by Chris Saccaro
With every passing week, “Glee” is getting that much closer to graduation; when we will have to part ways with many of the original cast members. This week’s episode, a tribute episode to Whitney Houston, acted as a means of allowing the kids (or at the very least, Mr. Schuester) to come to terms with the fact that they are all growing up and going in separate (new) directions.
The episode opens up with a hauntingly beautiful cover of “How Will I Know” sung by Mercedes, Santana, Rachel, and Kurt as they surround a locker shrine dedicated to the late Whitney Houston. As nice as this scene was, it felt trite. These kids showed more emotion for a 2-month dead celebrity than they showed for Quinn’s accident or Karofsky’s suicide attempt. Thankfully, Mr. Schuester creepily observed this performance while he lurked in the hallway, and expresses what most of the audience is probably feeling; “It’s been two months, are they REALLY this upset?” To which Emma Pillsbury responds with her own cautionary tale in which she used Princess Diana’s death as a way for her to mourn the loss of her childhood innocence as she graduated high school.
This isn’t the first time the writers had to spell out exactly what their intentions were when picking a themed episode. Last episode they did the same thing with “Saturday Night Glee-ver,” equating the movie with the apathetic seniors. However, this time the kids shoot Schuester’s idea down, saying they are just mourning her because she was a great performer.
Other than the opening number, most of the songs fit quite well into the narrative. Blaine’s cover of “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” in response to Kurt’s emotional affair was fitting, albeit slightly overdramatic and hypocritical. But thankfully, Kurt pointed this out during a couple’s counseling session with Emma. It turns out, Blaine’s distance is just a result of him coping with the fact that Kurt won’t be here next year. Do you see the theme of this episode yet?
“Glee” is getting really heavy-handed with the pre-graduation sentimentality, but as someone who graduated high school within the past 5 years, there is some truth to the anxiety that all of the kids are feeling. A lot of it is a fear of the future after graduation, which seems trivial to those of us who survived life after high school, but it is still a relatable fear in the broad sense of the future.
Some of “Glee’s” best performances stem from these feeling of preserving the present and living in the moment. The episode ends with the whole Glee Club singing “My Love is Your Love,” and the lyrics (“As the years they pass us by, We stay young through each other’s eyes”) resonate with all of the feelings the characters have about graduation.
The whole performance is reminiscent of New Direction’s cover of Fun.’s “We Are Young” earlier this season. In both of these performances, it’s just the kids singing with each other and enjoying the moment, not worrying about who is getting a solo, or what’s going to happen in the future. And these moments are what being young is all about.
Chris Saccaro is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.