2.3 Grilled Cheesus
Belief and religion are probably two of the hardest topics any show can deal with. In fact, thinking back to shows in recent television history, the only one that dealt with faith was 7th Heaven. But then, that only dealt with one type of faith. What if you are Jewish, or Muslim, or an atheist?
It seems we tiptoe around the idea of religion, so it is highly refreshing that a show like Glee has decided, for this week, at least, to take a look at what the meaning of faith can be.
When Finn finds the face of Jesus on his grilled cheese sandwich, he promptly finds faith in God and asks that his three prayers be answered: that the football team win their first game with Artie, that he can touch Rachel’s boob, and lastly, that he is reinstated as quarterback. When the first of these prayers are answered, he asks the glee club to honour Jesus in song, but apart from support from Quinn and Mercedes, his request falls upon deaf ears.
Kurt is also facing his own crisis of faith (or lack thereof) after his father has a heart attack and lies comatose in hospital. As an atheist, he doesn’t want his friends to pray for his father and is upset when the club begin to sign religious songs. Sue, who is also an atheist, goes to Kurt and encourages him to put in a formal complaint, not to get one over on Will but, in fact, because she also has a lack of faith due to her prayers not being answered as a child for her sister to be cured of her Down ‘s syndrome.
Mercedes finally gets Kurt to at least try going to church with her on a Sunday and, although he finally learns to accept his friends’ prayers, no matter which denomination they are, he admits his faith isn’t in God, but rather the relationship he has with his father. After Finn’s final two prayers are also answered, he finds himself losing his religion, as making himself quarterback again means Sam getting injured and being unable to play again. This doubt eventually leads him to eating the rest of his grilled cheese and going back to how he was.
I am going to say straight off the bat here that Grilled Cheesus has to be, by far, one of my favourite episodes of the show. Perfect songs, stellar acting and an emotionally charged script made for probably one of the best hours of television I have seen so far this year.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, religion is a very tricky subject to approach and so it isn’t surprising a lot of shows don’t go near the topic. But not only did the writers take it head on here, they explored not only the concept of religion, but of faith and how each of us finds it in different places and in different ways. That doesn’t necessarily have to be through organised religion, but through faith in our friendships or the relationship with have with our family, and to talk about this openly is a pretty major thing to do, especially on a primetime American family friendly show.
It isn’t just the topic and the approach that makes this episode so special, though. It is the joint efforts of the cast, who act their socks off. Firstly, at the heart of the episode is Kurt, who is played so wonderfully by Chris Colfer. I’ve mentioned in past reviews how much I really like the relationship he has with his father, Burt, (Mike O’Malley really needs to get some industry recognition for this role) and to see him have to contemplate the thought of losing him is heartbreaking and is so perfectly summed up in his rendition of I Wanna Hold Your Hand it could bring a tear to even the most cold hearted of people.
Colfer was nominated for an Emmy last year. This episode could be the one that tips voters in his favour next year. The episode really is a parallel of Kurt and Finn’s experience with faith and Cory Monteith really does knock it out of the park in this episode, and also thrown in is a great performance of Losing My Religion.
I am sure nobody will take offence when I say that, in the singing stakes, Monteith is probably the weakest of the cast, but he really does a rocking job on this number and it’s nice to finally see some emotion coming through in his singing.
The biggest surprise of the episode, however, was the usually abrasive Sue Sylvester finally breaking down her walls a bit in a very short but sweet moment towards the end of the episode. When Sue’s sister Jean reveals to Sue her faith, and asks if she would like her to say a prayer for her, she breaks down just enough to break your heart. Again, in the past I have written about how I also really love the relationship between Sue and Jean and how it makes Sue more human, and that has never been more apparent than here. Kudos to Jane Lynch, who has embraced this role on so many levels.
Grilled Cheesus may be a ridiculous name, but there is nothing ridiculous about this episode and the writers will have a hard time topping this one, for sure. But if this is a starting point for what is to come this season, I can’t wait!
Read our review of episode 2, Britney/Brittany, here.