GLEE: “Transitioning” Review
When I heard that the Glee episode where Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) comes back having transitioned from a woman to a man was called “Transitioning”, I did not expect them to make “transitioning” a theme for everyone in the episode. In fact, Coach Beiste was practically the C storyline in the episode, with Rachel (Lea Michele) and Will (Matthew Morrison) taking focus.
Rachel has known since she’s returned from LA that her dads were selling the house, but now it’s sold and she simply can’t deal. So instead of teaching the new kids a weekly lesson, Kurt (Chris Colfer) makes the lesson of the week all about Rachel, a fact that is pointed out by the new kids, but Kitty (Becca Tobin) quickly shuts them down: she’s used to it. Kurt, with the help of Sam (Chord Overstreet), Artie (a completely unused Kevin McHale), Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Blaine (Darren Criss) throw Rachel a “Farewell to Rachel’s Childhood Home” party in her basement.
Remind me why we even have the new kids? There has been literally zero time spent on those characters beyond getting them into the Glee Club. Everything still revolves around the old kids. Stupid.
The kids are also assigned duet partners via a big spinning wheel. Where on earth do they find the funding for that? Don’t ask. Cuz there isn’t an answer. It’s just magic. And it’s really all so Kurt can rig the game to sing with Blaine. After all, we only actually see one of the new kids perform. When Mercedes spins the wheel, it lands on Roderick (Noah Guthrie), and she has to ask which one he is. (Pay attention to that: it’s a plot point.)
At the party, Mercedes and Roderick sing Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” in a completely underwhelming arrangement, while Sam and Rachel go upstairs and at the very least make out. They probably had sex, but it’s left ambiguous. An episode supposedly about trans people, but sex? Let’s not go there.
After Kurt and Blaine sing their duet, Kurt walks Blaine out, and Blaine kisses him. Kurt is left surprised, but says nothing. Naturally, Blaine being a good guy, he tells Karovsky (Max Adler) about it, and they break up. Karovsky is actually quite nice about it. Too nice, in fact. He’s already talking about rebound guys before the conversation is over. Further proof that the two of them never ever ever ever ever ever ever made sense together. Ever. So Blaine literally runs to tell Kurt that he still loves him, but is stopped by the fact that Kurt is headed out on a date with Walter (Harry Hamlin).
This is where it makes even less sense. Kurt has been pining after Blaine since they broke up. He’s sort of dating Walter, but not really. He rigs the spinning wheel so that he and Blaine can sing together, but when Blaine kisses him, his reaction is to keep dating Walter? Nope. Don’t buy that. But the next episode is called “Wedding”, so I expect the two of them to get back together at Britney and Santana’s wedding.
In the other main storyline, Will is trying to work with the kids of Vocal Adrenaline, but he’s having some issues. He wants to give them a lesson like he did back at McKinley, but they’re having none of it: they’re too focused on winning. But being Will, he gets up and performs for them a cringe-worthy version of “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, bringing back Unique (Alex Newell) to sing the Mary Lambert part. I hated this so much that I was, for once, in complete agreement with the Vocal Adrenaline douchebags as the camera cut to them shaking their heads and rolling their eyes in annoyance at Will’s performance. And when he’s done, they lay out the law: They don’t care about gay, straight, trans, black, white, any of that. All they care about is winning.
To that end, they decide to mess with the New Directions. They do this by tagging Coach Beiste’s car with the slur “Coach Tranny”. Even Sue (Jane Lynch) is upset by this. Then again, she’s aggressively protective of Coach Beiste in an almost out of character way, but I’ll let it slide, because tolerance is good. The flaw in Vocal Adrenaline’s plan, though, is that it has nothing to do with New Directions. They’re off on their own Rachel crisis (as usual) and the only ones who seem to care or even know about it are Sam and Spencer (Marshall Williams): the football guys.
Naturally, Will is incensed and kicks Clint (Max George), the “Rachel” of Vocal Adrenaline, out. Of course, that doesn’t last long, since Vocal Adrenaline has its own Booster Club, which gets Clint reinstated. So Will tells them that he’s going to do things the Vocal Adrenaline way, and he has a great prank in mind. The whole group sneaks over to the McKinley auditorium, but surprise! It’s just for a performance. Unique sings “I Know Where I’m Going” from Hairspray (a truncated version), with an enormous choir made up entirely of trans people, after which Sue literally sets dogs on Vocal Adrenaline, forcing them to leave. Oh, and Will quits his job. Rachel and Kurt ask him to be the “Special Alumni Consultant” for the New Directions, and unpaid made-up position, and he agrees. They need help with the weekly lesson topics, and he asks what’s going on in the students’ lives. Surprise! They don’t know. They don’t really talk to them. “Well, you should start,” says Will. See? I told you it was a plot point.
So, in an episode supposedly about “transitioning”, the actual transgendered characters get the least amount of screen time. Though there is a really lovely scene between Unique and Coach Beiste where they bond over their, pardon the pun, uniqueness.
It was also nice to see Jayma Mays back as Will’s wife Emma, but she really didn’t serve much purpose other than to tell Will she supports him no matter what and provide a few OCD jokes. I didn’t miss those. But she still did more than Artie did in the episode.
Does anyone even care if they win Sectionals or not? Anyone? Bueller?