FOX’s Glee finally gets around to the music of Billy Joel in this week’s episode “Movin’ Out.” With graduation looming, several of the students consider their futures and start planning for what they’re going to do after high school. A couple even travel to New York to pursue their dreams, giving fans a hint at who might soon be joining the Big Apple contingent.
The whole thing starts off as Sue (Jane Lynch) sets up a career fair in the hallway, which Will (Matthew Morrison) is appalled to find out doesn’t include any representation for a career in the arts. Sue replies that that’s not a realistic field to go into, and Will argues that he wants his students to dream. In the end, because one of Will’s students helps out Sue’s favorite girl, Becky (Lauren Potter), Sue relents.
In my opinion, promoting a career as a performer is a terrible message to send to kids, on par with pop song lyrics about not letting anyone ever tell you that you’re less than perfect. I know this makes me sound like a grumpy old man (I’m 30 years old), but it simply is not realistic to hang all one’s hopes on a very slim chance. Encouraging kids to pursue their passions as adults is wonderful, but urging all those who desire to make a living in the arts to give it a shot is stupid and irresponsible. Sue isn’t being cruel, she’s telling the kids what someone needs to tell them if Will keeps filling their heads with this junk.
In fact, this all culminates in Will leading the school, including many non-glee club kids, inexplicably, in “You May Be Right.” As much as I love this number, and it is very entertaining, the message is a slap in the face that Sue doesn’t deserve. Will is crazy if he thinks he is doing his job as a teacher in serving the students this stuff.
The story that softens Sue, though it shouldn’t really be related, is when Artie (Kevin McHale) helps Becky check out colleges. Becky has Down syndrome, and so Sue wants her to stay at McKinley and continue working as an assistant. In this way, Sue is offering Becky a safe life where Sue can watch over her beloved pupil. Artie shows Becky that she has some college options, with programs specially designed to serve her, while singing a decent enough rendition of “Honesty.”
At first, Sue, fights back against Artie, as she is wont to do. But I credit her for having the wisdom to back off, and she even supports Becky when the kid wants to try leaving her comfort zone. Sue is often the villain of Glee, and that’s a fun role to cast her in. However, the part is best when it’s layered and viewers get the glimpse the motivations behind Sue’s actions. In this, “Movin’ Out” succeeds beautifully in a touching tale.
The other McKinley plot this week involves the battle for Marley’s (Melissa Benoist) affections. Ryder (Blake Jenner) has begun dating the girl, playing the part of “An Innocent Man” (his version is passable, nothing special), however, Marley is torn, not ready to commit to Ryder. Jake (Jacob Artist) continues to beg Marley to take him back, but when scorned, instead tells of her off with (a better than Ryder’s song) “My Life.”
Look, this love triangle has already been done. We don’t need it again. Marley isn’t into Ryder, and even if he is the right guy for her, she isn’t ready to grow up and see it yet. He’s only going to get hurt if they insist on continuing. And Jake reacts like a hothead teen, proving he’s not mature enough for her, either. However, these reactions are very authentic for the age group, so I’m not really complaining too strongly, even when this arc gets a little boring.
As I’ve said before, the New York segments of the episodes are almost always better, and “Movin’ Out” is no different. Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Blaine (Darren Criss) are sent off to the city with a really great rendition of “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).” They are warmly welcomed into Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer), and Santana’s (Naya Rivera) apartment, and then go out to try to get into a good school.
Sam’s college interview is pretty much a joke. He is not at all prepared, and lets the interviewer know he cares more about being in NYC and the boy to girl ratio than the school itself. I don’t know what Sam hoped to accomplish with this, but it’s a ridiculous failure.
Rachel urges him to really think about what he wants, though, and Sam admits to dreaming of being a model. Rachel uses a connection she’s made to get Sam a meeting with Bichette (Tyra Banks, America’s Next Top Model), an agent who is willing to help him if he loses a few pounds. Reluctant to comply, the roomies cheer Sam up with “Just the Way You Are,” giving him questionable advice.
I get that Sam shouldn’t starve himself, but sometimes there are sacrifices to be made for certain industries. If one wants to be a model, one must almost always get used to eating super healthy; that comes with the territory. I’m sorry, I don’t know how Sam’s friends telling him that he’s great as is helps, even if, for the most part, they’re right. But Sam as a model is much more believable than Sam in college, and it could keep him in the cast if the Ohio setting is dropped, so that’s cool.
During “Movin’ Out,” Rachel suddenly seems to develop a bit of a crush on Sam. This comes out of nowhere, since she’s known him for years and there’s never been anything between them. Is this a purely physical attraction, realized when she suddenly sees him in a new light? Because Rachel seems like the type of girl that needs a guy with substance, and as much as I like the character of Sam, he is not intelligent enough to keep up with her. Rachel and Finn were a strange enough pairing for awhile. This would be even more of a stretch, though her being with Finn does at least set some sort of precedent.
Blaine is in New York to audition for NYADA. Despite a terrific “Piano Man” at the restaurant where the roommates work (including Rachel again, who should not have time for such a thing at this point), he gets nervous and starts to consider other options. Kurt talks his boyfriend back from the ledge and convinces Blaine that he’s good enough.
I’m divided on this. Of course Kurt thinks that Blaine can succeed, and to be honest, aside from Rachel, Blaine is the only one in the cast I truly believe has the chops to make it as a performer. Yet, Blaine’s decision to look into other careers is a sound one, and doesn’t necessarily close him off to opportunities in the arts. Thus, he should thank Kurt for his advice, but go with his gut.
Glee really cheats the audience by not showing us Blaine’s audition. Yes, he sings in “Movin’ Out,” but if Blaine should get into NYADA, which seems the route the series will go, we’ve just been robbed of a monumental step on his path. It’s not enough to just tell us he tried out after making Rachel and Kurt’s own attempts so pivotal. Can we get a flashback in the near future to correct this grievous error?
I like “Movin’ Out” because it has a lot of mostly enjoyable versions of great songs. It also uses characters effectively in decent stories. It has enough flaws to not set it apart from the pack as one of the greatest episodes, but there are also elements that keep it out of the group of poor ones, ranking it somewhere just slightly a bit above average, in my estimation.
Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.