-So I’m like 99% sure that Rachel dissociated at some point during the missing months. I just. She wasn’t in Lima. She wasn’t in New York. She didn’t keep up with gossip. Her fathers’ marriage crumbled. She literally didn’t know that her parents and best friends split up. Rachel effectively dropped out of the world for months on end. Kurt and Blaine’s depression was made extremely explicit in this episode, but holy fuck so was Rachel’s.
-Everything that signified “Rachel Berry” in the pilot has fallen away. Hiram is gone. LeRoy is barely managing cheer. The Berry home is being sold. The bedroom where she sang into a hair brush will be gone within weeks. Finn is gone. Her friends are scattered to the winds. Her reputation is in the gutter. Her gold star falls to the concrete and her dreams are realized only to shatter. And she sings a song about how she’s uninvited and drops out of the world. RACHEL.
-“Loser Like Me” is about the psychological horror of being ambitious and fundamentally lonely. Rachel Berry’s life bastardized for the lowest common denominator gutter sitcom viewers. The best and worst things that ever happened to Kurt Hummel colliding horrifically until he crumples against a wall just like he did when that worst thing happened to him. Blaine Anderson’s Ace cards no longer working for him.
-But they changed the world. The support system is there, no questions asked. Blaine gives Rachel her version of “Teenage Dream”, putting a smile back on her face as he did for Kurt years ago. Rachel does more magic than she’s ever done in a dream sequence, proving Will’s idea of the bow that’s bent the most producing the arrow’s biggest arc. She helps a determined, brave, intelligent, stubbornly modern girl find her own voice, independent of her family and absolutely a product of her own generation.
-My favourite scene of the two-parter is the alumni charging into the Tea Party Club. Puck combines his genuine authority as a defender of his country (his community) with applied knowledge of how high schoolers really operate. Quinn combines the biscuits her parents taught her to make for Church picnics and chastity balls with her own shrewd brand of politics, whatever the scale. Tina and Sam keep it real with the awkwardness they know their friends will now accept. Mercedes is an absolute firecracker, recognizable as a person not an offensive stereotype (she uses the same gestures as not!Mercedes in That’s So Rachel but Mercedes’s anger has an angering source). It’s not that they give up on the tea-baggers. It’s that their community already exists and has a cause, and that cause is hatred. Each of the alumni knows exactly what destruction any one of these kids can wreak in a room of underdogs. So they walk.
-Kitty, as always, is wonderfully complicated. She is a millennial with genuine pain and loss, but she’s also a destructive force. She is the counterpoint to the tea-baggers who would never walk Unique home.
-They didn’t save Kitty. They changed the world but they couldn’t preserve the community for the new kids before Sue scattered them to the winds because she is more of a toddler than her daughter will ever be. They saved Will, who is spending his downtime exuberantly dancing for his son instead of getting drunk.
-Kurt knows he can go flop on Rachel’s bed when he’s the only one who makes it back to that street corner. Rachel knows her friends will create a cocoon of 80s music and love around her. They can’t save every single person - Sue knows that and does her own math, they all do - but they saved each other, at least. Kurt saved Dave without knowing he was doing it. They couldn’t save Finn, but there is time to help Roderick and Kitty.
That’s what I got from tonight’s episodes. I look forward to the next 10 weeks and beyond.