After a long hiatus, FOX’s Glee returned last night with a post-Super Bowl, stunt laden, extravaganza! It may have been just me, but while I rate this a solidly good episode, it did not make the top few of the season or anything. In truth, certain parts felt like they were warring between being crowd pleasing for a football watching audience and fan pleasing for longtime viewers. As such, the episode as a whole came out a bit uneven.
By uneven, I mean that not every story meshed together the way it should, and a few scenes would have been better left on the editing room floor to make way for an expansion of stuff we did see. I think most of the episode would have made sense for non-fans staying up after the game, and the hour mostly did a fine job of walking the line between the two groups of viewers. However, where there were holes, they were mostly obvious ones, and it makes me sad, because Glee has been doing so much better this year. This episode was a good as most of season one, but not quite the level of many of the season two entries.
A weak element was musical numbers. Or, at least one in particular. Instead of a big opening, we got as bored as Sue (Jane Lynch) watching the Cheerios suffer through “California Gurls”. What should have been a spectacular hook was fairly lousy. The cheerleaders didn’t try to sing, which, I guess, makes sense, but also the fireworks and flips were less than thrilling. I think this was a conscious decision, but that doesn’t make it any better. For fans missing the show and new comers tuning in for the first time, I feel like a great opportunity was missed here.
Luckily, there was some recovery. “Need You Now” was sweet, making me wish for more Puckleberry story. “She’s Not There” was fun, and the “Thriller” / “Heads Will Roll” mashup did not disappoint, other than it seemed a tad short. However, that can be forgiven, as the best bits always leave you wanting more. I also enjoyed “Bills Bills Bills”, but that praise comes with a caveat, as it didn’t really fit with the episode, and first time viewers hanging on from the Super Bowl would have been confused as to what exactly was going on in that scene. I know the staff didn’t want to make Kurt (Chris Colfer) sit out such a big event episode, but as much as I love him, I don’t think his presence served much purpose.
That being said, there were also some really top notch performances this week. Once again, more than ever, Max Adler‘s Dave more than justified his part in the series. Torn between who he was and what he hoped people would see him as, Dave floundered when the football team was forced to join the glee club. Dave’s bullying ways has been a major linchpin of season two, and a very relevant one to modern society, especially with the recent headlines of gay teens committing suicide after such treatment. The story sort of came to a head as Dave led the other players to quit both the glee club and the football team because of his homophobia. Bottom line, Adler is a great actor, who does subtle well, more so than is initially obvious, and he actually made me feel sorry for a guy I have detested for a year and a half. Sheer brilliance.
Also, I have to give props to my new favorite Glee Clubber, Lauren (Ashley Fink). Her enthusiasm at getting to play football was natural, and enjoyable. I only wish we’d seen her more active on the field, and maybe even playing after halftime, instead of rejoining the choir on the sidelines. I am so much looking forward to her coming attempted wooing by Puck (Mark Salling), which I believe should be starting in the next episode. They will make such an entertaining couple!
The humor award goes once again to a Brittany (Heather Morris) plot. Sue manipulated Brittany by playing on her emotions towards a cannon, including giving the Cheerio a ‘hand drawn card’ from the cannon, and talking about its starving baby cannons. The scenes were so wonderful, words cannot describe it with justice. I’d say there is at least a fifty percent chance that Brittany fell for it, too. At least seeding enough doubt for her to convincingly go along with Sue’s ideas.
Sue has been neutered, ending the episode with an interview by Katie Couric (guest starring as herself) because Sue was named ‘Loser of the Year’. Lest you don’t take the title seriously enough, Sue’s competitors included the economy, unemployment, Brett Favre’s cell phone, and Dina Lohan’s dog. With the Cheerios budget being redirected to the New Directions, and Sue losing her cheerleading championship, look for Sue to sink to all new levels of evil. This type of show, which often plays with stereotypes and overblown personalities, needs a true villain, and backed into a corner, Sue should rise to that occasion now more than ever.
The friendship between Will (Matthew Morrison) and Beiste (Dot Jones) has blossomed into something wonderful. If Will ever had a best friend, it’s her, and vice versa. The two came together with the scheme to stop the bullying, a real problem across the country, and I was gratified to see them stick to their guns as their plans fell apart around them. I want to see more of these two together, as only then are they strong enough to fully take on Sue.
Fans of Finn (Cory Monteith) should rejoice, because their boy is back! Finn really stepped up as a leader this week, not just in actively inspiring his fellow students, but also knowing when to step back and hand the reigns to someone else. With all of the much louder plots going on, you may have missed it, but this was one of Finn’s best episodes to date, and certainly sets the stage for a more mature, more interesting character.
In a similar arc, Quinn (Dianna Agron) also showed her personality, both in first going along with, and then standing up to, Sue. Quinn had a moving arc last spring, but has had little since then. It was nice to be reminded of just who she is, and though her kissing Finn felt a little out of left field, we know Quinn has a history of being unfaithful to boyfriends before, so it wasn’t completely out of character. I thought I was glad to be done with the Quinn / Finn relationship, but find myself actually looking forward to a revisit.
Despite waiting months for this episode, the next Glee is only a day away, and I hear it’s going to be a great one! Look for some relationship shake ups and unexpected feelings in a Valentine’s Day themed outing. New episodes of Glee will run on the show’s normal night and time, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX, starting tomorrow.