1
Oct
2009
Glee: Season 1, Episode 5
The Rhodes Not Taken
Jordan
Considering the fact that she's a woman of unending mirth, capable of getting across a subtle defeat and sadness with a history on Broadway and a stellar voice, it's no surprise that Kristen Chenowith ended up on Glee. In fact, if I had to make a list of my top five dream guest stars for this show, she would likely have been on it (Victor Garber may also have made that list. I just hope he returns to show off his voice at some point). And when she did appear, to no one's surprise, she knocked it out of the park.

Chenowith's last television role (not counting her brief reign on the short-lived Mitch Hurwitz show Sit Down, Shut Up) was as Olive Snook on Pushing Daisies one of the most lamentable cancellations in recent history. Chenowith's Olive worked (and won her a Best Supporting Actress Emmy) not just because she could make lines like "Don't make me cut a bitch" come out of a 4 foot tall white lady, but also because underneath the surface, her character was full of sadness and love for someone who didn't return her affections. If Olive Snook sounds tailor made for a world similar to what Glee has been constructing, it's only because she is. Tonight found Chenowith playing April Rhodes, a former high school crush of Will's who he brings in as a ringer (she never actually graduated) to round out the Glee Club after Rachel's departure. April has fallen on hard times since high school"”she squats in a foreclosed home, abuses any substance she can get her hands on and is generally a woman in shambles"”but she is eager to regain her glory days as a high school star.

The club is initially weary until she wins them over (showing Kurt the glories of alcohol and mucscle magazines, as if Kristen Chenowith would ever have to fight for the affections of a gay man) and takes her place as a star. Will knows that she is a bad influence on the kids, but seeing her regain her glory days is almost like him getting his own second chance and he can't bring himself to rain on her parade. This allows Emma to actually have a moment of character depth when she confronts will, pointing out that he's here to care about the children. So, as I feared, Chenowith's April Rhodes predictably rides off into the sunset, eternally hoping for one last shot at a moment in the sun.

Her character is perfect, both as the foil to this show's dreamer's, and to display to them a fate that is quite possibly soon to be their own. Every character on Glee wants to be a star, but something tells me that not all of them can make it to the top. It's interesting to watch each of them realize what could go wrong with their dreams this week, just as Will sees what has gone wrong in his own.

Meanwhile, Finn realizes he can get a musical scholarship to get out of town (thanks to Emma, who is using knowledge Will imparts to counsel the students while pretending she has no idea what their problems are) and knows that getting Rachel back in the club is an essential part of this plan. This leads us to see a darker side of Finn"”his intentions of getting a scholarship to provide for his son may be noble, but his playing on Rachel's affections to get her back into the club is far from it. Watching Rachel leap into his arms at the bowling alley and agree to quit the play and rejoin the club, knowing all the while that she's doing it because she thinks it'll give her a chance at Finn, is heartbreaking.

Rachel is hating life as a star of Cabaret however, as Sandy continually berates her lack of talent in a form of reverse psychology engineered to keep her from Glee, and there was really no doubt that by episode's end we'd find her back there, just in time for the club to sing a pretty excellent rendition of "Somebody to Love" which also provides a fitting ending to this episode. Rachel and Finn share a nice moment as they duet and smile at each other, but Quinn is very apparently seen in the background"”these two may have feelings for each other, but right now Quinn and her pregnancy stand definitively between them (and I really hope Quinn's pregnancy storyline doesn't go too much further. High school pregnancy is a tragedy, but having a baby in high school can ruin lives). Each character on Glee is looking for somebody to love, someone to complete them, to help them realize their dreams. Rachel wants Finn, Emma wants Will, and even April Rhodes wants to find someone who will help her get her life back on track. For now, though, all they can hope for is that it will happen someday.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-"I you want a good review, show me the over the shoulder boulder holder."

-"I have no problem with nudity. Did I tell you about my planned production of Equus?"

-"Do you know what we should do?" "Elope?"

-Chenowith deserves a little more note praise, for drinking boxed wine and for knocking every one of her musical numbers out of the park. I truly hope we haven't seen the last of April Rhodes.

-"Sober? I'm rolling on a fistful of horse tranquilizers. I can't feel my lips!"

-"Are you stupid? Seriously, I bet you all thought Bert and Ernie were roommates."

-"When I heard Sandy wanted to write himself into a scene as Queen Cleopatra I was aroused, then furious!"
Tags: Glee
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