With the schedule I’ve given myself this past year, I’ve been trying to resist the temptation to review too many individual shows, especially since I cannot get to an episode until the weekend, which means people probably got their review from somewhere else. I finally decided that perhaps I would give it a rest for a while until I am able to give the shows my full attention. However, once in a while an episode comes along that pulls you right back in. This time the culprit was Glee with Tuesday’s “Never Been Kissed.”
Poor Kurt (the amazing Chris Colfer, a true breakout star) has had a rough start this year. Not only is he the only openly gay student at his school, but apparently he has become the target of a bully who slams him into the lockers every chance he gets. That feeling of being an outsider and an ever-increasing loneliness is starting to get him, resulting in anger and bitterness.
After being told by Will (an equally-good Matthew Morrison) that he must be on the boys team for the annual mash-up contest, Kurt sneaks away to the rival school to check out latest New Directions competition. Posing as a new student (not very convincingly though), he is led by hand to a performance by the handsome and confident Blaine (Darren Criss), who turns out to be a member of the group. I must say, their rendition of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” was the highlight of the episode. It’s my first must-have of the season (well, okay, second, after Kurt’s version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”). It turns out Blaine is openly gay as well, and gives Kurt some much needed words of comfort.
Meanwhile, Sam is having trouble staying controlled during his “special” time with Quinn. He turns to Finn for help, who lets him in on a little secret: picture something opposite of what he is doing. Unfortunately, the image of running over a mailman doesn’t quite sit well with Sam, who instead finds inspiration with thoughts of Coach Beiste. It works, and word spreads to the other Glee members (most hilariously with Mike and Tina), but it just might be too effective when the user utters the name “Beiste” each time she enters their thoughts.
Both stories lead to two very surprising moments: Kurt confronting his bully, who gives Kurt an unexpected first kiss before running off, and Beiste confessing her feelings of inadequacy to Will, who also gives her first-ever kiss. I kind of saw the second one coming, but that first kiss took me by complete surprise. I really did think the jock was going to hit him, but instead finally showed how bottled up emotions can affect people in horrible ways. It was a great revelation, and one I hope they explore in future episodes. Not that I think Kurt and the jock should hook up, but it would be nice to have someone he can relate to (although Blaine would sure fit the bill for that). Both kisses might have also had different motivations, yet they definitely showed the importance of why no one should ever be bullied or made fun of for being different.
There is a third storyline involving Puck (a hilarious Mark Salling) and Artie (the gifted Kevin McHale), and although I liked the chemistry between the two, their story sort of faded into the background.
Many have complained that Glee has not done enough to combine songs that connect with the story this season, which does nothing to forward the story and the characters. With “Never Been Kissed,” I would say Glee is right back on track.