Last night’s episode of Glee centered on the emotional and physical intimacies of our main characters. Both Kurt and Blaine and Mercedes and Sam found themselves dealing with difficult issues in their relationships. Blaine’s sudden weight gain and Kurt’s newfound confidence in his own body caused a role reversal for the couple, and Mercedes struggled with her decision about whether or not to take the next, more physical step in her romance with Sam.
And while Glee’s two main couples (never thought I’d say that about Kurt and Blaine and Mercedes and Sam) figured out their problems, Artie dealt with a medical issue of his own making, while attempting to woo Julie, a fellow film student he meet at NYU (see you later, Kitty). Overall, although the major themes of lust, insecurity, and self-confidence were present throughout each story, “Tested” felt like a rather lackluster episode of Glee that attempted to engage these serious issues in an interesting way but mostly fell flat.
Even though a lot of the episode fell flat for me (specifically anything regarding Artie or Sam), there were three major scenes in “Tested” that really worked well: both scenes between Mercedes and Rachel, where the two of them discussed “first times” and whether Rachel would ever be romantically interested in someone after Finn, and the argument between Blaine and Kurt, where Blaine cites his insecurities but in a way that is much more honest and understandable than any of the previous problems that he had with Elliott in “New New York.” The reason why these sequences worked so well within the episode is because of the honesty of the performances and the fact that the conversations between the characters felt real and earned.
Glee has had Rachel and Mercedes go from friends to enemies to back to friends so much throughout its run, but I’m happy to see that the series has decided to stick to its guns since the 100th episode and has showed a new maturity between the pair. Both of their scenes in “Tested” reflected Mercedes’s concerns about being intimate with Sam in an authentic and relatable way. I felt her hesitation and anxiety over what to do initially and her confidence and conviction when she realized that she would not be ready for that next step until marriage.
Similarly, I’m really pleased that Glee has continued to keep alive the idea of Rachel and Finn (a relationship that was and still is a giant metaphor for the series itself) despite Cory and Finn’s passing. Rachel’s fond memories and lack of regret about her and Finn’s first time together was a nice callback to Glee’s history, especially due to how similar the nervousness and uncertainty that Rachel initially felt was to Mercedes’s feelings at the moment. However, even though I was incredibly happy with the callback to season three, what made me even happier was that Glee addressed the possibility of Rachel’s romantic future in a way that felt realistic. Personally, I hope that it is not an avenue that Glee explores in its final season, but it was good of the writers to finally have Rachel confront what her future may hold, even if she isn’t ready for anything to happen right now.
While I figured I would enjoy any scenes between Rachel and Mercedes, I found myself surprised by how much I felt for Blaine during this episode, specifically during his argument scene with Kurt. I think Darren Criss is a fantastic singer, but I’ve always wanted more out of him as an actor. However, during this sequence, he truly portrayed the vulnerability of Blaine insanely well, while Chris Colfer’s reserved and stern delivery reflected Kurt’s self-confidence and assuredness about both his own body and the pair’s relationship.
Having Kurt as the victim and needing Blaine to rescue him was a major complaint that many of Glee’s fans originally had about the couple’s relationship, so it’s encouraging to see that the series doesn’t feel like it needs to remain pigeonholed into that dynamic. Like Glee itself, Kurt and Blaine need to continue to develop, mature, and change as time goes on. Hopefully, this continued evolution within their relationship can yield more standout scenes like the one from “Tested.”
– Maybe it’s because I was a huge Kitty fan, but I’m really mad (although not surprised) at Glee for simply writing off hers and Artie’s relationship in the “Here’s what you missed on Glee” segment. This bitterness led me to not enjoy Artie’s storyline about his own stupid promiscuity at all.
– For the first time in weeks, none of the performances from the episode really stood out to me. “Addicted to Love” was pretty solid, but Mercedes’s rendition of “I Wanna Know What Love Is” just had me thinking about how Cory Monteith had wanted Finn to sing that song for the longest time.
– Speaking of Cory, I really felt his and Finn’s absence while watching this episode. More than I do during most ones. Maybe it was because of the lack of Rachel or because of the conversations that she had with Mercedes during the episode, but it really felt like Glee was missing that “spark” throughout “Tested.”
What did everyone else think about last night’s episode of Glee?
[Photo via Giovanni Rufino/FOX]