The past meets the future as the New Directions take on Grease

By Sandra Gonzalez
November 16, 2012 at 01:02 PM EST
Mike Yarish
S4 E6
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Tonight’s episode of Glee was a Grease-centric romp that served as the perfect crossroads for New Direction’s past, present and future. And while I feel like that’s been what they’ve been shooting for much of the season, I think this is the episode that has definitely pulled it off most successfully.

Why, you ask? Well, that’s what this recap is for…

At the start of the episode, Schue broke the news that he was moving D.C. and leaving New Directions in Finn‘s care. Judging from their outraged reactions, you’d think Schue was leaving Lord Tubbington or Brittany’s rag doll in charge. [Insert your own Finn joke here. I would, but I know Finn fans…I like my eyeballs, thanks.]

Sue was also less than thrilled with Finn’s new position. Of course, she already had it out for him. As you’ll recall, in a truly unfortunate and completely out-of-character incident, Finn used an unsavory term to describe to Sue’s daughter. (I refuse to even write the word.)

The bright spot about Sue zeroing in on Finn? She got to express the exact reaction that many fans had to Finn’s new job as head of New Directions. She told Schue: “This is just another of your ill-conceived, bizarrely sentimental schemes that displays absolutely no forethought and appears immediately ridiculous to everyone in America except for you.”

Kitty, take note — that is how you deliver a jab. Sue’s funny, ironic, takes the piss out of fans (if I may be British for a second) and her quips always have a little venom. Not a lot — just a little. I hope the writers learn how to write for Kitty quickly because I’m running low on tolerance for her horrible comments. (The Silence of the Lambs quote was cringe-worthy.)

Since we’re on the subject of Kitty, her claws came out this week in a major way. She was still bitter about Marley scoring the role of Sandy and set out for a little game of mental warfare. How? She started altering Marley’s Sandy costume before every practice in order to make her believe that she was gaining weight. (Did this make anyone else think of Jim’s nickel phone prank from The Office?) Many people deal with body issues — especially teens — so while I’m glad the show wanted to do a story about it, but I don’t think this was the way.

Marley, whose mother is obese, immediately started having insecurities about her body, and Kitty — as part of her plan — showed her how to be bulimic during a sleepover that was dripping in ill-intentions. Why Marley would take advice from a mortal enemy that lost her virginity to a horse, I’m not sure. But she did, and it spiraled out of control until Ryder staged a mini intervention in the girl’s bathroom. (His shared a personal story about his wrestler cousin who had unhealthy weight loss methods. “Did he die?” Marley asked at the end. “No, he pooped himself in front of the whole school.”) A lot about the whole storyline rubbed me the wrong way, and if I’m being honest, I preferred the way they handled Sam’s struggles with body issues a few seasons ago.

The storyline did, however, serve as another way for us to get to know Ryder. So far, I’m liking everything about him. Any guy who has the guts to tell the girl he likes a story about poop gains a few extra points in my book.

Over in New York, Rachel was excited because she had scored her first off-Broadway play audition, but Cassandra (Kate Hudson) told her to pass because she “wasn’t ready.” Rachel countered saying she was and, in fact, told Cassandra that she should audition as well “to get back in the game.” Rachel obviously meant well but we later learned Cassandra took major offense to the comment.

At first, Cassandra seemed to be showing a sliver of humanity and helped Rachel and Kurt return back to McKinley so they could go watch New Directions do Grease. (She gifted them her Jet Blue miles, which she no longer needed since she was banned from the airline. Color me unsurprised.) But it turns out that was part of her plan. With Rachel gone, she moved in on Brody, and led Rachel to believe that she had slept with him. Rachel was crushed and we were met with an all-too-familiar image of Rachel crying in the girl’s bathroom at McKinley. Circle of life?

Now, I don’t believe anything actually happened between Cassandra and Brody, but I also never thought Blaine and Kurt would break up because one of them cheated. So I could be wrong.

Speaking of Kurt and Blaine, they shared a wonderfully awkward encounter at McKinley — as did Rachel and Finn — and I appreciated that all the actors played this scene so subtly. I also loved the small moment when Blaine was on stage and he seemed fazed by Kurt’s presence. It almost looked like he was about to break his concentration/mess up in some way. He didn’t, of course, but I appreciated this tiny moments — almost as much as I appreciated the sparkles in his baby blue sweater.

Later, Blaine tried to approach Kurt to chat, but he wasn’t having it. “Rachel’s right, this doesn’t feel like home anymore,” Kurt said, before storming off. WHAT DID HE WANT TO SAY?! LET HIM SPEAK!

Well, maybe it was for the best because Finn and Rachel talked and that didn’t pan out too well. In fact, it was heartbreaking. After believing that Rachel had officially moved on from him, Finn said he didn’t think they should talk anymore. Maybe it was the Finn/Rachel musical score or some really fine acting, but this scene really got to me. There were tears, people. Tears.

There were some other major couples moments in this episode: Santana and Brittany shared a backstage moment that showed what we all knew (they both are still hurting from their split), and Tina and Mike decided they’re going to try to work things out! (Woo!!)

Now a few burning questions: Did you miss your regular recapper? (No worries, Erin will be back next week.) Did the whole storyline with Wade and his parents make you really sad? (Note: I have to commend Alex Newell for that scene; he truly looked miserable sitting there in his male clothing, and it broke my heart.) As awesome as Santana was as Rizzo, did you feel a little bad for Tina? What do you think Blaine wanted to tell Kurt? How much did you cry during the Rachel and Finn scene? Do you think Brody slept with Cassandra? Do you think Finn can pull off a sectionals win? Did you, too, think the review at the end of the episode corny? And what did you think of Schue’s mini send off?

Performances

“Greased Lightnin'” – Hey Ryder, you’re very promising. And everything about this number — from Mike Chang’s moves to Sam’s supporting vocals — made me feel really hopeful about New Direction’s future, as long as you’re around. B+

“Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” – This rendition of a classic song was so seeped in hate and spite that it ruined the number completely. Thanks, Kitty. C-

“Beauty School Dropout” – Blaine was made for Grease, from the clothes, to the hair, to the soulful quality of the music. And his vocally impressive version of this song was, unsurprisingly, one of the highlight of the episode. A

“There Are Worse Things I Could Do” – This number was simple and to the point, so I will be too: We miss you Santana. A-

“You’re the One That I Want” – This song was the perfect example of everything I loved about this episode. As the new kids performed, Rachel had visions of the original New Directions up there having a grand time. Seeing the old gang made me as nostalgic as Rachel was feeling in that moment, and I love it when songs on the show can evoke that kind of emotional response. Well done! A

Top lines:

“This is just another of your ill-conceived, bizarrely sentimental schemes that displays absolutely no forethought and appears immediately ridiculous to everyone in America except for you.” — Sue

“I promise I won’t pee in it.” — Brittany

“I’m living off of Ambien and The Notebook.” — Kurt

“I’ve seen your true colors, Finn Hudson. You’ve got hate in that heart, Double Stuff. And probably also frosting.” — Sue

Finn: You’re kind of my moose

Rachel: It’s muse.

Finn: I know, I just wanted to make you smile.

Episode Recaps

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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