With “Silly Love Songs”, FOX’s Glee is back on track, after a comparably weak (but still pretty good) post-Super Bowl showing. This episode, in the show’s usual time slot, was a Valentine’s Day special. The strength came from how it focused on the character relationships, and gave some defining moments to several characters that are more often in the background. Plus, there were some very good musical numbers, always a welcome element on a show that prides itself on its music.
Let’s start with my favorite new couple. In flashback, we saw that Puck (Mark Salling) was rejected in the closet by Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink) because he wasn’t very good at the making out. This rejection has spurred a drive in him to pursue her, but Lauren is not making it easy. As she says, she’s not desperate. He needs to woo her. He tries, by singing “Fat Bottomed Girls”, which, while a pretty good performance, was also insulting, and so she not only tells him that, but later stands him up on a planned date.
I love that Lauren is not just a stereotype. She was introduced as one, and is still sometimes played like one, but in “Silly Love Songs”, she was anything but. Her insistence that Puck get to know her first and go slow if he wants something more was wonderfully unexpected, and just what Puck needs. I whole-heartedly support the union, though Puck isn’t exactly the best guy in the world. My hope is that, by keeping him at arm’s length to start, Lauren gives him the space to mold into a guy she deserves.
Plus, the two of them are just plain funny. I loved when she tossed the empty box of chocolates back at him, saying they were terrible, even though she ate them all. After being stood up, Puck makes out with a waitress to distract himself. And despite Puck being a tough football guy, Lauren fights for him, physically, leading to perhaps the most amusing cat fight ever seen on screen.
That cat fight was between Lauren and Santana (Naya Rivera), who also got much more focus than in any other episode I can remember. Other than a crying scene that was completely out of character (even if I believe that she would have done it, it would have been at home, not at school), Santana showed her best asset. I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with witchy.
Not only was Santana jealous over Puck, whom she fought for and lost, but she was the only one figured out that Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Finn (Cory Monteith) were sneaking around. And she did something about it. Only someone as purely spiteful as Santana would give Finn mono (she has built up immunity, so it didn’t affect her) to spread to Quinn, outing them, at least to herself. I like that she didn’t just make accusations. She went about it in a much more entertaining way, which is why this show is one of my favorites, rather than predictable drivel.
I am disappointed that the Santana / Brittany (Heather Morris) relationship was abandoned so quickly. I don’t know why it was done, but I like the two of them together much more than Brittany with Artie (Kevin McHale). Brittany and Santana just get each other in a way that no one else does. The series does not shy away from the gay men, so why the lesbians? I think Santana may just be experimenting with Brittany because she is lonely and over-sexually charged, but there seemed to be real love from Brittany towards her gal pal in previous episodes.
As for Artie, I want him back with Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz). Tina and Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) have never felt right to me, and it’s not just that their relationship is vaguely racist, based on the Asian jokes we’ve seen from them so far. But never have they felt so awkward than they did this week, when Jenna broke down while singing a horribly out of tune rendition of “My Funny Valentine”. I used to love that song, but it will never be the same. It’s rare that Glee would ruin a song for me, but in this case, that’s what happened. It was by far the weakest, weirdest part of the episode. Not sure what they were going for, but it didn’t work.
My opinion is one sided, because I find nothing to dislike about Mike, and his duet with Artie of “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” was great. Well, not so much a duet, as Artie provided great vocals to Mike’s even better dancing, always a welcome part of the series.
About Finn and Quinn, I liked that they are getting the closure and revisit, but I hate the way they are doing it. Doesn’t Finn realize he is doing to Sam (Chord Overstreet) what was done to him last year when Quinn cheated on Finn with Puck? I mean, his character even acknowledged the connection, but dismissed it. I guess, for teenagers, hormones rule over everything else. At least Finn and Sam aren’t good friends, as Puck and Finn are. But it’s easier to forgive Puck, because it was within his nature, whereas it is not with Finn.
Speaking of Finn, he was terrible this week! What an egotistical jerk, thinking every girl in the school would want to kiss him, and he’d use that to help out the glee club with his ‘charity’. And other than a few confused, odd expressions from Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison), no one really seemed to notice. In fact, Finn earned a lot of money with his scheme! The kissing booth did help along some other plots, but it only hurt Finn as a character.
Will Sam ever figure it out? As he said, he’s not stupid. Yet, he bought Quinn’s explanation. Of course, that was before the whole mono incident. I wish we would have gotten some Sam reaction to that. I guess there just wasn’t time in the episode. I am deeply intrigued, however, by that look at the end of the episode between Sam and Santana. Even already knowing that the writers will soon be going down that path, it was so well executed, it gave me chills. Maybe he can settle her down.
Rachel (Lea Michele) is finally getting over Finn! I didn’t think I would be happy about that, as I enjoyed their brief foray as a couple this fall, and I expect it’s only a matter of time before they get back together. But as Mercedes (Amber Riley) pointed out to Rachel and Kurt (Chris Colfer), they are the divas of the show. All the best divas got to their superstar status while being single, so why are they worrying about men?
Rachel, more than anyone else, does not need to be in a couple. She is beautiful, talented, and a phenomenon all to herself. At this point, a guy would probably only slow her down. As she is one of the leads, it’s not likely the show will keep her alone for long. But I want to see more of single, confident Rachel. Viewers have seen it all along, but I’m not sure the character did until now. Finn’s rejection of her should help that along. The evidence was immediately apparent, as “Firework” was triumph for Rachel and the show.
I like Mercedes’s attitude, and can see how it will benefit all three characters if they embrace that outlook. However, I acknowledge Mercedes probably only said that because she is single, and would really like a man, and I want her to get one. I had thought that would happen in season two, but it’s not looking likely. Instead, Mercedes has too often been ignored. Now that Rachel, Kurt, Brittany, Finn, Quinn, and the others have all gotten their due, can we please have some Mercedes story?
Meanwhile, Kurt’s Big Arc continued as he pined over Blaine (Darren Criss). Blaine, for his part, revealed that he had a crush on some guy who worked at the GAP, and showed it having the Warblers back him up with the huge number “When I Get You Alone”. As they sang, I couldn’t decide who I felt sorrier for: Blaine, as the guy was clearly not interested, or Kurt, because he had to watch the object of his affection swoon over and be rejected by another man. Poor gays.
Not only was the song great fun, but the effects were dealt with in a totally realistic way. The guy was not only fired, but shut Blaine down in a permanent way. Kurt was there to comfort him, and confess his feelings. But the best part about the whole thing was that Blaine was exposed as an imperfect teenager, with many of the same insecurities and hangups that we see in the other characters. Up til now, Blaine was almost too perfect. Being knocked down a hair was good for him.
There was also a very nice ending, as most of the New Directions (the ones not at home with mono) showed up to hear Kurt, Blaine, and the Warblers sing the title track, “Silly Love Songs”, at their favorite restaurant. It was nice, even if I wished Kurt did more of the singing. The coming together at the end was the important part. The cast feels like a family on screen and off, and I love when they support each other.
As you can see, there was a lot going on in the hour of television, and almost all of it was great. Character driven plots are what makes Glee great, and the writers have really tried to focus on that this year, to their credit.
The adults were in short supply this week, but that will surely be corrected next week as Sue (Jane Lynch) joins the New Directions! Watch Glee Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX.