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Glee: 4.04 – “The Break Up”

Tonight’s episode gave me some hope that this show isn’t so terrible anymore. There were still brief moments of WTF?, but overall this was a strong effort with some actual emotional payoffs.

All of the main couples this week are on shaky ground and facing crossroads in their lives. How convenient they’re all occurring at the same time! Rachel is experiencing some fall out with Finn arriving last week during her date with Brody. Finn arrived and slept in bed with Rachel, with neither one of them talking to each other. They finally talk at breakfast and Finn shares that he was sent home from the Army after he shot himself in the thigh with a rifle while cleaning it. He feels lost and has no direction. Rachel tries to convince him to stay in NYC. She takes him to NYADA to visit some of her classes. Finn doesn’t fit in and does a version of “Barely Breathing” (a duet with Blaine, which we’ll get to later) to express his feelings. It was one of the better numbers of the season and wasn’t overly produced and choreographed.

Later that night, Finn goes along with the gang to Call Backs. It’s a karaoke bar for NYADA students. He watches Rachel & Brody perform “Give Your Heart a Break” and their chemistry is undeniable. Finn sees that. When they leave the bar, Finn confronts Rachel about it and she admits that she kissed Brody and that was it. This is followed by “Don’t Speak” performed by both of them and Blaine and Kurt. The beginning of the number is good. There’s a lot of stomping and pensive looks on everyone’s faces. Then it absurdly cuts to all of them getting ready for bed and singing the final notes of the song while pouting in bed and being melodramatic. It looked ridiculous and took away from the song.

Finn returns to McKinley to talk with Will. Finn sits in on Glee Club when they are trying to decide what to choose for the Fall Musical. Finn suggests Grease and this suggestion is treated like he found the cure for cancer. “Great idea!” Everyone loves him for it. (It’s probably the most popular high school musical production ever. Not an innovated choice.)

Finn is going through sheet music on the stage when Rachel shows up. (How cheap is it that they can keep flying from Ohio to New York?) She confronts him for sneaking out and not talking to her. She was mad at him for the way they left things when she went to New York, but she understood that decision about she thought about it. Rachel was forgiving him for that but not for sneaking out. They need to move on and Rachel breaks up with him. Finn is left alone. No girlfriend and no job. But it’s pretty obvious something is going to happen with the Glee Club.

Moving on to the issues between Kurt and Blaine. They are still experiencing communication problems. Kurt is too busy with his job to have long conversations with Blaine. This leads Blaine to sing “Barely Breathing” (already discussed up further) while Facebook messaging with a guy named Eli.

Blaine decides to surprise Kurt and turns up at his and Rachel’s apartment in NYC. He accompanies them to Call Backs when he does a piano version of “Teenage Dream”. Blaine dedicates the song to Kurt and says that the song is special because he was singing it “the first time I met the love of my life”. It’s a really sentimental and intense performance. Darren Criss nails it both vocally and emotionally.

Blaine and Kurt go walking in the park. They have a blow out and Blaine admits to Kurt that he slept with Eli, the guy he was sexy messaging on Facebook. They partake in the “Don’t Speak” debacle. Nothing is ever followed up on the morning after, because the next day Blaine is back at McKinley with Finn. There’s a brief scene later where Kurt receives flowers from Blaine at work. Kurt looks at the apology note and drops it in the trash. They don’t officially break up, but it doesn’t look good.

Santana and Brittany are the next couple put to the flame. This is Naya Rivera’s first appearance since the brief webcam cameo in the second episode. She’s been incredibly missed and this episode proved that she deserves to be used much more. She’s an immense talent and she blew everyone else away. Santana comes back home from college to do her laundry. She does it at home so she has an excuse to come back and see Brittany. Santana goes with Brittany to the Left Behind club meeting. A ridiculous prank unfolds, but it leads to Brittany confessing that she joined the club because she knows what it feels like to be left behind. Santana left her behind.

There’s a moving scene that follows later in the episode. Naya Rivera does a gorgeous version of Taylor Swift’s “Mine” (much better than Swift’s version actually). Naya Rivera is so fucking good! Did I mention I’ve missed her? After she’s done, Santana breaks up with Brittany. She wants both of them to be able to pursue other things because the long distance relationship won’t work out.

Will and Emma are also tested, briefly, in the episode. Will gets a letter saying that he was accepted to the Blue Ribbon Panel in Washington D.C. He wants Emma to come with him, but Emma doesn’t want to. She loves her job and doesn’t want to leave for his job. Will comes off as a douchebag in this scene. He’s way too demanding of wanting to leave Emma. I really liked this storyline of Will moving on to better things but the relationship with Emma didn’t need to be dragged through the mud.

The should-be couple of Jake and Marley are tested. Jake is technically dating Becca, the bitchy cheerleader with no backstory. I’m not even going to go into the Left Behind club that Becca is leading. But the next day at school, Jake breaks up with Becca because of a rude comment she makes to Marley. This ends that 2 minute relationship and leaves them both open and available to date in the future, which will undoubtedly happen.

And finally, I just want to talk about the final number “The Scientist”. It brought together all of the main couples for a soaring grand finale. It was a number that took place in Finn’s mind (I assume) and it was really beautiful. No complicated choreography, just the vocals and their expressions telling a story.

I thought this episode was easily the strongest since the premiere. The stuff in NYC was once again the strong point. That stuff is much more fresh and exciting than the boring crap that’s happening over at McKinley. I really hope they visit the Call Backs karaoke bar frequently because I love the idea of it and the set was gorgeous. The episode had some of the strongest numbers of the season. The strongest number was Naya Rivera’s “Mine” which was incredible. I’m going to miss Naya Rivera. She deserves her own spin-off. She’s awesome and Santana is one of the characters that has been the most consistent over the run of the season. I’m excited most of the relationships have been dealt with and we can move on to new stories. The show returns on November 8th. It’s getting out-of-the-way of the World Series coverage. Who even watches baseball anyways?