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TV Review: Glee – “Special Education”

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In season one, it seemed like almost the entire fall run of episodes in FOX’s Glee was leading up to Sectionals. It was a big deal, constantly talked and worried about. It was the fall finale, of course, with huge drama. This year has been different. Instead of getting ‘SECTIONALS! SECTIONALS! SECTIONS!’, we got ‘KURT! KURT! Uh, oh, we forgot! It’s time for Sectionals!’ Plus, this week’s episode, “Special Education”, was not the mid-season finale, as there will be a Christmas episode next week.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved most of season two. However, the sudden arrival at such an important event was slightly disappointing. Not to mention, we only got two songs from New Directions this year, instead of the three they’ve always done in competition. Despite the threat of last minute shakeups, they did what they had planned to do. I expected Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) to take on the solos at the last minute, but they didn’t. I expected Kurt (Chris Colfer) to realize the mistake he made switching schools and rejoin his friends, but he didn’t. On the whole, it was relatively low key.

Now that’s not to say nothing interesting happened. We finally got a good Rachel / Finn story. They used to be such a focus of the show that I longed for other characters to get more screen time. Now that it’s The Kurt Show, I didn’t realize how much I missed the central duo. Their relationship woes, and Rachel’s sabotage of them, was heartbreaking. I enjoyed them together very much, and while Rachel’s drama-queen behavior was not out of character, it was disappointing. I thought she’d changed, as evidenced by her new found friendship with Kurt, which is not something she would have maintained earlier in the show. However, I still liked what was done, story-wise. Something the two of them will have to overcome.

The other couples also got some time this week. Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) sparkled in their duet. The sweet pair are probably the new power couple, since Rachel and Finn self-destructed. For the first time, I actually saw a little bit of plausibility in Artie (Kevin McHale) and Brittany (Heather Morris) together, though I predict they will fail when Brittany realizes that Artie knows how stupid she is. He tried to play off a comb as magic, for goodness sakes, and she believed him! I still can’t shake the feeling that putting Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) together was vaguely racist. Mike Chang has recently become one of my favorite characters, but he could do much better than Tina.

The music was not bad at all. Not the highlight of the season, but far from the lowpoint. Both of New Directions’s competitors delivered awesome numbers, even if Kurt looked uncomfortable through all of the Warblers’s. Blaine (Darren Criss), however, owned that song. Mike and Brittany’s dancing was perfect, though Santana’s (Naya Rivera) solo was definitely overshadowed by them. I do not understand at all why there were only three choirs (as there always are on the show) in competition, or how, in that situation, two could tie and move onto Regionals. But I guess that was to further the Kurt story.

A new member was added to the club to replace Kurt. Her name is Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink), who first appeared last April, and was in her seventh episode of the series last night. This was the first time my wife even noticed her, and the first time she had any more than a snarky line. Not to make fun of her, but her inclusion was visually entertaining in the musical numbers, in a good way. The actress herself made Lauren instantly likable in her roughness. Her interactions with Puck (Mark Salling), finally back to who he previously was, were a highlight of last night. I found myself hoping she sticks around. Maybe as Puck’s girlfriend, or is that asking too much? I just want to see a smack down between her and Santana. Though, that adds yet another to a very long list of wonderful supporting players.

Huge developments for Will (Matthew Morrison), who played very angry all through this episode. Although it’s been more background then foreground, his jealousy over Emma (Jayma Mays) and Carl (John Stamos) has been building for some time, and it seemed to come to a head, though he took the ill feelings out on the group instead of Emma. Emma’s surprise weekend marriage in Vegas to Carl was unexpected, and unwelcome. Surely, since Emma and Will never really got a chance, they will at some point. As such, the wedding is pointless, obviously doomed from the start. I don’t want poor Emma to have to go through a divorce. The whole thing was rather distasteful and unnecessary. Sure, it was supposed to be another stumbling block for Will, but it feels like a mountain unwelcome in an array of hills.

Overall, I would rank this episode somewhere in the middle for the season. Decent, but not mind blowing, music. Some good plot developments, mixed with a couple of stupid ideas. A great not-so-new character being featured. And some very funny one liners. Plus, it was a true ensemble cast episode, which is what every episode should be at this point, with so many rich characters to feature.

I look forward to next week’s episode, when Sue (Jane Lynch) will certainly try to steal Christmas. Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8pm 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
  • Frank

    The Time of My Life Sucked.

  • Dawn

    I was disappointed with the singing. I didn’t think either of the songs at Regionals were show stoppers or even that good. No star power for me I guess.

    I really enjoyed the Kurt and Rachel connect, I think with her having two gay dads, she would be the most sympathetic to his situation. I was vaguely uncomfortable with the way Mr. Shue yelled and spoke to Rachel and her in particular, it’s like he views her as his own personal punching bag at times.

    Also the universal hate towards Rachel, is unsatisfying. It disappoints in that we are supposed to be open minded towards everyone else’s character flaws, but not hers. They are all irritating on some level, they are teens for pity’s sake.

    The show loses out when it vilifies Rachel on a level greater than Sue.

    JMO

  • Jess

    Thank You Dawn! You’ve basically summed up my feelings on this borderline disappointing episode. My only other complaint towards the show is Quinn and Sam’s relationship, which i feel is often times overplayed and fake, and their duet was a blatant rip off of Finn and Rachel’s from Regionals.

  • Anna

    Yeah, I kind of hate how perfect/fake the Sam/Quinn relationship seems. I mean both characters admitted that they are using each other for the popularity/power.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    Aw, I like Quinn and Sam. But I do agree that Rachel is sometimes villified too much. I didn’t like her much at first, but she’s grown on me, and she WAS the star of the show, until Kurt kind of took that over this season. Well, along with Will, of course.

  • Tori

    I agree with a lot of you, which is nice because it seems like everyone else has the opposite position. Rachel is flawed but I love her for that. Since the first episode, I have really appreciated the fact that she wasn’t perfect but had a great heart. This season has been really annoying to me because it seems like it went from being The Rachel Show to all about Kurt. The few times that Rachel is on, she is mostly portrayed as this selfish, evil brat that everyone hates which is frustrating. I mean, if they can give a villain like Sue (who is more entertaining as just a villain) a heart and some goodness, why can’t they do the same with Rachel? Also, they need to stop making her cry every time she sings. Good god.

    To me this episode was great plot-wise but pretty underwhelming musically. It was nice to have Emma point out that Will does have a formula for competition and the idea behind the change up was great but as Rachel said, that kind of thing is better for practices, not sectionals. Mercedes, Rachel, and Finn (ok well maybe not Finn) have the strongest voices and got so many parts for a reason: when they sing, they knock your socks off. The solos/leads should have gone to them and Puck.

  • Jackie

    Your assessment of Emma’s random wedding was spot on. I completely agree with you.

  • Valerie

    It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Okay, this episode had a song that had my name on it, and I couldn’t even stand it. The thing that sucked the most for me was that Mr. Sue did exactly what their High School does: it glorified the cheerleaders and jocks and oppress the geeks. Furthermore, the fact that an OCD person like Emma could get married on a whim TWICE seems so unbelievable! Like the last end season, the voting doesn´t add up… Which makes me wonder if they ever do the math. Rachel is so vilified, and what the rest of the gleeks do to here is almost bullying. The reactions are never proportional. C’ommon Quinn slep with Finn’s best friend, got pregnant and blame it on him, and he was all attentive in the firsts episodes. He is never there for Kurt. Only in the last 5 minutes of the episode and he is automatically forgiven. I don’t know why Rachel gets so much hate. But if you got give the solo to other is could have been to Artie, Mercedes, Puck and Tina (who can actually sing really well – it is a SINGING competition after all) and not Barbie and Ken (who sing well but not prize worthy). Thank God most of you agree. I though I was going insane!