Another week, another Glee. But this week’s offering was far from ordinary. I dare say it might have been the most emotional, and philosophical, episode of the series to date. Titled “Grilled Cheesus” after the (appropriately) cheesiest plot in the episode, this week was about all thing’s faith, whether or not you believe in a higher power. Each Glee kid looked to their own ideas, and although the episode was vague on what those might be, the most important plots were sound.
Kurt (Chris Colfer) was the star, as his father, Burt (Mike O’Malley), took ill and would not awaken. Kurt is an atheist, and didn’t appreciate his classmates’ prayers. Each of them wanted to support him, but frequently brought God into the discussion. Thankfully, Glee did not take the atheism bad route. Yes, Kurt accompanied Mercedes (Amber Riley) to her church, and appeared move at their outpouring of song. But even after that, sitting by his father’s hospital bed, he proclaimed that what he believed in was his father, not God. It’s refreshing to see television not be so pushy about Jesus, and to have an actual atheist, who won’t be swayed into a conversion, represented. In our nation, it’s actually pretty rare.
Accordingly, Kurt did finally get a great solo this week. He sang the most weepy version of the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” that I’ve ever heard. The song was interspersed with scenes of Burt playing with a young Kurt (Adam Kolkin, a spitting image). Burt helped him learn to ride a bike, and even had a tea party. As a single parent, who is pretty much a picture of blue collar stereotypical masculinity, raising an out and proud gay son, Burt has struggled to show Kurt how much he cares. However, the characters has always been supportive, and again, it’s nice to see such a character as Burt on the air.
Other cast members who hadn’t had any big ballads yet this season also got to stretch their vocal chords. Mercedes belted out on not one, but two songs. Puck (Mark Salling) rocked Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young”. Even Tina opened the awesome group number “What If God Was One Of Us” with some pretty fantastic vocals. Finn (Cory Monteith), whom I often am underwhelmed by, got to show off a bit more with “Losing My Religion”. And Rachel (Lea Michele) introduced middle America to Yentl.
The title refers to Finn’s subplot, where he makes a grilled cheese sandwich and thinks he sees Jesus on it. Being the bonehead he is, he cuts the half without the savior on it and eats it, then saves and prays to the Christ image. His prayers are shallow, wishing to win a football game or touch Rachel’s boobs, but they come true, giving him faith. When his belief in the sandwich is shaken later in the episode, not because a prayer doesn’t come true, but just because the guidance counselor tells him he’s wrong, it’s a bit weird. This was definitely the weakest part of the episode, and it illustrates perfectly why I find Finn one of the lesser characters.
Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is one of the best, though. This week we got real Sue emotion, a rarity. Her older sister, Jean (Robin Trocki), who has Down Syndrome, was revisited, and Sue’s lack of faith in God was explained eloquently. I was disappointed that her disbelief was shaken so easily, but I’m not sure she ever was a true atheist. Rather, she may just have been mad at a God that would allow her family the suffering they went through. Her taking up Kurt’s case, protesting Will (Matthew Morrison) allowing religion into his classroom, seemed sincere, rather than with the malice she usually attacks her nemesis. Lynch is a fine actress, and her Emmy for the part this year was well deserved. It’s always an honor to see her take Sue to a new level.
The only real surprise was a lack of Quinn (Dianna Agron) plot, as religion has been an important part of her story. With her teenage pregnancy and lac of supportive parents, we’ve seen Quinn turn to Jesus before. The episode was already full, but would it have been nice to allow her a chance to revisit that arc.
Taking the whole episode into account, even with the Finn distraction, this will surely be one of the better episodes of Glee this season, if not in the series as a whole. It was the first truly weepy episode. And the actors involved, especially Lynch and Colfer, proved they can handle the challenge that comes with depth. Kudos.
Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8pm on FOX.