'Glee' Recap: He Aint Heavy, He's My Brother Edition
Ever since Blaine Anderson became the hot commodity in the Glee-verse, fans have been waiting on bated breath for further character development for the dashing boy who swept Kurt Hummel off his feet, especially more info about his family and home life.
"Glee" took a step in that direction with "Big Brother," an episode that focused primarily on Blaine's relationship with his older brother, Cooper, back in town to "connect with the people" between Hollywood acting gigs, which gives us some explanation for Blaine's clearly compulsive need for approval and attention that we've seen over the past months. And while that's well received, especially Matt Bomer's take on the ridiculous and self-centered Cooper, Tuesday's show was more fluff than substance. But oh was it delicious fluff...
DARREN CRISS Q&A
Cooper's about to skip town again for an audition for Michael Bay's next untitled project ("You know that's code for Transformers 4"), and when Blaine is less than enthusiastic Cooper keeps prodding and critiquing, even going as far as to diss Blaine's Kurt-approved fashion, until the beginning lines of Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" kick in and Blaine spoken-word emotes at a stunned -- and slightly impressed, it seems -- Cooper. Vocally, Darren Criss embodies the song, but the staging of the number is too jagged and haphazard to make an impact. Half is in slow motion, and, sure, the gratuitous shirt-removal / boxing / shower sequence is appreciated but a high percentage of the viewership, but the overall transitions aren't as smooth as they could be ("Why have him running down the auditorium stairs to the stage when most emotional songs on Glee employ the seamless fade?") Cooper's creepy voyeurism on the whole ordeal doesn't have any payoff at the end, either. If this was Glee's attempt at a "Rose's Turn" moment for Blaine, it fell short. The video wall juxtaposition of Cooper's commercial and Blaine's rage was a nice touch, though.
Artie has spent this episode teaching Quinn how to maneuver her wheelchair around Lima, including an adorable scene where he coaches her up the most difficult accessibility ramp in town. While the rest of the club (sans Blaine, who is too depressed about his brother for any fun) goes to Six Flags, Quinn and Artie spend their ditch day at a skate park populated by amputees and wheelchair users popping wheelies and hand-standing on skateboards. The montage of various goodtimes is scored by Quinn and Artie singing "Up Up Up," although the vocal is so indistinct it could be anyone. When they're done, Quinn continues to harp on her ailment being "only temporary' and gets angry at Artie when he tells her to confront the idea that maybe it isn't. For some reason, Quinn thinks Yale won't let you go there if you're in a wheelchair? Teen Jesus Joe helps her out at the lockers and tells Quinn he's been "praying for her to accept her dreams," for for her walk again, and Quinn uses this as the impetus to get Joe into the Glee club in time for more rehearsals. Sue, who's dealing with the fact that her amniotic fluid is irregular and her daughter may have Downs like her sister, continues her Booty Camp instruction, admitting that she's spending time with the club so hopefully they optimism rubs off on her unborn child.
Emo Blaine gets a visit from a stuffed puppy dog, won for him by Finn at the Six Flags and voiced by Kurt as an adorable attempt at cheering him up. He sympathizes of the difficulty of brotherly relationships (he should know, he used to have a crush on his now-brother) and let's Blaine know that he's still got a chance to patch things up with a waiting Cooper in the auditorium. Blaine feels like he's talked himself raw to no avail, and Kurt suggests maybe talking is not the answer, which obviously leads to Blaine dealing with his brother the only way Glee knows how -- a Gotye duet to a song about romantic heartbreak. Cooper and Blaine sing "Somebody That I Used To Know," trading verses and pacing across the auditorium stage. It's one of the stronger vocals of the night, and while their lyric distribution comes off haphazard, we totally buy this as more than just a breakup tune. When they finish, Cooper apologizes for his attitude and admits that he's Blaine biggest supporter, and he sees him taking over entertainment -- from movies to concerts to Broadway (an extremely meta commentary on the Darren Criss phenomenon.) Then Cooper admits his audition was canceled, and Blaine has to support his now insecure brother, coming up with a plan to make an audition tape to send to Michael Bay instead (in a stroke of genius, Glee actually shot the audition, which you can watch HERE .) Cooper says they're not just brothers, and in a very pregnant pause the audience collective supplies "also lovers?" but the answer is actually friends. Cue collective "awww." It's too bad Matt Bomer won't be back for the rest of the season, he's entered the esteemed club of top notch Glee guest stars that we're happy to have around Lima.
Finchel rounds out the episode with some ambition and location drama, with Finn pushing for LA as an option and Rachel saying it's NYC or nothing for her. Finn asks her to be really sure she's in love with him, and not just who she wants Finn to be. We know we're supposed to care about this tension, but next week's teaser promises a Britt/Santana sex tape, so we're understandably distracted.
Did "Glee" come back strong? Sort of. We can't fault an episode that had us laughing out loud the majority of the time --- Cooper Anderson's acting tips alone are better than full episodes we've seen in the last year -- but there's definitely room for improvement as the series returns from break. Sure, we're still focused on the theme of ambition for our various characters, but in the end it seemed more filler than plot-development, with the main arc resolving itself within the hour and the two minor stories that move the greater narrative along taking a major back seat. "Glee"'s best when it manages to infuse story over time, to build and develop instead of throwing a neat bow on everything. We definitely enjoyed tonight, but we're hoping this is just a warm up for what's to come as the season finishes.