This week it’s all about makeovers on “Glee,” the forced kind as well as the transformations that come with age, experience and wisdom. On the surface, Sam and Brittany need to be made over to run for student council, Rachel needs to ditch her Ohio duds and get New York-ified — all fodder for the inner transformations like Kurt going from performer to fashion guru and Blaine from half of a pair to his own person at McKinley.
Outer or inner (or both), the grand making over of the denizens of “Glee” is another step forward in the transformative fourth season.
We begin “Makeover” with Blaine’s first “Glee” voice over ever, in which he decides that it’s finally his time to shine, and to do so he sings Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” while signing up for every possible club, from Superhero sidekick club (why is he Robin with kitten ears we’ll never know) to some sort of D&D club where he wears a cheap wizards robe.
What we mostly learn is Blaine is into role play. His final sign up is for the student council presidential election, which upsets Brittany who was expecting an unopposed second term. Brittany asks Artie to join her ticket, and after Sam is offended Britt didn’t pick him she sets him up with Blaine as a running mate. Sam thinks it will help Blaine is the “non-gay vote” (we think probably it won’t hurt with that either.) The only trouble is both Britt and Sam need a bit of a makeover to get them election-ready. As Artie and Sam quiz them on policy, they both drop into a fantasy world where they sing Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.”
It’s trippy and weird, and reinforces the fact that “Glee”‘s choreographer Zach Woodlee is really into drill teams at the moment.
When the actual debates roll around Artie is too academic and Sam responds to a stripping in his past question with, well, stripping. Blaine gets overly passionate about the work of the student government and Britt’s failure last year, mostly on her prom and anti-hair-gel initiatives. Britt, the best politician of them all, gives a speech with the most soothing tone, except it’s completely off the mark, telling the kids she’ll outlaw summer and weekends. It’s no surprise the the Blam (Blaine/Sam) ticket sews the election up. You can’t argue with a shirtless Chord Overstreet.
Meanwhile in New York, Kurt is prepping for his big Vogue.com interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (aka Isabella Wright, but we’ll just call her SJP). Kurt breezes through the world’s easiest interview, impressing her with his ambition, pluck and style — three years of over the top Lima Ohio fashion choices come in handy as an online portfolio. He serves coffee through his first editorial meeting where SJP’s minions pitch ideas about leather that are increasingly nonsensical (everything is belts to leather socks) and after Kurt has to talk his overwhelmed and anxiety-prone boss off a ledge about her fears of failing at her job. Back at the improbable Bushwick loft, Kurt consoles Rachel who’s now being taunted by stuck up ballerina classmates instead of Kate Hudson. Kurt proposes a makeover that will both change Rachel’s look and give him a chance to impress SJP with his forward thinking idea of turning a makeover montage into a music video for Vogue.com. They break into the Vogue vault at midnight, only to be caught by SJP, who joins in once she hears the magic M-word.
The trio dance around the magical fashion closet to a mash-up of “The Way You Look Tonight”/”You’re Never Fully Dressed” as Rachel tries on couture and SJP and Kurt conspire to be her fairy godmothers. It’s straight-up musical fantasy land that “Glee” does well, and everyone sounds strong on the tune. In the end, Rachel gets rid of her reindeer sweaters and Kurt gets a “Great” from Anna Wintour. He’s asked to sit down in the pitch meetings from now on, and SJP tells him while his ambition in the performing arts is great, he’s got a real flair for fashion and should let change to his dreams come as it may. Sure, Kurt Hummel could be on Broadway and run Vogue, but sometimes adulthood means letting go of one to excel at the other, and we think Kurt might have some big choices coming soon.
Rachel puts her new style into action when Brody comes to visit her in the dance room and she asks him to join her on a duet to Sheryl Crow’s “Change Would Do You Good,” which is performed as a mash-up of in-studio scenes and clips of them running around New York, eating ice cream pornographically and taking a multitude of self-shots on Rachel’s iPhone. Their chemistry is more sexually charged and intense than anything Rachel and Finn ever did together, and Rachel, breathless, invites Brody over for a home-cooked meal. It’s shades of old-Rachel, trying to impress the boy with a picnic on the auditorium stage, but it feels more real than her three years of obsession and fixation that plagued all her previous relationships. Rachel Berry is growing up.
The competing and complimentary makeovers come to an intersection as the episode ends. Artie may not be VP, but his ambition gets him a date with Sugar. Blaine has won, but Kurt is inadvertently pulling away from him and his Lima life. When they Skyped pre-election Kurt’s so caught up in his own accomplishments and stories that he doesn’t listen to Blaine’s issues, and after Blaine has won he ignores calls in favor of a work-chat with SJP and team. Distraught, Blaine complains to Sam that he only came to McKinley for Kurt, and now that Kurt’s not there anymore nothing seems to have a point. Sam reminds him that he’s the school’s first gay president, and that before Kurt Sam never knew another gay person, and now he’s got a gay “bro” in Blaine. Blaine isn’t just transforming himself; Blaine, on the heels of Kurt’s actions, is transforming his environment. This pacifies Blaine somewhat, but we all know the other shoe is going to drop soon. Plus we get some overt hints that a Britt and Sam flirtation is in the works, with the two snuggling and bonding over their connection. Friends for now, but we see where this is going (if you guessed Britt/Blaine/Sam triangle, you are sadly wrong but brilliant.)
In New York, Rachel has almost burned down the loft trying to cook duck for Brody. They order pizza instead, and so Rachel’s most obviously makeover is from vegan to meat-eater. They talk about their secrets and have one of the most real-sounding “Glee” conversations ever, and just as Brody promises to be hands off, the pair kiss and seem to be progressing further when someone knocks at the door. Welcome back Finn, and the episode ends on a tableau of the three of them, unsure what the future of next week brings.
There’s another makeover all episode too, Schue’s desire to find something bigger than McKinley to use his talents, like a spot on some arts in schools board that no one has ever heard of before, but with no songs and no real thrust it gets scuttled under the rug. The adult stories when they’re not explicitly tied to the kids right now are falling extremely flat. We’re much more invested in the nascent adulthood of our main “Glee” clubbers than Schue, Emma and their ilk. Schue later in life ambition and transformation is a fine reminder that change continues throughout life, but we really want to feel the precise pangs and pains of wobbling first steps into “real” life with Kurt, Rachel, Blaine and their crowd.
Next week we leave the make-overs behind in favor of the break-ups, the tension of change coming to shatter one, if not all, of our remaining power couples. The pairings that survive will be the ones willing to bend to accommodate their partners’ growth, and until next Thursday all of the “Glee” fandom will be on the edge of their collective seats waiting for a resolution that, if “Glee” itself has really transformed this season, shouldn’t come at the end of a mere hour of television.