Gleeks’ Season Two 30-Day Challenge
Days 22-24: Scenes That Made Me Laugh
Scene: Final Scene of Blame It On the Alcohol
Reason: This scene—when Rachel kisses Blaine, both of them sober this time, in the Lima Bean so that she and Kurt can find out which one of them might have a real chance with the dapper Warbler—made me laugh longer and harder than any scene all season. It was partly due to the flawless acting of Lea Michele and Chris Colfer throughout; they delivered the comedy with each intonation of their voices and each flutter of their eyelashes, as they did throughout this episode packed-full of fantastic Hummelberry scenes and development.
What put it over the top for me as the stand-out Season Two moment of hilarity, though, was the the way the scene set us up to expect tragedy and delivered pure comedy. We had two potential tragic outcomes built into the scene: one, that it might show us the end of the budding, beautiful friendship between Rachel and Kurt if either one became jealous because the other could be a love interest for Blaine. The entire episode set us up for this, with Kurt’s initial expressions of concern when the drunken kiss went on too long, his angry reaction when Blaine agreed to go out on a date with Rachel, his depressed conversation with his dad about Blaine’s “confusion,” and his interaction with Rachel after the date when he tried to warn her off, delivering to her basically the same speech that she delivered to him about Finn in Hairography when she told Kurt that she’d always have a better shot at Finn because, since they were both straight, they shared a chance at romantic chemistry. Hairography was the episode which also, not coincidentally, was the first time we were shown an inkling of where Kurt’s and Rachel’s relationship was going to be heading over time—that sad hand-wave salute they shared as they watched Quinn and Finn walk down the hallway together, ignoring them both, forged the bond between Rachel and Kurt. In Blame It, we were able to see, and rejoice, at how that bond had deepened and developed, and were deliberately made to feel that it might be in jeopardy if they were to compete, again, for the same guy.
The second potential for tragedy built into the final scene was that Rachel, already heartbroken and vulnerable after being repeatedly rejected by Finn, would be devastated by Blaine’s rejection of her and go back for another round of sad, sorrowful, downcast character moments. Either, or both, of these dynamics were in play, and it wasn’t until the final seconds of the scene that we saw the writers and director pull their rug out from under our feet and make us laugh instead of cry.
Rachel was, in fact flat-out, 100% rejected by Blaine. Kurt rejoiced, walking to Rachel with a smirk on his face before hurriedly composing his features and trying to be a good friend by talking her through how difficult the rejection must have been. Reveal One: Kurt is still invested in the friendship and will try to be sympathetic (easy, because he’s “won,” after all; and he decides not to rub in that he was right).
Rachel stands there, staring after Blaine with a stunned look on her face. Kurt, and we as the viewers, can’t decipher it. Is she hurt? Has she deluded herself into thinking Blaine didn’t mean it and there is still something there? Has she hopelessly fallen for him even if he will never return her affection? Her next words don’t help us: “Are you kidding?” she says to Kurt when he states, “That was hard, wasn’t it?” Rachel goes on: “That was amazing. I am speechless.” Uh-oh; looks like fantasy-deluded Rachel has entered the building. Kurt, fearing the same thing, recoils, his eyes going wide and his face contorting.
And then, boom—the punchline, perfectly delivered. Rachel, increasingly elated: “I just had a relationship with a guy who turned out to be gay! That is songwriting gold!” She then grabs the face and kisses the cheek of Kurt, who looks like his face might be permanently frozen in shocked astonishment at the way Rachel actually reacted; she beams, thanks him twice, and runs off to go home and get to composing. Rachel Berry, focused on her mission to write a song in order to secure her team a win and further her goals, transforms the potential tragedy into hilarious triumph.
Because I so deeply love the way the friendship between Rachel and Kurt has been, and continues to be, developed, I had high personal stakes invested in them not turning against each other in this episode, and the end of it not only perfectly delivered, but it showed us that these two are only become more and more solid as friends. I also really didn’t want to see a sad, rejected, dejected Rachel walk away from the scene, but that’s what I was expecting to see because that is always how we’ve seen Rachel, prior to this, respond to being rejected by a guy. The sheer delight in her voice and on her face as she voiced her happiness as achieving her goal of having lived (even if just a very, and a very humorously, little) portrayed her in a moment of utter joy, while the expression on Kurt’s face mirrored the way we as viewers experienced her unexpected response. And while we didn’t necessarily know it then, this response was setting us up to see how Rachel would, a few episodes later, respond to real hurt, and how then, too, she would use it as a means of deepening her self-expression and writing a truly good, winning song.
I felt, from the first time I watched it, that BIOTA was partially written and directed with the intent of showcasing Lea Michele’s strong comedic acting abilities. We see so much of tragic Rachel, hurt Rachel, driven Rachel, diva-ing-out Rachel, quietly-trying-to-help and sensitively-observing-the-feelings-of-others and building-up-the-self-esteem-of-others Rachel on Glee in moments that are pivotal to her character development that it is easy to overlook her moments of pure hilarity and to discount the skill it takes to do good comedy. This entire episode, aside from the single moment when she hugged Finn and explained to him that they shouldn’t let their past as boyfriend and girlfriend keep them from being able to comfortably interact with each other, was a kaleidoscope of variations on comedic Rachel Berry moments delivered flawlessly by Lea Michele, with this final scene serving as the glorious climax.