Next up for my look back at Glee's first season is "Hell-O." The question is whether "Hell-O"'s theme is "Hello" or "Hell?" It's hard to tell.
Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) struggle to make their new relationship work. Finn realizes too late that he wants to be with Rachel, as she meets and falls for Jesse St. James (Tony award winner Jonathan Groff). Jesse is actually the star of rival glee club, Vocal Adrenaline, sparking unease between Rachel and her fellow group members. Will (Matthew Morrison) goes to speak to Jesse's coach, Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel, Rent, Wicked), and soon discovers he is not as solid with Emma (Jayma Mays) as he'd like to believe.
Musically, "Hell-O" is interesting because each performance is great and adds to the story, but none stand out as requiring paragraphs of discussion to dissect. They are straight forward, and fit with the episode title. "Gives You Hell" is a personal favorite, but "Hello," "Hello Again," "Hello, Goodbye," and "Hello, I Love You" not only share similar titles, but are all solid musical numbers. "Highway to Hell" is sung by Vocal Adrenaline, so it is not required to fit the theme. Though it kind of does, in a slightly more subtle way.
Two long-simmering, budding relationships don't even get off the ground in "Hell-O." It isn't fair that Glee strings its viewers along for 13 episodes with two couples who can't quite be together, only to break them up after less than one episode. Finn and Rachel have a long road to happiness, of course, as do Emma and Will. "Hell-O" is probably too early for things to end happily ever after for either couple. But then why even tease by allowing the four to couple up, only to destroy them so quickly? It leaves a big feeling of disappointment.
Yet, neither guy is ready for a new relationship. Finn and Will are jumping headfirst into new loves after just losing their former ones. Both need to take the time to figure out who they are, which they are told, but have trouble taking the advice. As most people do. It's nice to see Will try to mentor Finn, but the effort falls flat when Will clearly doesn't have it together, either. Both need to be alone for a bit.