Asian F

In the most song-heavy episode of this season yet, Glee finds a balance between its recent penchant for musical numbers and the much-missed contemporary chart hits. This move means it's the most 'Glee'-like episode of Season Three so far and, without dropping any of the multiple threads established over the course of the opening two episodes, results in a solid 'Asian F'.

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To clarify, the titular Asian F translates as an A minus, which is Mike Chang's cross to bear after his perfect score card is tarnished by this slight dip in achievement. His father accompanies him to Principal Figgins' office, demanding a drugs test and declaring his son's extra-curricular association with the school's Glee club a 'detriment' to his son's rightful place at Harvard. Bringing the oft-underused Harry Shum Jr to the forefront is a wise move, humanising the 'all-dancing' component of the show's 'all-singing, all-dancing' set-up and exploring the issues of parental and academic pressure in a worthwhile albeit corny way. Girlfriend Tina loves McKinley's 'fleet-footed dance ninja' whatever his grades and encourages him to try out for the school musical; with the twin faith of his mother, who gave up her own dreams of dancing to please her parents (convenient story point, eh?), he tries out for the role of West Side Story's Riff and, by the end of the episode, has been cast. Follow your dreams and all that, kiddies...

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It's a case of parental strife for OCD-suffering Emma too, when Will's well-meaning extended dinner invite to his girlfriend's parents backfires. Veteran US TV stars Don Most and Valerie Mahaffey play Rusty and Rose Pillsbury, 'ginger supremacists' whose fun-sized bag of shared craziness begets Emma's own kooky ways. The dinner scene is played for offbeat laughs - and there is certainly joy to be had in Emma's mom describing Will's tousled mane as a 'little woolly for my tastes' - but by the time Rose's 'little freaky deaky' Emma desperately prays to be better at her bedside, all to the strains of Coldplay's 'Fix You', the emotional punch of the episode lands. The mix of pathos and funnies that the parallel parental stories are played for is nicely judged, but this ep's main stage is set for the divas...

As established, for many of our fave Glee members, it's senior year. Much like last season's battle for the Homecoming Queen crown, social status looks set to play a huge part in this season's fun and games. Kurt is right to avoid 'the wrath of Sondheim' by coming to terms with the fact his boyfriend is a shoe-in for male lead Tony (a wise move, seeing as Blaine's name is on the cast sheet at the episode's denouement) but his backup plan of winning senior-class president is at risk when Brittany, sick of previous male-dominated presidencies, conducts a flash mob of Beyonce's 'Run the World (Girls)' as a feminist call-to-arms. It seems this particular blonde ditz is clever when she needs to be.

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However, Kurt doesn't expect newfound friend Rachel to throw a further spanner in the works halfway through the episode; she goes to Bieste, one-third of the play's creative team, to announce her candidacy. It follows a 'Clash of the Titans'-style callback audition for the coveted role of Maria. Mercedes, played with real gutsiness by Amber Riley, is sick of playing second fiddle to 'The Rachel Berry Show' and knocks a Jennifer Hudson song out of the park before going head-to-head with Rachel on the big ballad front. Rachel, used to getting her way, is shaken by Mercedes' performance while her rival, inspired by her newfound boyfriend's belief, invokes her inner diva and storms out of dance practice after telling Mr Schuester she's 'outgrown' the group. The judges' eventual decision to double cast the role is not to either girl's liking but a pride-shaken Mercedes, overlooked one too many times, throws in the towel and knocks on the door of Shelby - y'know, Rachel's mom, busy recruiting her rival McKinley High Glee club. Anyone else predicting a cover of Edwin Starr's 'War' to come?

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