If Glee has taught us anything over the years, it’s that change is inevitable. Embracing change allows us to grow and experience life in new and exciting ways. On the other hand, if we fear change, all too often our lives become stagnant or bogged down by the status quo. The idea of nothing staying the same forever paralyzes us, and we lose our voice in a sea of uninhibited crowds of people telling us where we should go, what we should do, and who we should be.
The writers of Glee tackled this age-old problem head-on through various storylines. Whether it’s a relationship revision, career transition, or physical transformation, one major theme emerged by the end of the night—this is who I am, and this is where I belong.
Will Schuester is all about change, as well as paper money. Carmel ISD pays him extremely well for being the Vocal Adrenaline coach, and he’s having a hard time balancing his new resources with the desire to inspire these kids like he did with New Directions. It doesn’t help that his team eggs Blaine and Rachel, keeping with pre-competition tradition. I personally thought it was a lovely throwback to season 1. It was mean, but nostalgic.
In true Schuester fashion, he adjusts his sweater vest, grabs a microphone, and begins rapping “Same Love” with an assist from Unique Adams (Alex Newell). The lesson on tolerance is wasted on the Vocal Adrenaline. They just want to dance and let that one kid sing! Is that too much to ask?
Back at McKinley, Coach Sheldon Beiste returns to school after taking some time off to let his outsides catch up with his insides. He is greeted by an energetic Sam, who has a list of pronouns he would like to review. Sue assures Coach Beiste that she will be with him every step of the way, declaring WMHS as a gender fluid high school. When she rushes away to shame a “fatty” in the hallway, Coach Beiste looks relieved. He’s where he belongs.
When he reaches his car at the end of the day, the words “Coach Tranny” stop him in his tracks. A car full of Carmel High students speeds off, and Will is called into Sue’s office. He’s devastated to learn that his kids are behind the offensive remark. He lays down the law with his team, and when Clint adamantly disrespects his coach in front of everyone, Will kicks him out of the club. The Vocal Adrenaline boosters are not going to like this.
Will isn’t the only one who is fired up. Sam and Spencer want to throw down with those “rock lobsters” for messing with Coach. They are ready to destroy Vocal Adrenaline, but Coach Beiste reminds them not to stoop to their level. In a sweet moment, he tells the boys that he’s proud that they have come together as a team to help a friend. This violation has actually become a gift. Coach Beiste’s hair may be a hot mess, but he’s really tugging on the old heartstrings in this moment!
Meanwhile, Will confides in Emma (Look! It’s Jayma Mays!) about how he is not happy at his job. I don’t see how Emma is happy wearing her 1960s nightgown, because there’s no way that thing is comfortable to sleep in, but that’s another story for another time. Will also admits that he likes all the material stuff that goes along with being Vocal Adrenaline’s coach, but he feels like he’s working for a place that stands against everything he believes. You’d have to be completely out in left field not to assume that a change is coming with Will’s career.
Another thing that is changing is Rachel’s address. Her childhood home has been sold, and Sam has taken it upon himself to throw her one last bash before she has to move. The high school kids drink non-alcoholic beverages (allegedly) with festive umbrellas. Roderick and Mercedes duet “All About That Bass,” and once again I’m floored at how Noah Guthrie pretty much nails any song that is thrown his way.
When Mercedes brings booty back, Rachel and Sam sneak upstairs to her room. Everything is packed, excluding her “dream” wall. Rachel admits that when she was growing up, the wall was covered with idols, such as Barbara, Patti, and Bernadette. Now the wall is full of real friends. Sam encourages her to never forget her Broadway dream. The wall will get bigger and higher. Then he leans in for a sweet, gentle kiss. Just as I was about to say, “Awwwwww,” Rachel grabs him by the neck and REALLY lays one on him! Gold star for Rachel!
And how do show choirs celebrate budding romances? By singing a little ditty of course. Before Rachel and Sam bust out a nice rendition of “Time After Time,” Kurt and Blaine take the stage. The entire room sings and dances along with them, but Blaine only has eyes for Kurt. He also only has a tongue for Kurt, so he sticks it down his throat. In case you’re wondering, Karofsky is still in the picture, but Kurt is definitely in the foreground at this point.
NEXT: Unique brings the house down
Over in the gym, Unique visits Coach Beiste, ribbing him that he had to hear about Coach’s return through “trans-gossip” Mr. Schuester. Coach Beiste is frustrated that no one is treating him like normal. Unique interjects that he isn’t normal—he’s special. Coach Beiste just wants to be one of the guys. He doesn’t want to be coddled, and he doesn’t want to be hated. He may know who he is, but there’s definitely no one like him around, and that’s discouraging.
Blaine also knows who he is, and that’s a person who cheated on his boyfriend. He comes clean to Karofsky, admitting (albeit through silence) that he kissed Kurt. Karofsky takes it remarkably well, and encourages Blaine to tell (not sing) Kurt that he is still in love with him. Blaine slow motion runs through the halls, because that’s how Glee handles declarations of love, and finds Kurt in the choir room. Sadly, he’s with old man Walter and they are going on a double date with Sam and Rachel. Doh! Klaine fans will have to wait another day for a reunion.
That night, Will convinces Vocal Adrenaline that they were right, and he was wrong for not wanting to do whatever it takes to win. The rock lobsters believe him for some reason, and follow him to the McKinley auditorium to dump K-Y Jelly on the stage. Not one of the dance-bots caught on to the fact that Mr. Sweater Vest wouldn’t know “competition warfare” if it bit him on the butt, but they go along with the plan anyway.
As soon as they reach the stage, the lights come on and Unique begins singing “I Know Where I’ve Been” from the Hairspray soundtrack. She is backed by a choir of 300 transgender individuals who invite Coach Beiste to join them on stage for the final lyrics. Everyone but the heartless Vocal Adrenaline freaks was moved by the performance. It was a poignant moment soundtracked by an powerful song.
When Clint complains that Will wasted two hours of rehearsal time on this ridiculous endeavor, Will realizes his heart is not with Vocal Adrenaline. He quits on the spot and is quickly invited by Rachel and Kurt to be a special alumni consultant for New Directions. Who needs a paycheck when you’ve got a choir full of kids who can sing like angels? At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that you know who you are, and you know where you belong. Change is inevitable, and will do you good.
“You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi
This episode started out with a bang! Who doesn’t love Bon Jovi? Although the performance was short, and was mostly the background loop to Will’s new Vocal Adrenaline lifestyle, it sounded good.
“Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
When Will announced to the Vocal Adrenaline team that an alumni was going to help him sing the next song, I verbally squealed at the thought of Jesse St. James returning to Glee. When he didn’t walk out, and Unique did, I was distracted thinking, “Is Unique a Vocal Adrenaline alumni?” Then Matthew Morrison started rapping, and everything thought in my head worked together to try and make the madness end. I’m unsure why the writers continue to ask this poor man to take on this genre, but I wish they would stop. Once he sat down at his guitar and harmonized with Alex Newell, I liked the performance a lot better.
“All About That Bass’” by Meghan Trainor
This song stayed true to the original arrangement, and I thought it was a delight. You know I love my boy Roderick singing solo, but he did a great job backing up Mercedes. There was a lot of booty shaking, as expected, and I thought all of the cast mouthing the words was completely endearing.
“Somebody Loves You” by Betty Who
I am not a fan of Chris Colfer’s voice by himself, but I really like when he and Blaine sing together. This was a fun take on “Somebody Loves You,” with an equally fun performance. You can tell the cast members were having a great time shooting the scene, and that made it enjoyable to watch.
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
After I got past Lea Michele’s Peter Pan outfit, I concentrated on her singing. She was very breathy in the opening verses, but once she and Chord Overstreet hit the chorus, I was on board. They stayed true to the song, and harmonized beautifully.
“I Know Where I’ve Been” by the cast of Hairspray
I don’t know what else to say, other than Alex Newell is extremely talented. I believe this is his best performance on Glee. It was powerful, emotional, and even though I wasn’t crazy about that ending note, I thought the performance was nearly flawless. I can’t help but think that the emotion of the moment, and the message being projected helped amp up the delivery of such a beautiful song. Well done in my book.
Sue: I am here for you as a friend, ally, and shoulder to cry on. Metaphorically of course, because you’re a man now and men don’t cry.
Sam: As someone who sometimes didn’t have any home at all…
Rachel: No! I’m not going to let you guilt me into this because you were once homeless. That has nothing to do with this.
Sue: Attention Vocal Adrenaline members: I will give you six minutes to leave campus before I unleash my hounds. Also, I’ve slashed all tires on bus, so you’ll have to walk home. Perhaps you can use this march of death opportunity to consider how awful you really are.