This week’s Glee was heartbreaking, plain and simple. It was a sad tale of the dissolution of romance, splitting up all the major couples in the series at once. Glee, even when it gets dramatic, usually has goofy, upbeat parts. In “The Break-Up,” though, the FOX dramedy really focused on the drama, making for a great, though very sad, installment that did not feel like Glee at all.
Season four of Glee has brought a lot of maturity with it. A number of the characters have moved on to the real world beyond their small town and, because of that, the issues they deal with are a bit more serious than the stuff they worried about in high school. Couples broke up all the time in the first three seasons. But in making the emotions so much more raw this time around, and packing so many splits into one episode, it meant so much more.
The music also went more soulful for “The Break-Up.” From “Barely Breathing” to “Give Your Heart a Break” to “Mine” to “Don’t Speak,” blow after blow kept coming. Music can really sell a story in a way sometimes straight dialogue can’t, as Santana (Naya Rivera) basically says in the episode. By the time eight voices performed “The Scientist,” you would have to have no heart not to be moved.
Yes, it’s true that most high school sweethearts do not end up married and spending their life together. This is a fact of life that television often fudges to satisfy viewers, who want to see the couples they’ve invested in make it. Three such pairings existed on Glee among the various students, and all three are no more. Will these break ups stick, as they most likely would in the reality? Or will the pressure of keeping the fans happy mean that some or all of them will come back together soon enough?
The most likely couple to reunite is Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt (Chris Colfer). Like all of the other duos, distance is their main issue, with Blaine trying to make his senior year meaningful, and Kurt neglecting his boyfriend in favor of building a career and making professional connections. It would be very difficult for them to reunite under the current circumstances. But with no immediate replacement prospects for either of them, and Blaine likely finding New York a suitable post-high school destination, it could be only a matter of time before they’re back together.
Which is not to say that it will be easy for them to reconnect. Like at McKinley, Blaine would be moving to be near to and follow Kurt. Kurt would already have the established life, and Blaine would have to try to fit into that. It’s not ideal, and it’s not fair that Blaine should make all of the sacrifices. This is the powerful sentiment behind Blaine’s “Teenage Dream” reprise, and it’s incredibly moving.
Rachel (Lea Michelle) has practically already moved on with Brody (Dean Geyer). It’s hard to blame her, when Finn (Cory Monteith) drops off the face of the earth, and doesn’t share important life developments with her. They are kind of already done before Finn shows up in “The Break-Up,” and even though Rachel tries to hang on, their break up feels more like a formality than a fork in the road.
What will Finn do now? With no Rachel and no army, he is left a bit directionless. It seems logical, though completely unrealistic, that he might take the reins of the glee club while Will (Matthew Morrison) is off working on his blue ribbon panel. This keeps Finn around on the show and gives him a purpose, even though his recent classmates would probably not accept him as an authority figure, nor would a school allow a recent alum with no higher education to run the club. But, in terms of plot logistics, it makes sense.
Speaking of Will, although he and Emma (Jayma Mays) have a pretty serious fight in “The Break-Up,” it seems strange that they sing “The Scientist” with the kids. Does this mean that their wedding is off? Yes, the issue between them is a weighty one that will need dealt with. But they are engaged! This is not worth canceling the union completely over. Is there a scene missing that followed that argument? If they didn’t beak up, it doesn’t make sense that they were part of the song.
Finally, there’s Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana. Like Rachel, Brittany has other prospects in the wings, though I am not in favor of her getting together with Sam (Chord Overstreet). But she and Santana have seemed the most separated of any of the couples up to this point. Santana truly is moving on, and Brittany is left behind. As much as I root for them, this split makes sense, and is the one I think most likely to be permanent, considering there just isn’t any easily foreseeable way to bring them back together.
Oh, and Jake (Jacob Artist) dumped Kitty (Becca Tobin), but who didn’t see that one coming? And the characters haven’t been developed enough yet to really care, anyway.
Glee likely won’t change its tone forever. “The Break-Up” is probably an anomaly. And as much as I liked this installment, I wouldn’t want them to shift the show this completely, losing some of the magic and humor that attracts viewers. That being said, this is a very strong hour, both musically and story-wise, and it’s nice to see that Glee can do something so affecting.
It also maintains a high quality this season for the fourth episode in a row. Not all four episodes have ranked among the best of the series, but none of been total duds, either, and based on the un-eveness the show usually displays, this is a feat to be proud of.
Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.