Last night, "Glee" went unplugged--literally and metaphorically.
I've been down about "Glee" season 4 for awhile, but since last week, the show has finally started to find itself again. As Rachel (Lea Michele) reminded us, "Don't Stop Believing" (in "Glee").
Last night's episode, "Lights Out" could have gone either way, given the subject matters. This show tends to be very hit or miss when it comes to "very special" messages. But this week, "Glee" brought home all the important points without being too overwrought or heavy-handed.
Last night's episode was refreshingly honest and understated. There was just the right balance of humor and heart.
Santana Finds Herself 'At The Ballet'
Santana (Naya Rivera) found herself working as a cage dancer at a lesbian bar and struggling to find direction.
Thankfully, Fairy Godmother Isabelle (Sarah Jessica Parker) came to the rescue with invitations to attend the New York City Ballet Gala. While Rachel and Kurt (Chris Colfer) eagerly reminisced about their childhood ballet classes, Santana tuned out, referring to Rachel as TV's Blossom (Mayim Bialik) and Kurt as Lady Elaine Fairchilde.
However, once they arrived at the gala, Santana confessed that she too had fond memories of ballet class. It was the one place where she felt safe, and was not made to feel "different." Santana realized that although her dreams were not like those of Rachel or Kurt, she did love to dance.
Santana decided to enroll in dance classes at the NYADA extension division. On her first day of class, she saw a vision of herself as a little girl. Santana hugged her inner child and told her, "I won't forget you again." For a softer character like Rachel, that moment could have become sickly sentimental, but for a harder character like Santana, it worked.
It was nice to see a rare moment of vulnerability from Santana. This week, her story line had just the right balance of sweetness and snark.
Sue Is Tired Of 'Little Girls'
Speaking of little girls, Sue (Jane Lynch) has moved on since losing her job at McKinley. Instead of coaching ungrateful teenage head cases (to whom she devoted "95 years"), she's moved on to teaching high-end aerobics, dishing out "top-tier abuse to trophy wives and self-hating single women."
Becky (Lauren Potter) approached her former mentor and begged her to come back. However, in a dazzling performance of "Little Girls," Sue made it clear that she had moved on. We'll see how long this lasts.
Not feeling Roz Washington (NeNe Leakes) as the new Cheerios coach, Becky decided to come clean to Figgins (Iqbal Theba) about what really happened during the school shooting. Sue had taken the fall in order to protect her.
Ryder's (Blake Jenner) Manti Te'o catfishing saga remains unresolved. As it turns out, there was more at stake than the desire to learn the identity of his internet mystery girl. Over the course of their conversations, he revealed a deep dark secret, and he wasn't sure if he could trust her not to spill the beans.
Jake (Jacob Artist) wondered why Ryder would choose to confide in an internet stranger instead of his real-life friends.
Meanwhile, a power outage had occurred at McKinley, leading Will (Matthew Morrison) to declare this week's lesson, "Unplugged."
Sam (Chord Overstreet) kicked off the lesson with a stripped-down (emotionally, not physically!) performance of The Righteous Brothers', "You Lost That Lovin' Feelin." Artie (Kevin McHale) struggled at having to perform without his synth. However, after being inspired by the sound of an empty water bottle, he inspired the glee club to perform Queen's "We Will Rock You," accompanied by trash can lids. They don't need electronics to make music!
Sam seemed to be sending a "very special" message, by reminding us to turn off the computers, the phones, and the social networking, and to learn to appreciate what's in front of us. How ironic was it that right after Sam's speech, FOX forwarded to a commercial featuring Sue and Kitty (Becca Tobin) promoting T-Mobile's Glee-PS?
Wanting to preempt his mystery person, Ryder decided it was time to reveal his secret to the glee club. After an honest performance of "Everybody Hurts," he revealed that his babysitter had molested him when he was 11, and that he had trouble trusting girls since then.
However, the response from the guys was less than sympathetic. They commented that it was every teenage boy's dream to have a hot older chick play with his "junk." They also congratulated him for having "game" and didn't understand why he was so ashamed.
I'm glad that "Glee" decided to show this realistic reaction from the guys. There still seems to be a double standard when it comes to sexual abuse. When a man does it, he's a predator, but when a woman does it, it's seen as a badge of honor.
Ryder found an unlikely friend in Kitty. After asking him out to dinner, she revealed that she too had been sexually abused, by her childhood friend's older brother. While this could have turned into a heavy-handed "very special" speech about how you're "not alone," they were able to lighten the mood with Kitty's self-deprecating jokes about the "teeth" and "barbs" in her vag.
I am loving the bond between Ryder and Kitty. Blake is really proving himself as a believable actor, while Kitty's character is turning out to be surprisingly complex and multi-faceted.
These new kids are actually starting to grow on me. If they could just get rid of Marley (Melissa Benoist) and Unique (Alex Newell), I'd be okay with keeping the newbies around.
Ryder seems to be torn between his real-life connection to Kitty and his online connection to "Katie." I'm hoping he decides to ditch this internet train wreck and turn off that computer.
In next week's preview, Blaine (Darren Criss) contemplates proposing to Kurt. Really? Last I checked, they were still broken up (due to Blaine cheating on him), and Kurt was dating Adam (Oliver Kieran Jones). We'll also see the return of Rachel Vs. Cassandra (Kate Hudson).
Meanwhile, regionals are coming up, and Frida Romero (Jessica Sanchez) of the Hoosier Daddies will provide New Directions with some stiff competition.
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