Since the focus of this episode is religion and an atheist gets to run the discussion (a rare thing,) I thought a Bloody Mary would be in poor taste for our episodic cocktail. So I tweaked the recipe a bit and give you: HELL SPAWN [aka The Atheist] It’s spicy as hell, and twice as fun!
Our free space is to drink whenever someone is 100% sure their convictions are the only answer.
Finn pulls out Ye Olde George Foreman Grille to whip up a sandwich. While it doesn’t quite grill the same (not since he dried his shoes in it and he loaned it to Michael Scott to cook bed bacon) it can still make a mean grilled cheese. Except this time, the grilled cheese is… different. The grill marks bear a certain resemblance to one carpenter from Bethlehem, Jesus el Christo.
He cuts off the non-holy portion and decides that maybe it’s true that god works in mysterious ways, even with Kraft cheese slices (they do not taste like actual cheese but they do have a superior melt on camera.) He decides to take the cheese to bed (not like that) and kneel before it in prayer.
“Dear Grilled Cheesus,” he starts and then prays like all humans, asking for shit. He wants the team to win their first football game of the season, and if they do, he’ll honor Him in Glee this week. For his god is a bargaining god, yea verily. Besides, god kind of owes Artie, what with him screwing Artie over in the leg department and all.
And guys? They do win the game. THANK YOU GRILLED CHEESUS!
Kurt brings his dad a healthy breakfast option because he’s trying to get his dad to stop snapping into Slim Jims with Red Bulls for breakfast every day. They get into an argument about Kurt choosing to skip Friday Dinner (a tradition in their house) to go to a Sound of Music sing-a-long. Burt tries to explain that those family dinners are sacred – if you don’t set aside something as being special, then what do you have in life? Um, have you seen Captain Von Trapp? That’s something pretty damn special, let me tell you.
Kurt won’t budge, he doesn’t see what the big deal is, and Burt utters the worst words a kid can hear: “I’m disappointed in you.”
In Glee, Finn tells Mr. Schuester that something has shaken him to his core. Puck exclaims, “Oh my god, he’s coming out!” Finn continues to say that some man has made a huge impression on him, Kurt looks up in frustrated agony, and Finn drops the J bomb. Guys? He’s found Jesus. (He was behind the headboard the whole time! Now who feels bad, hmm?)
Rachel, his Jewish girlfriend, is more than a little baffled by this. Kurt is not amused, what with Jesus’ folks being all hateful towards gays. And women. And science. Quinn harumphs all of this blasphemous talk and after her rotten year of getting pregnant while president of the celibacy club, she just wants to give thanks.
“For what? That it didn’t come out a lizard baby?” Santana scoffs.
Mr. Schuester tells them that instead of focusing on Jesus, they’ll make it about spirituality instead. Finn looks at Puck and says “You gotta problem with Jesus?” Wow, dude, way to be antagonistic. Puck laughs it off, he’s a total Jew for Jesus, that’s his number one Heb! But he doesn’t like how people turn it into something other than what it is: being grateful and enjoying the life you’re given.
And to prove his own faith, he’s going to continue his streak of only performing songs written by a Jewish person, take it away Tinkles for Billy Joel’s “Only The Good Die Young.” Puck’s a great singer, but I’m so not into this song, personally. Kurt is also eye-rolly in his chair, so I know I’m not alone.
Over at the Hummel Garage, Burt does business with a customer, joking affably about indigestion before collapsing. Emma runs down the hall in slow motion to Will’s office. They both stand outside the French class that Kurt is attending (he insults Azimio in French, knowing he won’t understand) before asking the teacher if they can see Kurt for a minute. (I still think Dawn learning about Joyce on Buffy is the most realistic and heart-breaking moment depicting a child learning something awful about their parent.)
Kurt waits at the hospital for any news with Emma and Will present, offering their support. The doctor comes out, and it’s grim. Burt has had a heart attack, but he also lost oxygen to his brain, and now he’s in a coma. They have no idea what to expect, when or even if he’ll wake up.
Kurt asks the teachers to leave him alone for a minute, and finally they relent when he firmly asks, “Just give me a moment alone with my father.” He takes Burt’s hand, squeezes it, and asks his dad to squeeze back. As expected, there’s no response.
We need a little levity, which Finn happily provides. Because Finn didn’t really attend Sunday school, he doesn’t know if prayer is like with genies and he gets three wishes, but here goes nothing. He asks Grilled Cheesus to allow him to get to second base with Rachel, even though her boobs aren’t that great. (They’re still lady boobs, so that’s something.) He hopes that Cheesus can see into his coagulated caseins to give him this simple thing for which he’s asking, amen.
At school everyone consoles Kurt on their way into Glee. Brittany brings out a construction paper bedazzled packet and tells Kurt that she “did a book report on heart attacks in case you want to give it to your doctor.” [DRINK] Even though she lost a letter grade from doing it in crayon, the glitter pictures should offer some insight.
Finn has just found out about Burt and yells at Kurt for not telling him about it. Kurt looks at him coolly and says it’s not his dad, so… But that’s as close to a dad as Finn’s ever going to get, and that’s his soon to be step-dad. Kurt is a bit of a dick here, unwilling to let anyone help him carry his grief, unwilling to allow them any, truth be told. (There’s a point, though, coming later.) Kurt does move his attache to allow Finn to sit by him, however.
Mercedes wants to show her support and love by singing a song, and duly performs “I Look To You,” by Whitney Houston. She sings admirably, but there’s no passion. I wonder if the director wanted her subdued or something? Kurt watches her without much of a change in expression. Mostly he’s just hurting.
He thanks her for that, but admits that he isn’t religious, in fact, he’s an atheist. [Obligatory gasp from his fellow students.] “I think God is kind of like Santa Claus for adults. Otherwise, he’s kind of a jerk, isn’t he? He makes me gay, then tells his followers to go around saying it’s something I chose. I don’t want a Heavenly Father, I want my father.”
Mercedes scoffs at this, because how can he know there’s no god? Kurt turns the tables to the logical line of of questioning, that the burden of proof is on her. “You can’t prove there isn’t a magic teapot floating around the dark side of the moon with a dwarf inside of it that reads romance novels and shoots lightning out of its boobs; but it seems pretty unlikely doesn’t it?”
Brittany asks Santana, “Is god an evil dwarf?” [DRINK]
Because Sue has eyes in the sky (cameras) she knows that Will is bringing religion into their public school, and that is not going to happen, not on her watch. Figgins believes that kids should be allowed to profess any faith they’d like.
“Sure at the BET Awards, but not in public schools!” Take that Hooray For Jesus stuff to St. Holy Helen of the Genuflections on Boner for God Avenue, she’s going to uphold the separation of church and state.
Rachel heads over to Finn’s house to discuss this newfound Jesus loving, because she wants them to get married and have babies that are raised Jewish. “I need to know that when I’m 25, and have won a bunch of Tonys, and I’m ready to have intercourse and babies, that those babies will be raised in a certain way.”
“…you’re really not going to have sex until you’re 25?”
Look. Both of her dads’ people were slaves, and she wants her babies to have the freedom to practice the religion she decides is right, can he get behind that or not? Hell yeah, he can! He’s just focused on the finally getting to have sex part. She rewards him by laying on his bed and letting him have a laying on of hands, specifically to her boobs. Thank you, Grilled Cheesus!
Sue finds out that Kurt isn’t okay with this religion business and asks him to file a complaint against Will to put an end to it. He’s not sure if he can trust her, but she assures him that while she does enjoy tormenting the Gleeks, for this she’s as serious as a heart- Uh, she means it. Also, [DRINK] for Sue’s convictions.
Emma berates Sue when she finds out. These kids are just trying to provide comfort for him in this difficult time! Show Emma on the doll where the bad thing happened, Sue, the thing that made you the most hateful person ever. And we have a little lesson in “everything’s not black and white, folks.”
Sue’s sister is Jean. Jean has Downs Syndrome. Sue grew up thinking her sister was the best thing ever, and didn’t understand why people were cruel to her. So Sue prayed for her sister to be “okay.” And when nothing changed she just prayed harder. She realized that the problem wasn’t her prayers but that no one was listening to them. “Asking someone to believe in a fantasy, however comforting, isn’t a moral thing to do. It’s cruel.”
Emma says, “Isn’t that a little arrogant?”
“It’s as arrogant as telling someone how to believe in God and if they don’t accept it, no matter how open-hearted and honest their dissent, they’re going to Hell. That doesn’t sound very Christian.” And Sue wins this round of reasonable discourse, I have to say.
Will tells the kids they are no longer allowed to sing blatant songs about God during school time, and the kids round on Kurt, angry. He stands true to his faith that there is nothing to have faith in. [DRINK] Rachel is just mad that she doesn’t get to sing the perfect song she chose, so thanks for nothing, Kurt. (Oh, sweetie, put this away in your stored up hurts box, it’ll make you a better performer.)
Finn asks for his third wish of Grilled Cheesus, more wishes. Wait, no, to be made QB1 again. After all, popular people are better equipped to spread dogma, right? Puck catches him praying and instead of ribbing him for it, tells Finn that he went to temple with his Nana and prayed for Kurt’s dad. So what are you praying for, Finn?
“Oh, um, yeah. That. Same, uh, stuff.”
Rachel takes Finn to a park that night so she can sing “Papa Can You Hear Me” as a tribute/prayer to Kurt’s dad. And let’s face it. Lea Michele shines on songs like this. First, this is an outstanding Barbra song from Yentl. And Lea can do Barbra. As she sings, Finn takes it in, and you can see the wheels turning on his previously held (selfish) thoughts about god. This is inter-cut with some kids and Carole (Finn’s mom, Burt’s lady) holding vigil at the hospital. Kurt watches from the outside as Rachel ends the song, with tears in her eyes. [DRINK.] (But to be honest, so did I.)
Kurt want them to leave, he’s not okay at all with people praying for his dad. A woman wearing a turban comes in at this time and Finn says, “Dude, why didn’t you tell us you wanted to pray in Muslim?” It’s not a Muslim woman, it’s a Sikh who has been brought by Kurt to perform acupuncture. It might help with circulation, which could help Burt come out of the coma.
“Needles piece the skin better than Psalms. Could you please leave now?”
They just wanted to do something, they all feel helpless.
At the next game, Finn suggests that Sam call a different play than what Coach Beiste ordered. Sam reluctantly agrees and is immediately sacked by a left tackle, getting a dislocated shoulder in the process. Looks like Finn needs to take over as Quarterback. Your prayer has been answered, Finn! Doesn’t that feel great?
Kurt addresses the Glee Club telling them thanks for all the emails and well wishes, but there’s no change in Burt’s condition. He’d like to sing out how he feels, if Mr. Schue will allow it. When his mom died, the one thing that helped him feel like everything in his life wasn’t taken away was his dad just holding his hand. It meant the world to him. Get ready to cry out your contacts. (Just me?)
He sings a lovely version of the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” and I know some critics found that “creepy,” but to me it put the song in a whole new context. Even the “let me be your man” line – he’s an effeminate gay boy with a hyper masculine father. I get it, writers, I get it. Also the little boy that plays a young Kurt looks like Chris Colfer’s clone.
Everyone in the room is moved. Rachel openly cries [DRINK] with her hand on Finn’s leg (steadying him, as well) and the scene closes with Kurt knuckling away tears. Me, too.
The next day Mercedes approaches Kurt saying that she doesn’t know how to be around him anymore. She’s upset that he’s closing himself off from positive experiences and maybe if he’d come to church with her, he might see what it’s all about. Besides, he gets to wear a fabulous hat… “You had me at fabulous hat.”
Finn is also having a change of heart. He goes to Emma’s office to confess for his prayers backfiring on Sam. He tells her all about Grilled Cheesus. She tells him that one, he won that first game because they finally have a competent coach. Two, he touched Rachel’s boobs because he had spent time listening to her and girls kind of like that, and three, a 300 pound left tackle on steroids (and 23 years old) is responsible for Sam’s injury.
This does not have the calming effect on Finn she thought it would. This means that Finn isn’t special, doesn’t have a direct line to god. Now he’s just alone. He starts singing REMs “Losing My Religion” and does it in an angry and confused way. He also matches his vocals to Michael Stipe, which I thought was a nice touch. It finishes in the classroom with everyone looking worried.
Kurt and Mercedes go to church, and she goes to the front to join the choir. She addresses the congregation first, explaining about Burt. I liked that she tells Kurt that she’s okay with him not believing – that’s the first and only time we hear that all episode. But then she tells him that he has to believe in something bigger than you and me. [DRINK] And then she dedicates her life to Godzilla. (He is bigger, let’s all admit that once and for all. True story: the Crusades were really about Muslims denying the existence of irradiated giant lizards. Which we all know is preposterous.)
She and the choir sing an awesome version of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” an absolute powerhouse of a song in its own right. [DRINK] At a pivotal part of the song, a woman sitting next to Kurt takes his hand, shocking him. But there’s something about people just wanting to give comfort that gets through to him. That and the lady across the aisle is wearing the same hat as he is. He finally lets down his guard and just lets people care about him for a spell.
Sue visits her sister Jean at the nursing facility. She asks Jean if she believes in god. “Of course!” Sue tells her that she doesn’t, she’s sorry, but she can’t believe in a god that made Jean’s life so hard. Jean says god doesn’t make mistakes, though. They’re playing checkers and Jean wins. She accuses Sue of letting her win. “No, I’m really not!”
“You’re letting me win,” Jean teases. “You’re letting me win.” I took this in a completely different light. I absolutely love Jean and Sue moments. They’re as honest as it gets on the show, and I’m talking from experience.
Kurt is back at the hospital, talking to his unconscious dad. He shares a few memories with him, like their very first Friday Dinner after Kurt’s mom died, how it was a disaster and they laughed, not remembering they weren’t supposed to yet. He apologizes for not letting the others pray for him, just because Kurt doesn’t believe in God. It’s not about Kurt’s belief, it’s about his dad and people supporting him.
“You and me, dad, that’s what’s sacred to me.” Kurt feels his father squeeze his hand and he calls out for the nurse. Hang on I need a minute, I have something in my eye….
The entire group is on stage singing Joan Osborne’s “What If God Was One Of Us,” and they look like a Gap ad, all white shirts and dark jeans, perfectly arranged with their hands in their pockets, just chillin’, singing about God, you know, nothing big. Sue sneaks in and sits with Will. He tells her that the kids chose to do it, is she going to turn him in? “No.”
Finn eats Grilled Cheesus. (I bet that cheese tastes like plastic at this point.)
Drunken Thoughts: I love that Finn had a “prayer come true” at the expense of someone innocent. So when everyone prays to win, does that mean the losers didn’t pray hard enough? Didn’t pray right? God just doesn’t like them as much? Hmm.
I love that Kurt allowed himself to go to church with Mercedes. It was the impetus for his change, after all. But as Mercedes tells him that he’s missing out on things, you can see the loneliness (of his convictions) in him, and his yearning for human contact. It wasn’t about converting him, it was about sending love to him. That’s nice.
And as an atheist (former devout Mormon) I have to say that Kurt has the approach that I find frustrating in my fellow non-believers. They take atheism on like another religion. Just believe what you believe, regardless, that’s my motto. Then again, it sure would be nice if believers followed that same creed. And I don’t care if people pray for me, it’s not about me at that point, it’s about people feeling helpless and needing to do something. I get it.
Next we address the burning issue: is Sam gay? And time for duets!