'Glee' Season 2, Episode 3 Recap (VIDEO)
by Joel Keller, posted Oct 6th 2010 1:00AM
['Glee' - 'Grilled Cheesus']
Last week, I wanted 'Glee' to get back to some of the storytelling that made the show interesting in its first season. Well, this week, there was more stroytelling than you could shake a stick at. And, you know what? It made for one of the more compelling episodes of the show I've seen quite awhile.
Right as I started writing this review, I realized that when I see a good story on this show, it usually involves Kurt and his dad. Sure, there have been other strong episodes involving the rest of the gang. But it's hard to deny that Kurt is the most three-dimensional character on the show, and whenever we see Chris Colfer and Mike O'Malley on the screen together, you know you're in for a good story. And tonight didn't disappoint.
Why can't Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan do this more often? There seemed to be plenty of time for singing and dancing in this episode -- well, mostly singing, but I'll get to that in a bit -- as well as telling a pretty powerful story about faith, why people believe or don't believe in God, what the line is when teaching religion and spirituality in the public schools, and how a defective George Foreman grill can make a perfect likeness of Jesus on a grilled cheese.
Was the subject matter and how it was treated as explosive as some of the hype for the episode promised? Not really. It was a simple exploration of what different people believe, even when they're in high school. Kurt could have been a bit more sensitive about his atheism -- at one point he mocked the concept of God as being the same as believing in a creature that shot lasers out of its boobs, and at another point he called his religious classmates "mental patients" -- but you have to cut him a bit of slack. Burt, the only family he has, was lying in a hospital bed in a coma.
What struck me about the episode was about how balanced it was. The power of prayer and a belief in God, Jesus, or both were given as much voice as both Sue's and Kurt's atheism. We also got the grey areas of faith, where you don't have to be religious or believe in God, but you can still accept the prayers of people who are looking out for you and your loved ones. And, in Finn's silly but funny worship of the Grilled Cheesus, we got the other side of religion, where people pray for good things to happen to them, and when they do, they start to get a little greedy.
The relationship between Kurt and Burt is the most real one on the show, one that's been developed so well by the writers, we're rooting for the two of them as they struggle to keep their tiny family together. Which is why it's such an emotional gut-punch to see him lying there in a coma. Even though most of the songs in the episode held little emotional resonance -- yes, even Lea Michele's rendition of Streisand's 'Papa, Can You Hear Me?' -- Colfer's performance of the slow, melancholy arrangement of 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' worked because you bought into the fact that Kurt was singing the song with a broken heart.
Also refreshing: the fact that Burt didn't just wake up as Kurt recalled their first Friday night dinner after his mother died. If this were 'Grey's Anatomy,' he'd be cracking jokes within a minute of waking up and doing brake jobs within a week. But this hewed closer to reality; he responded to either the prayer or the acupuncture or Kurt's belief in him by moving his fingers a tiny bit. It's going to be a long road back for Burt, and it'll be interesting to see how Kurt struggles with taking care of his dad instead of the other way around.
More points of interest:
-- Puck's desire to only perform songs by Jewish artists led to a pretty toothless rendition of Billy Joel's 'Only the Good Die Young.' And considering it's a song about a guy wishing his girl wasn't such a Catholic prude, I'm surprised Kurt was so turned off by it.
-- Sue's speech to Emma about why she doesn't believe in God, which revolved around her prayers that people would stop making fun of her older sister -- showed us Sue's human side again, which I'd love to see more of. I just wish Sue didn't veer from human to cartoon and back every week, just to service whatever plot the writers came up with for a particular episode.
-- What seems to happen on the show is that the more story there is, the less dancing there is. Last week's Britney Spears episode was a dance-a-thon but had very little story, while this week there wasn't even much dancing in the staged rehearsal of 'One Of Us' at the end. Is it possible for the show to strike a consistent balance between story, music, and dancing?
-- Brittany line of the night (paraphrased): "I heard your father had a heart attack. I did a report on heart attacks, so you can show this to everyone at the hospital. It was knocked down a grade because it was done in crayon."
-- Who was the kid they got to play young Kurt in his flashbacks? He looked exactly like a young Colfer.
'Glee' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on FOX.
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