This week’s episode of FOX’s Glee, “Jagged Little Tapestry,” is about unexpected pairings. There’s Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Kurt (Chris Colfer), clashing in the way they’d like to run the new New Directions. There’s Becky’s (Lauren Potter) new boyfriend, whom everyone is suspicious of. And, of course, there’s the music, which mashes up Carole King and Alanis Morissette. None of these seem like a particularly good idea.
I very much enjoy Carole King songs, and I very much enjoy Alanis Morisette songs. However, the mashups in “Jagged Little Tapestry” are not very good. The kids sing “Hand in My Pocket” interspersed with “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” intermingled with “Head Over Feet,” and “You Learn” intermixed with “You’ve Got a Friend.” All six of these tunes are excellent on their own, but the pairings are disjointed both melodically and in the messages of the songs. Every switch back and forth is jarring, and it just doesn’t work as it should.
The best of these three is the middle one I mentioned because it is performed as a very charged duet between newbies Jane (Samantha Ware) and Mason (Billy Lewis Jr.). Mason and his sister, Madison (Laura Dreyfuss), seem far too close, so I wonder if this is the beginning of something between Jane and Mason which will cause serious jealousy from Madison. The sparks are already flying in one manner here, and as creepy as the Mason / Madison thing is, the writers could have some fun with a love triangle involving siblings.
Plus, putting the Blaine / Kurt flashes into this song strike a very strong emotional chord. Well done.
Also in this episode are “It’s Too Late,” a sad lament between a separate Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt, and “So Far Away,” in which Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) try to help Becky impress her boyfriend. The latter is cut short when Becky runs from the room. These King songs are emotional and well used, so no complaints there. I only wish the rest of King’s songs were better sandwiched into the episode.
The plot where Becky brings her new boyfriend, Darrell (Justin Prentice, Terri), home to her unseen parents, but everyone from Sue (Jane Lynch) to Santana (Naya Rivera) to Coach Roz (NeNe Leakes) reacts poorly, is an interesting one. You don’t often see someone with Down syndrome dating someone without it or a similar condition. Sue, in particular, wants to know if Darrell is messing with Becky because Sue is extremely protective of her former student. But Darrell does come across as genuine in “Jagged Little Tapestry,” and even if it feels wrong to many viewers (admittedly including myself), I like that Glee challenges our prejudices and makes us rethink them. Because Darrell is authentic, which I think we must assume for now, the issue is in the person who is uncomfortable, not the couple themselves.
Less satisfying is learning that Coach Bieste (Dot-Marie Jones) is going to have a sex change. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a compelling story or that it doesn’t fit in the show; it absolutely is and does. The problem is that it is Bieste herself that the plot surrounds. We see Bieste searching for love and being comfortable with herself on numerous occasions in the past. Sure, some people can hide their true feelings, but she doesn’t strike me as one to do so, especially given some of the raw moments we witness of her. To have her, of all people, go through this feels inconsistent for the character. Which is a shame, because I am excited to see Jones as a full-time cast member, and I just wish she were given material more in line with who she’s been since her introduction.
The good Sue is back in her support of Bieste. Sue is usually shown to be cruel in order to inspire and push people to do their best. The exception is when she eliminates arts education from the school, but maybe this can be justified in some twisted way because she thinks such pursuits are holding students back. I don’t quite buy it, but I’m glad to see Sue hasn’t been turned into a cartoon villain in the final season.
Another weakness in “Jagged Little Tapestry” is how the Kurt / Rachel conflict is handled. Knowing the two of them, obviously they will be at odds, and obviously they will work through them. Perhaps because of everything else going on in the hour, though, this arc is zoomed through, skipping steps between break and heal. This either needs to be a bigger focus or spread out over multiple episodes. Maybe it will be, but they seem to come back together far too easily at the end.
Luckily, to balance out the flaws, the hour contains some of the best Santana / Brittany (Heather Morris) stuff ever. Unlike the rest of the rocky pairings, their union is solid, and it finally blooms into an engagement. (I do hope it is mentioned this season that Ohio, where the show takes place and where I live, is one of the handful of ridiculous states that still outlaw gay marriage.) We are given a really intimate post-coitus scene that is a little more adult than most of Glee has been, but earned for these two. More importantly, we see them express their feelings for one another in a very authentic way, for them. I’m so happy this couple is making it and set for a happy ending.
Kurt’s jealousy here is completely natural, and while he mishandles it, he does apologize to Brittany. I wish we’d see how Santana takes the sorry, especially given how she (deservedly) rips Kurt a new one, but I’ll settle for what’s in the episode, glad Kurt is chastised, even though his pain is understandable.
“Jagged Little Tapestry” is a middling episode. Great music not well used, and two pretty good plots alongside a couple lesser ones keep it from reaching its potential, but also keep it from being a disaster. Overall, I’m pretty happy with Glee‘s final season. Hopefully, that will hold.
Glee airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00S6QY54C][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00QYH71QE][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B0032JTV74]