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    Episode 5.18 of Glee, “The Back-up Plan,” was written by Roberta Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Ian Brennan. Now that the show is moving toward the season finale, most of the characters have achieved at least some of their dreams, so we’re starting to see new opportunities opening up to them.

    Rachel (Lea Michele) is now looking toward her next challenge. The show does a good job poking fun at the industry. Rachel’s new talent agency ICA – a nice spoof on ICM one of the biggest agencies in Los Angeles – has assigned her multiple agents. Her main agent Mr Rifken – who tells her not to talk to the others because it’s a cutthroat business after all – is played by Richard Kind. He delivers his usual terrific performance, and I’m hoping we’ll see him again. While Glee does a great job getting terrific guest stars, they also have a pretty strong track record in under-utilizing its guest stars.

    Rachel almost manages to completely torpedo her fledgling career. She lies to Sidney (Michael Lerner), calls in sick to a performance and heads to LA to audition for a television show. Unfortunately, she doesn’t even read the script or ask any questions. She assumes it’s a musical, but in reality, it’s a sci fi space opera. The one bit of reality I did like in the episode is when Rachel returns – having been saved from the show itself being torpedoed by Rachel’s stupidity by Sanata (Naya Rivera) jumping in to do Rachel’s part – Sidney lets her have it with both barrels.  I almost wish he’d actually sued her and fired her.

    Of course, heaped on top of Santana saving both Rachel and her show, Rachel gets yet another unheard of opportunity to develop a project specifically for her. At some point, Rachel’s selfish behavior really should cause a problem for her – please?

    In contrast, we see Mercedes (Amber Riley) reach out to help Santana by inviting her to collaborate on and sing on her album. Mercedes producer, D’Shawn (Gary Durdan – another nice cameo) is totally – and realistically! – against it. In this instance, the producer is completely right, and Santana herself insists that Mercedes has to protect her own shot at fame.

    Once again, Glee manages to snag a truly amazing guest star – this time it is Shirley MacLaine, playing Mrs Dolloway. In this storyline, Blaine (Darren Criss) steals the opportunity of a wealthy patron from none other than Kurt (Chris Colfer). However, Kurt is supportive of the opportunity being afforded his fiancé. I felt bad for both of them, especially when Mrs Dolloway tells Blaine that he’s wasting his time with Kurt – that has to undermine Blaine’s respect for her opinion – though it seems he is considering her words.

    I was pretty impressed with MacLaine’s performance. She may not be the ingénue she used to be, but she did a pretty good job keeping up with Criss, especially voice-wise.

    What did you think of the episode? Do you think this is going to spell trouble for Blaine and Kurt? Do you think Rachel will be leaving Broadway so soon after her debut? How do you think Mercedes’ album is going to be a hit? Does it feel like Kurt and Santana are being left behind? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below – and don’t forget to vote for your favorite song from the episode!

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