Tuesday, May 1, 2012

GLEE Redux • Choke

Tonight we get to watch the eighteenth of twenty-two episodes this season, meaning that the senior year for some of our favorite McKinley High students is drawing to a close. We know that there are students auditioning for theater schools, and others going to Ivy league schools. And others just hoping to graduate high school. So who do we think might Choke, as the episode title suggests? One thing we know, that Glee happens.

my_fair_lady chicago10460 The Boy From Oz Alice Cooper
florence-and-the-machine Kelly clarkson Funny Girl Phantom of the Opera
Clockwise: My Fair Lady; Chicago; The Boy From Oz; Alice Cooper; Phantom of the Opera; Funny Girl; Kelly Clarkson; and Florence and the Machine.

The episode starts with Rachel walking down the hallway, discussing the celestial beings known as stars, what she wants to be. Soon she is doing mantra's in the mirror, telling herself she is a star. Next Finn is chatting with Puck, who plans to pass European Geography class by flirting with the teacher. Soon, Coach Beiste walks by, sporting a shiner. Santana makes a joke about Beiste and hubby Cooter, when Coach Roz overhears and is offended by jokes using domestic violence. She tells Sue about it, and they find a point of agreement. Sue tells Mr. Schue about the problem, and he doesn't believe his kids would make such jokes. Back in the auditorium, Kurt is practicing for his NYADA audition. He is singing The Music of the Night from the 1988 Broadway musical, Phantom of the Opera.

Puck makes his big move on the teacher, who rebuffs him. She tells him it is time to crack open a book, and he is angered, and sings School's Out by Alice Cooper, off his 1972 album of the same name.

After the song, Puck walks out of the chorus room. Coach Beiste, Coach Sue and Coach Roz are talking to the ladies of Glee about domestic violence, and Sue makes the assignment for the girls to sing songs of empowerment. In the locker room, Finn notices Puck is still missing, and he tells the boys that "No man is left behind," so they all must make sure Puck passes the class and graduates with them. Rachel and Kurt are in a panicked mess, as Rachel hears about his decision to change the song. They decide to stick with the old favorites. In the auditorium, the girls sing Cell Block Tango from the 1975 Broadway production of Chicago, as well as the 2002 film.

Sue and Roz are appalled, for the song celebrates violence, not how to empower women to move past it. But Coach Beiste leaves the auditorium, upset. They find out Cooter has punched her. No one thought he might have really hit her, so they are surprised. And shocked she took it. But they learn she was fearful no one else would love her. Sue tells her she is staying the night at Sue's house, no arguments. Puck is cleaning a pool, and tells the cougar he is leaving town, and then sees his father. Daddy Puck borrows money to pay rent, and Puck sees his father's life pass before his eyes. He goes to the boys to ask for help, so he doesn't end up like Daddy Puck, with no diploma. The guys will help him. As Kurt is about to sing Music Of The Night, he realizes it is the safe choice, and makes the on-the-spot decision to sing Not the Boy Next Door from the 2003 Broadway show, The Boy From Oz starring Hugh Jackman.

He is decked out in gold lamé pants, and gives a big, over-the-top performance. The judge loves it, and congratulates him for taking a big risk. Rachel is concerned, knowing she is going with a song she started singing as a two-year-old. Rachel is back in the mirror, with affirmations of stardom. Finn comes in with flowers, and says she is definitely ready for her audition. She announces she will sing Don't Rain on My Parade from the 1964 Broadway show Funny Girl, and the 1968 film of the same name.

A minute into the song she forgets the lyrics, and when she restarts she messes up even sooner. The audition judge tells her there is no more chances, and it is over for her. She choked, and is a crying mess. The boys are in the room, helping Puck cram for his test. He is tired and cranky, and somehow is asked about the rainfall in Spain, so the boys of course break out an electrified version of The Rain in Spain from the 1956 Broadway production of My Fair Lady, also the 1964 film.

Afterwards, they are back to studying. Coach Sue is upset, Coach Beiste did not stay with her - she moved in with her sister instead. She tells the kids, hoping to teach them a lesson. The kids are moved, and she tells them she has moved out. She tells the girls they inspired her. In the classroom, Puck took his test, and some of those questions were in The Rain In Spain. Others were not. But he thinks he did well, so the boys can "hug it out" in the hallway. The girls apologize to Coach Beiste, and sing for her. They choose Shake It Out by Florence and The Machine, off the 2011 album Ceremonials.

This is a lovely acoustic version of the song. While they are singing, we discover Beiste has moved home, giving Cooter another chance. At Rachel's locker, Kurt tries to cheer her up, but it doesn't work. Rachel is still crushed, for it was she who choked. She cries, and Kurt gives her a hug, and leaves her to be by herself. She closes her locker and starts to sing Cry by Kelly Clarkson, off the 2009 album All Over Yet.

While she is singing, Puck gets his test back, and discovers he didn't pass. As she finishes the song in tears, the screen fades to black.

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