Glee Season 5 Review “Bash”

Glee Season 5 Episode 15 Bash (3)

I was a little worried about this week’s Glee, ‘Bash’, with previous attempts at crafting meaningful hours coming off more often awkward and maudlin than not but, despite the episode title, the marketing and the anticipation of viewers built up beforehand, ‘Bash’ largely, thankfully, resisted the urge to overdo things. This episode wasn’t about what happened to Kurt, or how Blaine and his friends reacted to it. It was about the shattering of their image of adult life – supposedly better and more secure after the relentless tyranny of high school – and the ongoing problems that seem to follow us wherever we go.

That’s why I respect and admire Glee for not going over the top with Kurt’s storyline this week, even if its relegation to the final 15-minutes of the episode might draw criticisms from other corners. Along with Mercedes’ own grown-up (yet still so juvenile) dating problems and Rachel’s big decision about NYADA, Kurt’s assault fit into the bigger theme of the episode and, I suspect, the rest of the season. After the muddled first half, permeated by great episodes like ‘The Quarterback’ and ‘Movin’ Out’, we’re now dealing with the real world, and what happens to those idealist, naive kids once they realize what that really means.

Of the three storylines, Sam and Mercedes’ was the least successful and, while I might not be as steadfastly against the pairing as some Glee fans seem to be, the show’s tendency to rush couples together has struck again. It’s not as bad as Sam and Brittany in this regard but, as Mercedes read out the list of girls Sam has dated, it’s just a cruel reminder of how fickle these writers are. Even if the way they found their way back to each other wasn’t the best, and the subsequent conversation about race was as heavy-handed as possible, it was all worth it to get to the songs. Welcome back Mercedes, we really missed that gorgeous voice of yours.

Though it might get buried under the impression Kurt leaves on the episode, this was also a vital episode for Rachel. All the warnings that Funny Girl might not lead to the big things she’s hoping for her future, and the obviously pig-headed decision to quit NYADA so she has more time for the show, suggest that she’s gearing up for a big fall from grace. This is totally necessary if we are to like Rachel again before the final curtain falls next year, but those conversations with both Tibideaux and Kurt were very well done, leaving enough room for us to both agree with her decision and roll our eyes at Rachel just being Rachel.

The rise in these kinds of hate crimes in New York was the story Glee was born and bred to tell and, though it felt slightly off-beat when initially hearing about the episode, the truth is that we’d have all thought a little less of it had it just ignored the problem. Unlike episodes from earlier seasons that attempted to deal with big issues like this, ‘Bash’ felt like it was a justified hour in a show currently exploring what it might look like when transported to a different, more mature world, and this was the most effective way to make a statement to that effect.

Burt’s brief but effective appearance cemented it – this isn’t like what happened with Karofsky in high school, when Kurt had Blaine, Finn and the entire football team to back him up. This is life and, as he assured his father, he’s been fighting against the same bullies his whole life. Credit to Glee, it used this significant, loaded storyline to not just say something about a particular issue, but also to say something about its own characters. That shows growth and, while it was never going to be perfect, ‘Bash’ demonstrated once again that this new and improved Glee means serious business.

What did you think of the episode? How long before Rachel regrets her decision to quit college? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.