Things are getting dramatic on Glee. I loved the first two episodes of season 3, and while “Asian F” has some fantastic plot developments and great moments for the characters, particularly Mercedes, it all feels a little too melodramatic for my taste. Luckily, unbelievably amazing performances from Brittany, Mercedes and, shockingly, Mike Chang help out a lot.
It’s All Over for Mercedes
The star of this week is Mercedes, who is having a hard time keeping up with Will’s insane booty camp schedule. She’s tired and nauseous, which is usually a TV red flag for a potential pregnancy, but I don’t think they’re going to do that. However, if Mercedes did give birth to a trouty-mouthed, white baby, that would be pretty funny.
Mercedes is sick and tired of being in Rachel’s shadow and, thanks to the support of her loving boyfriend, Mercedes nails her West Side Story audition and causes a sing-off for the role of Maria. Mercedes is encouraged and decides to stand up for herself against Rachel, but the result is that she alienates everyone in New Directions, as told through a remarkably poignant version of “It’s All Over” from Dreamgirls as Mercedes, in the role of Effie, feuds with her group.
In the end, Artie, Emma and Coach Beiste make the lamest decision ever and agree to double cast the role of Maria, letting both girls play her. Rachel quietly accepts it, but Mercedes is furious that everyone is so scared of hurting Rachel’s feelings, because even Rachel knows Mercedes was better than her. So Mercedes drops out, rushes over to Shelby Corcoran and offers to be the star power of the new, rival glee club. You go, girl! Breaking away from your old group to be a solo star is definitely a Beyonce move.
It turns out Kurt and Brittany are the only people running for president, which makes absolutely no sense since I’d assume whoever the junior class president was would run for the office in their senior year too, but whatever. Kurt inexplicable has an 11 percent lead, but Brittany changes it around with a sexy, amazing version of Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).” It’s definitely going to be one of my favorite songs of the year and as dumb as she is, Brittany makes some compelling and intelligent arguments for why she should win.
Sadly, when it looks like Mercedes would get Maria, Rachel decides that only alienating one of her friends isn’t good enough, so she tries to steal Kurt’s thunder by running for president as well. Is Glee trying to make Rachel this terrible? She’s like a 2-year-old girl who sees someone else playing with a toy and instantly demands that she should have it instead.
Mike Chang Wants to Dance (and Sing)
The title of this episode comes from the fact that Mike Chang gets an A- on a chemistry test, which is an “Asian F.” His father, a serious man who wants Mike to get into Harvard, encourages him to dump Tina, quit the glee club and focus on academics. But Mike loves to dance, and luckily his mother supports him. It’s sweet, but the cliche of it all reminds me of a Hallmark Channel original movie. I half expected Mike Chang to bust out a Varsity Blues reference and tell his father, “I don’t want your life!”
A surprisingly moving moment in a dance studio leads Mike Chang to follow his dreams by auditioning for West Side Story, and in the most shocking moment ever, he’s actually turned into a pretty decent singer. Congratulations, Glee, you’ve just managed to make him even sexier.
The West Side Story Cast
Artie posts the cast list, and in this production there appear to be no Sharks because they only reveal five people in the show. Rachel is Maria, Blaine is Tony (possibly reigniting some of her old feelings for him), Santana is Anita, Mike is Riff and Kurt is Officer Krupke. I’m definitely excited to see Santana working with Rachel and a possible Blaine-Mike bromance coming from this. I also wish Rachel would take a cue from Kurt and step aside humbly when someone is better than her, like Kurt did by supporting Blaine getting cast as Tony.
Emma’s Origin Story
As if there wasn’t enough drama crammed into this episode, Will also invites Emma’s parents to dinner and we learn that they’re ginger supremacists whose fear and hatred of non-redheads may have caused Emma’s O.C.D. The episode ends with an apparent catharsis as Will and Emma pray for strength, but the whole thing comes out of nowhere and doesn’t really make any sense to me. I wish Glee would treat Emma’s O.C.D. like a quirky character trait (a la Monk) instead of like a life-threatening illness, which is how that scene felt.
“Spotlight” (Jennifer Hudson) by Mercedes: This was a pointed song about Mercedes wanting to break through and was a great display of her voice.
“Run the World (Girls)” (Beyonce) by Brittany: From the message to the dancing to the singing, this was unbelievably superb, easily my favorite performance of the entire season. I was ready to vote for Brittany after it was done.
“Cool” (from West Side Story) by Mike: Holy crap, Mike Chang can sing! That was the guy’s only flaw, but now that he has a decent voice, there’s no stopping him. Mike Chang is the total package.
“It’s All Over” (from Dreamgirls) by Mercedes and New Directions: Usually Glee does songs separate from the story, but this was like a real musical, using a song to let the characters interact and drive home the story of Mercedes fracturing from New Directions. Plus, we got to hear MORE from Mike Chang, which made it excellent.
“Out Here on My Own” (from Fame) by Rachel and Mercedes: These two divas have competed before, but this time it was for real, and as Rachel admitted, Mercedes clearly won.
“Fix You” (Coldplay) by Will: In the vein of “Hallelujah” and “Imagine,” this is one of those emotionally manipulative songs that makes anything sadder and seem more important than it is. Still, anytime Will sings without rapping or being creepy (see: “Gold Digger” and “Toxic”), it’s a victory.
Glee is taking a small break due to baseball, but it returns Tuesday, November 1 with the arrival of The Glee Project winner Damian McGinty as Irish exchange student Rory Flanagan. It should be magically delicious.
(Image courtesy of FOX)