Thursday, October 1, 2009

Glee 1.05: "The Rhodes Not Taken"

“I'm pretty sure it wasn't a fake ID because he looks like an eleven-year-old German milkmaid.”


I loved this week’s episode of Glee, mostly because I’m a huge fan of Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth guest stared as April Rhodes, a washed-up, has-been alcoholic former McKinley High student, and she provided plenty of comedy and beautiful singing. In fact, the musical performances overall were really a highlight this week, as opposed to last week, where the emphasis was more on moving the story forward.

At the beginning of this week’s episode, Rachel has still quit Glee Club to be in Cabaret. Will needs to make sure that the Glee Club still has a shot at Regionals, despite their star’s departure, so he indulges in a little high school fantasy. He looks up April Rhodes, who was a senior when he was a freshman. Will claims that hearing April sing is what inspired him to join the Glee Club in the first place. It turns out that April has quite an online presence, so Will is easily able to find her. April agrees to meet with Will, and Will arrives at a fancy house in an upscale housing development. April greets him with a box of wine. That should have been Will’s first sign that something was up! It turns out that the house is actually just a random house on the market, and Will finds this out when a Realtor shows up with a couple considering buying the place. Will and April end up having a heart-to-heart on the curb outside the house, where April explains how after dropping out of school, she didn’t exactly make it to Broadway. More like Cleveland. Will suggests, since she only needs three more credits to graduate, that April return to McKinley High, take his Spanish class, and join New Directions.

One of my favorite scenes in this episode is when Will introduces April to the Glee Club. To win them over, April sings “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret at the same time that Rachel is rehearsing the same song for Sandy’s production. It’s an absolutely beautiful duet, and one of several wonderful musical moments in this episode. It takes more than the music to win over the other members of New Directions, however. For instance, April gives Kurt alcohol and vintage muscle magazines. Normally, I’d be horrified by this, but it leads to a hilarious scene where Kurt calls Emma (who happens to be a serious germaphobe) “Bambi” and vomits on her shoes. Poor thing had to get four showers at the emergency room just to feel clean again. I’m assuming Emma was at the ER because she took Kurt there- not just because she got vomit on her shoes…but you never know.

Emma has more of a part to play in this episode than just providing germaphobe humor. She calls Finn in for a meeting and alludes to the fact that she knows his girlfriend is pregnant. She reminds Finn that he can get more than just an athletic scholarship to college- there are music scholarships, too. To get one of those scholarships, though, New Directions is going to have to place well at Regionals, and Emma also reminds Finn that to do that, they need Rachel back. What Finn does next is something I never expected from him. He uses his knowledge that Rachel has feelings for him in an attempt to bring her back to the Glee Club. He offers to read lines from Cabaret with her, and he takes her out bowling. What makes this not quite as bad as it could have been, and the reason that I still think Finn is a decent guy, is the fact that they had a genuinely good time together. I think Finn, even if he started with an agenda of manipulation, does really reciprocate Rachel’s feelings. At the very least, he’s confused.

Unfortunately, just as Rachel is about to re-join the Glee Club, she hears Puck telling everyone that Quinn is pregnant and Finn is the father. Puck is certainly being passive aggressive in showing his displeasure at Quinn’s decision that Puck shouldn’t be a part of the baby’s life. Rachel gives Finn a good slap. Which he probably deserved. For being wishy washy, if nothing else. She goes back to Cabaret, where she gets yelled at constantly by Sandy. What’s kind of strange is that Sandy is treating Rachel so horribly because he wants Rachel’s part for himself. I guess you can chalk that up to Sandy just being strange and creepy overall.

Emma keeps trying to convince Will that keeping April around the Glee Club is just a bad idea. I’m not sure if this is because she is genuinely concerned for the kids (she probably is, to a point), or because she is jealous of all the time Will and April are spending together. Either way, she’s right. I adore watching Kristin Chenoweth, and April is a funny character, but she needed to go! New Directions has an evening performance, one of their first chances to really show what they’ve got, and April is the star. Everybody is dressed in cowboy gear for a Carrie Underwood song. April is wearing a bright pink costume compared to everyone else’s black costumes, and the spotlight is always on her. New Directions gets a standing ovation. During the intermission, however, April realizes that it’s the kids’ turn to shine, not hers. She had her chance at high school. She’s off to bigger and better things- maybe Branson.

After some cooling off time (and more abuse from Sandy), Rachel has learned her lesson. She approaches the Glee Club while they’re still back stage and offers to be April’s “understudy.” The group, with a little prodding from Finn, reluctantly accepts her offer, and they go on to do an amazing rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” One might argue that Rachel hasn’t really learned much of a lesson- she got a solo. I think, however, that even calling herself an “understudy” was a big step. Rachel is acknowledging that she’s not always going to be the star.

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