“Lights Out” plague Glee this week as a power outage thrusts the school into darkness. This ruins Will’s (Matthew Morrison) plan to stage a huge, stadium-style number to impress the judges at Regionals, and forces the kids to go back to their musical roots with acoustic and a cappella performances.
The basic story of “Lights Out” makes absolutely no sense. A Mylar balloon gets stuck in an electric socket and knocks out the electricity for the entire building? The kids are not sent home? Somehow, the school has hundreds of flashlights on hand to combat the situation? This is lazy and unrealistic writing.
How about use a more realistic hook to get the students performing sans the tools they are used to, which, by the way, often include only non-electric instruments? Sam (Chord Overstreet) talks about having to entertain his brothers with just a guitar because his family is poor. Isn’t this enough of an in without going off the grid?
“Lights Out” does provide some pleasing musical performances. Sam and Ryder (Blake Jenner) lead the New Directions in the classic “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” Ryder soulfully laments “Everybody Hurts,” everyone does a Stomp-esque performance of “We Will Rock You,” and the episode ends with “The Longest Time.” These are, without exception, fantastic songs, and they are all executed very well.
Ryder’s sadness stems from his on-going issues with his Catfish-gal, Katie. He still doesn’t know who she is, but his continued obsession with her causes him to dismiss Kitty (Becca Tobin) when she tries to go out with him. It’s believable for a high school boy to fall in love with someone online, but it’s too bad Ryder passes on Kitty, a flesh and blood girl who is interested in him, for a fantasy that may or may not pan out.
I don’t think a lot of guys would have made the same decision Ryder does. Kitty is hot and she’s there and she’s willing. Katie could be a dude, for all Ryder knows. However, there is something romantic about falling for someone you’ve poured your soul out to, even if you don’t know what they look like, and Ryder is becoming more interesting because of this plot. I’m curious to see where it goes in the remaining hours of the season.
Meanwhile, Blaine (Darren Criss) investigates why Sue (Jane Lynch) left the school, finding her seemingly happy to be a personal trainer, running group sessions. One gets the distinct impression that Sue is just putting on a brave face, especially during her fun / sad rendition of “Little Girls,” and it’s easy to be sympathetic to her plight.
That being said, Sue can’t reveal the truth, nor can Blaine figure it out, because this story relies solely on Becky (Lauren Potter). Missing Sue and fed up with Roz (NeNe Leakes), Becky makes her way to Figgins (Iqbal Theba) in “Lights Out” to confess to the crime. We aren’t sure what will happen with Sue or Becky as this point, but it does seem the plot will get some resolution.
Kudos should be given to Glee for the outstanding way Becky’s character is handled, and equal praise goes to Potter, the actress bringing the role to life. Becky is not defined by her handicap, nor is that ever the focus of her tale. Instead, she is just as well developed as other important Glee characters, and going down such a dangerous, bold, yet realistic, road with her is brave and compelling.
In New York, Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel (Lea Michele) try to get Santana (Naya Rivera) to follow her passion, but she’s resistant, not knowing herself what she wants to do with her life. That is, until Isabelle (Sarah Jessica Parker) offers them the chance to work a ballet event, and Santana’s past comes out.
I am glad to see Kurt is still working part-time for Isabelle. After his acceptance in NYADA, it looked like we might have seen the last of her. Parker fits wonderfully into the series, and provides a great recurring part. I hope she remains in this capacity for the next couple of years.
Santana is a tough nut to crack, and Glee isn’t about to make it easy for her friends to help her. However, she also is very in-touch with her feelings, going back into her past, as well as that of the others, in “At the Ballet.” This is a great way to explore that background, while staying true to the persona created, even if the song is a bit boring.
I also like that Santana doesn’t know what she’s going to do. Many young people don’t after high school, and it’s satisfying to see her struggle with this, frustrated at others’ pushes for her to define herself. This will be an ongoing process, and hopefully Santana remains in the cast at least until she figures things out.
It’s not hard to imagine there will be some casting shake-ups for season five (Glee was recently renewed for two more seasons). Santana, Kurt, and Rachel seem stable in New York, and hopefully Blaine, at least, will join them next year. But it’s time for most of the other alumni to move on.
Finn (Cory Monteith) will probably still be a player going forward, and if he stays at college with Puck (Mark Salling), that provides room for both of them to continue. It is highly strange that Finn isn’t participating with Will in “Lights Out” throughout the whole hour, preparing for Regionals, just after they get their partnership on track last week, but that could be due to outside influence, since Monteith recently entered rehab, missing filming the end of the season. One assumes that Finn will continue to work at McKinley, picking up this story next year.
However, this may be the end of the road for lesser-seen characters this year like Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Mike (Harry Shum Jr.). They can still guest star, like Quinn (Dianna Agron), but there doesn’t seem to be reason to keep them contracted if they’re not going to be used. The same could also be said for graduating seniors Sam, Brittany (Heather Morris), Artie (Kevin McHale), and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), unless new purposes can be found for them.
This would make room for new main characters, such as Ryder, Marley (Melissa Benoist), Jake (Jacob Artist), Kitty, and Unique (Alex Newell), who have been in just about every episode this year, but remain on the guest list. These five are the future of Glee‘s McKinley arcs, and deserve the promotion.
Which leaves side players like Joe (Samuel Larsen) and Sugar (Vanessa Lengies). They have been absent for the past few installments, including during times where they should be present or mentioned, but aren’t. It’s OK if Glee wants to cut them, since they aren’t main characters, and there is precedent for such drops, most notably the unjust and regrettable way Zizes (Ashley Fink) departs. However, it would be nice, after logging more than twenty episodes apiece, if they get a good sendoff, rather than just disappear.
“Lights Out” is a filler episode, which provides some fun songs, but only a little development. As such, it sparks musings of larger issues, rather than speculation on its own merits. We need these every once in awhile, but they will never be favorite installments.
Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.