While I feel like I’ve spent most of the summer making lists of shows I wish I could keep up with and write about (The Newsroom, Political Animals, and a cut of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies not edited for US TV. Since that spectacle was about the importance of storytelling in forming identity — whether for children or for nations — I really had wanted to write about it), Ryan Murphy’s gone and got himself on Twitter and has released a spate of deleted Glee scenes.
These have included the infamous box scene (in which Blaine gives Kurt a promise ring), the bridesmaids scene that leads up to Rachel and Finn not getting married due to Quinn’s car accident, and an amazing first season moment between Rachel and Jesse set to “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love” from A Chorus Line. That Rachel and Jesse scene, in particular, merits a significant amount of time an attention all to itself, because it focuses on Rachel’s relationship to sexuality as both tool and reward, which are ideas very much in play when she loses her virginity to Finn in the third season, also present around the evolution of Emma and Will’s relationship, and nearly completely absent from the Kurt and Blaine narrative.
But, since there’s also a long lost Dalton scene that’s just been released, Rachel and Jesse are going to have to wait.
“I Want You Back” was originally slated for the “Michael” episode, and it’s another moment where the fallen Warblers under Sebastian Smythe come off as sexually menacing. If the performance had appeared where it was supposed to, between “Uptown Girl” which just hints at some darkness having contaminated the Warblers, and “Smooth Criminal,” in which it becomes clear just how much of the “Michael” episode is at least metaphorically about rape and response to rape, we wouldn’t have had to connect the dots on the Internet, because Sebastian’s escalation from coveting something, to pressing for something, to taking/ruining what he can’t have, would have happened far more clearly on our screens.
The flip side of that narrative would have also been clearer from Blaine’s initial sense of being flattered and uncomfortably interested in Sebastian to Blaine being annoyed and feeling like he can’t say no to him. Kurt’s complete unwillingness to leave Blaine’s side in “I Want You Back” is telling, because it doesn’t read like jealousy or possessiveness, it reads like fear for another person who’s already vulnerable.
Of course, Blaine is not the only target or illustration of Sebastian and the fallen Warblers. That Artie’s chair has to be carried in and out of the room where the confrontation takes place is extremely telling. In Blaine’s era, Dalton was a place for everyone, and while we didn’t see anyone who used a wheelchair at Dalton during that time period, I feel sure were supposed to assume that Dalton was enthusiastically ADA compliant given how Blaine spoke of the school.
But there’s no room for someone like Artie there now, and it speaks volumes both that New Directions cooperates to get him into and out of that scene, and that it’s through Blaine’s ongoing need to deal with the Warblers that Dalton is only able to become vaguely and inadequately accessible to Artie once again.
Santana and Rachel also get targeted in this scene. With Rachel, that menace is brief, and sexual, and it almost seems like Sebastian loses interest in trying to intimidate her when it seems like she’s not even entirely clear on what she should be afraid of from him. Santana, however, is another story — there are too many ways for Sebastian to target her: sex, race, and class are all weapons he uses against her, in this scene and others, with abandon.
Class, in particular, becomes an explicit, if unexplained, issue in a way it usually doesn’t on Glee at the end of this scene, because Blaine — whose family wealth and social class is a matter of intense debate on Tumblr and in fanfiction circles — tells Sebastian he was proud to be a Warbler because, in part, they were “classy,” and this display wasn’t.
This rather ineffective and uncomfortably delivered attempt at a put down implies two really fascinating things about Blaine.
The first is that while he is relatively good at ingratiating himself into a given environment, Blaine is terrible at code switching. He certainly fit into Dalton when he was there, but when he tries in this scene to insult the Warblers on their terms after he’s left, he can’t quite pull it off. When you’re a person who lives in and between multiple worlds (which is an ongoing issue for Blaine on several fronts because of his school history and the passing issues he encounters related to race, gender, and sexuality) and you’re bad at code switching, one of the things it can mean is that while you usually seem to almost fit in if no one looks too closely, you actually never do — not with the people you’re like, and not with the people others think you’re like.
The second thing the “classy” remark brings up is Blaine’s relationship with sex. Because while Blaine might be criticizing the cruel and threatening way he and his friends were just treated, he may also just be criticizing the ridiculous and over accentuated hip action of the choreography. After all, let’s not forget Blaine’s “not for sale.” Blaine’s narrative bounces between sex-positivity, slut-shaming, and what eventually seems to become real fear in the face of Sebastian’s aggressively sexual advances, and that doesn’t get any less unsettling just because this scene happens to fill in some blanks. This moment is very much in line with things about Blaine’s past on which I’ve speculated before, and the way Kurt keeps close to him really underscores that for me.
Finally, there’s one other sort of delightful yet horrifying nod to class issues in this scene, that I have no way of integrating into the rest of this article, but is too amazingly weird not to mention: Kurt Hummel is wearing white shoes. To Dalton. I don’t know how commonly known this slang is any more or if it is used much outside of my region, but a “white shoe” firm historically refers to old, moneyed, and highly successful banking, law, or consulting firms that serve blue chip corporations and are known for their discretion, conservatism, and, to be frank, WASPishness. Many of those Dalton boys surely have fathers at white shoe firms and will one day be bound for them themselves.
For Kurt “one day you’ll all be working for me” Hummel, who is the son of a proudly successful blue collar man, to wear actual white shoes to Dalton, is that character’s personal and peculiar viciousness (and the Glee costume department) at its very finest. Because that type of trivia is exactly the sort of thing Kurt collects and uses all the time, even when no one else in the room is likely to notice; Kurt Hummel is a writhing ball of cultural references, and it’s one of the reasons this show is so much fun for me to write about.
At any rate, in many ways, we did not need “I Want You Back” placed into “Michael” as it ultimately aired — after all, we were able to do the math that this cut now, in some cases confirms, or at least supports. But its release is incredibly valuable not just in forming arguments about what’s really going on in Glee and the faerieland at its borders, but for asserting that there is an actual point to indulging in all this analysis. “I Want You Back” fills in holes in a way that makes it much easier to say to those who disagree that the show clearly does plan arcs and engages in argumentation, even if it, quite literally, has a tendency to replace too many of its numbers with variables.
Hopefully Ryan Murphy will keep treating us to these delicious goodies from the vaults.