Last week New York may have been stressful, but it was jubilant. Our gang was forging new beginnings and learning to be themselves in the city, and triumphing. This week, even in triumph the hardships are harder. That's New York for you. It doesn't give an inch when you push. It's nice to see Glee residing in that particularity of the city. To get you there, they employ the always effective straight-to-song open -- on the Whitney tribute episode the foursome of Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt and Santana paying homage as they walked through the halls was eerie and beautiful.
Now we have Sam, Rachel, Kurt and Blaine carrying flowers and candles through the darkened NYC streets as they sing "No One Is Alone" from Into The Woods to a memorial for a victim of a gay bashing. With a lot to do in a single episode, Glee telegraphs much of the thrust of the episode in this scene. The musical itself is about the act of growing up, and realizing your world and the characters in it aren't exactly what they seem. That leads to finding a family of choice, and protecting each other fiercely, which is a core tenant of Glee, and nicely reinforced here. Also, simply, it reminds us that Glee is a musical. Despite there being a balance between pop and Broadway, New York feels more Broadway, and that's for the better.
We leave that thread of bashing open for a while, to instead focus on the hectic rush of life. For Rachel, that's negotiating some time off from Funny Girl to complete her NYADA review, since she's still trying to pull double duty as a student and a budding Broadway star, implausibly. It's granted, and she and Blaine take the stage to duet to "Broadway Baby" from Follies. It's camp, and fun, and twirling, but it's also not at all what was assigned. Solos only, and for that reason alone Carmen fails them both on the spot. She, of course, reconsiders and allows them a chance to pass if they reschedule this week. For Rachel, this is impossible, and when she visits office hours to plead her case, Carmen is having none of it. Rachel has drive, but she lacks foundation. She doesn't listen to take direction, and she's not ready for Broadway, according to Carmen. She needs to decide if it's about stardom or the craft. For Gold-Star-After-My-Name-Rachel-Berry, it's always been about the spotlight. She quits NYADA.