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TV Review: Glee – “A Night of Neglect”

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FOX’s Glee returned last night with an all new episode. In it, the members of the New Directions decide to stage a “Night of Neglect” to raise money to get themselves to Nationals, as well as to pay for several of their group to participate in an academic contest. Sue (Jane Lynch), newly determined to destroy the club, forms a Legion of Doom to combat them. Meanwhile, Will (Matthew Morrison) and Holly (Gwyneth Paltrow) have problems when Holly suspects that Will is still in love with Emma (Jayma Mays).

It is about time Will and Emma moved along! She is now free of husband Carl (John Stamos), who is seeking an annulment after months of living in an unconsummated marriage. Will is dating Holly, but Holly always says their relationship will be temporary. She is a “wandering, wild substitute,” which, by the way, is not a real thing. There are no substitutes anywhere who live and travel like Holly Holliday. But the writing is on the wall, because Paltrow is a big name movie star, and while she has been kind enough to do three episodes this season, her intentions were never to stick around long-term.

Will and Emma are the on-again, off-again couple that just can’t seem to make it work. She likes him when he’s married, then he likes her when she is with Carl. Both pine for the other while they are unavailable. Now, both are single, and with the season finale fast approaching, it’s finally time to see how they work as a couple. Best guess is that will be the beginning of season three. Can’t rush into it too quickly.

The most likely obstacle for Will and Emma at this time is Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), missing for most the season, despite her name remaining in the opening credits. As a member of Sue’s band, and someone who is still very fond of Will, look for her to stir up trouble just when it appears Will and Emma are heading for a happy ending. Terri is not something that cannot be overcome, but she will toss up some drama for a bit first. This is great news, because as much as Terri might be unlikable, Gilsig is great fun, and it will be enjoyable to watch her in action again.

As for Holly, she may be back in season three. The writers and producers would love for her to return, and why not? She doesn’t even have to come in to start trouble, but rather, just as a returning friend in town for a warm visit. Her performance of “Turning Tables” is a perfect ending for now, but it is likely we have not seen the last of her.

Anyone who was excited to learn that Charice would be joining Glee this year may have been disappointed by her long absence after only one episode. She returns as Sunshine Corazon, member of a rival club, in last night’s episode. After convincing the New Directions that she is serious about helping out with their benefit by delivering a powerful version of “All By Myself” and promising to pack the house, she and her fans are a no-show.

It’s easy to see from a mile away that Charice is part of Sue’s evil scheme, asked to participate by her vocal coach, Dustin Goolsby (Cheyenne Jackson), a.k.a. Mr. Handsome, in the Legion of Doom. Why only Rachel (Lea Michele) can see that is a bit mind boggling, especially after Rachel brought another spy from the same group in last year. Yet, somehow, all hopes for the event hang out Charice, and not even Glee Club parents show up.

Songs at the benefit include Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) singing “I Follow Rivers” and Mike Chang (Harry Shrum Jr.) showing off his dancing skills to Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes.” Tina’s song is a little boring, but Mike really has moves, as we’ve seen numerous times before.

The only people in attendance are Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss), making their weekly, brief appearance, and Sandy’s (Stephen Tobolowsky), a.k.a. The Pink Dagger, all-familiar heckling club consisting of recurring characters Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter), Jacob Ben Israel (Josh Sussman), and football bully Azimio (James Earl). While the hecklers could have had their own episode, the four actors being so fantastic, a bit of taffy and a talk from Holly handily defeats them, leaving only a couple of cheering fans by the end of the show.

Sure, Sue’s choices of fellow baddies are slim, as most adults in the series, unlike fellow students, adore the New Directions, but did she have to go with Sandy, of all people? Tobolowsky is worth adoration, but his character is never much of a threat. The former glee club director, turned pot dealer, is brought to his knees as soon as Mercedes (Amber Riley) belts out Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way,” and he ends up donating all of the money for the academic trip himself.

Mercedes rarely gets a chance to shine. This episode addresses head on how, though Mercedes talent matches Rachel’s, the former is never in the spot light. It is extremely welcome for Mercedes to get her due with a killer musical number, while Rachel takes the entire week off of singing, a true rarity in the series. While both are fantastic characters, it would be nice if Mercedes got several episodes of focus, not just this one.

Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink) continues her streak of awesomeness by appointing herself Mercedes’s manager, and making diva-level demands on Rachel, who is assigned to handle the talent for the event. While Mercedes is generally a kind diva, it is easy to see why she would embrace Lauren’s big plans when having her ego stroked a bit, a long overdue occurrence. Lauren and Mercedes are great fun together, and perhaps the two can be chums, since Quinn (Dianna Agron) seems to have abandoned her former gal pal.

Another highlight in this episode is Santana’s (Naya Rivera) verbal take down of Dave (Max Adler) in the hallway as the bully threatens Blaine and Kurt. Santana seems to be embracing her homosexuality, as the whole confrontation has a “stick together” vibe to it. Dave, who earlier in the season admitted he is gay to Kurt, has backtracked into the homophobic crowd, understandable in the setting where he dwells, even though it is also regrettable. While Kurt and Blaine don’t seem to be of much help to Dave embracing himself, perhaps Santana’s method of kicking butt can turn the tide?

Lastly, the brief cut scenes of the academic team, consisting of Mike Chang, Tina, Artie (Kevin McHale), and Brittany (Heather Morris) is hilarious! Who’d have thought that Feline Diseases would be a category, making Brittany invaluable in a thinking challenge? The pay off at the end, with Holly’s teaching coming in handy, is a nice trough gag. While outside of the normal plot of the show, the connections made, as well as the superb humor, makes this bit memorable.

Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET, and next week will present a special 90-minute episode! Quinn and Lauren will battle it out for prom queen.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com