Glee: Secret, Not Sly

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 9.30.55 PMOver the last couple of days on Tumblr, I’ve found myself making a few comments about Blaine and his penchant for secret meetings—and those comments are in response to “Sweet Dreams,” where Mr. Schue is furious at the glee kids for going behind his back and questioning his set list for the regionals competition. He targets Blaine in particular, after being told, “We kinda got together as a group after you gave us these songs yesterday, and we came up with some . . . alternatives.” Mr. Schue asks back, “Why would you do that?” and then tells Blaine, “I am disappointed in you for allowing this to go on.” Schue’s assumption that Blaine is some kind of assistant manager aside, Blaine’s push for a secret meeting got me wondering, and it was only once I listed all of his secret meetings that I started to get really curious. We’ve got:

  • Blaine starts a Fight Club at Dalton, which by its very nature meets secretly [ETA, thanks to Sam in the comments section].
  • The garage “fight” in Michael, which is Blaine’s idea after leaking the regionals set list. 
  • The Thunderdome-style contest to be the New Rachel, which is Blaine’s idea.
  • The plan to help Brittany (which involved lip-syncing).
  • Blaine’s leading the Secret Society of Superheroes (and the related secret mission to take back the Nationals trophy).
  • Blaine and Sam’s secret meetings with Trent to unseat Hunter and the Warblers.
  • “Shout,” which is Blaine and Brittany’s idea to do the mashup competition in a way other than Mr. Schue laid out.
  • The plan to give Finn and Mr. Schue an assignment for the week.
  • Blaine and Sam’s “guilty pleasures” assignment, which happens without Mr. Schue’s input or apparent knowledge.
  • Blaine’s undercover Cheerio operation to unseat Coach Sue. 
  • “Say,” which is part of yet another secret meeting—one that removes them from a mandatory assembly (so this is acting contrary to Principal Figgins) [ETA, thanks to Amy in the comments section].
  • This most recent meeting of the New Directions to generate an alternate set list for regionals.

It’s not a big surprise that Blaine would rather take matters into his own hands, given adult authority figures’ track record with him, from the teachers who ignored Blaine’s bullies at his old school to the Dalton headmaster (and Schue, for that matter) not doing enough regarding Sebastian’s tainted slushy. So in many of the cases above, Blaine, often with the help of other team members, finds ways to work out problems within the group itself, without the involvement of authority figures.

Blaine’s approach sets up a different dynamic in the group. Is this one of the reasons why it feels so much like the new New Directions truly rely on and support each other? Not that the old New Directions didn’t have each other’s backs, too, but there’s a sense of the group’s ownership over the entire process that feels different here. It really feels like joint ownership, since there’s so little infighting.

Sadly, that level of close, self-motivated teamwork (which should be desirable!) is seen as suspicious and sly by authority figures. In “Sweet Dreams,” both Schue and Coach Roz have this reaction, as they are either offended that someone is questioning their choices or are worried about protecting themselves from their underlings’ schemes.

In spite of authority figures’ distrust, Blaine still shows respect for Will or Finn as stated leaders of the group (with symbolic gifts, even). At the same time it’s clear he sees them as mere ceremonial figureheads. He doesn’t ask authority figures for advice, for instance. He asks them to do things for him instead, like Beiste wearing her own superhero costume, or Emma finding schools that might accept Sam. He shows respect, of course, and is the first to apologize on behalf of the team—but I can’t help but wonder how much of that is ceremonial, too.

The gavel we see so often associated with Blaine is a symbol from Dalton’s Warbler’s Council, run by students without any visible adult authority figure. That gavel is a symbol for order and fairness—it’s a promise that voices will be heard. Even when there’s no meeting, the idea of giving people voices (getting the bird to sing) is an important part of Blaine’s missions, as in the case of Trent’s discomfort with Hunter’s doping scheme, or more recently, the case of Becky’s role in the shooting incident. And how ironic is it that, in “Sweet Dreams,” after Mr. Schue’s tirade, the apology that comes is about that very concept. “I’m sorry,” he says, “if I made any of you feel like you don’t have a voice in this room. You do.” Whether or not Mr. Schue can deliver on that promise, it seems clear that the new New Directions has it covered, even if they have to continue to work in secret.