Glee-Cap: Safety First, Safety Last, Safety Always
Somehow, I think your normal GLEE-capper, Robert Lawlor, knew this was going to be a down week for Glee when he asked me to pinch-hit for him (don't worry if you don't know what that means, it's a sports term). While I have been generally quite pleased with the majority of episodes over the last two seasons, this week felt like a throwback to Season 2 or 3, where far too many shows seemed simply to be filler. While they might have ultimately been entertaining, they primarily served as a placeholder until we got to the more plot-specific episodes. With Kurt's attack last week and Rachel's FUNNY GIRL opening a week away, this one felt disappointingly like a very low-stakes buffer between the two.
That being said, there were some humorous moments this week (as Chord Overstreet continues to be the unsung hero of the season) even if the songs left much to be desired. Anyway, onto the action; at the top of the show we are treated to a comical black-and-white WWII newsreel-style clip of the show's four boys, dressed as sailors on leave, touting the benefits of getting tested for STDs. While the 1940's homage was one of the best parts of the episode, I think the fantasy opening would have made much more sense had it been spun as one of Artie's student films. Additionally, it would have served the plot much better than forcing Sam to shoehorn in one of the show's central topics later on.
After the video, Artie gave us a bit of old-school narration about how much he loves living in New York. In addition to following his dreams at film school, he has gone from nerdy guy in a wheelchair that girls avoided in Lima, to nerdy guy in a wheelchair that girls flock to in NYC. We learn that he apparently broke up with Kitty and is now single, and ready to mingle. Tangentially, am I the only one that feels let down by how casually the show-runners have thrown out all of the characters and relationships that we have come to care about in Lima?
We then meet Artie's current lady-friends Vanessa (Galadriel Stineman, who likes him for his sad-clown student film) and Jessica (Tahlena Chikami, who likes him because she has a wheelchair fetish). But Artie quickly informs us that he really is interested in Julie (played by FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT's, Stephanie Hunt). As Julie records the narration to Artie's AMERICAN BEAUTYesq film about a floating plastic bag, Artie sings Robert Plamer's "Addicted to Love" (with his three paramours as the fembot backup singers).
Also excited about his recent move to the Big Apple, Blaine introduces us to his favorite things about the big city, and nearly all of them involve 3,800 calories, especially his new obsession, the cronut! Unfortunately, his newfound foodie status brings on the proverbial Freshman 15. Throughout the episode, his weight gain and NYADA's Stage Combat class highlight Blaine's growing insecurities.
Next, as Sam approaches second base, Mercedes tells him that she is a virgin (to which Sam replies, to no one's surprise, "I'm not,"). After telling Mercedes that he is comfortable waiting, at lunch with the guys, Sam says he wants to have a "clean" slate with her, so he suggests that they all go to the free clinic and get checked for STDs (see shoehorned plot development). Despite Sam's promiscuous past, Artie is the only one who got the gross positive results.
After he reveals that he has been diagnosed with chlamydia (and his friends get over the shock that he is suddenly sexually active) Sam "slut-shames" him into telling Vanessa and Jessica about his diagnosis. Facing this uncomfortable responsibility results in Artie visualizing himself wearing a giant STD-mascot suit that looks like a disgusting regurgitated piece of pizza. I understand the artistic choice to physically represent Artie's uncomfortableness, but did the costume department really need to make the STD costume that ridiculous?
Next, Sam visits Mercedes' church because she says she wants to "turn to God" for whether or not they should have sex. That's probably going to be an uncomfortable conversation, but I applaud her faith. Like most things on GLEE, Mercedes decides to sing about the issues she is wrestling with in Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." An odd song choice for a house of worship, but it's GLEE, so logic doesn't really come into play that often. The song ends with an awkward Mercedes-Sam-pastor group hug (make sure to leave space for the Holy Spirit kids).
After Kurt innocently discovers porn on Blaine's computer, Klaine (or is it Blurt? I can't keep up with the shippers' nicknames) end up back in Combat Class, where they physically and vocally square off in various fight sequences while dueting on Pat Benetar's classic "Love is a Battlefield." Ironically the mantra of the class is, "Safety first, safety last, safety always," which sounds like a lesson Mr. Shue probably should have taught Artie before he went off to college.
Back at Casa de Berry, Mercedes asks Rachel what her "first time" was like. Rachel says that it was special because it was with "him." While the sentiment was sweet, my disbelief was re-suspended because Rachel never mentioned Finn by name, referring to "him" multiple times. The decision seemed cumbersome considering how important he has been to the storytelling this season, and the fact that she calls him by name later in the episode.
After their duel, Blaine confesses to Kurt that his insecurity, his new porn collection, and their recent lack of intimacy, is because he doesn't like the way he feels about himself, and that he feels like Kurt is winning the race of life, while he is falling behind. Of course, Kurt reassures him by saying that, "I'd much rather be running this race with you, than against you." However, he does pull out the Jamie Wellerstein card and essentially says that he will not lose because Blaine cannot win. Is it just me or has Blaine's insecurity been a major character trait for him for more than a season now. This seemed more like beating a dead-horse than nuanced character development. Hopefully this puts that part of Blaine's neuroses to bed for a while.
Back in Chlamydialand Julie agrees to go out with Artie, but all he can think about is his recent medical diagnosis. His awkwardness has disastrous ramifications on the night out as he tells her that he thinks they need to wait to have sex for at least 7-10 days. After the date, while walking in the exact same spot that Mercedes threw her faux-fur coat into the river last week, she and Artie sing Janet Jackson's "Let's Wait Awhile" to Sam and Julie respectively; Sam and Julie join in on the chorus (not Crucifictorious, but cool nonetheless).
Now that the singing is out of the way, Mercedes and Artie have some confessions to make. First, Mercedes tells Sam that she wants to wait to have sex until marriage, and Sam tells her that he doesn't think that they can get married that fast, since they haven't even sent out invitations yet. While he needs some time to think about this new declaration, amidst a room full of candles, he ultimately realizes that as awesome as sex is, "I can live without sex, but I can't live without you."
Next to take a turn with honesty, Artie confesses to Julie that he has chlamydia, and he's not sure if he got it from Jessica or Vanessa. Needless to say, Julie was not as accepting as Sam. Since she knows that both girls are idiots, she tells Artie that he is "totally skeeving me out," effectively putting the brakes on this budding romance. As a FNL die-hard, I hope Julie returns, so Artie can redeem his skeeviness.
The most noteworthy moment of the night revolved around Rachel addressing the very meta topic of her future love-life. Echoing what show creator Ryan Murphy told reporters earlier in the day, Rachel said that even though they weren't "technically" dating when he died, she and Finn "always knew how it would end," and she doesn't feel ready to move on from that just yet.
So Gleeks, what did you think of this week's episode? Did you agree that it felt like a throw away episode (other than Rachel's final realization) before the big Opening Night next week?
I want to thank Rob for asking me to fill in, even though this is much harder than recapping reality shows (You can check out my American Idol articles this week on BroadwayWorld TV)! Let us know all of your thoughts in the comments below, or you can tweet me @BWWMatt, or you can let regular recapper Rob know you missed him @ElderPoptart.