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'Glee' Recap: Putting it Together

So, it's early days and all, but this move to New York seems like a good move for the show. By cutting the cast in half and not having to cram so much story in, Glee has some actual focus now! They use it wisely in a Sondheim-heavy episode about acceptance that tackles some serious issues, but also makes time for some standard Glee snark like summing up '80s TV classic The Facts of Life as "That Lesbian Show About Weed." Heh.

Children Won't Listen
What Now? Rachel's in tech (Smash fans, that's your cue to giggle!) for Funny Girl, but it's the same week as her NYADA finals. She finagles a way to do her exam performance, but stupidly invites Blaine to duet with her, and Dean Whoopi Goldberg is not here for that, nuh uh. She flunks them both, but then reconsiders and says she'll let them reschedule solo exams. When Rachel tries to explain her busy schedule, Whoopi tells her tough noogies and that she has to make a choice. Worse, she doesn't think Rachel's ready for Broadway. So Rachel quits NYADA. When Kurt questions whether that's the best idea, she accuses him of not being strong enough to take a risk and leave the safe bubble of NYADA like she has. 
Song-and-dance numbers? Whatever Whoopi! I would've given Blaineberry top marks for their Sondheim duet Broadway Baby
But how offensive is it? Rachel gets a bit diva-ish and obnoxious with Kurt, but it's pretty short-lived (and clearly done to set up his own storyline issues). And as for choosing her dream job on Broadway over two more years of college? I say, rock on, Rachel. I'm sure she'll regret it on the show because that's the way things work on TV, but in real life, who's going to give up PLAYING FANNY BRICE ON BROADWAY so they can attend core workshops at 8am? NO ONE, that's who. She can take some classes at the New School on Monday nights!  

Samcedes Returns!
What Now? Despite what she said last week, some late night TV watching leads to makeout sessions and under-the-table footsie and a hesitant secret relationship for Mercedes and Sam. Turns out the Divine Miss M is all kinds of unsure about dating Sam, not because he's a moron, but because he's a white moron, especially after he meets her black backup singer/friends and pretty much hits all the points on the Stupid Shit White People Ask Black Folk list. There is a list, right? They're amazingly pretty cool with Sam's ignorance and admit he seems like a nice guy, but point out that the black women and men she wants to buy her album won't be thrilled that she's dating a white guy. Mercedes backs off the relationship, but eventually comes to realize that not dating Sam just because he's white is just as bad as not wanting to be friends with someone who's gay.
Song-and-dance numbers? For only the second time ever, Glee incorporates an original song into the show and lets Amber Riley sing the lovely "Colorblind," a single off her own recently released album. She also slays some Aretha and belts out "Natural Woman." 
But how offensive is it?
That dinner scene with the friends is painful. Seriously, he compliments the girls' "natural-looking" hair (and asks if it's a weave) and makes fun of their names as something only black people would name their kids. It's purposely that bad to make a point, but man, if I were Mercedes' friends, I'd be a lot less nice about Sam afterwards.

Assault in the Battery
What Now? The show tackles Manhattan's recent real-life rise in gay bashing with a storyline that explores the issue. They cheat a little bit at first with a "friend of a neighbor" who was attacked previously, but later Kurt, wanting to take a risk and stand for something, interrupts a bashing in progress and gets beaten up himself. Everyone's worried, especially his dad who just doesn't understand how he could interfere in a dangerous situation like this, but he's okay (and surprisingly, so is the neighbor's friend in the end) and he's proud to have stood up against homophobia. 
Song-and-dance numbers? It's a trifecta of Sondheim! The cast does a beautiful, soft rendition of "No One is Alone" from Into the Woods at the beginning of the hour, and protective Blaine sings a bit of "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd at Kurt's hospital bedside (it even starts out as non-autotuned/recorded). The capper is a triumphant rendition of "I'm Still Here" from Follies for Kurt's own NYADA exam.
But how offensive is it? The gay-bashing is terrible, but it's appropriately framed and handled as such! Glee often has taken these kinds of hot button issues and executed them in a...well, tacky and gross way, but they use a lot of restraint here to make this a subtle and personal growing moment for Kurt. It's not about others' hatred so much as his own courage and pride and willingness to step up for what he believes in and to protect others. Well done, show. Well done. 

Next week, Artie does something positively shocking! But we have no idea what it is from the vague preview! Make your best guesses in the comments.

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