The only thing gayer than Kristen Chenoweth singing a Liza Minnelli song from Cabaret on Glee is...well, there is nothing gayer than Kristen Chenoweth singing a Liza Minnelli song from Cabaret on Glee. And it was glorious!
Getting one of Broadway's reigning superstars (and a recent Emmy winner!) to guest star on the show not only upped the gay quotient of an already flaming hour, but gave us even more amazing performances. Now that Chenoweth won't be wasting her time on television's last delightfully quirky and different hour (thanks, ABC!) she needs a regular role on television's newest delightfully quirky and different hour. I'm starting the campaign now: Save April Rhodes! Everyone start mailing Fox boxes of wine until they bring her back.
But Will's plot to win the war of the Glee clubs this week centered on Li'l Miss Rhodes in an episode that had the lovable losers acting out of desperation and isolation. It was behavior they would regret, because in the end, all anyone wants is somebody to love—and somebody to love them.
"Maybe This Time":
The moment boozy April Rhodes slurred "Give me 'Maybe This Time' in B flat," a tingle ran through my body that is usually reserved for Madonna concerts and sightings of members of the cast of Gossip Girl. What is "Maybe This Time?" Kill yourself! It's the famous number from Cabaret (the movie version, not the original Broadway production, thank you very much) that won Liza Minnelli an Oscar. If you haven't seen it, watch it here. It comes during a point in the movie when Sally Bowles has landed her gay object of affection and thinks that her bad luck in love is going to change. The thing that makes this song soul crushing is not the blind hope in the face of adversity, but the irony that all her hopes will be dashed because she's misplaced them in a situation that is doomed from the start. And when Liza extends her Fosse arms into the spotlight, her outstretched fingers ready to grab the brass ring, we know that she'll only end up with fistful of stale cigarette smoke. When Babygay Kurt heard it, he shed a single tear. So did I. It's encoded on the gene.
When April and Rachel duet the part, we know that everyone's schemes for survival will be dashed. April has come back from a life of dead-end jobs, squatting in foreclosed houses, and giving birth to sets of mixed-race twins, and hopes that getting her diploma and a little bit of that Sally Bowles spotlight can get her back on track. Rachel has quit Glee—where she doesn't feel like she is appreciated—to stand center stage in a school production of Cabaret (PS—who are these kids who will star in the school musical but won't join Glee? Will there be a Sharks vs. Jetts choreographed fight later in the season?).
Also doomed to fail are Will, who will do just about anything to make his dream of Glee happen, and Finn, who needs to get out Lima and get to college so that he can have some kind of life and support his child.
The saddest Sally Bowles moment though was when Finn walks away from Rachel and she watches him walk out of the room and gives a tiny wave that no one sees. It was just like when Sally leaves her man on the train platform at the end of the movie, and as she walks away, she gives a backward wave without looking back. The Nazis are coming and the party is over and she is too hurt and proud to show anything but her facade of confidence, but we know how she really feels, because her dark green nail polish glints with sparks of pain. Oh, Rachel, you are Sally Bowles, and you don't stand a chance.
Rachel's biggest problem is that she lets her quest for fame isolate her from her peers. She thinks that if she can only do something well enough then people will like her and that she'll be able to save herself from the wretched humiliation of high school. Sorry, sister, but that's not gonna happen. The things that happen to you in these formative years will humiliate you for the rest of your life, and no amount of belting is going to save you. The irony, is that Glee is lonely without Rachel because it needs her talent. But they don't miss her as a person, they just want to use her to prove their own validation.
Also lonely this week was Emma, who didn't spend as much time lusting after Will as she did trying to be the voice of reason. She lets Will know that mining the past for the future is a bad idea. "I started an online flirtation with my high school crush, Andy. It got weird and I ended it. Two months later, Versace was dead." She tries to give Finn some help with his future and she even helps Babygay Kurt—years away from learning how to handle his vodka tonics—when he gets wasted and has to go to the hospital "the full Silkwood" after he pukes on her. She even lets Will know that his reckless behavior with his merry band isn't going to fly. This is the first week that Emma was more than a neat-freak caricature. She made a great Shrinky Dink, but she makes an even better fully-fleshed character.
I was lonely at home without Sue Motherfucking Sylvester, who only got one short scene this week, but she managed to wring out one of the night's best lines: "When I found out [Sandy] wanted to write himself into a scene as Queen Cleopatra, I was aroused and then furious."
"I Don't Even Know His Last Name":
This is a song about being ashamed of your foolish behavior. Of course, it's fitting for April, who has plenty to be ashamed about. Not only did she get BG Kurt wasted and give him a pile of vintage muscle mags, she also got nasty in the shower with Puck (shirtless again, score!) and his friend, and showed Mercedes and Tina how to do the Divine shuffle. She also took so many horse tranquilizers that she can't feel her lips. Her biggest mistake though was foolishly hoping she could rebuild her life with a few standing ovations for production numbers. Finally, with Will's help she realizes that she needs to let the kids in New Directions find their own direction and she needs to forge a new path of her own. Let's hope that she comes back as the school's very fabulous janitor! We miss you already, April.
Will needed to be taught a lesson himself, and thankfully Emma was there to do it for him. He let his ambition for the success of his troupe cloud his judgment. Even though he knew having April around was as dangerous as letting a Polish director attend a Swiss film festival, he turned a blind eye because she was a great artist. Finally, he realizes that Roman Polanski is a dangerous dangerous criminal and throws him out of the Glee Club and sends him to house arrest in Gstaad. The next lesson he is going to need to learn is to not treat Rachel like a bitch. Why is he always so mean to her? He just has this deep-seeded contempt for her that seems unfounded and uncharacteristic.
Speaking of Rachel, she should be ashamed of the way she's treated both Glee and the play. She's in, she's out, she's in, she's out. Sure, Sandy, the Wicked Witch of the Sweater Vest was horrible to her in the play, but she would rather steal the show for a tyrant that lead up an ensemble for a very nice man who is nothing like Nicolas Sarcozy, because he wants Roman Polanski freed. She made a deal with a Prada-wearing devil and didn't want to face the consequences. Even her plea at the end of the show, where she said she wants back in because she missed being everyone's friend, didn't seem sincere. Someone needs to teach this girl a serious lesson. Yes, she is very talented, but there is more to life than being the center of attention, and we think it's its going to take some serious heartbreak before she learns that.
Finn will probably be the one to break her heart, because he didn't treat her very well. Playing to Rachel's obvious feelings for him, he tried to seduce her way back into Glee so that he could get himself a music scholarship. Like she told him, just being honest with her would have been the way to go. Hopefully he's learned his lesson, and if he ever wants to see her wonderful printed-on sailor outfit again, he'd better make things right not only with her, but also with his babymomma Quinn.
"Find Me Somebody to Love":
Tonight's episode was less about finding somebody to love than about the characters wanting somebody to love them. Rachel not only wants Finn to hold her in his big man arms and tell her that she's the best thing since Betty Buckley, but she also wants everyone else to adore her, no matter at what cost. Emma got over wanting Will to love her long enough to tell him he was being a dick, while Will figured out that the kids will love him more by being a guiding force in their lives than by winning a big plastic trophy at regionals. April wants every blue-haired lady in Branson, Mo. to love her more than they love penny slots, and that's going to be hard to do, but if she can make a fringey pink rodeo outfit look hot, then that bitch can do anything.
The best thing about this number though, is that it made me love Glee—the show, not the kids—even more, if that's possible. The show is layered with great characters, sly humor (did anyone else get the Andrew Cunanan joke?), and wonderful music breaks that aren't strange and foreign like most musicals, but actually woven into the action of the story. And this week, the sound on the music numbers sounded better than ever and lacked that AutoTuney weirdness that often plagues them. There's always some debate about whether or not this show is good or if it's too ironic or even ironic at all. Well, there's no debate from me. It kind of makes me a little sad that there will be the inevitable backlash followed by a mediocre third season and a return to form in season four that not enough people pay attention to, because right now, Glee makes my heart explode with joy.