice to be teased and treated poorly. No more Boobs McGee jokes, they’re going for the real issues this episode.
Finn is still praying to Cheesus like it’s some sort of genie – his latest wish being to touch Rachel’s “girl boobs.” When she comes to his house to talk about her concerns about the longevity of their relationship, she’s concerned his newfound love of Jesus will keep their future babies from being raised Jewish. He agrees to her demands and his reward? Girl boobs. Thank you, Cheesus.
Sue continues her warpath against glee, asking Kurt to make a formal complaint about the religious turn the club has taken. But this isn’t just some Sue Sylvester brand of sabotage. She explains that she lost her belief in God when people treated her mentally challenged sister poorly. Kurt’s complaint does the trick and the glee club is forced to stop singing religious songs. The gleeks are upset; last week they were too sexy, this week too religious. “Now I know what Miley feels like.” Thanks for that one, Brittany.
Because she can’t sing it at school, Rachel takes her spiritual song off campus and creepily sings “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” first to Finn in the park, and then in the hospital to Kurt’s dad like she’s some sort of healer. No wonder Kurt gets pissed. Yeah, she was trying to help, but in a characteristically arrogant way. (Your voice isn't that magical, sweetheart.)
Kurt returns to glee club, and while he won’t sing a spiritual song, he’s got a tribute to his father prepared. He belts a slow, sweet version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” expressing the comfort he gets from holding his father’s hand and bringing a new light to The Beatles' classic tune. The song works as some sort of catharsis because finally, Kurt stops closing himself off to his friends, and Mercedes even convinces him to go to church with her.
After Finn asks Cheesus for his quarterback spot back, Sam gets injured and Finn gets his wish. Concerned that it’s all his fault, Finn pays a visit to Emma. She convinces him that Jesus doesn’t speak to people through sandwiches, and he feels like he’s lost his religious connection. So it’s no wonder he goes through the halls singing a fairly awkward rendition of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” but the song choice was a little too obvious, if you ask me.
At Mercedes’ church, Kurt feels out of place but Mercedes has prepared a song to help him understand why religion is so important to her – it gives you something to hold onto. She and her gospel choir sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and while you may not be a fan religious music, you can appreciate the pipes on that girl. They work their magic and Kurt seems to start to get why religion means so much to her.
In perhaps my favorite mini-moment of the entire episode, Sue goes to visit her sister at a nursing home. She asks her sister is she believes in God. When her sister says of course there is and that "he doesn't make mistakes" Sue is humbled. It’s such a tender moment, and we find that Sue does care deeply about someone. While we enjoy her mean-hearted ways on campus, it’s nice to see that her character isn't just a gruff cardboard cutout - she's actually human.
Finally, Kurt returns to the hospital to visit his father and he comes full circle from the beginning of the episode. Kurt realizes that his father was right – their bond is their religion, their “something to hold onto.” As he confesses this, his dad’s hand begins to slowly grasp Kurt’s and begins to regain consciousness.
The club closes out the episode with a performance of “What If God Was One of Us” as Finn finally eats the grilled Cheesus, giving up on his “direct line” to Jesus. While the sweeping song is a beautiful and melodic ending for the episode, I’m not sure it conveys the message they were trying for. But on the other hand, Schue says the kids chose it, and it’s definitely a song choice that a bunch of high school kids would find inspiring. It was a good episode overall, but it often seems that show continues to succeed in spite of some of the musical numbers.