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'Glee' Season 2, Episode 3 Recap (VIDEO)

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 6th 2010 1:00AM

Kurt worries about his dad in 'Glee' - 'Grilled Cheesus' on FOX['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.

@joelkeller on Twitter.)

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I agree with most of your points, wulfn1. The problem I have with dogmatic, organized religions is when they start insisting that their beliefs should be turned into laws that everyone has to follow. They are perfectly welcome to follow their beliefs among themselves, but demanding that specific behaviors they object to should not be legal for those that follow religions with different beliefs them is un-American.

As to the candle in the hospital room, there are far more outrageous variations from how the real world works on this show (like musicians that have every song ever written memorized, and people who can improvise four part harmony with perfectly synchronized choreography).

October 07 2010 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One big issue I had with the show that hasn't been voiced already:

Lit candle in the hospital room? REALLY ???
What were they thinking?

re: fantasy land school set in America. I would have had more respect for the whole theme if they tried to tie it up in the end with tolerance of other's religious points of view and acceptance that a person's religious belief is part of that person. Instead they pitted the athiest against the christian and hebrew religion. The brief mention of the siik(sp?) religion was the only thing outside of the "big three". (and what was with that,it was like he was saying "I'm bringing in someone of eastern religion for the benefits this part of their religion can give my father, but I reject all religion"

One thing that is never addressed both in reality and in this fantasy America, is tolerance for others in their religious beliefs. The lesson that was taught here wasn't tolerate others, it was if there's an athiest in the room everyone has to walk on eggshells. The brief visit to church for the athiest where he acknowledged the strength that fellowship has on a person was the closest they came to broaching the subject of accepting another's beliefs as a part of that person instead of trashing them because you don't believe as they do. (that goes for the big religions too, accepting a person who believes that any God doesn't exist as a part of that person.)

October 06 2010 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What's wrong with pointing out the truth about religion?

People who believe in "god" and all that crap that every religion makes up ARE mentally ill. Just because so many people have fallen for these cults doesn't mean that those people don't all have something wrong with them mentally.

After all, what possible evidence do we have for all that stuff that has been made up and called "religion" over the years? Why is believing in a Flying Spaghetti Monster any more insane than believing that Jesus and his VIRGIN MOTHER (wow, do people actually believe this BS?) listen to the prayers of 1,000,000,000+ people and actually answer them?

People who say that "god spoke to me" should immediately be locked up for Schizophrenia.

This episode was incredibly hard to sit through (on Hulu at work, where I skip past the painful musical numbers...the show's plot can actually be entertaining a lot of the time, but not this episode) and it was simply the worst episode of the series so far.

October 06 2010 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Dan's comment

Although I more or less agree with your religious views dan6pitcher (all it takes is realizing that the followers of every one of the radically different religions on Earth are equally fervent and sincere in their conviction that they have the only correct answer), I reached a very different conclusion about the episode. When I first heard about the theme, I was worried that it would be very one-sided, but I feel that it covered most of the spectrum of issues about religion in a very even-handed way while telling a compelling story.

I particularly like the way it contrasted Finn's purely selfish prayers (which is what I think the public prayers of all athletes are when they imagine that a supreme spiritual being would care if they become a sports hero or not) against those of others who were only praying for Kurt's dad.

October 06 2010 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dan-it also doesn't mean that all those people that believe in God are wrong either. You want to whine that they have no proof that God exists, well, what proof do you have that there isn't a higher being?

Honestly, I am not a fan of organized religion. I don't need to tithe to prove I am a good person, and I know too many hypocrites that see regular church attendance as a way to 'absolve' them of their transgressions. On the other hand, your statements, frankly, are pretty nasty, and I think you missed the whole point of the show...tolerance comes in many shapes and forms...why don't you learn some?

October 06 2010 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Couchtime With Jill

I liked the Britney episode, and actually predicted that it would be followed up by some heavier stuff. That's what I like about Glee, the variety.

@Tricia - The heart attack story wouldn't have been as compelling if it happened to any of the other kids because we know Kurt's dad the best. We know that relationship the best. And things have happened to the other kids, too. Quinn's parents kicked her out, Finn doesn't have a dad, Rachel has two dads, Artie's paralyzed. Kurt's not the only one with a rough life.

Check out my full review of the episode at www.couchtimewithjill.com

October 06 2010 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Couchtime With Jill's comment

I agree that the others have it rough too, but can we SEE some of that?

October 06 2010 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoyed the episode, but I'm kind of annoyed that all the intense stuff happens to Kurt. It's like the writers are interested in showing Cofer's acting ability and his alone. I really want the chance to see some of the rest of the cast show some chops. How much can happen to one kid?

October 06 2010 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tricia's comment

i kind of agree with you and i think it's a bit lazy of the writers. it's easy to develop the character of a gay kid in high school in the Glee club. really easy.

October 06 2010 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Papa can uou hear me was sung near perfection. I wanna hold you hand well not as tecinically sound did of couse have the emional storyline ot help it.

These after school special epsidoe don't do much of rme.

The Finn/Rachel scene were the onlything funny and woth wathicng.

October 06 2010 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
William Whitaker

This OC 13yo played the 8yo version of Kurt, read this article... Great story! :)


October 06 2010 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i smelled that song from Yentl from the time Kurt first saw his father in the hospital bed. all the songs were fitting this episode, although Kurt's behavior did turn me off a bit.

October 06 2010 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kurt is SO hard to care for, he is the single most selfish person on the show!! I care more for his father then I do for him! At the end when he realized this whole thing wasn't about him I didn't care! Big whoop! It was to late! I did like the music this week, the grilled chesus was brilliant!! All in all good episode...could have been better with a little less whining from Kurt!

October 06 2010 at 9:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Beth's comment

The worst part (aside from some of the bland music choices) was that they got it wrong. School choirs are not forbidden from singing religious music. Thus, it mis-represented atheists as well as making every religious person look ridiculous. If you're going to tackle a topic like religion in schools, try to get it right.

October 06 2010 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jude's comment

Jude, I could be wrong so mind you this is only my opinion, but I think the show actually DID address the way Sue handled the club singing religious music when Emma confronted her. Schu also tried to point out that Sue was wrong when they were talking to the principal. I think that whole idea of schools not being allowed to do this was put in there for a reason, and I do think they tried to address the inconsistency in Sue's argument.

October 06 2010 at 8:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Glee" is not reality...if it was, William McKinley High School would be shuttered in a hot minute. The world of "Glee" is fantasy, one in which the absurd is the norm. To suddenly knock it because it doesn't prescribe to reality is unfair - in it's outlandishness, the show attempts to expose some truths. Cut the makers of "Glee" some slack.

October 06 2010 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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