Gay-bashing. College dropouts. Race issues. Tempestt Bledsoe impersonations. Tonight's "Glee" had it all. Who knew a 45-minute show could make me feel all of the feels?
We open with a candlelight vigil. Kurt, Blaine and Rachel are singing "No One is Alone" as they walk the streets of New York holding candles in a group. As they lay their flowers down at a picture of a smiling face, the screen goes black to make way for the show's title. We find out the man was a friend of their neighbor and was attacked strictly based on sexual orientation. He's alive but in a coma.
Artie makes a point of finding the irony in the fact that, while America's violent-crime rate toward minorities lowers, a city's as liberal as New York is on the rise. Blaine retorts that it's because gays are finally getting rights and people don't know how to deal with it, so they become violent.
There is some pretty heavy stuff tonight, guys.
A large storyline is the SamCedes lovefest. One evening Sam is enjoying an episode of "a cool red headed chick who runs a school for lesbians" -- or, as we all know it, "The Facts of Life" -- and eating a bowl of cereal that not even the biggest marathon-running, carb-loading athletes could finish. When Mercedes joins him, he asks why she broke up with him in high school. When she explains to Sam that she needed to find herself, he explains that they're adults in New York City and that they should be able to make their own decisions; he also explains how different things can be.
Willpower is then lost and Mercedes is all over him. The next day at their weekly family dinner, Artie calls them out as they attempt a feeble game of footsie. (Hint: Secret relationships never stay secret.) Mercedes contemplates her rekindled feelings as she belts "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
A little later, Sam shows up as Mercedes enjoys dinner with her back-up singers. He asks every question, from "Why do rappers name themselves after cars?" to "Is that a weave or a wig?" Crash and burn.
Afterward, Mercedes' friends put in her head that she shouldn't date Sam because he's like, really white, which would deter black women from buying her album and, generally speaking, piss off every black man. She tells Sam that it won't work because it doesn't work with her new image.
Heartbroken, Sam tells her that she's being ridiculous. He tells her that in Glee Club there was every different kind of person: Gay, straight, black, white and Tina. Poor Tina.
Mercedes invites Sam to the studio where she's recording her album. She sings a beautiful, original song, called "Colour Blind," and asks Sam if he'd have her back. But they need to take things slow.
While love is growing between two characters on the show, Rachel's head decides to take the same route. Seriously, this chick's ego is really bothering me these days.
In the episode's beginning, she asks for a few hours off of rehearsal, so that she can successfully complete her Midwinter Critiques at NYADA. Her producer obliges. She begins her song "Broadway Baby" to a smiling Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg), but then Blaine joins in and the smile slowly fade away.
Madam Tibideaux tells Rachel and Blaine they've broken the rules by not performing individually; unless they redo their song by week's end, they'll fail the class. Rachel asks Madam T if she can perform her redo after her show opens -- and the words that came out of the Dean's mouth after that were everything Rachel needed to hear:
"You are full of drive, but you have no foundation, you don't take direction and without that you'll surely fail outside of this school."
Being the egomaniac that we've known Rachel Berry to be, she takes this as a cue to drop out. She says she came to NYADA to live her dream; now she's living it, and school is just getting in the way. She looks Madam Tibideaux in the eyes and says two words: "I'm done."
When she goes to meet Kurt for dinner, he asks what she's doing and tells her she's not thinking rationally. Rachel stands up and tells Kurt that she's sick of being like the rest of her friends, playing it safe and boring. She basically makes Kurt feel like he's nowhere near her caliber of star.
"Screw you, Rachel," he says, beelining for the door.
On Kurt's walk home, he sees a man being attacked in an alley. As he goes to help the guy, he's hit in the head with what looks like a brick and then beaten in the face repeatedly.
My heart sank as I saw Porcelain laying in a hospital bed all bruised and cut up. He was surrounded by his friends, including Rachel, and Blaine sang to him -- a song called "Not While I'm Around," which seemed to double as his Midwinter Critique redo.
Kurt's dad (Mike O'Malley) tells Kurt all of the things a parent would say to his child: "What were you thinking?" "I thought you were safer expressing yourself here in New York" and my personal fave "Don't do it again unless I'm right next to ya so we can take them out together."
Kurt closes the show with his Critique performance of "I'm Still Here" and gets a standing O.
The show ends with the most recent family dinner where: 1) SamCedes proclaim their love to all of their friends; 2) Rachel announces that she's done with school, and 3) Kurt seems like an entirely new character.
So many big decisions made in one episode. I guess we can feel the finale creeping up on us!