Paul and I have just watched episode 3, "An Asian F". In this episode both Rachel and Mercedes audition for the part of Maria in the school production of West Side Story. Artie, Emma and Coach Bieste are co-directing and after call-backs, they decide to cast both of them in the lead role for five performances each. Mercedes turns down the offer and Rachel thus gets the role.
In the call-back audition they both sing "Out Here On My Own" from Fame. IMHO Mercedes performs this much, much better than Rachel. In fact, I don't personally think Rachel is as good as she / everyone else thinks she is. I've always thought Kurt's rendition of "Defying Gravity" (season 1) was better than Rachel's, and I prefer his voice to hers in any event. (It is my hope that some day, someone writes a musical purely for Chris Colfer. It needs to happen.) I find Rachel's voice too forced, her breath control is terrible, and her high notes are too nasal. Just my opinion, of course. Mercedes sounds so much more natural in her upper range.
I think a lot of this is because I don't tend to like American voices that much to start with, as they ALL sound nasal to me. So even though Rachel and Mercedes are supposed to be sopranos, I would consider them mezzos. Kurt has more purity of tone than both of them put together. :P
Anyway, that's not really the point. The point is that Mercedes rolls over and gives Rachel what she wants, as does everyone else. I've only just realised, in light of events in the season 3 finale, how damaging that behaviour really is.
In episode three, Rachel has actually convinced herself she's not getting the role. She knows Mercedes sang the audition piece better. Everyone else knows Mercedes sang it better, but Rachel is such a diva that they're too afraid to let her down. Apparently the point of season 3 (the latter half especially) was to show Rachel's tenacity in getting what she wants, which is to get into NYADA; so when she thinks she hasn't got the part of Maria, she ups her game and puts herself in the running for senior class president as well.
Let's fast forward a few episodes to the end of the season and Kurt and Rachel's NYADA auditions. The actual audition episode was terrifying to start with, as Kurt opts to sing "Music of the Night". (I made several tweets about this at the time.) It's the weirdest rendition of the song I have ever heard. I'm sorry, Kurt: I love you, but NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. He makes the worst Phantom in the history of ever (and do not even get me started on Tina's silent Christine). None of this was helped by Rachel telling him "I will be your Christine!" with great enthusiasm (OH GOD THE MENTAL IMAGES), although the entire thing was saved by this exchange, which I think is one of my favourite Glee quotes yet:-
Rachel, pre-audition: No-one can sing that song better than you, Kurt.
Kurt: ...You remember Crawford, right?
BWAHAHA. Yes, quite!
Thank anything, Kurt decides against MOTN when he realises it's too predictable, and instead he sings "Not the Boy Next Door" from a thing whose title escapes me and which I'd never heard of, but in any event he totally nails it. The NYADA tutor (played by Whoopie Goldberg but I can't remember the character name now) tells him it's a "brave choice".
Rachel plays it safe and sings "Don't Rain on my Parade", the song she's been singing her entire life, despite people trying to convince her to leave her comfort zone. She thinks she's got it in the bag.
And, of course, she chokes. Twice.
For the final few episodes she bugs the NYADA tutor relentlessly by sending her letters, visiting her, and inviting her to Nationals to see her perform.
The acceptance letters come through finally for Rachel, Kurt and Finn (who has applied to a New York acting school, though we don't get to see his audition). Rachel gets in. Kurt does not.
I am so irrationally annoyed by this. Kurt's audition was flawless. Rachel's was a disaster. She spent two episodes living in the real world and then immediately reverted back to a diva, saying how she would defer her move to New York in order to "help" Kurt and Finn practice auditioning so they can reapply, like she's the greatest star the world has ever seen and a fount of knowledge on performing. Which, actually, in her own head she probably is. I dunno, it really really bugged me that she'd finally been given a reality check that everything wouldn't fall into her lap, and then it bloody well did anyway. She annoyed the crap out of the NYADA tutor as much as everyone else around her.
Having now just watched episode 3, it strikes me how the decision to double-cast Maria, just so as not to upset Rachel, was the worst possible thing they could have done for her. Aside from the fact Mercedes should have got the part hands-down, it would have given Rachel a kick up the backside into trying harder, rather than trying to walk through her NYADA audition with a safe option. If she'd already had one let down, she might have tried harder in the first place. It pisses me off that Kurt made his "brave choice", totally killed it at his audition, but still didn't get in. I do wonder if perhaps NYADA can't see a place for him; he laments to his father at one point that he'll never get romantic male lead roles, and that might be true, but that should not have been any barrier to getting in.
One of my favourite moments of this season was seeing Rachel, the night after choking at her audition, weeping uncontrollably in Finn's arms. I don't mean it in a cruel way. That part felt so real; a young girl drowning in an uncertain future and picking up the pieces of her broken dreams. I wanted her to have a year off from being Rachel, you know? I wanted her to have to live in the normal world for a bit and face the problems that you have to deal with when you haven't got everyone pandering to your whims. Now she's back to being as big-headed as ever, and Kurt gets to bear the brunt of the show's angst, again. (Seriously, give the guy a break.)
Ugh. Possibly I've been overthinking this, but it's been a while since the episode was on.
The other thing I wanted to mention was Sue. I have always said that I much prefer Sue when the writers make her more than a caricature villain, and as much as my Sue/Will shipping started out as snark (and occasional terrifying dance scenes), I have really, really enjoyed watching them grow as friends. There have been so many awesome Sue moments this season, and I hope her acting like a human being is not just a result of being pregnant. (Don't ask.) That is, I hope the writers are not lazy enough to have her reverting to form within three seconds of popping.
I loved the episode where she wanted Will to be the father / donor: not because she likes him, but because he's a decent person. That was amazing. Will asking her to help out the Glee kids because of her winning instinct and track record was awesome. Sue referring to Will and Emma as her "friends", even though she had to visibly swallow the bile to do it. ALL THE STUFF WITH SHANNON I CAN'T EVEN. (I love Shannon this season, too, as well as wanting to give her the world's biggest hug.) Helping Will propose to Emma, with absolutely no snark. I have loved watching them all become friends rather than occasional allies. I loved Sue being supportive at Nationals, and when the kids awarded Will the Best Teacher award at graduation.
She has been full-on amazing for pretty much the entire season. Saturday Night Fever was EPIC, and I really want to see the kids' entire performance of West Side Story rather than the few snippets we were given.
Also: BODY SWAP EPISODE. I'm still reeling from that.
TL;DR: Rachel fails, Sue wins, second half of season was cracktacular.
I may have more to say as the re-watch continues. Be warned. :P
Tonight Paul is having another of his geeky games nights, and I'm cooking paella for the first time. I have a gigantic frying pan in the cupboard somewhere which I've never used so I just hope it's big enough. I found a recipe last night which feeds four, and there are potentially seven people coming. (It's very odd having to double ingredients, normally I halve them!) So I need to go to Tesco tonight to pick stuff up.
I'm also doing apple crumble (again for the first time) for dessert. Hopefully it will not be a total disaster.
As I will be holing myself up in the office whilst they take over the living room, other than to cook and serve, I might try and get something productive done tonight, like typing up some bits of fanfic or making 'book covers' for my FFN stories... I had a bit of a thought about those where I would indicate the fandom by a certain symbol, e.g. a mask for POTO, the "S" from the Farscape logo, a Star Trek comm. badge, etc., to place in the corner of each cover. Thus far the only one I can think of is for "Whisper" (the piece of rubbish fanart I drew which inspired the story long before the song did, suitably "painted" in Photoshop), which is the LAST one I need to do as I want to start with my first story and work forwards. I really wish I could draw, then I could just create appropriate fanart instead. ;) Annoyingly, I have lost the awesome drawing that Naomi did for "Rhapsody" (Farscape story) because that would have been perfect. It got lost somewhere between PCs, alas. :(
I'm hoping this project will inspire a bit of creativity. Apart from the occasional blip, I have actually managed to maintain writing momentum since the POTO gala in October, and it would be nice if I could go a whole year, more or less, without the usual dry periods. So, we'll see.