Does anyone remember what happened the last time Kurt didn’t pick up his phone?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way (and I’ll confess, I was tempted to make tonight’s post that single sentence, but that seemed excessively cruel), I want to talk about the new adults on Glee, Cassandra and Isabelle. They are both powerful, magical, and, potentially, very frightening.
Cassandra is, in many ways, obvious, and we don’t need, necessarily, to devote a lot of time to analysis here; after all, her name tell us she is the mad woman who knows the truth and sees the future. Because she sees the future, she has no future herself. She is without second chances and her words, no matter how widely broadcast, are only listened to by the select few.
Isabelle, on the other hand, is slightly less obvious. Her name means “My god is a vow,” and in some ways this positions her similarly to Cassandra — spiritual, knowing, and, for that, alone. She is also a maker of things (and makers are also always unmakers — they cut the fabric; they kill the animal), as the last name Wright indicates.
While both character types — the harsh taskmaster who secretly wants you to succeed and the fairy godmother who appears to show you the road previous unnoticed — are staples of New York City success fantasies, Kurt Hummel’s current existence at the intersection of their narrative functions is particularly fascinating and speaks to his youth, to his magic, and to the troublesome nature of being an acolyte.
As the person who tells Rachel Cassandra’s back story (and why didn’t Rachel just Google her?), Kurt shows an awareness of the professional world Rachel has entered and he has been at least temporarily barred from without understanding that world at all. Kurt knows who Cassandra is, which puts him a step ahead of Rachel, but he provides the information only to scoff and to reassure Rachel that her difficulties in the course don’t matter, because Cassandra is simply someone who can disregarded regardless of the institution she represents.
Somewhat similarly, Kurt also knows who Isabelle is, but in this case views her as an inspiration. He is familiar with her in a way that leads to surprising familiarity; Kurt rarely reaches out to others physically first, even when he knows them, but here launches himself at Isabelle, in part, I suspect, because of how familiar she is to him in his own mind.
This familiarity however, doesn’t mean that Kurt is any more able to heed her warnings than he is able to heed (or encourage Rachel to heed) the cautionary tale of Cassandra. When Isabelle speaks to Kurt of never losing his wide-eyed Lima, Ohio innocence, you can see his discomfort; this innocence — at least as associated with Ohio — is what he’s come to New York to shed the last vestiges of (the first layer of it was shed with his NYADA rejection).
So Kurt doesn’t really listen to what Isabelle is saying, even if the audience does. As the worlds of childhood and adulthood uncouple on Glee, that innocence is lost is obvious.
But Kurt’s innocence isn’t just a concept, it’s also a person. Blaine, who opened the season forcing himself into a more childlike role first to help Kurt move on and then to keep himself from having to accept his own adult pain at the feeling of that transition, is the personification of Kurt’s wide-eyed Ohio innocence.
Blaine fills this role not just because he’s younger, but because he’s the one that shows Kurt the innocence he gives up on time and again. He does it when he texts Kurt courage; he does it when he gives Kurt a first kiss that really counts; he does it when he dances with him at the prom, when he holds his hand in the hall, when they sleep together for the first time and it isn’t, presumably, like the things that had horrified Kurt about porn the year before.
Because Blaine keeps breathing Kurt’s innocence back into him, Kurt is now an untrained magician newly arrived in a city full of magical creatures and demigods. And he’s not just visiting this time, relying on serendipity to take a piece of stolen magic back to Ohio with him. This is the real deal now, and you can’t learn to conjure the same way you read a magazine — by starting at the back and flipping through, only stopping to read what’s of the most interest.
Yet, despite having all the tools and information it takes to realize these things, and being apprenticed to someone who has already taken her own vows and lives with the price of them, Kurt doesn’t understand this yet. Because nothing’s been taken from him yet, there’s been no price of admission (the Ferryman’s bill is still in the mail), Kurt has not yet (to mangle Sei Shonagon) knelt on the book of his life until his knees bled.
But he will, soon. And the agony won’t be what happens, but that he didn’t see it coming when he was surrounded, finally, with people just like him — uncanny, wounded, and Other — showing him the way.
Finally, because I only think it fair to explain myself after an opener like the one at the top of this post: I don’t actually think Blaine will canonically experience suicidal ideation in the wake of whatever happens between him and Kurt in “The Breakup,” but I am certain we as audience members are supposed to see the parallel between this series of missed phone calls and the ones from Karofsky. As viewers, we need to, in order to empathize with the horror Kurt’s going to experience when he realizes the significance of his own — natural, reasonable, inevitable, age- and situation-appropriate — inability to listen to the very powers he, knowingly or not, has spent his life seeking out.