Back in 2011, I couldn’t get enough of Glee, Fox’s quirky musical comedy about high school misfits. My favorite Glee actor was Darren Criss: at the time, relatively unknown outside of his work writing songs for, and starring as Harry in, the fan-made YouTube hit A Very Potter Musical.
But Glee has been off the air for a couple of years. And while I did plan an entire vacation so I could see Darren star as Hedwig on Broadway, he’s been almost completely absent from TV. I have a new favorite show — CW’s The Flash, and it definitely helps that Grant Gustin, my second favorite Glee actor, plays The Flash’s starring role. Plus, it’s sister-show Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist, another Glee alum.
On March 21, The CW aired the first hour of television I have cared this deeply about in years — a Flash/Supergirl musical crossover, with musical performances by Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, and special guest star Darren Criss.
1) My favorite actor’s big return to television
2) On my favorite TV show
3) With musical performances by my top two favorite actors
Caught up? Sweet. Now the rest of this post is basically just an extensive, Glee-centric play by play of the episode. You’re welcome.
0:01 — Okay, how is The Flash going to pull off a musical episode, anyway? It’s not like superheroes regularly break into song and dance. (Throughout all of history, only Joss Whedon has been able to successfully pull that off.)
0:37 — Aww, young Barry (Grant Gustin) is watching Singing in the Rain with his mom! At least we’re starting by acknowledging the presence of musicals in this show. This intro will probably lend well to a musical-themed dream state or alternate reality.
1:08 — Cut to modern day, when Barry’s watching it on repeat in the wake of his breakup with his ex-fiance, Iris (Candice Patton). Barry’s best friend Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is #notimpressed with his bro’s constant musical watching. (Unrelated fun fact: Actor Carlos Valdes went to college with so-far-unseen guest star Darren Criss. They both wrote music for the same theatre company, and Carlos played bass in the background of A Very Potter Musical.)
2:05 — Look, it’s Supergirl (Melissa Benoist)! Three superheroes from our sister-show just jumped through a breach from another world … like you do. But something’s wrong! Kara Zor-El has been rendered unconscious by a strange spell from an unknown villain. (Spoiler alert: The villain is guest star Darren Criss. I know that because I caught the last two minutes of Supergirl on Monday.)
2:39 — The Flash team hasn’t met Supergirl’s new prettyboy BF yet — well, ex-boyfriend after Monday’s episode. He’s trying to introduce himself without mentioning the breakup. “My name is Mon-el. I’m Kara’s … friend. More than friend? (pause. tentatively:) We’ve been kissing a lot.” But more important to the actual plot: Mysterious villain/Darren Criss has come to this earth so he can find Barry. Ruh-roh.
3:51 — Oh hey, Darren Criss! Apparently he has super-speed, too, and he wants to “teach” Barry, Kara and Kid Flash “a lesson” … whatever that means. And now the Flash is under the same spell that Kara is! Double ruh-roh.
5:23 — Mysterious musical dream state! Who called it? *pats self on back* It’s about time people started singing. Right now, we’ve got Melissa with the first song of the night. Her version of “Moon River” is jazzy and smooth, but a little meh. But as long as she’s not covering “Wrecking Ball” again, I really shouldn’t complain.
5:55 — I am genuinely upset that the man playing piano isn’t Glee‘s ubiquitous Brad the Piano Guy. Brad played the piano in countless Glee songs. For six seasons, he was always there: playing piano, barely saying anything. C’mon, Greg Berlanti. You clearly have a million Glee connections. How hard would it have been to book Brad the Piano Guy?
6:19 — Both Darren Criss and Melissa Benoist have MUCH better hair on the CW then they did on Glee. Not sure about Grant Gustin’s: it kind of looks the same to me. But seeing how Glee called out Grant’s character for having “obnoxious CW hair”, I’d say the CW wins in the battle for the best hair.
COMMERCIAL BREAK — Yes, this is how the remainder of this post will go. If this isn’t your style, feel free to bounce. Won’t hurt my feelings one bit. I’m enjoying this way too much.
8:46 — Hey, Malcolm Meryln (John Barrowman)! Because apparently having a Glee reunion on a Flash/Supergirl crossover wasn’t enough, we need to bring in a deceased Arrow character. Now all we need is a Legends of Tomorrow character, and the Berlanti CW superhero shows will be all present and accounted for.
9:24 — Winn (Jeremy Jordan) is here, too! Well, sort of. Like Malcolm, Supergirl’s bestie only looks like him, but has an alternate reality identity.
Okay, but real talk: Jeremy Jordan HAS to sing. Or this episode will be a complete waste of space. His Broadway career includes starring as Jack Kelly in Newsies … and his performance is one of my favorites of all time.
9:40 — Cisco is in this weird dream reality, too! Hopefully this means a song from Carlos Valdes.
10:55 — Oh yikes. Darren Criss’ hair looks awful right now. It’s like half Harry Potter surfer fro and half over-gelled Blaine from Glee. Make. it. stop.
12:07 — HI, SO DARREN CRISS AND JEREMY JORDAN ARE DUETING AND LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE MATTERS OR WILL EVER MATTER AGAIN. They’re singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” or something, I don’t even know just please don’t make them stop singing.
12:18 — WAIT, NOW CARLOS VALDES IS JOINING THEM? WHAT IS THIS MAGIC AND WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE SOMETHING SO BEAUTIFUL? (John Barrowman is also singing now, but I don’t care as much. Google tells me that he’s starred in a ton of productions both in the West End and on Broadway, so I should be more excited.)
12:57 — Not that I’d forgotten in the month since I saw Newsies. But, man, Jeremy Jordan can sing.
13:30 — Are they selling this soundtrack anywhere? No, seriously. **Asks Google** Oh, of course. Hello, please take my eight dollars right now, thanks.
14:28 — Victor Garber! I don’t even remember his character’s name, because I stopped watching Legends of Tomorrow forever ago. But Victor Garber! Now they’ve officially brought in actors from all four Berlanti superhero shows, so I’m definitely on a role with predictions. (Not saying CW superhero shows are predictable or anything. I love them. They’re basically all I care about on TV anymore. But…)
15:02 — Kara is talking with Barry about why she and Mon-el broke up. She can’t get over that he lied to her (about being the prince of a planet she deeply distrusts) for nine months. If this were Glee, Grant’s character was a constant schemer and a perpetual liar, so he wouldn’t have been much help in this situation. And the guy her character was dating on Glee is now her IRL ex-husband, so that’s not awkward at all.
15:49 — Jesse L. Martin! The actor who plays Barry’s surrogate dad rose to fame playing Tom Collins in RENT, so he better freaking sing. And the internet tells me that Victor Garber starred as Jesus in Godspell, so… #legit
16:23 — Jesse L. Martin and Victor Garber are just talking. They haven’t started singing yet. I’m not watching this to listen to dialogue. If I wanted dialogue, I’d watch every other episode of The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow. When are you all going to start singing?
18:24 — Not yet. Instead: more drama! Alternate reality versions of Barry’s ex, Iris and Kara’s ex, Mon-el are making out. And Barry and Kara just walked in on them. Awk. ward.
19:16 — Spoiler alert: Darren Criss’ villainous alien’s evil plan has finally been revealed. He’s using this weird alternate reality/coma dream to steal Barry and Kara’s powers. He just gained Kara’s heat vision.
SECOND COMMERCIAL BREAK
20:09 — Now Cisco, Kid Flash, and J’onn are heading to fight Darren Criss. And Darren Criss is right there waiting to meet them, naturally. He also appears to be completely omniscient, so that’s not terrifying or anything.
24:14 — Alterna-Iris has two gay dads. Just like Rachel Berry did in Glee. Iris’ are Victor Garber and Jesse L. Martin. Rachel’s were Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Are all gay dads so multi-ethnic and Broadway-famous?
26:31 — FINALLY Jesse L. Martin and Victor Garber are singing! (Also, Kara realized she needs to forgive Mon-el and Barry realized he wants to make things work with Iris. But did I mention that Jesse L. Martin and Victor Garber are singing?)
28:04 — Ugh, can this show just be a musical all the time? This is so much better than anything else. #helpme #noplease #sendhelp
Oh, okay. Now they’re done singing and everyone is mad at each other and ready to go to war.
THIRD COMMERCIAL BREAK
31:42 — Now Barry and Kara are singing an original song, and Barry is tap dancing. I miss the cheesy Warbler dance choreography.
34:07 — Oh no! Barry was shot in the gang war. But if he dies in the dream world, he dies in real life. Nooooooo. And now Kara’s shot, too! They can’t die!
No, but actually, they can’t. The CW has full-season orders for both their shows, and you can’t have Supergirl with no Supergirl and no Flash without The Flash. Golly, I wonder how this one will end.
34:52 — They’re dying! And Iris and Mon-el want to teleport into the dream state to save them! Because that’s a thing now. That’s a thing we can do. Because: Cisco. No other explanation needed. He’s literally the answer to everything.
36:07 — Oh, sweet. They’re saved and totally safe back on earth. Not dead. Who knew that all that was needed to save them was true love’s kiss? Definitely going for the predictable on this one. Ah, musicals.
36:33 — Wait, how did Darren Criss get out of his maximum security cell?
36:42 — OMG Cisco and Darren’s Music Meister have a scene together! They’re talking. Excuse me while I go watch every single Starkid production in history to celebrate.
37:49 — And now the omniscient Darren Criss — who has just explained that he’s actually not evil at all, but was just trying to show the two couples how much they truly love each other all along — disappears into thin air, while singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” (aka my soon-to-be most-played song on iTunes). And the happy couples snuggle happily.
FOURTH COMMERCIAL BREAK
40-07 — Aww, and now Barry is serenading Iris with “Running Home to You.” It’s no “Smooth Criminal,” or anything, but since Glee is long over — I guess it will do.
42:34 — Nope. Barry and Iris are getting re-engaged. Like, I’m happy for them and all. But their engagement made no sense in the first place. They went from childhood best friends, to oh! now we’re dating, to engaged in two seconds flat — with barely any accompanying character development — and the entire storyline is so poorly executed that it’s hard to root for them.
Not saying that Barry’s musical proposal wasn’t beyond amazing. I’d just like a bit more character development for me to get excited about it.
Come to think of it: I’ve thought for a while that WestAllen has no chemistry. And I haven’t been able to convince myself that Mon-el is more than just a narcissistic frat bro. So what if they all just took a break from the shows for a minute — and we got Winn and Cisco to lead a few more musical-centered episodes of Supergirl and The Flash?
Anyone? … Anyone … No?
Hey, I can dream, can’t I? That’s basically what this entire past hour was all about.