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TV Review: Glee – “Asian F”

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FOX’s Glee presents its third episode of the third season, just before taking three weeks off. In “Asian F,” Mercedes (Amber Riley) fights valiantly against Rachel (Lea Michele) for the lead in West Side Story. Not happy with a tie, she throws a fit, causing Will (Matthew Morrison) to toss her out of the New Directions. That’s OK, because Shelby (Idina Menzel) has a rival group for her to join. Will faces further trouble when he invites Emma’s (Jayma Mays) parents to dinner against her wishes, and learns they are Ginger Supremacists. Mike Chang’s (Harry Shum Jr.) audition goes much better, though his parents disapprove of his passion.

The cast list for West Side Story goes up, and Blaine (Darren Criss) gets the part of Tony. Showing just how much he and Kurt (Chris Colfer) value each other, Kurt manages to put aside his strong desires for the part and be happy for Blaine, bringing him flowers. This is not only sweet, but a sign that they are really in love, with a healthy, mature, mutual relationship. Yay!

Mercedes sits in the background far too much on Glee. Suddenly, in “Asian F,” she steps into the spotlight, confidence boosted by her boyfriend, Shane (Lamarcus Tinker, Cougar Town, Friday Night Lights). Yet, after one episode’s worth of strutting around and letting her ego rule, she is ostracized by her friends, and kicked out of the glee club. Why do they not come to her defense? Why can’t they allow her a little slack? After all, she plays second fiddle every week. Can’t she be featured just once? Yes, her behavior is unacceptable, but not enough so to erase two years of being a (mostly) team player.

Perhaps the bad attitude gives Mercedes’s vocals a boost. She often demonstrates some great singing power, but “Asian F” gives her more prominence than usual. She belts “Spotlight” out to rock her audition for Maria. Then she not only holds her own against Rachel in “Out Here On My Own,” but both girls agree, Mercedes is better. Too bad the directors don’t see that, or can’t bring themselves to pick Mercedes over Rachel, leaving them to double cast the role. This is unacceptable to Mercedes, as is so much else lately, and she positively slays “It’s All Over” as an exit.

What is next for the queen of belting? Well, it’s over to join Shelby’s group, and likely take a bigger role. Perhaps not the lead, as Shelby is being coerced into letting someone else do that. But hopefully Mercedes will feel more value there than she is used to. And will rejoin the New Directions sometime soon.

Speaking of rejoining, Santana (Naya Rivera) is back in the group after “secretly” re-swearing allegiance. This could have been a cool arc, but is wasted as it is thrown away without exploration. The whole reason she is removed from the glee club in the first place is because she still listens to Sue (Jane Lynch). What happens the next time Sue orders Santana to betray her friends? Won’t the secret come out pretty quickly?

That being said, it is nice to have Santana back, especially when she sings along with Brittany (Heather Morris). Brittany is the true power behind the girl-power ballad “Run the World (Girls),” though Santana is there to lend her support. It’s such a rocking number, even Sue is moved by it. Which just goes to show that Glee‘s girls are anything but passive bystanders.

Too bad Mike Chang’s parents don’t like assertive women, especially when they may be taking valuable time away from studies. Mike Chang Sr. (Keong Sim, The Last Airbender) and Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) are able to bond over their distaste for Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz). Figgins remembers that Tina is a vampire in a nice throwback to season one, while Mike Chang Sr. blames Tina for distracting Mike Jr. enough to get an A- on a test, or, in other words, an “Asian F.” As such, Mike Sr. would like Mike Jr. to stay far away from the “temptress.”

Of course, Tina isn’t the only thing that Mike Sr. blames. He also wants Mike Jr. to stop wasting his time dancing and singing. Mike Jr. isn’t about to do so, considering that he has a real passion for the arts. He uses his frustration to deliver the character’s most triumphant performance to date, “Cool,” earning him the role of Riff in West Side Story. Luckily, Mike’s mom, Julia (Tamlyn Tomita, Law & Order: LA, Eureka), understands what her son is going through, and vows to help him break the news to his father.

Mike isn’t the only one with parental problems. Will is worried that Emma is embarrassed of him when she doesn’t want to introduce him to her parents, so he invites them over on his own accord. Unfortunately, they turn out to be Ginger Supremacists, considering redheads to be a superior “species.” Not only that, but they don’t treat Emma very well. Mother Rose (Valerie Mahaffey, United States of Tara, Desperate Housewives) calls her daughter “Freaky Deaky,” while father Rusty (Don Most, Happy Days) isn’t any more supportive. It’s a disaster, and only Will standing up for Emma makes the slightest positive impression. It’s easy to see how Emma moved to Crazy Town.

Now that Will understands why Emma is the way she is, can he fix her? His “Fix You” sung to her, which expands into the closing number of “Asian F,” is patronizing, but not without heart. Will has his flaws, too, and it’s not his job to try to change Emma. That being said, she does need help, as she is beyond abnormal, and should get over her eccentricities for her own sake. With this in mind, “Fix You” sends a mixed message, tossing the female empowerment of earlier in the episode aside in order to show vulnerability and caring. It’s hard to say how one should feel about his number.

Finally, Rachel, while worrying about losing the part of Maria, decides to enter the race for class president against her best friend, Kurt. He doesn’t take this well, since he actually wants the job, and is not just trying to pad his resume. They have a major rift, and this just might be a sticking point in their friendship. It is time for Rachel to set ambition aside and be a friend. Success isn’t worth having if there is no one to share it with.

Glee will be taking a few weeks off, but will return November 1st at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
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