Glee, Season 5, Episode 18, “Back-Up Plan”
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Ian Brennan
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm ET on Fox
Glee season five has been all about Rachel bouncing back and forth between legitimately nice and completely intolerable. Finally, after years of scrapping for solos in Glee Club, her lifelong goal has come true. She starts on Broadway while just barely in college at her dream school, playing the lead role in an iconic revival. Oh and did we mention it’s the lead role, the title role, Fanny Brice, the Funny Girl herself? The character who is essentially Rachel Berry’s spirit animal? You guessed it, she gets bored after a month and attempts to throw the whole production under a giant bus.
The cinematography during “Wake Me Up”, originally by One Republic, works well. Particularly memorable are the camera angles shot through the flowers, showing the passage of time in an obvious but effective way. The multiple shots of Rachel leaving the stage for her dressing room are also successful in broadcasting her general disinterest in Funny Girl. Even though Rachel is specially formulated to be one part inspiring and one part annoying, there is little joy in hearing her secondary dreams get knocked down by her talent agent.
June, played by Shirley MacLaine, is well… She’s a piece of work. My secondhand embarrassment flag flies high as Kurt turns into an awkward fanboy, but there is something sweet about seeing those little hints in him of that star struck kid from rural Ohio. While we are talking about celebutant, the writers keep putting Blaine in situations where he has to choose between love and success. Blaine is a hopeless romantic, which means Kurt doesn’t have anything to worry about and the mob of Klaine fans can put down the pitchforks.
Still, it would be interesting to see Blaine and Kurt enjoying each other’s company without the constant tension. It’s also a chance for the writers to bring up the potential for heartbreak that comes with sharing a profession with your spouse, but so far they’ve really been skirting around the issue. “Story of My Life” is proof that both Kurt and Blaine, and Chris Colfer and Darren Chris, have a lot to offer the world. The simple arrangement gives each performer the opportunity to find their harmony sweet spots while still showing their dynamic ranges.
Something strange must have happened to Santana on the island of Lesbos. She came back with the ability to take the high road, a quality that is as pleasant as it is confusing. I never thought I would see the day when Mercedes and Santana would join forces of their own volition, but it seems that the day when pigs can fly is finally upon us. Their rendition of “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill is proof Santana can hold her own in Mercedes’ realm of record deals and vocal runs. Only time will tell if Mercedes’ choice to include Santana on her single will come back to bite her.
Keeping with the math theme, this episode is equal parts annoying and adorable, with Rachel finding new ways to screw the people around her and a spirited duet by our golden boys, Kurt and Blaine. Once again, the musical numbers are stunning while the writers attempt to pack three serious story lines into a single hour. It’s over-ambitious in an overly-ambitious way, a la Rachel Berry.