The third time’s the charm, or so they say, and for the third chapter of the third season of Glee (That’s two third times!) the show seems to want to keep on going back on track and set up the storylines that will mark this season, and in general it delivers a bit more than we got during the second episode and quite a lot more than the first one did.
The main storyline this time around concerns Mike Chang (Yes, he got the main storyline in an episode at last!), who has apparently underperformed lately on chemistry by getting an A- which, according to his father and his girlfriend, is an “Asian F”, and therefore an unacceptable grade. From there on, Mike is pretty much forced to renounce the school musical and is threatened by his father with making him quit Glee and even forcing him to break up with Tina. Mike, realizing he loves dancing, attempts to dismiss his father’s orders and eventually decides to keep dancing and even auditions for the school musical after a very heartfelt scene with his mother.
The overall story arc of this episode concerning Mike Chang is, honestly, one of the best story arcs I’ve seen in the series so far, almost comparable to the many Kurt storylines that tend to be full of heartwarming moments. The scene with his mother, where she tells him about how she abandoned her own dreams because of what her parents said is indeed one of the best scenes the show has output outside of a Kurt Hummel storyline and a well deserved storyline for Mike, who’s mostly been swaying in the background in the show until now.
Not to say that particular storyline doesn’t have its flaws. It has a huge one, and it comes in the form of the excuse given to introduce the plotline. The whole idea behind an A- being an “Asian F” is downright racist and nothing more than yet another sad attempt by the writers of the show at creating comedy at the expense of a racist stereotype that shouldn’t have a place in the show.
The other plotlines in the show tend to be decently placed, with Mercedes battling once again her insecurities and attempting to be the leading lady of the glee club for the school musical, Rachel trying to become more of an overachiever by campaigning for class president and Brittany going ahead with her campaign for class president by appealing to the female demographics under the rather stupid, yet fitting enough for the series idea of blaming everything that’s gone wrong in the country to the class presidents being male.
For the adult cast, the main plotline this time around regards Emma and how Will believes she feels ashamed of him because she hasn’t introduced her parents – A rather horrible couple who ends up being considered “Ginger supremacists”, and the apparent cause of Emma’s OCD.
For the first time in quite a while, I feel most of the stories within the episode were actually well developed, with both Emma and Mike’s plotlines leading the way during the episode, both actually fleshing out characters that really needed some advancement to their stories, and my only criticism besides the whole “Asian F” excuse is that I believe Mike’s uncertainty between doing what he loved or what his father wanted should’ve been stretched for a few episodes and shown in a deeper way.
Mercedes’ and Rachel’s plots, however, don’t suffer the same fate: It just seems these characters are stuck in a loop, since both characters have already fallen into the pits they fell in during this episode. Mercedes already went for the blown-out diva attitude during “Night of Neglect”, which was also possibly the worst episode of season two, and Rachel has already fallen prey to her own selfishness in a few occasions, most notably when she sent Sunshine to a crack house during season two and when she shot the horrid “Run Joey Run” video during season one. It just seems the characters don’t grow up, and instead alternate between being mature and going back to being childish and stupid every other episode, which greatly detracts from the plot.
The rest of the characters don’t really get much of a spotlight in this episode, though I must say the overall characterizations of them is finally getting back on track, with Kurt and Blaine finally getting a scene that doesn’t make me cringe this season (I actually rooted for them when Kurt gave Blaine the flowers).
The second part of this review, of course, comes from the music. Musically, this episode was a mixed bag, and it shows. There were some amazing performances (Brittany’s “Run the World”, though vocally flawed, was a feast for the eyes and the Mercedes-led “It’s All Over” was amazing in every aspect), but overall the episode didn’t really manage to get me moving as much as other episodes have, though in general it fared better than last episode where only Kurt’s performance got me going. The Rachel/Mercedes duo for “Out Here on My Own” is great, but the whole performance shows neither of them is Irene Cara, and it ultimately fails to deliver the emotional depth the song has. “Cool”, sung by Mike deserves its own separate mention, being a song that is vocally unimpressive, but with an onscreen performance that showcases his true strengths – dancing – and does it well enough to make us forget the fact that the vocals during it are forgettable (The same trick is used with Brittany’s “Run the World”). The show closes with a Schuester-led version of “Fix You”, original by Coldplay, where Morrison shows his strong falsetto while the final casting result is posted during a scene that reminisces quite a bit the callback lists that were posted at the end of all the “Glee Project” episodes. As a closing number, it isn’t as amazing as others we’ve seen, but it closes the episode just well enough and having the glee club join him to finish the song while Mercedes quits the club actually gives some momentum to the closing of the episode.
Overall, this is a very decent, if not good episode of the series, and a step further in the right direction for the story arc of the season. Showcasing some of the most interesting non-Kurt storylines the show has had in a while and fleshing out some of the background characters, I believe now I can say the writers are doing a good job this season. It isn’t without its flaws, but it is so far the best episode of the season if we put my Kurt fanboyism aside, and I hope the show keeps getting better as the season advances. As for the rating for this episode, I’ll quote Schuester’s words during the episode and say that, for the show, it’s not about doing their best anymore, it’s about doing better, which the show is yet to manage when compared to the previous two seasons. However, considering it seems to be well on its way to do just that, I’ll award this episode a solid four star rating.
Final review rating: 4/5