[*edit: "extremely condensed preview version" apparently meaning "since I'm only going to talk about a few scenes, I can go into EXCESSIVE VERBOSITY about them!"]
OK, so I'm just gonna go ahead and table my rage about Rachel dropping out of NYADA as well as my Sam/Mercedes-related rage -- not least because I pretty much muted and skipped every scene featuring or discussing them, even when that meant sacrificing a BrOTP scene -- and only focus on Kurt here. Also, I have not listened to any of the songs in full, so I can't properly comment on them yet. I didn't like any of the Broadway song previews I heard, but I will try to love the full version of Not While I'm Around and maybe No One Is Alone at some point in the future, maybe, because it seems like I should.
You know, in retrospect, maybe Blaine should have been slightly more concerned about a random and unpredictable gay bashing happening in their near vicinity. Just maybe. Like not even in retrospect, that just should have happened at some point. (on the other hand, maybe flaming_muse will fic it out! Or wowbright. Or stuts. I'll even let you include Thank God We're OK sex if you must.)
I will never be over how gorgeous Blaine and Rachel are right here and how beautifully I know their voices blend and how sad I am that I can't stand this campy trite garbage of a song. Carmen just might be justified in dragging the kids for once.
The fight with Rachel was magnificence. I'm gonna let Rachel have her crazy and fly it proud -- I neither agree nor disagree with her; I am too busy drinking in the amazing emotions, both visually and vocally, between the pleading concern followed by deep hurt and the anger that stems from it on Kurt's face. "Screw you, Rachel" gave me chills. Feelings chills.
(so did the deliciously painful "I'm on YOUR side!")
Oh wow. I expected him to go charging into the fray and I love and respect him for it; I was not expecting Kurt to get hit with a brick. That could have gone a lot differently. By which I mean it will, in my head, most likely by taking on an AU Lovesong appearance. To be honest, the beating both before and after he got there was really hard to watch, and I am normally desensitized to violence, so kudos to the director there.
Deluxe Transcripts note: Waiting for Kurt to wake up, Sam says he wants to kill whoever did this. Mercedes instantly shoots him down and tells him not to say such things. WHAT A BUZZKILL. Woman, do not discourage hot and capable men from avenging their injured friends. This is what's wrong with feminism, probably. (note to self: add "Sam's vengeance" to the list of daydreams. That tiny exchange with Sleeping Kurt was adorable.)
Did they cut out Blaine's "this isn't happening" from the promo, or did I just miss it? If the former, I want to kill whoever edited it out. YES, MERCEDES, I DO MEAN IT. Regardless, so much wonderful footage of Blaine, waiting and fretting, then waiting quietly but still worrying.
So, once upon a time, a fan photoshopped a picture of Kurt's teary season 2 face with a black eye and scattered cuts. I cherished that photo for years as visual hurt/comfort fodder. I am now literally staring at a real version in canon. Oh, Glee, you and your long-haul wish-granting!
I admit, the first time I saw them poised to break out in song while holding vigil, my brain went to a Red Forman place: "Are you people singing again?!" And I don't know if I love Blaine's solo on its own merit, but oh holy mother of god how I am in love with that deep timbre. Its context means everything; I love that they cut it this way for the episode version. AND THEN -- THE CUTAWAYS -- BLAINE YOUR HAIR. YOUR DASHING OUTFIT. IT'S BREATHTAKING.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to stare at this part for like a hundred million years because I will never tire of it, and also it's the best interaction they have in the whole episode. I'm sure if I went on Tumblr I could find a hundred more eloquent descriptions, but the amount of protective!Blaine happening on my screen, between the lyrical vows and the arm across Kurt, sends my squee meter skyrocketing and is eclipsed only by how wonderfully carefully he tucks himself in beside and nuzzles up close, like a very sad and adoring and devoted Labrador puppy.
[moving version here!]
Fire forever on not getting a wake-up scene with Blaine. DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND HOW CRIME DRAMAS WORK?? You wanna play dress-up in the genre, you gotta stand and deliver on all aspects, son.
(sidebar, though, to congratulate Darren Criss on his subtle emotional acting -- as much as I love the man, sometime's Blaine's Distraught Faces make me cringe a little inside behind my objective delight at their existence. Not here, not today.)
The Kurt/Burt scene did not make me sob, I'm sorry to say. In fact, it kinda riled up my season 2 feelings about Kurt, which involved wanting to permanently whack-a-mole him into the ground. What little I have seen of Season 5 Kurt continues to be uppity and aggravating in his stubborn pursuit of being noticed/having his voice heard, and not even what he just went through can remove the preachy overtones of Season 2 Defiant/Self Righteous Activist Kurt.
(I just wanted a little bit of admitted victimhood. If not tears, then relief at being safe, some hint of fear or even reassurance for the worried; anything beyond "I'm not sorry I risked my life and the subsequent devastation of my hypothetical death upon my loved ones, because what I did was totally necessary and right. I REGRET NOTHING! P.S. A scar would make me look even more badass, y/y?" Again, I am forced to ask if you know how crime dramas work.)Honestly, after listening to that, I was thinking a Martyr Kurt situation might have been more useful. Preferably unexpected blood clot style, so Blaine can still have his sweet moment of hope beside before it all goes to hell. Might change my mind on rewatch, but too grumpy to rewatch when I can imagine grief instead.
I'm really glad I saw those BTS stills of Blaine with his head on Kurt's shoulder at the street memorial. There wasn't much more to them in context besides motion (don't get me wrong, the motion involved more of Cuddly Puppy Blaine and was amazing), and my god they were fun to daydream about for five or six weeks.
[EDIT: It took me like six determined replays but I finally caught Kurt's hard swallow before they approach the memorial. Up 'til now I had been reading it as Blaine projecting his own concerns onto Totally OK, Super Awesome! Kurt, but now I see there was a genuine falter in that confident veneer. Thin, but I'll take it.]
Finally, I loved the reconciliation/hug with Rachel, even if at the expense of a private Kurt/Blaine conversation (I'm sure the Social Justice corner of Fandom is busy raging as we speak). I did not enjoy the potluck dinner, but that's only because the only other people I want in their lives/don't want to throw off a bridge are Sam and Tina and Quinn. But I already promised to table that rage for now, so. I just want you to know that in my head, at some point, Blaine and Rachel insist on having a cuddling threesome with Kurt in the middle. Well, Rachel insists. Blaine agrees because cuddling is awesome and also Kurt deserves as much attention lavished on him as possible, provided Blaine gets to be alone with him in the end.
P.S. At the end of that last song...BLAINE TRIED TO GO FOR A CHEEK KISS AND KURT MOVED AND DODGED IT. I SAW THAT, COLFER. /not sure if tongue in cheek.
[edit #2: OH MAN TOTALLY MISSED THE KLAINE HUG IN MY DOGGED ATTEMPT TO DODGE SAMCEDES. SURPRISE MAGIC!!]
Ultimate Conclusion: It was a little like the Grey's Anatomy version of trying and failing to top the hospital shooter, not gonna lie (waaaaaaay to much Sam/Mercedes in an episode with hospitalization, not even counting the lacking follow-up on "comfort, romantic variety"). But I'm still pretty pleased that they tried.