Glee 5.9, “Frenemies,” or: Rachel Berry is Not Okay.

I am not a fan of Rachel, though I have been enjoying her story more the past couple of seasons than I ever have before. But holy cats, I am sympathizing with her like whoa this season. I mean, in an episode the featured Tina and Artie and had some hilarious Blaine and Kurt stuff going on, all I can think about today is Rachel (and Santana).

Okay, so first let me say that this “Santana is Rachel’s understudy” storyline–no, actually, basically the entire “Rachel stars in ‘Funny Girl'” storyline–is standing precariously on the edge of Outsized Reality Cliff and needs to work very carefully to not tip over and bring my suspension of disbelief crashing down into the Canyon of I Can’t Get Past It.

(Although Santana coming in the back door of the theatre singing “Don’t Rain On My Parade” is now in my top 5 Glee moments, along with the football team doing “Single Ladies” and everyone side-eyeing Kurt because Blaine’s mad at him for texting Chandler. That scene is something you can only do after four years on the air.)

However …

Rachel was practically in tears this episode. She was freaking the hell out. First about an understudy just generally, and then because it was Santana. And it was kind of nuts, even for Rachel–it was seriously over the top viciousness, especially when Santana invaded her space in the loft and backed her, verbally, into a corner, and Rachel slapped her.

And I thought … Oh. I know who else got vicious when cornered.[1]

Rachel lost her other dream and she can never have it back.

The only thing she has now, to her mind, is Broadway. And she’s probably terrified that someone will take that away from her, too[2], and then what will she have?

And here’s the thing: she’d be paranoid about a total stranger as her understudy, too, but this is Santana. Santana gets things other people want. Hell, Santana’s the one Finn lost his virginity to. Santana admitted that she was the one leading the Rachel-Hate Brigade in high school. There’s just no way for Rachel to see that Santana has her own fears and insecurities, that maybe Santana wants something solid to put on a resume for other jobs, that the paycheck probably looks nicer than the diner’s, and that–wait, really?–she’s willing to audition for a job that means she’s second to Rachel Berry.

Santana’s got stuff she’s working out, too, about what she wants to do and her position in the world now that she isn’t in high school or Ohio. This situation is an extended version of the everyone is right and everyone is wrong at the same time scenes that Glee does so well.

(Also, wow, look at all the physical stuff in this episode that went further than anyone expected it to.)

My only other reaction is … well, there was a lot of meta-commentary within this episode, and I surely hope some of it is foreshadowing things to come.

1[back]The two most consistent pieces of characterization on this show: Will Schuester as a terrible teacher, and Finn Hudson getting vicious when cornered (with Kurt, Santana, and Sue).

2[back]Or that she’ll fail, or the theatre will burn down, or something

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