Asian F was an episode about expectations – those you have others, that others have of you, that you have of yourself.
It’s a heavy topic, and this episode of Glee had a heavier feel than the previous two in this series. There was still drama (goodness, was there drama), but the ridiculously over-the-top storylines and feel of the season openers was replaced with something heavier, darker, and altogether sadder.
This is the episode fans of Glee as a whole have been waiting for – secondary characters we love get to come to the fore, properly.
Mike Chang got a storyline (!), and a good one at that. Finally, finally, we got to see Harry Shum Jnr do something other than just dance. Sure, he’s an amazing dancer, but this week he got to sing AND act. And he pulled it off. His internal conflict between fulfilling the expectations his father has for him and fulfilling his own dreams – simply another kind of expectation – were quietly played out. He didn’t need the histrionics often displayed by Rachel or the overt schemes played out by Quinn/Santana/Sue (delete as appropriate) to show something matters. He just did it quietly and through actions, not necessarily words. And the scene with his mum? I inconveniently got something in my eye.
The only complaint is that Mike’s storyline should have been spread out across more episodes. Although if that were the case Glee’s writers would probably have introduced it in one episode and then forgotten about it for the next ten, so maybe doing it in one was a good idea.
At the opposite end to Mike – doing what he wants to do because he loves it and for no other reason – was Mercedes, forgetting she’s singing because she loves it and doing it because she wants to prove, and disprove, the expectations about her.
We’ve seen the Mercedes-as-a-diva storyline before, and it does get a little tedious, even in this episode. But this time, the writers took it one step further and Mercedes actually did something about it. By quitting glee and actively pitting herself against her old club, she thinks she’s shown she can take on the world. I don’t know if it was intentional (I hope it was), but what I actually saw was a lost teenager, letting not being as skinny or pretty or favoured as someone else get her down, and making a silly, snap decision out of anger and grief and bitterness. I’d like to see Glee develop this storyline properly, to see Mercedes work out she’s worth something and find her way back to her friends. Most of all, by properly I mean not in the next week.
The other person central to the storyline with Mercedes was Rachel, and this episode did feel like we were getting back to the old Glee, where Rachel was the centre of the universe. Well, it would have done, except for the part where the writers seemed to be parodying their early almost-worship of Rachel in Mr Schuester, and the character’s realisation that those she loves (Finn, Kurt) may not love her enough to forgive her ugly behaviours, like sneakily running for school president.
One of the sweetest moments during this episode came courtesy of Blaine and Kurt (as usual) and their awkwardness over touching one another in a place where Kurt has received so much hostility. Which is why his campaign for class president has turned from being something he’s doing to get into university to being something he feels ca actually make a difference. And why he’s right to be annoyed by Rachel.
Rachel’s campaign is all about her, and is thoroughly boring and I hope it will be a disaster, and Brittany’s is super fun and I hope she’ll stay in it for the long run, but in the end Kurt should win, because it’s THE RIGHT THING.
This episode also brought the Schue/Emma (Wemma?) relationship back to the forefront. And again, it was all about expectations, and this time, Will having too meant Emma’s recovery from her OCD took ten steps back. Will you never learn not to interfere Will?
Beyonce, show tunes, big numbers, dance numbers, Coldplay – this episode had a song (or two) for everyone.
Brittany did Run the World better than Beyonce, although the song still has way too much going on and is really overrated.
Mercedes, as usual, knocked it out of the park on her two (one and a half?) ballads and on her number from Dreamgirls.
Rachel was Rachel, what else can I say?
I’m still a little annoyed about Coldplay. They didn’t see the potential of the programme when it first started and turned it down, but now that it’s a hit they’ve suddenly been gracious enough to let Glee use their music? Pah!
My favourite this week, though, was Mike Chang doing Cool from West Side Story. Sure, he wasn’t vocally the best, but the overall performance was moving. And seeing the football players dance wasn’t as awkward as it should have been.
What Glee did well this week:
Special mention this episode should go to Coach Bieste, who is the new Sue Sylvester. “What?” I hear you cry. No, I know she’s not mean and hating everyone, but she is getting some of the funniest lines. And delivering some of them while eating a gigantic mixing bowl full of pasta. Genius.
Weird moments between Puck and Shelby (NO!), Burt gets into the political race (YES!) and the glee clubs sing songs by Christina Aguilera and Katy Perry (maybe).