For a show that is centered around high school theater, Rise doesn’t focus much on the theater setting itself. In “What Flowers May Bloom,” the entire episode focuses on how the theater is changing the family dynamics for each student. There are rarely any scenes inside the theater as we follow how the Spring Awakening performance is affecting everyone, including the adults.
One family that has shifted since the beginning is the leader himself. Lou takes in Maashous in the premiere episode after learning he was sleeping in the light booth. Since that moment, Lous and his wife, Gail, have been trying to figure out what to do with him, especially while they have Gordy’s alcoholism to focus on.
Gordy has remained distant the entire series and even more so here. This leads Lou and Gail to figure out a solution. But after seeing the foster home Maashous left, Lou knows he can’t send this quiet and thoughtful kid back there. However, with some character building and realization from Gordy, Lou and Gail realize that maybe Maashous is meant to be there after all. He isn’t a replacement for their “damaged” son, but an addition to their family, temporary or permanent.
Lou’s other family, his drama troupe, also began to shift this episode. Simon revealed he was leaving Stanton to go to the Catholic school. Simon is perceived as being a closeted gay from a very Christian household. Since the beginning, his parents have been against the production and because their son is playing a gay character, they seemingly feared it would turn him gay.
Since Lou is such a strong character and not just a father figure to Maashous, but all his students, he goes to Simon’s parents to plea for him to stay. Lou knows there is something special in Simon and it’s obvious onscreen. Ted Sutherland does a fantastic job as his character is torn between two worlds that he could easily be a part of if his parents loosened the reins.
Not only does Lou’s talk with Simon’s parents strike a cord with them, but their family values shift as well this episode. In the end, just after Gordy reinserted himself into the family, Simon’s mother appears and asks Lou what he believes in. She quotes her grandmother saying, “I don’t care if we believe in the same thing, but I want you to believe in something.”
Lou, being the seemingly perfect teacher he is, says he believes in his students and you can tell he means it. This leads us to believe Simon will be staying at Stanton where he can continue to explore whatever feelings he is having.
There have been a lot of shows with great teachers, from Boy Meets World to Glee. Rise’s Lou Mazzuchelli is real and gritty as he continues to fight for what he believes in, whether it’s his students or his production. He’s not only the father figure some of the kids need but also their champion. Makes for one great family.