There was definitely a lot happening in this week's episode of Glee. The main stories focused on Mercedes, in yet another bid for Rachel's metaphorical glee club queen crown, and Mike Chang, as he grappled with the conflict between his love of dancing and his parent's more intellectual expectations for him. It's like the show directly responded to my entreaty last week to give the characters of color something to do! In addition to those main plots, Will and Emma dealt with her parents and her OCD, and Kurt, Rachel, and Brittany found themselves enmeshed in the now intense battle for senior class president. As there was a lot to each story, I'll give opinions on each:
I am very happy to see Mercedes doing things. Even though she has definitely challenged Rachel for the spotlight before, it was great to watch her call Will out for constantly babying Rachel, and to have her say what is and will continue to be true: she's just as good as Rachel. In every song she performed last night, Mercedes proved that she has the stage presence, charisma, and pipes to really compete with Rachel, not as a feeble reminder that Rachel maybe, possibly shouldn't be the perpetual center of glee club, but as a star in her own right. I like that Mercedes' boyfriend makes a point to tell her that she is special, and that just because Rachel is cute and little and accustomed to the spotlight, by no means should it continue to be hers, no questions asked. And while I may be coming off slightly too pro-Mercedes, I think this conflict is good for the show, because it questions the very platform upon which much of the show has rested: that Rachel is the real star. In addition to that, I think it's nice to have someone else be the focus, especially someone as fun to watch as Amber Riley. And, though the show insinuated that Mercedes is wrong to attempt to grab some of the attention for herself, I think there was enough great Mercedes moments, and dubious Rachel moments, to make it easy for viewers to back Mercedes up in her bid for stardom.
This episode was also filled with Mike Chang angst, which may be some of my favorite angst ever. It turns out Mike is a real superstar, juggling perfect grades with football, glee club, and a great girlfriend. Except that with the addition of Booty Camp, Mike's grades have slipped (one A -. Or, as the show continuously pointed out, an Asian F.) This episode had a number of dicey Asian stereotypes, but I think the fact that the character of Mike Chang was given so much time, and clearly a little bit of effort, resulted in some good development, and really enjoyable scenes. I really wanted him to be able to dance, and I loved watching him work it out, interact with his mom, and finally get the part, which he definitely deserved. Harry Shum, while obviously an awesome dancer, also did a great job last night as an empathetic and relatable high school kid, and I was really impressed.
Not a whole lot really happened in the Kurt-Brittany plot tonight, aside from the amazing performance of Beyonce's "Run the World" by Heather Morris and the glee club girls and the rest of the entire female population of the school. Heather Morris is awesome, and that was definitely of my favorites of the musical numbers in this episode. Kurt realized he may have a really hard time in this competition, and then Rachel realized she also wants to run, because either she needs more activities on her resume or because she wants to change the world. I am unsure about this last development, and actually found it kind of silly, because I don't understand why Rachel would do this, or why she'd ever think she could win. So I guess we'll see with that.
Finally, Will and Emma dealt with the fact that her parents are ginger-supremacists, which led to the development of her OCD. I thought it was great to finally understand the root of her problem, and I found the emotional end when Will realized how much he couldn't really help her really moving and interesting. However, the ginger-supremacy stuff was too silly. It was hard to take seriously all the other, important stuff, when the story revolved around her parents' obsession with the preservation of ginger-ness.
Overall, much better, Glee! Fix the problems of a little too much going on, general silliness, and strange character moves, and actually stand behind Mercedes for once, and you might actually be a good show. Oh, and please cut down on the stereotypes. Thanks! See you next week.
-Mike Chang's angst dance was the best thing possibly ever.
-I love Dreamgirls, so I was of course delighted to see and hear Effie's song, but wasn't that a bit obvious? Also, always at that point in the show I think, "˜but"¦Effie's right! She's got the better voice, and Deena's just prettier.' So if Glee was trying to dissuade me from sympathizing with Mercedes, that was a poor choice.
-I wish Will would come up with better motivational statements, in general.
-I really enjoyed the musical numbers from this episode.
-We'll see what happens with Mercedes and alt-Glee. People come and go from the New Directions so often. I kind of wish I had a tally of the actual number of times people left, were kicked out, had to choose between Glee and other things, or were threatened never to be allowed again. The number would be very high.