Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Glee: "Grilled Cheesus"

I don't think I need to put this in front of every one of these posts, so here it is, you've been warned:
That was unexpected.
I've mentioned before that Glee has had inconsistency problems in the past, and tonight's violent tonal shift compared to the season's first two episodes. Kurt's dad suffers a heart attack, and as a result he and the rest of the glee club are exploring faith. Finn's is the most prominent subplot, as he accidentally burns his grilled cheese, in which an image of Jesus appears. Of course, Finn believes this is a direct line to God, and uses it to pray for, among other things, getting his quarterback position back and touching girlfriend Rachel's boobs. It doesn't do much to further the "Finn is dumb" caricature that he's carved out.
This episode really could have fallen into dangerous territory, particularly considering the topic of religion. But the episode also valiantly succeeds by presenting a discussion: there's no taking sides, no "this is right and everything else is wrong." Too often we see on television, even secular shows, the atheists are the bad guys and the believers (let's be PC and not call them Christians, but they always believe in a higher power) are the good guys who prevail in the end. Here we see a dialogue presenting compelling arguments for both sides, and letting neither prevail. Its a thin line to walk, but "Grilled Cheesus" walked it surprisingly well.
Glee's had a hard time at making real characters; most of them feel like caricatures and plot devices rather than real human beings. Even Sue Sylvester has little beyond her disabled sister (who returns in this episode) to suggest she's more than a raging wannabe-tyrant. But the one character that's evaded this fate, and indeed the show's best character, is Kurt. He gets an excellent story here, and Chris Colfer knocks it out of the park with his performance. He's a hardened atheist who, despite the efforts of others, doesn't care about religion; he just wants his dad to get better. That relationship is the show's sweetest, and Colfer honestly brought me to tears with his hospital scenes with his dad. This episode was certainly one of the show's finest, story-wise.
Which brings me to the problems I had with this episode (don't worry, there are only a few). The show is doing nothing to fix the fact that Rachel is devolving into an unlikable shrew, making her scenes with Finn especially hard to get through. Hopefully they'll fix this soon before she's too far gone. The musical selections in this episode were also a major issue: it seemed like they chose songs that had the word "God" or "faith" or some related word to them. I suppose that was to avoid alienating the audience with Christian music, but come on, there are better selections out there. And the closing number, with the glee club standing on stage in white outfits singing Joan Osborne's "One of Us" was a tacky way to end the episode. Surely there was something better?
That being said, Kurt's rendition of "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which turns the chipper Beatles song into a touching ballad, was nothing short of astonishing.
All in all, though, this was a stellar episode. But I take it with a grain of salt: I fear that next week's episode may be a spectacular letdown in comparison.
- Wit 'n' Wisdom of Sue Sylvester: "This country is not a monarchy. Believe me, I've tried."
- Still waiting to see where all the new kids fit in.


Kalli said...

I totally agree about Rachel. I don't know how Finn can stand her at all right now. She is way too needy! I didn't particularly care for the song choices either. Singing 'One of Us' was a bit too much. Although, I did enjoy 'I Want to Hold Your Hand.' I love the Beatles.

Jason H. said...

Rachel really needs more character development. She started off as a promising one, but now I don't know anyone who still likes her.

Speaking of Rachel, they mentioned her dads again in this episode. When are we actually going to see them? Wouldn't they be all over the glee club if they had such a talented daughter? And please can they be played by Taye Diggs and Sean Hayes?