October 5, 2010

Episode Review: GLEE, "Grilled Cheesus"

When Glee wants to be good, it can be really good, and tonight the show was solid. I wouldn't rank "Grilled Cheesus" in my Top 5 list of favorite episodes, but it was able to combine genuinely funny moments with some gut-wrenching heart all while addressing the hot-button issue of religion.

The storyline was pretty straightforward (shocker, I know!). Burt and Kurt had an argument about their Friday night dinner tradition right before the senior Hummel had a heart attack that left him in a comma. The lighter moments came thanks to Finn and his religious awakening that was brought on by an image of Jesus that appeared on a grilled cheese sandwich. "Cheesus" really focused on the two of them coming to terms with their own ideas on faith and religion while their New Directions teammates chimed in.

It could have been easy to make Kurt the stereotypical atheist by having him just bad mouth religion and God, which he did, but his story felt more organic within the context of him having to deal with his father's mortality, and that made his arguments convincing. I'm not saying his point of view was right or wrong, but when you watch a loved one suffer, it's understandable to question whether God exists or not. Kurt's role in "Grilled Cheesus" was to shed light on one perspective of the religion debate without alienating the other side, and I felt that the message was successful.

I was really torn about Finn's story because on one hand it brought the funny that was needed to balance out the heaviness of the rest of the episode, but it felt a little tacked on. While Kurt was steadfast in his thoughts about God, Finn was just starting to open his mind to the possibility of a higher power, and it could have been a great opportunity to explore faith but it quickly became superficial.

To Finn, God was nothing more than a magic genie that granted him wishes like feeling up Rachel or becoming quarterback again. When Ms. Pillsbury pointed out that all of those things happened by coincidence, his spiritual journey ended just as fast as it started. The story line was thin, and Finn came off as flaky, but in some odd way it all fit with his character and kind of worked. I just hope the show continues to explore Finn's crisis of faith down the line, so it wasn't just a cheap excuse to use the word "cheesus".

Musically, the episode was decent. Puck and his guitar always lead to fun numbers, and his version of "Only the Good Die Young" held true to that standard. It was nice that Mercedes had two chances to show off her pipes, and Kurt's rendition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was beyond amazing. Chris Colfer continued to impress. Unfortunately, the only letdown song wise was Finn's "Losing My Religion". It just didn't work, and it'll give the Monteith haters another opportunity to pick apart his singing abilities. While this week's musical numbers were not as flashy as last week's, at least they contributed to the plot and were not just music videos.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • "Heart attacks are just from loving too much" -Brittany. Just when I thought she couldn't get any cuter.
  • I thought it was odd that one of the most religious characters, Quinn, was barely used tonight. You'd think she would've had a bigger role, but she was once again pushed to the background. Talk about no God.
  • Speaking of Brittany and Quinn, what did Cory Monteith have to pay the director to get placed in between the two of them during the final number? Lucky bastard!
  • Emma and Sue's debate about God was well thought out and nicely executed. Kudos to the Brad Falchuck, Jayma Mays, and Jane Lynch.
  • Less Artie = Better Episode...coincidence?
  • Is it weird that I wasn't shocked when Finn ate the grilled cheese sandwich? Apparently, everyone freaked out at that moment. I just thought it was very Catholic of him.
Not many shows have the stones to address religion in this day and age, especially when young people are involved, but leave it to Glee to put itself out there. "Grilled Cheesus" toed the line well and the message wasn't preachy or antagonistic, and it reminded us what makes this show special. Let's cross our fingers for more strong episodes like this one and fewer duds like "Britney/Brittany".


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