“I don’t know . . . it still just looks like burnt toast to me.”
I’m going to level with you guys. I struggled a lot over whether to write this recap. For one thing, my parents always told me that, in order to make friends and influence people, two topics I should definitely NOT talk about were politics and religion.
Now, I’ll admit, I often fail miserably on that first part. After all, when it comes to politics, I can be a bit opinionated, at times . . .
However, the second part I’ve stuck to pretty rigidly, since I was a kid. So, why stop now?
Second, having endured the exact same thing that happened to Kurt during my high school years (and, I suspect, with less happy results, than the character will experience), this was a particularly tough episode for me, personally, to watch and critique in a non-biased fashion.
Third, and this is probably the most obvious reason. This episode was, for the most part, NOT FUNNY! It was more “Glum” than “Glee.” And, the “Grilled Cheesus” aside, the topics dealt with here were deadly serious. Someone’s father being in a coma, is not exactly the type of thing you can . . .
or Ugly Cry Face . . .
. . . your way around.
(Although . . . I would certainly be willing to try . . . :)).
And yet, all that aside, this was a well-written, extraordinarily acted, and insightful episode of Glee, one that featured remarkable musical performances, and tackled some very controversial issues with class and dignity. So, in that sense, I thought it was at least worth my recapping time.
That being said, I’m going to try to make this one as painless as possible . . .
A Lean Mean Lord Making Machine . . .
Coincidentally, Finn made this face twice during the episode. First, when he initially discovered the Grilled Cheesus. And second, when he discovered his girlfriend Rachel’s supposedly “not so great” boobs were actually “pretty awesome.”
Glee has never been a show averse to product placement. After all, what are “artist-themed” episodes, if not a half-hour long commercial for the artist in question’s music catalogue . . .
And who doesn’t get a little Brain Freezey for a Slushee . . .
. . . after feasting their eyes on an advertising campaign like this?
But this week . . . the Glee advertising department REALLY outdid itself. And it was all for a man named George Foreman, and his little Grill that Could . . .
After all, can YOU think of a better advertisement for a product, than the implication that if you buy it, it will make food that includes within it a direct line to the Man (or Woman) Upstairs?
I should know. I bought THREE George Foreman Grills — each in a different sizes and colors — during the first commercial break. (No . . .actually, I really didn’t . . . but I almost did. And that has to count for something . . .)
Anyway, we have Finn making his Grilled Cheese sandwich at the top of the episode, when out from it pops a familiar face . . .
. . . only he looks more like this.
But you’ve really gotta hand it to Finn. He doesn’t try to sell it on Ebay, like some other crackpots in his position have done before him. Nor does he end up phoning one of those creepy religious talk shows you often find on television at 3 a.m. to share the “great wonder of it all.” Instead, Finn asks the Cheesus to grant him three wishes . . .
“Mr. Finn Hudson, sir, have a wish, or two, or three. I’m in the mood, to help you, dude. You ain’t never had a friend like J.C.!”
Here were his wishes:
(1) For his team FINALLY to win a football game;
2) to FINALLY get to squeeze his girlfriend, Rachel’s . . . ummm . . . melons; and
3) to be Quarterback of the football team again . . . FINALLY (even though he only lost the position last week).
Lo and behold, all THREE of Finn’s wishes come TRUE!
YIPP . . . well, I guess we can’t really cheer about that Sam kid dislocating his shoulder. That would be EVIL. And we can’t be “EVIL” in front of the “Grilled Cheesus,” can we?
That would be a “No.”
Suddenly, Finn is “shaken to his core.” He’s “born again.” He’s “down with J.C.” (at least, as long as he keeps giving him everything he asks for).
Finn’s newfound religious fervor (not to mention his egomaniacal self-absorption) causes him to suggest that the episode’s Glee club’s “theme of the week” be spirituality.
While we’re on the subject of the “theme of the week,” I wanted to run something by you guys. Do you think that EVERY Glee Club member performs a song each week – – and that the Glee writers only SHOW us the main characters’ performances? Or, are you of the mindset that performing each week is entirely voluntary for the Glee Kids. So, that SOME members of the club choose to perform EVERY SINGLE WEEK . . .
. . . while others are just LAZY ASS SLACKERS . . .
Yes, I’m looking at YOU, Mike Chang!
Anyway, Finn’s suggestion causes the Glee club to get into a discussion about spirituality. Mercedes is down with it . . .
. . . so is Quinn . . .
. . . Kurt decries what he sees as most organized religions’ complete failure to include homosexuals and women within their circle.
Every time Brittany prays, she falls asleep.
Puck thinks about the Man (or Woman) Upstairs every time he touches a woman’s . . . um . . . melons.
(Coincidentally, we think about the Man (or Woman) Upstairs every time we see Puck with his shirt off . . .)
Oh my LORD!
Puck’s aforementioned religious proclamation, and his strong desire to be faithful to his “Jewish Singer” roots, inspire him to PERFORM FOR THE CLASS.
*Coughs loudly, clears throat, and glares in Mike Chang’s direction*
. . . sorry. Puck PERFORMS Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young.” And it is so AWESOME, and INCREDIBLY SEXY, that watching it, I felt like I had . . . (excuse the religious imagery . . . but this is, after all, the “Grilled Cheesus” episode) DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN.
Can we get this guy a record deal and accompanying solo album? Seriously?
But you don’t have to take my word for it. See for yourself . . .
By the way, another recapper (although I can’t for the life of me recall which one) compared the Glee kids dorky dancing during Puck’s performance to that of the Peanuts kids in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Upon further consideration of this argument, I am inclined to agree . . .
Observe and compare . . .
But this storyline isn’t about Puck (unfortunately). It’s about Finn. And through all the turmoil Kurt is experiencing with his father (which I will discuss in just a bit), Finn begins to feel a wee bit guilty about the good luck he has been experiencing — which he believes could be attributed solely to the “Grilled Cheesus” . . .
. . . and, of course, the George Foreman Grill . . .
But then, school therapist, Emma Killjoy . . .
. . . provides him with logical explanations for all the wishes “Grilled Cheesus” purportedly granted him, thereby peeing on his godlike dreams . . .
So, of course, Finn does what any self-respecting manly man does, when his dreams have just been peed on . . . he sings.
Specifically, he sings R.E.M’S “Losing My Religion,” which would be really poignant . . . if he wasn’t singing about a by-now-very stale piece of bread . . .
Speaking of that stale bread . . . Finn ultimately eats it . . .
. . . which, depending on how you look at it, could either be considered Communion or Indigestion. Take your pick.
Give Me Something to Believe In
*Takes deep breath* OK. I guess I can’t put it off any longer. So, here goes. The episode opens with Kurt and his father having a conversation about their weekly Friday night dinners, which Kurt has been canceling out on lately.
We know things are about to go very badly for these two when (1) Kurt tells his dad to start eating healthier (never a good sign on a television show); and (2) Burt tells Kurt he is “very disappointed” in him (an EVEN WORSE sign). The next time we see Burt, he is experiencing serious chest pains, while helping a client. He eventually keels over from a heart attack.
To make matters worse, Kurt’s mother died when Kurt was a little kid, so he doesn’t really have any family members to support him during his time of need. Thus, it falls to his favorite teacher, Will, and guidance counselor, Emma, to break the news to Kurt about his father’s accident, and accompany him to the hospital.
At the hospital, Kurt learns from the doctor that his father has survived the heart attack, but lost a lot of oxygen to his brain in the process. As a result, he has fallen into a coma. In his first moments alone at his father’s bedside, we see Kurt repeatedly asking his father to squeeze his hand. This request and gesture will become important later . . .
At school, the Glee kids rally around Kurt, trying to support him in any way they can. Brittany offers him a book report she wrote on Heart Attacks, which she wants him to give to the doctor working on his father . . . of course.
Forget Gray’s Anatomy. Brittany’s Anatomy is the ultimate medical resource on all things heart attack . . . and it’s written entirely in crayon!
However, most of the group attempt to offer Kurt solace through prayer. His Bestie, Mercedes (along with Quinn and Tina), even dedicates Whitney Houston’s “I Look to You” to him.
Kurt is honored by his friend’s gesture, but clearly uncomfortable with its spiritual undertones. After all, as mentioned earlier, he is a staunch atheist. “Your voice is stunning, but I don’t believe in God,” he tells Mercedes, matter-of-factly.
Kurt cannot reconcile the existence of a higher power with all the strife he has had to endure during his few years on earth: his mother’s death, his struggles with homosexuality, and now, his father’s heart attack. “I appreciate your thoughts, but I don’t want your prayers,” he concludes, before exiting the room.
Little did Kurt know that his little speech had an audience beyond that of his fellow Glee club members, namely approximately 13 million television viewers Sue Sylvester.
One might expect Sue, at this point in the story, to come up with some nefarious plot to bring down Will Schuester and the rest of the Glee kids. (It is Tuesday, after all.) However, it appears that Sue actually sympathizes with Kurt in this situation, and genuinely wants to help him.
You see, Sue is an atheist as well. She “lost her religion,” back when she was a child, and the power of prayer wasn’t strong enough to allow her older sister Genie to “be cured” of Down Syndrome. So, Sue calls Kurt into her office . . .
“I want to be your champion,” she tells Kurt, encouraging him to rat out the Glee club for discussing religion behind school walls.
When Kurt complies with her request, Will and Emma, are brought before the Useless Principal Figgins . . .
Sue, of course, is there to plead her case. “Our country is not a monarchy, believe me, I’ve tried,” she explains.
“If your students want to praise God, I suggest they enroll in Sweet Holy Mother of God Academy on Jesus Street,” she adds.
Later, Emma confronts Sue about her behavior, asking the latter to keep her beliefs regarding organized religion to herself. “I realize you are only half orangutan, but I am still allergic to your lustrous ginger mane,” Sue explains.
Well, they do share the same haircolor and range of facial expressions . . .
But then Sue gets serious. “To ask someone to believe in something that is pure fantasy, is just plain cruel. That boy’s father could die at any moment now. I suggest you start preparing him for that.”
Later, in a surprisingly sweet scene, Sue’s sister Genie causes Sue to soften her hardline stance on religion, by admitting, that she, herself, does believe in God, despite all of the strife and difficulties she has experienced living with Down Syndrome.
Meanwhile, Rachel . . .
. . . has somehow found a way to make Kurt’s father’s medical troubles all about her . . .
I know . . . I’m surprised too. *snorts* After commandeering Finn into agreeing to raise their future kids Jewish, and letting him touch her boobies, Rachel sets up some candles outdoors and serenades him with some Barbara Streisand. But hey, it’s “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” so, I guess it’s mildly appropriate.
Ohhhhh! This song was from that movie Yentl! The whole “candles” thing makes a lot more sense now . . .
Rachel’s solo singing party is moved to Kurt’s Dad’s bedside, at a hospital that apparently has the most LAX VISITING HOUR RULES EVER! In that cramped hospital room are Rachel, Quinn, Mercedes, Finn, and Finn’s mom. Mind you, NONE of these people are Burt Hummel’s immediate relatives, and NONE of these people were approved as visitors by Kurt.
But I digress . . . Kurt arrives and finds all these people . . . surprise, surprise, praying over Burt. “We are all different denominations (and Finn worships cheese), so we figured one of us has to be right,” explains Mercedes.
Kurt is PISSED! He kicks all the visitors out, in favor of giving Burt some accupuncture. (Apparently, Kurt, while not so down with J.C., is loving the Eastern Medicine. Go figure!)
The next day at Band Camp Glee club, in probably the most touching part of the entire episode, Kurt shares with the Glee kids how his father was always there for him, during times of trouble, and whenever he felt lonely. He dedicates a soleful cover of the Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to Burt, that doesn’t leave a dry eye in the house. You can watch it here:
(And while you are watching, be sure to check out Little Kurt in the flashback scenes. Sources tell me that kid is NOT ACTUALLY RELATED TO KURT. I can’t believe it! Never have I seen two actors, who weren’t identical twins, look more alike in my life. No joke!)
Later, Mercedes once again confronts Kurt about his lack of religiosity. She claims he is closing himself off to many of life’s possibilities. Kurt, in turn, apologizes for pushing his friends away, and agrees to come to church with Mercedes, if only to see all the awesome hats purportedly there. In fact, just to prove that his presence is, in fact, all about the hats, and NOT about the J.C., Kurt arrives at church wearing a GIANT TARANTULA on his head . . .
At church, along with her church choir, Mercedes dedicates a rousing rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to Kurt. Even Kurt seemed moved by the gesture (then again, maybe it was just that the Tarantula Hat was swaying in time with the music.)
BTW . . . I love how Mercedes addresses her entire geriatric congregation with the words, “Hi Church!” (Very cool!)
That night, at the hospital, Kurt squeezes his father’s hand, once again, telling him, that, while he might not believe in God, he believes in his father, and the love that the two of them share with one another. And then . . . it happens . . . Kurt’s father squeezes his hand back.
At the conclusion of the episode, the Glee kids return to their usual “finale spot” on the auditorium stage, decked out in angelic white. They sing a cover of Joan Osborne’s “What if God was One of Us,” which I can honestly say was about ten times better than the original version.
Of course, the fact that Jenna Ushkowitz’s Tina got the (increasingly rare for her character), opportunity for a nice solo in it, definitely increased the performance’s likeability for me.
Hear for yourself:
But, OH NO! Someone heard the Glee kids singing about *gasp* religion!
It was SUE SYLVESTER!
But she LET THEM DO IT, without ratting them out to . . .well . . . it’s not like Useless Principal Figgins would stop them anyway . . . but still . . .
So, there you have it, a Very Special, Rather Depressing, Moderately Religious, Well Acted, and Surprisingly Objective Under the Circumstances episode of Glee . . . about burnt toast. Did it make a Believer out of YOU?