If last week’s episode seemed a little light in both plot and music numbers “Asian F” delivers both in spades. The casting for the female lead in the school musical heats up with a showdown between Rachel (Lea Michele) and Mercedes (Amber Riley), the results of which will leave the glee club with another hole to fill.
The episode’s title comes from Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) recieving an A- (the equivalent of an “Asian F”) that causes his father (Keong Sim) to speculate maybe his son shouldn’t be wasting so much of his time on frivolous activities like glee club and dancing. The conflict, and resolution, allow us to get to know Mike a little better as a character as a give us a look into another Glee family.
If you thought Mike’s home life was stressful you may not have been ready for Will (Matthew Morrison) meeting Emma’s (Jayma Mays) parents , a pair of red-headed elitists (Valerie Mahaffey, Don Most) who never came to terms with Emma’s OCD. Let’s just say after a couple minutes with them Will, and the audience, will have a far better understanding of where Emma’s particular brand of crazy comes from.
Both Emma and Mike’s stories take a turn for the better before the episode ends, but the same can’t be said for the student president elections which get even murkier with Brittany’s (Heather Morris) flash mob and another candidate entering the fray. However, the real story here is Mercedes boiling over and exploding at the though of playing second fiddle to Rachel Berry one more day.
With six musical numbers “Asian F” doubles what we got last week and I was impressed with the effort to use each number in to help tell a story from that character’s perspective. We get Brittany looking for some girl power with Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls),” Mercedes taking center stage with “It’s All Over” (arguably the episode’s best number) from Dreamgirls and Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight.” Rachel and Mercedes battle it out in a competitive duet of “Out Here On My Own” which is a call back to the first season’s performance of “Defying Gravity,” and Mike Chang proves he more than just some fancy moves with his performance of “Change” from West Side Story.
What makes the episode work so well is how each of the character’s problems are presented from their point of view, and not all the choices made here as positive ones. Mercedes has a point in not wanting to play second fiddle to Rachel, but when her anger boils over it feels much more like selfishness than a grasp at self-respect. Even if it doesn’t have the showstopping number that will keep you humming after the show ends, “Asian F” is a pretty good episode to go out on; now we’ll just have to wait and see what happens after the show returns after a short Fall hiatus.