Glee’s latest installment is all about growing up and taking a new direction in life, as demonstrated through a weak ‘makeover’ theme. It clearly acts as a prelude for heavily publicised next episode “The Break Up” and thus leaves a sense of incompleteness. The episode also marks the introduction of Kurt’s new boss and editor of Vogue.com Isabelle Wright, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, who is refreshingly far removed from the typical portrayal of a fashion executive.
“Makeover” focuses on the individual progressions of Blaine, Kurt, Rachel and Will Schuester, in preparation for the next episode. The episode demonstrates the personal growth of Kurt as he is successful in his new job in fashion whilst boyfriend Blaine is left behind at McKinley High School, struggling to find a way to fill the gap in his life. It also portrays Will at a different point in his life, the low after the high – what is he to do with his life now that his childhood dream of achieving a Nationals trophy with Glee club has been fulfilled? Then there’s Rachel, who’s already moved on further than she wants to admit to herself, and finally accepts a makeover to fit with the person she’s become.
The narratives aren’t perfect, and they don’t fit as well together as the last two episodes. In fact, the New York scenes just feel like a different show altogether (a route I really wish they’d taken) and it’s only highlighted by the content of the scenes themselves, with Kurt and Rachel’s lives turning out to be a marked contrast from high school life at McKinley. Kurt winning his internship in fashion doesn’t really fit in with a show based around musical theatre and high school, and the writers seem to have acknowledged this by making Kurt’s route into fashion as easy as humanely possible. Kurt scores an internship after an absurdly easy interview and before the episode’s end he is sitting alongside Isabelle’s editorial team.
Back at McKinley, Blaine and Brittany’s campaigns for senior class president are nothing we haven’t seen before and could have slotted in anywhere in the last season. Will’s storyline again seems to negate what we know about him as a character. Remember Will telling Terri he didn’t want to be an accountant because he loved being a teacher? Will doesn’t. He more or less openly admits he doesn’t like the “mundane” life of a teacher anymore. What’s worse is his only concern for leaving his job for a role on a Blue Ribbon panel to secure funding for the arts is his relationship with Emma rather than those of the kids he’s always claimed meant everything. He hasn’t even told them yet. Perhaps the show is going for motivational rather than selfish, but it doesn’t play out that way.
Rachel’s plot appears halfway through the episode and thus feels like it’s squeezed in as an afterthought. She and Brody grow closer and she attempts to cook him dinner but sets it alight, ultimately resorting to pizza delivery (the writers have obviously forgotten Rachel was portrayed as an excellent cook in season one). The reason for the forced inclusion of Rachel is made clear by the episode’s end – Finn arrives, just as she’s decided to move on, and we’re left with one of television’s more predictable cliffhangers .
The songs in this week’s episode were few and well- chosen, though nothing sounds particularly spectacular. Each song did feature a montage however, which I know are popular, but after four in one episode they really start to lose their impact. Blaine’s cover of “Everybody wants to rule the world” sounds very much like all of Blaine’s other covers. Brittany’s faces during her and Sam’s performance of “Celebrity Skin” were mildly terrifying and extremely off-putting, but the song itself is more or less as good as you’d expect from these two vocalists. The mash up “The way you look tonight/You’re never fully dressed without a smile” was a nice song accompanied by a nice montage and the nice Kurt/Isabelle friendship, but nice is really all there is to say about it. Rachel and Brody perform the last number of the episode “A change will do you good” and it’s fine, though I don’t think Rachel needed a song in an episode that wasn’t really about her apart from in the closing moments. Also, I’m sick of all the Rachel in New York montages in this series now.
In short, Glee’s episode was confusing in terms of structure and plot. Each story felt very separate and thus disrupted the flow of the episode frequently. Each character suffers real and relatable conflict in regards to personal growth, but it doesn’t really hit home – perhaps because we’re not supposed to feel the whole impact of it until next episode. Maybe this episode could have worked with better writing, but to me it seemed like the decidedly less impressive first half of a whole. That said, the musical numbers were as good as it gets in terms of selection and number, and the show did dedicate a larger portion of screen time to narrative. Isabelle too is a highlight, if a bit overly sweet. It’s a mixed bag, and I’m hoping “The Break Up” will improve my opinion of “Makeover.”
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