So Glee is back, and I’m glad. It wasn’t a great episode (too little Quinn and Kurt), but it was nice to see everyone in fresh material. The problem, as I see it, resulted from achieving too much in the previous portion of the season. Remember that Dynasty cliffhanger when they were all at the wedding in Eurotrashia, or wherever, and gunmen mowed down all of the guests, and then when the new season started, everyone got up and brushed themselves off except for the other gay guy?
Basically, the makers of Glee had to push things back to a certain point, leading couples to estrangement so the audience could resume rooting for them to get together and undoing various other plot developments to fuel future events. I remember this sort of thing happening with the season finales on Ryan Murphy’s earlier teen dramedy, Popular. I’m not going to complain too much, because even really good shows have so-so episodes, and it wasn’t like it was “Acafellas” or anything that dire.
I would like to provide nerdish speculation on one plot development, which I will do after noting that I’d never actually watched an episode of American Idol before, and I am unlikely ever to do so again, because that hurt.
Idina Menzel, who caught attention on Broadway in Rent and then grabbed that attention in a stranglehold in Wicked, plays the coach of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. She gives a very good performance, and I don’t even mind that she didn’t get to sing anything, because that sentence can clearly be ended with “yet.” Geeky hero coach Will goes to talk to her about a budding romance between her star (Jesse St. James, played by Jonathan Groff of Spring Awakening fame) and his (Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michele of Spring Awakening fame, and you have to love a TV show that incorporates Broadway musical in-jokes in its casting decisions).
Will is worried about glee-club subterfuge, but Idina’s character assures him that Jesse is a good guy and has no ulterior motives. She later watches Jesse and Rachel making out, and there’s suspicious eye contact, and we’re all supposed to think that little Rachel is going to get her Broadway-bound heart broken by the conniving rival. This seems to me to be an obvious fake-out.
My theory is that you don’t cast Idina Menzel in a throw-away villainess role. (Well, you might, but not after you cast Kristin Chenoweth in a throw-away villainess role. You don’t make that mistake twice.) When she bears enough of a physical resemblance to Lea Michele to play TV-related, and Lea Michele’s character is the product of surrogacy, and both are driven, show-choir obsessed brunettes, you cast Idina Menzel as Rachel’s biological mother, who just happens to be the director of a rival show choir who is using the rivalry and the romance to get closer to the child she bore for other people.
This is my theory, and I’m sticking to it.