Glee returned after a long hiatus with “Frenemies” written by Ned Martel and directed by Bradley Buecker. This episode continued what I would argue is a return to the show’s former glory. Maybe with the end in sight next year, showrunners Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are having an easier time returning to the strengths of the show without having to stretch it too thin. My hope would be to see a return to when Murphy, Falchuk and Ian Brennan actually wrote all the episodes, but I realize that is unrealistic.
I really adore that Sue (Jane Lynch) has become the voice of fans, and in true meta-Glee fashion, says what a lot of us are thinking – that Artie (Kevin McHale) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) are too often simply props in the back of the choir room. That said, it was great to see them both take the spotlight in this episode. They deliver great performances of “Whenever I Call You Friend,” “My Lovin,’” and “Breakaway.” I also really liked that they addressed Tina’s transformation into a self-serving mean girl and that Arte called her on it. It was nice to see a return to more of the Tina we (I) fell in love with. On the other hand, it wasn’t great to see Santana (Naya Rivera) and Rachel (Lea Michele) revert to their old ways after seeing them both grow to be much more sympathetic characters over the run of the show. “Breakaway” seems to refer to the highschool kids breaking away from destructive patterns and the New York “adults” breaking away from each other.
When Tina and Arte clash over who will be valedictorian, it was inevitable that Blaine (Darren Criss) would end up getting it. It’s another hilarious meta-moment when Blaine says, “I feel like things just get handed to me.” A familiar complaint from some fans that Blaine simply joined the show and immediately went to the head of the class, getting the solos and the favorite character! However, Blaine’s solution to have Arte and Tina sing the speech with him – and get their own solos – was another brilliant nod to past glory when the episodes so often had happy endings. Too bad the same can’t be said for life in New York.
While the highschool students manage to rise above their petty differences, Rachel and Santana revert back to their jealousy and rivalry. It seems at first that Kurt (Chris Colfer) is also heading down that street as he is suspicious of Elliott (Adam Lambert). However, Elliot doesn’t share the same small town insecurities and is able to break Kurt out of that cycle by being honest about his intentions to just be friends and enjoy making music together.
Please make Adam Lambert a regular next season! I simply adore him in the show! He’s nailing the acting and he may be my favorite duo pairing so far with Colfer (yes, I know Klaine fans, this is sacrilege). I loved their rendition of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” and who is ever going to complain about Elliot and Kurt cavorting on a stripper pole!
It was nice to see Peter Facinelli back as Rupert, but it will be interesting to see how quickly he realizes that the publicity he garners for having Santana as understudy isn’t going to make up for the damage it causes. Rivera delivers a stunning performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” as Santana does just that to Rachel. It was fantastic to see a really great dance routine to “Every Breath You Take” – something that’s been missing since the show stopped really utilizing the Cheerios to do that. Definitely something that the Broadway show within a show aspect will be able to bring back.
What did you think of the episode? Were you happy to see Tina called on her behavior? Do you think she didn’t deserve it? Do you think Elliott poses a danger to Klaine? Don’t forget to vote for your favorite song in the episode and then let me know your thoughts in the comments below!