Episode 6.1: "Loser Like Me"
Well, it's back for one last hurrah. The little show that could, and did, and then grew up to become unwieldy and a parody of itself, has returned for a final 13 episodes, kicking off with a double-header. So let's get started!
Remember how Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) spent five years talking about how she wanted to be a Broadway star and then got the starring role in a Broadway musical only to decide that, no, she'd really rather be a Hollywood star? Apparently, that worked out about as well as you'd expect: The single episode of Rachel's show saw a zero share (I guess that's like only selling two rear-balcony seats for opening night?), so FOX president Lee Paulblatt (now former FOX President Lee Paulblatt) assures Rachel that her series is over. "If we were to do another episode, there would be protesters from UNICEF, the ADL, the NAACP, PETA—I mean, my Blackberry is buzzing with angry emails from NAMBLA!" So what should she do now that she's become the face of the most offensive TV show in history? "Do what everyone who just failed miserably does: Blame everyone else and then go home."
So after a rather powerful rendition of Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited" that, given "Glee"'s circumstances, sounds like it came from the heart, Rachel decides to return to Ohio, where the Little Girl is greeted by the warm hugs of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Welcome back, Brian Stokes Mitchell! You've been missed!) But even he brings bad news: Her two dads are getting divorced. But it's okay, because even when delivering bad news, Brian Stokes Mitchell is always comforting: "You can stay with me as long as you want!" he tells her. "But we put the house on the market a couple weeks ago." Oh, well.
Remember how unlikely it was that so many McKinley grads would end up in New York (and living together)? Just as unlikely, several McKinley grads have dropped out of college and are back in Lima. (Hey, it happens.) Blaine (Darren Criss) and Rachel meet up at a coffee shop (where former Principal Figgins now works), and Blaine fills Rachel (and us) in on what's happened over the last few months: He and Kurt (Chris Colfer) have broken up, he's back in Ohio to recuperate and has a job at his former Dalton Academy where he is now coach for the Warblers.
Swearing to "turn these lemons into lemonade," the two friends sing a truncated "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors and they're winsome enough to make the added riffing work.
Back at William McKinley High School, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is now "America's Winningest Principal," thanks to only serving kale in the cafeteria, body-shaming anyone she deems overweight, "and, occasionally, releasing the hounds." (Those are literal hounds, of course, actually running through the halls.) The former choir room has been converted to a computer lab, and Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) has left William McKinley High School and is now the coach for—gasp—Vocal Adrenaline, New Directions' biggest enemy. (I predict a major showdown for Sectionals.)
Back in New York, Kurt is in his third year at NYADA (wait, did we skip a year somehow? I'm confused.), and is seeking a new boyfriend on Tinder and through speed-dating. One of the speed-dates (who claims to be psychic) deduces that Kurt isn't over Blaine. Well, yeah, who would be?
Rachel visits Dalton to hear the Warblers sing, and they perform "Sing" by Ed Sheeran (not Ed Kleban? Oh, wait, they did that in Season Two.) (Also, I don't see Telly Leung in the Warblers anymore. If Wes is gone from the group, I'm out.) Back at McKinley, she watches Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) yell at football players, and chats with everyone's favorite Trouty Mouth, Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet), who is now the assistant coach. Rachel snaps at a football player for making a homophobic crack, but it turns out that the student, Spencer, is actually gay himself. "I'm kind of a post-modern gay teen," he explains. "You see, positive representations of gays in the mass media has given me the confidence I need to be myself...which, it turns out, is kind of an arrogant jerk." Heh.
Inside, she confronts Principal Sue Sylvester about cutting all the arts funding at the school, but Sue declares that as long as she's in charge, William McKinley High School will never have a Glee Club again.
Flashback time! We see how Kurt and Blaine broke up, fighting about their planned wedding until Kurt finally admits that he doesn't want to be married and that they should break up. Criss just nails this scene, by the way--he's utterly heartbreaking as he asks if something he did ended Kurt's love for him, and the transition on his face from stunned and wounded to furious is really fantastic. In the present, Kurt runs out on a date before it begins. Any guesses where he's heading?
Hey, there's Tony-nominee Matthew Morrison, dancing and being adorable for his and Emma's (Jayma Mays') son! Baby Danny Finn (aww) gets some expo for us: Coaching Vocal Adrenaline is decidedly different from New Directions, especially since they don't sing any Journey songs. Instead, they're focused on precision choreography. "What I need to know is if I'm crazy to have the entire team do a synchronized backflip," Will wonders to his son, and then looks right into the camera. "A five, six, seven, eight," he yells.
And, no, they don't go into the opening number of A Chorus Line. (Damn you for teasing us like that, show!) Instead, they do an uptempo rock number (Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away"...seriously, why wasn't it "I Hope I Get It?") that doesn't last very long. The students leave the stage and Will and Rachel reunite so Rachel can kvetch more about her failed career. (It's been months, Rachel. Also? You're 20. As Sondheim said, move on.) Trying to cheer her up, Will finds an interesting metaphor: "Have you ever seen a guy shoot a bow-and-arrow?" he asks. "The power is created by the bending of the bow. So the more the bow bends, the more potential energy is created. Life's challenges are just the bending of the bow. Think about it: The bigger the challenge, the more the bow bends, the more potential you create to do something amazing... Find the arrow that you're going to put in that bow." "The bow didn't just bend," Rachel replies. "It broke." And we break for commercial on that somber note.
Staging an intervention, Will, Blaine, Sam and Brian Stokes Mitchell (swoon) all gather together to watch Rachel's flop TV series, "That's So Rachel," which includes a painful laugh track and stand-ins for Kurt, Mercedes (Amber Riley), Brittany (Heather Morris) and Artie (Kevin McHale). (Artie's stand-in is Carrot Top, which is either brilliant or painful; I'm not sure which.) Rachel goes to the district superintendent and offers to donate her ill-earned money from the TV show to the school if McKinley will re-start the Glee Club. The superintendent agrees, on the condition that Rachel runs the club.
Coming home, Rachel finds Kurt sitting on her bed. "Hey, Rachel." They hug, saying nothing else, and it's genuinely sweet.
Later, the two catch up. Kurt felt lonely in New York without his friends and Blaine (and, for some reason, he doesn't sing "Lonely Town" at this point, which just makes no sense), so he's back to reconnect. He and Rachel head back to their high school and help to turn the computer lab back into a choir room. They chat with the tech kids as the computers are rolled away. "In the past, the Glee Club and the AV Club had friendly relations, and we plan to keep that intact!" Rachel calls out to the students. "And we promise to learn your names," Kurt adds. "And that goes for the band, too!" Well, it's about time Brad Ellis got some recognition! Sue drops a fruit smoothie on the floor as she stalks into the room. Rachel gleefully (ha!) brags that she went over Sue's head to get permission to restart the Glee Club.
Furthermore, Kurt will be co-running the club as part of his NYADA work-study program. (At least one of the graduates is still in college.) "I have to admit I'm surprised at the speed with which two of the Glee Club's more promising graduates have tucked their tails between their legs and slinked back to high school," Sue says, speaking for much of the audience. Reminding the co-coaches (and us) about Rachel's tirade against Sue last season, Sue swears vengeance (again): "I will show you no mercy, give no quarter, and my battle with Will Schuester will look like two adorable little baby pandas play-wrestling in comparison to what I am going to unleash on both of you. You will beg for death, but it will not come." Aww, Jane Lynch, you're the best. Seriously. Why couldn't you play Miss Hannigan in the Annie movie? Kurt and Blaine reunite at a Lima gay bar, and Kurt tells Blaine of his plans to get Blaine back. But—gasp—Blaine has moved on and is seeing someone. And—GASP—it's Dave Karofsky, the closeted bully who made Kurt's life hell before transferring to another school and attempting suicide when he was outed. Struggling to keep a smile going, Kurt flees to the bathroom and collapses in tears, and if Chris Colfer doesn't come to Broadway IMMEDIATELY when this show wraps, there is no justice in the world. Can't we get a revival of Next to Normal for him? (I mean, if The Color Purple can be revived every two years or so, why not a Pulitzer-winner?)
Rachel sets up shop in Will's old office, and Will comes by to remind her that she'll be competing with both the Warblers and Vocal Adrenaline at Sectionals. (Well, yeah, didn't he see my prediction a few paragraphs ago?) "I think you're gonna like it here," he says, and instead of segueing into the song from Annie, Rachel begins singing "Let It Go" from "Frozen"--a nice in-joke considering who played her biological mother on the show. And she sings it very nicely, alternating between walking down the hallway with lockers flying open as she passes and standing (in Elsa's blue dress, no less) on the school stage, belting to the rafters. Hey, it may not technically be a showtune (yet), but it's written by the youngest EGOT winner in history, so it works.
"Loser Like Me" (Air date Jan. 9, 2015)
Special Guest Star
Brian Stokes Mitchell as LeRoy Berry
"Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors (Lea Michele & Darren Criss)
"Let it Go" from "Frozen" (Lea Michele)
"Sing" by Ed Sheeran (Darren Criss & the Warblers)
"Uninvited" by Alanis Morissette (Lea Michele)
"Dance the Night Away" by Van Halen (Vocal Adrenaline)
Watch the episode at fox.com/glee