2017 BET Awards
'Glee' Recap: Things Get 'Emotional' in Whitney Tribute
Even though Whitney Houston passed away more than two months ago now, the kids of "Glee" are still mourning her, locker shrine and all.
This week's episode laser-focuses on the sentiment that Finn expressed last week, the desire to freeze time, or bend it, or punish yourself to try and cheat the consequences of it. Quinn is impatient that time hasn't healed her wounds in the way she expects, Schue wants to trap time in a bottle and keep the kids with him, and Blaine is so worried that Kurt is running away from him that he wants to pull away now to avoid hurt later on. The growing up lesson everyone gets is that none of this is possible, and like Whitney's life, "Glee" is but a moment marred with good, bad and in-between. If last week was good clean disco escapism fun, this week is the other, deeper "Glee" that takes songs and a story and gets us to feel something we all recognize.
We cold open, straight into Whitney's "How Will I Know," featuring Mercedes, Santana, Rachel and Kurt. It's funereal, and hauntingly beautiful as the foursome mourn Whitney and their own impending escapes to a scarier place outside of Lima. It's also a reminder of when 'Glee' gets it right, it's really right, and undeniably so. Will sees this as a chance to pop psychologist the club about how they're clinging to Whitney because they're looking to stop time. Santana calls him out on putting his baggage on them, and of course we find out through an on-going and slightly annoying Will and Emma plot that Mr. Schue is also looking to freeze time, moving his wedding up by months to guarantee that all the club members can attend. As unrealistic as Glee can be (didn't they once plan a wedding in a single episode?) Emma takes a stance of realism and explains they need time, and the kids will come no matter what. Sure, that's naive, but when you're on the brink of change it's what you need to hear.
While there are a lot of couples facing separation come graduation (Tina and Mike, Britt and Santana), the focus of this particular strain rests on the Kurt and Blaine relationship, one that has proven the most stable and grown up of all the main couplings all season long. Kurt, over-excited about Whitney and how perhaps he can master two Whitney songs and use one for his NYADA audition, wants Blaine to come with him to "Between The Sheets," a cheekily named music shop in town. Blaine can't, and Kurt's little "boo" emphasizes a definitely drift between the two. Kurt goes alone and runs into Chandler, an overexcited answer to the idea that Kurt Hummel is a gay stereotype (this, this is a gay stereotype) who spouts out witty one liners, reveals he's also New York bound for college, and flatters Kurt until he asks for his number. We can all see how this decision isn't going to be a wise one.
We can forget our our wariness for a moment, however, because we jump right into Britt's rendition of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," starting out in the choir room with all the thigh shots you could ever want. She tries to pull everyone up to dance, even Quinn, awkwardly. Of course, the only person Britt wants to dance with is Santana. The two fantasy-segue into Whitney-style mini dresses and hairbows, change the lyrics to "I need a woman to take a chance" and bop around in the most specific and unique lesbian fantasy ever broadcast on national television.
In the hallway Kurt is dusting off his Whitney shrine when Rachel catches him getting texts from Chandler. When Rachel is shocked Kurt is engaging with this guy without telling Blaine, Kurt explains to Rachel he's afraid he and Blaine have "lesbian bed death," that they're too much like friends and an old married couple. They haven't had an unscheduled makeout session in a month. Kurt claims the exchanges with Chandler are innocent and make him feel good, but Rachel points out if he won't show Blaine the text messages, it's definitely not innocent.
Meanwhile, Teen Jesus has decided to accompany Quinn to physical therapy sessions to amp up his Christian credits, and by the next time we see them they've been practicing romantic "Saving All My Love For You" duets while they stretch Quinn's legs. They perform it for the group, and as we flash to their sessions the montage is weirdly sexual and strange, Rachel Berry's raised eyebrows speak for us all. Later, when the girls call Quinn out on the budding romance she says nothing's going on, that part of her life is over since Teen Jesus failed to kiss her one time when he was stretching her leg up on his shoulder. He must not find her sexually attractive because of her chair, she mopes. However, it's the exact opposite, as Teen Jesus is thinking of giving up his godly ways and getting into Quinn's pants. He goes to Sam for some awkward sexual advice (Sam lost his virginity last year, because he was a stripper, naturally). Sam basically gives awful advice that guys just can't resist sex, no matter their faith, but in his one redeeming moment Teen Jesus doesn't turn into a total horndog. He does, at another awkward stretching session, unintentionally admit his attraction when Quinn feels his erection pressed against her. Ew. They don't immediately kiss or start dating, but Quinn notes it's the "start of something new."
Rachel and Santana finally realize their powers combined makes really awesome, really hot performances, and absolutely kill it on Whitney's "So Emotional," which they sing to each other in a way that comes off like a little bit of a lesbian ballad. While they perform, Kurt keeps getting and loudly reacting to texts from Chandler (loud enough to draw Sam's attention to read them) while Blaine clearly pouts at the lack of attention from his boyfriend. After they're all done Rachel corners Santana at her locker and reminds her they have 42 days left to be friends, and makes her put a picture of Rachel in her locker. This is unwittingly the gayest episode of 'Glee' in a long, long time.
Before Kurt and Blaine can start their "Being Bobby Brown" marathon the storm erupts. Blaine has picked up Kurt's phone while he was out of the room and sees the texts coming in from Chandler. He confronts Kurt, reading through the flirty missives and tells Kurt this is cheating. Kurt first tries to turn the situation on Blaine for snooping, then points out that Blaine did the same, and worse, with Sebastian. Blaine counters that he didn't like Sebastian, but Kurt clearly likes this guy. Caught, Kurt switches tactics. Chandler makes him feel wanted, he can't remember the last time Blaine complimented him. Blaine shouts that he switched schools for Kurt, he changed his entire life, and in response Kurt airs his frustration with dating "alpha gay" Blaine who everyone loves and who's been snapping up every available solo as far as Gleeks can see. The argument is like every issue of Glee finally laid out on the line, cathartic and necessary to the progress of the show. Blaine keeps calling the texting cheating, and Kurt says it's not, and that he's sorry if it upset him, but it's okay.
"It's not right," huffs Blaine. "But it's okay?" If Blaine's new thing is to start songs by slow-speaking the lines (see "Fighter" two weeks ago) we're sort of behind it. He dedicates "It's Not Right, But It's Okay" to anyone who's ever been cheated on, then morphs into the most spot-on Whitney impression of the whole episode, paying homage with an amazingly faithful interpretation of the classic Whitney video, with the rest of the Glee club (minus Kurt) filling in as the jilted women behind Blaine, who sasses the camera. Every Whitney hand tick, head nod and smirk is embodied. Kurt may be right; it's hard to sit on a stool and play backup to alpha Blaine, but when he owns it, he owns it. The song finishes, and Blaine storms out of the choir room.
Back at home, Kurt is sorting his belongings for his impending New York departure (you have several months Hummel, chill) when Burt comes to talk. He objects to Kurt trashing certain memories, and when Kurt tells him not to get sentimental Burt says they've both been way too casual about Kurt leaving. They've not been as close, failing to uphold their weekly dinner traditions, and Burt admits he's been skipping dinners because he's sad there's not going to be any more dinners eventually. He manages to embrace the change and address it head on, proving once again that Burt Hummel is the best and most sensible man in all of Lima, Ohio. He deserves his plot-hole ridden Senate win. Father and son embrace, the first chords of "I Have Nothing" begin, and for a second you think Kurt will be singing this for his father, but no. As he starts his eyes lock on Blaine and never stray the entire performance, a sequence with zero fantasy elements and all of Kurt's emotion laid bare. It's staged extremely reminiscent of another triumphant Kurt Hummel numbers, "As If We Never Said Goodbye" with the back camera passes and the rapt audience of his peers.
Although we feel both Kurt's self-assuredness and his devotion to his partner, though the delivery, singing, for once, doesn't solve every problem. The boys take to Emma's office for a counseling session where Blaine rolls through a list of problems -- Kurt snaps at waiters and keeps slipping bronzer into his moisturizer and that makes his hands look weird -- until he hits the root of it all. Blaine is sick of them always talking about NYADA and New York. He's been pulling away because he's trying to prepare himself for what it will be like next year without him. "You are the love of my life, Kurt," Blaine shudders. "And I'm pissed off I'm going to have to learn for the next year what being alone is going to be like." Kurt is stricken, and promises Blaine's not going to be alone, or lose him. This, like Emma's declaration that that kids would go to the moon in ten years time for Mr. Schue's wedding, isn't strictly true, but it's what everyone says and what everyone needs to hear on the cusp of such a change. High school fades. Connections that seem stronger than iron rust. High school loves of your life become fond memories. Change is inevitable, but in this perfect moment Kurt and Blaine are everything to each other, and they don't have to pull themselves apart just yet. Maybe ever, but at least for now they're going to let time move on with them intact.
Blaine makes good on alleviating Kurt's insecurities, paying him a compliment on his "Russian czar" cap the next day in the hall as Kurt's phone buzzes in his pocket. "It's not Chandler, I swear!" Kurt frets, and it's not. Blaine is now the one sending saucy texts, and he tries to convince Kurt to blow off Glee so they can have some alone time. "But it's Glee, we only have so many of these left!" Kurt offers, and the whole fandom sobs in frustration. Still, the Mercedes and Artie-led spontaneous group sing to "My Love Is Your Love" is just wonderful enough to make up for the lack of Kurt and Blaine backseat makeouts, and very much reminiscent of the very first episode of the series, as everyone congregates in the theater under Schue watchful and inspired eye. At the end they take down the Whitney shrine and Kurt quietly closes his locker.
Every episode from here on until the finale will probably have this sort of tone of finality, all building up to the biggest page-turn of the series, the first moment of real change for these characters. It's not often you can say that Puck's character delivers the sage and underlying point of the episode, but he gets it most concisely in his little stolen shot glasses bro-toast, "Clocks ticking, time's coming, it's almost time to say adios."
Indeed, sage pool boy, indeed.