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TV Review: Glee – “Britney 2.0″

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Glee dusts off the Britney Spears song book for a second time this week with “Britney 2.0.” Is it a shameless plug for Britney herself, who doesn’t cameo this time around, but is now a judge on the same-network singing competition series, The X Factor? Or does Glee do this because Britney really does have a lot of good songs, and it’s easy to pick another batch to fill a second episode?

Well, as many good songs as she has, and several are used in “Britney 2.0,” it is a weak week, musically speaking. Only two stand out, and both are big dance numbers. Instead, what is delivered is a bunch of remixes and alternate versions. Glee often does this kind of thing well. Not this time.

That doesn’t make the episode bad. Glee has delivered some real stinkers in the past, but “Britney 2.0″ isn’t one of them. It falls somewhere in the middle, with room for a handful of complaints, but also some pretty decent story, and a couple of songs that really land well.

As the title suggests, Brittany (Heather Morris) is featured this week. After an upbeat opening of “Hold It Against Me,” her life takes a serious slide. Depressed after being cut from the Cheerios for very bad grades (how is she still academically eligible all this time?), and missing Santana (Naya Rivera), who doesn’t have time to scissor Skype, Brittany looks for something to pull her back up. Learning from her inspiration, Britney Spears, Brittany decides that the best thing to do is force a rock bottom so that she can rise triumphant.

Thankfully, someone stops Brittany before she buzzes all of her hair off, but there’s still plenty of room for disaster. Brittany tanks the school performance of “Gimme More,” insisting on lip synching while eating cheese puffs, in a parody of Spears’ Music Video Awards performance. She also stops trying to look good, drinks a giant unhealthy beverage, and seems to have given up.

If Santana were here, she would understand and be able to help Brittany. Other attempts, such as her friends singing “Boys” / “Boyfriend” and “3” to her, fail. It isn’t until Sam (Chord Overstreet), who is slightly less ditzy than Brittany, figures out what is really happening that anyone is able to help her.

Is Glee setting up a Sam and Brittany pairing? I sincerely hope not. It’s hard to balance a long distance relationship with one’s near-distance lives, and as sad as it would make me, I would understand if Brittany and Santana had to break it off. But if someone is going to be Brittany’s new beau, it’s got to be someone at least as fitting to her as Santana is. Sam may be great in his own right, but he is just not a natural pairing for Brittany.

Speaking of pairings, it seems that no one can stop the Marley (Melissa Benoist) / Jake (Jacob Artist) train. Unique (Alex Newell) tries with “Womanizer,” proving exactly why s/he has been added to the cast, as it is the episode’s best number. But then Marley still runs off to duet “Crazy” / “(You Drive Me) Crazy” with Jake. I can’t complain too much. The definitely seem drawn together magnetically.

But I also feel that this attraction is alienating them from the main group at a time when they need to be assimilating. Couldn’t someone new have been introduced as a love interest for an existing character, instead of both newbies falling for each other? Instead of a continuation of the New Directions as the seniors move on, it’s feeling like a younger, separate replacement group is forming, making this a transition year, rather than a reboot.

While still on Marley, I must confess that I found her songs boring this week. She has a fantastic, powerful voice nicely showcased in the season premiere. But “Crazy” / “(You Drive Me) Crazy” and “Everytime” did not do her justice, and she is mostly backup in “Womanizer.” Marley still gets good story, just not any of the best music.

Another alum makes an appearance in “Britney 2.0″ when Will (Matthew Morrison) brings Puck (Mark Salling) home to talk some sense into Jake. It is a touching scene, and definitely one that is expected and needed. But mentioning that Puck lives in Los Angeles now kind of kills it when viewers realize that he flew home for a two minute conversation. Couldn’t Puck have stayed around town after graduation, opening him up for more story with Jake? It would be easy to buy that Puck gave up on his West Coast dream, or at least postponed it. Ah, well.

In New York, things come to a head between Rachel (Lea Michele) and Cassandra (Kate Hudson). After seeing her teacher’s on-stage flame-out on YouTube, Rachel gets up the courage to talk back, which leads to the fantastic “Oops!… I Did It Again.” This only hurts herself, as we learn that Cassandra has a method to her madness, and as most already suspected, the bullying comes from good intentions. Now that that’s out of the way, thankfully coming sooner rather than later, can Rachel do something great in school? Impress her teacher for a change? Two episodes of her suffering is enough.

Luckily, Rachel has Kurt (Chris Colfer) and, more importantly, Brody (Dean Geyer), to pick her back up. Brody makes his attraction clear, and Rachel begins showing signs of giving up on Finn (Cory Monteith). After all, Brody is here, whereas she hasn’t heard from Finn in two months. Which means that it’s about time for Finn to show up and throw a wrench in things.

The only thing the rings hollow about this plot is Kurt’s apparent immediate support for Rachel getting with Brody. Finn is his brother, and Kurt is the first to point out that Finn’s silence is done for Rachel’s benefit. Shouldn’t he scold her just a little before coming around to the new dude?

Glee did a decent job with a solid episode for “Britney 2.0.” It moved the stories along a bit, without doing anything too horrible (or memorable).

Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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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