‘Glee’ Recap: Rachel’s Backup Plan Backfires, Shirley MacLaine Guest Stars & The Cast Sings “Story Of My Life”

Lisa Timmons | April 30, 2014 5:55 am

Last week, Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) braved the Broadway stage for the first time on Glee, and garnered rave reviews for her turn in Funny Girl by the New York Times. (We also saw Sue Sylvester engage in the least likely display of on-screen romance since Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson kissed at an awards show, but I digress…) Needless to say, it was a busy week.

This week’s episode, “Back-Up Plan,” opens with Rachel riding high on the success of her debut. She goes for a meeting at a powerful talent agency, ICA. The agent (played by Richard Kind) tells her she has “a face for radio,” honing in on her nose and advising her against trying to get film or TV jobs. It’s not exactly clear why he thinks she’s so hideous, but so goes the setup for Glee’s latest installment.

Kurt (Chris Colfer) excitedly tells Blaine (Darren Criss) about how socialite widow, June Dolloway will be visiting NYADA. From there, Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Santana (Naya Rivera) discuss Mercedes’ trouble with finding a single-worthy song for her upcoming album.

Then, in her dressing room, while putting on her makeup, Rachel sings Avicii‘s “Wake Me Up.” We see her doing Funny Girl over and over again until she’s clearly getting bored with it. After the show, an important-looking man in a business suit who professes to be a big fan of hers walks in and gushes over her performance.  He introduces himself as Lee, a television executive from Fox, and tells her he wants her to audition for a TV pilot for The Song Of Solomon. She’s excited until she hears she has to be in L.A. next Tuesday.

Rachel meets with big-shot Funny Girl producer Sydney Green at a restaurant to try and figure out how to get out of next Tuesday’s show for her trip to Los Angeles. It looks like she’s going to have to fake being sick, because Sydney’s not having it.

In the studio, Mercedes and Santana struggle in the recording booth. To loosen up, they decide to wander throughout the building and record a cover of Lauryn Hill‘s “Doo Wop (That Thing.)” I’m assuming this isn’t her new single? And like that, her album release date is somehow saved.

Rachel and Kurt weigh Rachel’s options, and she decides to move forward with the TV audition, despite Kurt’s advice that she not lie to Sydney. Zoinks!

At NYADA, guest star Shirley McLaine arrives as June Dolloway for the unveiling of her donation plaque. Of course, it’s Kurt and Blaine who perform “Story Of My Life” by One Direction, which is an interesting choice to perform for the Broadway legend. It gets particularly awkward as the boys kneel down in front of her. But she appears to be into it.

After they perform, Shirley invites Blaine only to attend a charity dinner with her, as she believes he is the more talented of the two. Blaine gets dressed for his night out with June and Kurt does his best to be a supportive, non-jealous boyfriend. Eric Roberts is vastly underused in his brief cameo.

When she hears that the night’s donations have been less than impressive, June jumps to the stage for some quick banter and a performance to encourage more cash being forked over by the patrons. She beckons Blaine to the stage to join her in a duet of “Piece Of My Heart,” as made famous by Janis Joplin. It’s such a random song choice, that it make me wonder if there was some sort of Janis connection to Shirley I didn’t know about. According to the Internet, there isn’t. From there, they grab checks and cash from the willing event attendees.

Mercedes and Santana show up to the studio to propose a duet for her single. The producer argues that if Mercedes is going to do a duet, it should be with a more famous singer. I tend to agree, but nobody listens to me around here. Santana feels bad, but tells Mercedes it’s probably for the best and leaves.

Rachel calls in sick, coughing and generally faking the flu to get out of Funny Girl for the day. Fast forward to her TV pilot audition on the West Coast, where she sings Bette Midler‘s “The Rose.” Of course, the TV executives are stereotypically L.A. and fidget, check their cell phones and generally tune out during her song. When she finishes, they inform her the show isn’t a musical, rather it’s a sci-fi space show with super convoluted plot.

Rachel is handed a script and in her cold reading gives a confused, if not energetic, read that ends with a passionate kiss with the actor auditioning with her. Immediately after the debacle, Rachel calls Sydney to find out that her understudy has been injured and he’s expecting Rachel to get to the theater by 7:30 p.m. More zoinks!

June and Blaine break bread and discuss the young actor’s career options. She wants to plan a show starring him. When Blaine asks if Kurt can be in the show as well, June flatly says no and encourages Blaine to break off their engagement.

On the way to the Los Angeles International Airport, Rachel gets stuck in traffic. In a panic, she calls Kurt, who urges her to tell Sydney the truth.

Mercedes arrives at the Spotlight diner bearing a contract for Santana to sign. Hmm. Something tells me that contract is going to be broken. Kurt bursts in to ask for help to delay the show. Sydney arrives to Rachel’s dressing room to find Santana stepping into her place and effectively saving the night.

After arriving back in New York, Rachel is grateful over spaghetti and garlic bread with Santana. Suddenly, it appears that Ms. Lopez now wants to be a good friend again. Rachel gets emotional over her impending meeting with Sydney during which she worries she’ll be fired. The best acting in the scene is when they pretend they’re going to actually eat the food on the table. I’m almost convinced.

At the apartment, Kurt tries to get Blaine to dish details on conversations with June. Blaine beats around the bush, but eventually creates a huge obstacle for himself when he basically promises Kurt a part in his as-yet unplanned show.

During Rachel’s meeting with Sydney, he calls her immature and irresponsible. He tells her that he wanted to fire her, but he couldn’t because  she’s his star. Sydney then tells her never to pull a stunt like that again, or he’ll fire and sue her. Stepping out of Sydney’s office, Rachel cries. Just then, Lee calls from L.A. to tell her she didn’t get the role in The Song Of Solomon, but that she’s received a development deal. These past few minutes have been a veritable roller coaster.

And just like that, Rachel Berry is back on top, and that leaves us with only two more episodes left of Season 5.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Glee?

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