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glee goodbye

Review: GLEE – “Goodbye” (03.22)

Written by: Brad Falchuk
Directed by: Brad Falchuk
US Airdate: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

In Short: All the graduating seniors come to terms with their post-graduation plans.
Recommended: Hell, yes!

BLAINE: You know how hard long distance relationships can be. We both saw The Notebook!

This episode performs a “switcheroo” on us very well. Maybe too well. The Glee Club has just won Nationals, the seniors are about to graduate, and most importantly, everyone is happy. So, this episode should, by all reasonable measure, be a gentle walk toward the season’s end. And the weird thing is that, aside from some major drama at the end, it actually is gentle.

The main example of this gentleness is Coach Schue’s assignment for the kids: they have to sing goodbye to everyone. And oh boy, do they ever. Coach Schue himself goes all acoustic guitar over “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart. Not bad, also not memorable. Finn and Puck, in one last hurrah of a Finn and Puck song before school ends, play a rock song and pretend it’s not slow and dull (in this case, “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen). The non-graduating classmates manage to ruin the Beatles with “In My Life”.

The reason why their version didn’t work is fairly clear. In the Beatles song, Lennon’s vocal is reminiscing about the past, but trying to convey the isolating distance he has from that past at the same time. In Glee’s version, it’s like they’re doing a camp sing a-long or something. Like most of the homework songs this week, they felt very polite and distant. And the song montage took up a lot of time.

There were some standout songs that broke the mold. The most unique was Kurt’s dad, dancing along to “All the Single Ladies”, to show Kurt how much he appreciates him. If only all the numbers could’ve been this personal! Kurt had a decent number himself, crying to the group with “I Remember You”.

Enough musicology. This is Glee, which for once this season, is actually about dynamism in relationships. It is the season finale, which means that people suddenly have a desire for change, as opposed to the usual preparation for Nationals, or some such stuff. There’s mild drama, like Kurt telling Blaine that he won’t dump him, even though Blaine has another year of high school left. But they didn’t really give that story closure (I smell more exciting plot stuff for next season!).

[And, wait, didn’t Blaine refer to himself as a “Junior” in Season 2, when he was still at Dalton? What, did he have to repeat a year when he changed schools this season?]

Then stuff starts to get a little more complicated. Santana’s mom (Gloria Estefan!) shows up, to congratulate her on going to Louisville. But Santana doesn’t want to just go to college, and Brittany (in what should be no surprise) has to repeat her senior year (with a 0.0 GPA, no less). So, Santana decides to stay in Ohio, and her mom trusts her enough to give her a “graduation present” (i.e. money in an envelope).

While it was nice that Santana chose love, and stood up to her Mom’s desire for her to go to college, a lot of the episode went through the motions. It wasn’t necessarily bad (ok, musically, it was pretty close), but a lot of the relationships, despite their uncertainty, kind of felt like checking in, providing adequate screen time for the different characters, many of whom are at least leaving school, if not the show.

The tide of relationships starts to change with Puck and Quinn. Puck is cramming for the history final he gets to re-take, and he’s struggling with his self-esteem. Quinn helps him study, and tells him that she loves him, and they kiss. This was a really sweet moment, as Quinn, who worked really hard to rebuild herself into an upstanding student, was able to love Puck again, on her own terms. And Puck had what, in most episodes, would be the hallmark moment, as he passes the test! Yay!

And there’s a graduation ceremony/Glee Club concert, which is more politeness. Kind of like, by the way, the senior class singing “You Only Get What You Give”. Despite being an “energetic song”, the performance looks very static in the Glee room (like an actual concert). An attempt at an honest farewell, I guess.

But let’s get to the real heart of the matter, the stuff that makes this episode legendary: the NYADA letters. Any fan of the show has probably been dreading this moment to some degree. Does Kurt get to go to New York? Could Rachel handle any other result? Wait, did Finn really apply to the Actors Studio? So many questions! I think Finn put it well (really well, given the outcome), when he described not wanting to open the letters, to enjoy the moment before their lives change forever.

The results? Rachel’s in, Kurt and Finn are out. It was probably the most realistic outcome, as even Kurt and Finn’s applications were really bi-products of Rachel’s desire for traveling companions. Rachel’s application was the only one that mattered. So of course…Rachel wants to wait a year? And not only that, to help them apply next year? What better gesture to encapsulate not just the season, but the show, than that she’d be willing to give up her own dream in a foolish attempt to help the group.

In spite of common sense from the viewer, Rachel’s gesture seems perfect, more so as she discusses it in the car, on her way to marry Finn. Then Finn starts talking funny. First of all, when Rachel admits to having some natural doubts about their teen marriage, Finn says that she shouldn’t have doubts, and that he never did. Then Finn admits to a ruse, a big one: he’s driving her to the train station, so that she can go to New York, and not marry him or stay in Ohio! And Finn’s joining the Army, to find out what happened to his Dad, when he died in duty.

Needless to say, Rachel is upset and confused, and Finn appears ready to disappear from Glee forever. Rachel and Finn sing an amazing duet (“Roots Before Branches”) as they walk up the steps to the train, with Rachel crying and looking around scared, as she goes to New York. And as Rachel walks around Manhattan, all alone, it’s like she’s living the exciting, scary uncertainty that all of the Glee characters, maybe even all real high school grads, must feel as graduation comes to pass.

The Checklist:

Brit’s Wit: [on living in the Glee rehearsal room forever] “Wastebasket for toilet, then eat Joe for food, because he’s been here the shortest, and we know him the least.”
Best Song: I feel like this is the Oscars, three big ones to choose from! Kurt’s “I’ll Remember” was really personal, and fit Kurt’s mode of emotional expression. The flashback infused “All The Single Ladies” was a lovely graduation present to Kurt from his Dad, and was a sight to behold. But I have to go with Finn and Rachel’s swan song, “Roots Before Branches”. For such a cheery person, Rachel has a knack for the resignedly depressed song. Some amazing music in this episode!
Relationships: Just about everyone had something going on in this one. Santana isn’t moving to Louisville, KY for college, and is instead staying in Ohio (where her girlfriend, Brittany, has to repeat her senior year). Quinn and Puck kissed, so they’re at least a “maybe” for getting back together, one would think. Kurt insists that Blaine’s junior status won’t ruin their relationship. And,of course, Finn dumped Rachel on the way to the altar and joined the army, so that Rachel can chase her dream.

– Jason Luna

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nationals

Review: GLEE – “Nationals” (03.21)

Written by: Ali Adler
Directed by: Eric Stoltz
US Air Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

In Short: The McKinley High Glee Club goes to Nationals.
Recommended: Hell, yes!

WILL: This is your moment, four years in the making. Forget about everything else! Take it!

Note: This is part two of a two hour “Glee event”, with hour one being the previous episode, “Props”.

This episode really is all about Nationals, as it begins in Chicago, with our heroes simmering in the hotel, nervous about the show. To prove that point, a fight breaks out because Puck wants to study for the (no graduation because of) history test he gets to re-take. And Mercedes has taken ill, forcing her to drop out of the show. Oh, no!

While these problems would be pretty serious in real life, it felt like the show took them fairly lightly. No, Glee is more dependent on emotional fare. Cue the entrance of Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff), the Vocal Adrenaline coach. Who Rachel used to date. And who is a total jerk. They strike up a totally awkward conversation, which revolves primarily around Rachel’s failed NYADA audition. While Rachel pushes him away fairly easily, I like how the show presented Jesse’s shallowness primarily for the audience. A demonstration of how much the outside would try to corrupt even someone as pure-hearted as Rachel Berry.

Predictably (not in a bad way, though), Mercedes manages to recover completely from her illness, and she jumps in to perform at the last minute. So, let’s get to the New Directions performance. The Troubletones get what some may call a “moment in the sun”, as they perform “The Edge Of Glory”, a Lady Gaga number (which Santana sang very well on, as always). Like all of these Nationals performances, the song is okay. But they all seemed to be based on the idea that if the kids sing loudly and on pitch, then their presentation of a pop standard is successful, and everyone in the audience goes crazy.

But the performance takes a plot-based turn (of all things), when Rachel sings “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, of Celine Dion fame. Carmen Tibideaux sneaks into the crowd, so now Rachel has the audience she’s always wanted! (She gets a standing ovation.) And then, for some reason, the Glee Club sings… Meat Loaf? “Paradise by The Dashboard Light” was a bizarre song choice, but I understand the message it was giving. After three long years together, the number demonstrates how the Glee kids can be “rock ‘n roll” and loose, but can still sing and dance at a high level (well, sort of high). The crowd goes wild, and even Carmen Tibideaux joins in the applause.

And, on her way outside, Jesse St. James runs up to Carmen Tibideaux, and insists she reconsider Rachel. Jesse’s recanting of his maliciousness was an extremely fast turnaround, but it was still a very charming and positive sequence, especially when Carmen remembers Jesse’s failed audition, from a long time ago.

Now that New Directions is done, Kurt and Mercedes visit Wade “Unique” Adams (Alex Newell), the transvestite star of Vocal Adrenaline. Unique says that he won’t go onstage, because he can’t handle being a celebrity. Kurt tells him that “Unique” could maybe handle things better than Wade himself could. And then Wade says that, based on New Directions’s kindness, he may have to… transfer schools next year? Now, I wouldn’t say that this moment was touching (it happens really fast), but it does provide some plot speculation fodder for next season, which is pretty exciting.

Vocal Adrenaline performs, and I think their numbers were very creative, even if they were oddly similar, in comparison to the disparate song choices of our Glee kids. “Starships” by Nicki Minaj and “Pinball Wizard” by The Who somehow both boiled down to Unique running around onstage, climbing either on club members or on pinball machines. That being said, the performance style is very dynamic, and hopefully Unique really does go to McKinley next year.

The judges debate who should win the competition. And the judges are Chicago alderman Martin Fong (Rex Lee), as well as Lindsay Lohan and Perez Hilton, as themselves. Lohan’s shtick about how she’s been to jail, and how she doesn’t want to be there, and other stuff wasn’t particularly funny. Fong’s love for musical theater (but as a man) was pretty funny, given Lee’s abundance of energy. But the real star of this comedy freak show (with all due respect, of course) is Hilton. He not only argued very convincingly for Vocal Adrenaline to win due to Unique’s uniqueness, but he does this amazingly funny thing where he talks about convoluted gossip stories, and they flash on the screen. Very funny scene.

Awards are named, with appropriately dramatic pauses. Unique is given an “MVP” award. And then… the winner is… McKinley High’s New Directions!

The kids come home to much fanfare. There was this beautifully composed image in which, in the midst of all the celebration in halls, Brittany and Santana kiss, at the same time that Rachel and Finn kiss. This is what the Glee kids were fighting for, for some kind of emotional purity, where any person is free to do what they want. And Sue Sylvester gets to fire Coach Roz from the Cheerios (makes sense, since Roz Washington hasn’t been in any episodes lately…)

Then there’s a scene in which Coach Schue and Emma have sex. Don’t know how to describe it otherwise. In no way does this scene ruin the episode for me, but it was forced like crazy. I know Emma is OCD and always has issues with touching people, and cleanliness, etc. And this is a culmination of her attempts to resolve that issue. But is one quick moment really supposed to sink into the viewer’s consciousness? All we’ve seen of Emma for so long was the woman who stood by Will, and even Will has had fewer storylines in previous episodes. I feel like they could have dealt with these issues in a more clever way, maybe spread it over the previous few episodes, versus one quick explanation.

And, in the coup de grace, Principal Figgins asks the Glee club to come to the Teacher of the Year Awards. (Funny, how we’ve never heard of these awards, and after two school years at McKinley High.) Not only does Coach Schue go on to win Teacher of the Year – yay! and Sue even congratulated him! – but the club sings “We are The Champions” for a perfect tie-in with the Glee Club Nationals win.

I personally think it’s tough to write “happy” convincingly, and this episode does it very well! Congratulations, fictional Glee club from Lima, Ohio!

The Checklist

Brit’s Wit: “My blanket and pillow fell in the pool! Disaster!”
Best Song: “We Are The Champions” by the Glee champions at McKinley High. Among a barrage of rock songs restaged for high school pageantry, this song was the most pleasant to listen to, and the most heartfelt, as it celebrated Coach Schue specifically.
Relationships: Well, Will and Emma started a sexual relationship, in case you were waiting for that. Unique’s “relationship” with Vocal Adrenaline may be on the decline, thanks in part to New Directions’s kindheartedness to him. And Jesse St. James tried to exploit his old relationship with Rachel, but only to gain a mental edge for Vocal Adrenaline. Considering it was either a singing competition or resultant celebration, romance didn’t come into play too much.

– Jason Luna

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glee-props-body-switch

Review: GLEE – “Props” (03.20)

Written by: Ian Brennan
Directed by: Ian Brennan
US Air Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
FOX

In Short: Tensions run high as the team is building up towards Glee Nationals, and Tina gets a concussion with magical results.
Recommended: Hell, yes!

TINA: [as Rachel] It’s amazing how you thank me for your brilliant career, when I never take the time to thank you for your amazing supportive performances!

Note: This is hour one of a two hour “Glee event”.

This episode, in terms of its endearing awesomeness, had its fate sealed in the first act. Tina is stressed out in the build-up to Nationals, as Rachel keeps getting the solos in every number that the Glee Club does, and Tina never gets one. Tina continues to be angry at everyone. But then… she falls into a mall fountain and gets a concussion.

But out of such a terrible premise, amazing awesomeness does indeed come forth. In an attempt to deal with her identity crisis in comparison to Rachel, her concussed perception of the world implodes. Everyone’s identity on the show changes, by switching with someone else. The spectacle really has to be seen to be believed. Coach Shue becomes Coach Sue, Kurt becomes Finn (in a really impressive performance, by the way), and Tina becomes Rachel!

In all the fun and games, Tina (as Rachel) gets to sing her solo (with these cool distorted light effects to boot) with Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me”. A decent performance, but the visuals were neat. And Rachel (as Tina) had to bow down to Tina (as Rachel)’s greatness. But Rachel (as Tina) gives Tina (as Rachel) sound advice about her choked away NYADA audition… well, sort of sound. She should go see NYADA selector Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg), in person, and complain.

It's freaky Glee-day!

When Tina snaps back to reality, she tells Rachel to do what Tina would’ve done as Rachel… well, you get the point. They go to see Ms. Tibideaux! And, as it turns out, multiple unanswered voicemails annoy important people. But Rachel insists that Carmen at least consider coming to Nationals to watch her perform.

I didn’t enjoy the “Carmen/Rachel” storyline that much, as it felt like the emotional melodrama that Glee usually employs just came to down to benign persistence in this case. But the call back to the legendary “Choke” moment was an intelligent choice.

Speaking of persistence as a storyline point, hello most of the episode. As you may or may not know, Sue Sylvester has bitten her tongue and become co-captain of the Glee team. And she’s doing recon on our heroes’ biggest rival, Vocal Adrenaline. Apparently, they have a hot new star, Unique (Alex Newell), a guy with great stage presence and a booming voice, who likes to sing while wearing a dress.

As such, Sue insists that Kurt wear a dress, to help boost the team’s awesomeness at Nationals. Kurt keeps rejecting the idea during spare moments in the story’s plot, and nothing really happens. Again, another storyline that seems to just scream, “Wait ‘till Nationals!”

To that point, with this episode being part one of a two hour “event”, and hour two being called “Nationals”, obviously the writers were introducing storyline elements, teasing our way towards the next hour. I don’t think these plot points made this episode really “bad”, but I think they detracted from a completely memorable experience.

The one exception was the stuff that Beiste and Puck had to go through. Puck puts on the dress, which is certainly a fun moment, as he tries to answer the call that Kurt wouldn’t. Who knew, right? Puck doing something that Kurt wouldn’t!

But you don’t get much time to relish that awkward/funny moment, as Rick “The Stick”, the hockey jock who usually exists to be the “outsider/other” in any election/dialogue scene, challenges Puck to a fight, since he’s a girl, or some nonsense. They have their fight, and things get legitimately scary, especially for a show named “Glee”. Rick defeats Puck after a long fistfight, and then Puck pulls a…knife? But before Puck can stab the hockey players to death, Beiste pulls him aside.

Puck’s moment (with a rubber knife, in case you were worried) was intense, but then Puck cries on Beiste’s shoulder, about how his life is over, since he wasn’t graduating anyway. A sad moment, but it gets even more poignant, through the magic trick of mirroring.

Beiste sees the futility in Puck’s tears, and decides to resolve her own futile life. She leaves her abusive husband Cooter, finally. And Beiste tells Sue about it, and Beiste breaks down. What I like about the great sad Glee moments is that they’re not just sad, they compound the sadness by adding different layers and dimensions. This moment does that.

Beiste and Puck sing “Mean” by Taylor Swift, which was obviously a bonding moment, but the song itself was a little simple. And the same thing can be said as Tina and Rachel sing Irene Cara’s “Flashdance” together. Both of them were admirable attempts to end the episode, as the crew inevitably left for Nationals.

“Props” had some great moments in it, so it was great. The switching between people was remarkable, and the dramatic montage with Puck and Beiste was amazing. Given that this was basically a “set-up episode” for the next hour, this was an amazing accomplishment.

The Checklist

Brit’s (as portrayed by Mercedes) Wit: “I have to bail Warthogtina out of jail. He tried to sell my iPhone for drugs.”
Best Number: “Because You Loved Me”, by Tina (as Rachel). The other choices a little lean on music quality. The emotional content in Puck and Beiste’s rendition of “Mean” was admirable, but Tina (as Rachel)’s number was too unique. Visually stunning, with those big vocals that everyone on this show likes so much. One of the most creative numbers/moments on the show this season.
Relationships: The big news, of course, is that Beiste finally left Cooter. Tina convinced Mike that she wasn’t selfish by helping Rachel, but even in that case, everything basically stayed the same.

– Jason Luna

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3.18 Choke

Review: GLEE, “Choke” (3.18)

Written by: Marti Noxon, Ross Maxwell, and Matthew Hodgson
Directed by: Michael Uppendahl
US Air Date: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

In Short: As Kurt and Rachel worry about their final auditions into NYADA, Coach Beiste is hit by her husband, Cooter.
Recommended: Hell? Yes.

BEISTE: I’m afraid that no one else will love me!

The opening of this episode really says it all. Rachel is preparing aggressively for her NYADA audition, and her funny neuroticism is on full display. She’s telling herself mantras about how she’s a star and not a ball of gas, floating around the universe. She sees all of the things that could bring her down (my personal favorite was “Adele’s throat polyp”) as she’s walking, backwards, down the hallway. In short, while she’s clearly stressed, it’s cute and charming, not a problem.

And then Coach Beiste shows up. Or rather, her black eye shows up. And this is where the feel of this episode shows up. It doesn’t pull any punches, but they’re slow punches that you have to wait around for. In hindsight, it felt like I was waiting around before some of the greatest Glee bombshells exploded across the screen.

For example, Beiste’s black eye is annoying at first. Santana and the other cheerleaders make fun of her, sarcastically implying that her husband, Cooter, punched her. So, naturally, Roz Washington, co-cheerleading coach and all around sassy black woman, has to get involved. She forms a coalition with coaches Sue and Beiste, and makes the girls sing songs about how women should leave abusive households. The preachiness here was a little extreme for me, but some people won’t see it that way, which is understandable. While you’re making the girls seem stupid with their complete lack of knowledge about women getting beaten by their partners, spousal abuse awareness is great.

However, I have a mild complaint with the “gender gap” throughout the episode. The major plot points include either the “Glee gals”, or the “Glee guys”, entirely separate from each other. Apparently, male students can’t participate in female advocacy. But that’s only a minor point, didn’t affect the episode’s effectiveness overall.

After an introduction to women’s abuse as a theme, the episode explodes, dramatically! During the first “female empowerment anthem”, Beiste has a flashback to when Cooter in fact did hit her in the eye! Coaches Roz and Sue tell her that she should leave Cooter (of course), and Beiste agrees to move in with her sister. She evens openly cries in front of the “Glee girls”, telling them what happened.

For an entirely different storyline (probably one of Glee’s most over-used techniques), there’s the comedic storyline. Usually comedy, not to mention comedy with Puck, is a slam dunk, but this time, it’s just okay. Finn is worried that Puck won’t graduate when everyone else does. Puck’s not worried, because he’s going to seduce the geography teacher that’s standing in his way. And while the awkward/failed attempt is worth some chuckles, liking some of his shtick is a struggle. I’m primarily referring to his song numbers. Puck gets TWO metal songs. His rendition of “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper could sway some people who like abrasive guitar with a slow delivery, maybe. But then there’s his and the guy’s “rock” version of “The Rain in Spain” from My Fair Lady. Apparently, singing something in a “rock” style mainly means flat vocals. After his deadbeat dad shows up and asks him for rent money, Puck tries to study hard for his test, staying up all night with the “Glee guys.”

So, to keep track of what’s going on: A) Coach Beiste has left her abusive husband, and B) Puck is doing the right thing and studying. For, C) We get back to Rachel, and Kurt and those NYADA (New York Academy of Dramatic Art) auditions.

Kurt is really stressed out, worried that his version of “The Music of The Night” from The Phantom of The Opera is too dull. Based on his rehearsal, he’s probably right.

Rachel’s trying to talk Kurt out of his nerves, telling him to not over think his chance at success. Surely, Rachel must know best…!

And then there’s the audition, which sets up the most powerful Glee ending (or rather, endings) that I’ve ever experienced.

But wait, who’s running the audition? It’s none other than Whoopi Goldberg, as famed NYADA dean and famed theater personality Carmen Tibideaux! Carmen was basically a stern person running an audition, we’ll have to see where this character goes from here…

Kurt scraps his Phantom piece, and instead does a rousing rendition of “Not The Boy Next Door” from The Boy From Oz. It was soul stirring, fast and catchy, and it excellently showed the confidence that Kurt’s been demonstrating lately. Carmen even said that Hugh Jackman, Tony-winning Oz Boy himself, would be proud of it.

Rachel comes on stage, performing a piece that she had successfully previously sung in Season 1, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl… and she chokes! It almost brought tears to my eyes to see her kind of involuntarily gasp and stop. She tried again, with the same result. And she walked off the stage. That was it. That literally was it. And the episode had a somber finish, centered on the emptiness felt by those who feel unaccomplished.

Rachel refused to even speak, telling Kurt to stop trying to cheer her up, being completely non-responsive. So, as Rachel often does, she goes on stage by herself, and sings. Her version of “Cry” by Kelly Clarkson is heart wrenching. She’s singing her heart out, while crying, to an empty room. And creating the soundtrack for the end of the episode at the same time… And the clear irony of her situation is that while she feels alone, everyone else feels the same way.

Remember B? Puck studying for the test? After drawing a dinosaur on his test, he psyches himself up and finishes the test. He tells all the “Glee guys” that he feels good. And he gets the test back. He failed. Of all the incredibly sad endings, this may be the saddest. Precisely because he gets the test and just reads the F on it. He isn’t allowing himself to be upset, when it looks like his school year is ruined.

And then there’s A, the Beiste thing. It feels like they tease you with this possibility throughout the episode, but yes, she gets back with Cooter, even after he hit her.

I like how the end of the episode presents the viewer with so many kinds of negative feelings to emote with, with Rachel’s suppressed act of melodramatic expression as the cherry on top. While “Choke” has hackneyed dialogue and incredibly thin musical numbers (the acoustic rendition of “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine by the “Glee girls” was sluggish, for example), the emotional tapestry is too compelling to be ignored.

The Checklist

  • Brit’s Wit: “Turns out, we’re having another prom this year. As class president, I need to come up with a theme. I was thinking, if we do ‘alien invasion’, we can have corn fields and probing booths.”
  • Best Number: By far, “Not The Boy Next Door” by Kurt. Honorable mention to Rachel’s heart-felt rendition of “Cry”. However, I felt more of an emotional connection to Rachel’s troubles than an appreciation for the composition itself.
  • Relationships: Beiste left Cooter when he hit her, but she forgave him at the end. Needless to say, their marriage is probably on the rocks. Pretty light fare, aside from that. Puck unsuccessfully tried to seduce his teacher. He also told the housewife that he has casual sex with on pool cleaning jobs that he was done with her, since he was done cleaning her pool.

 

 

– Jason Luna

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3.19 Prom-asaurus

Review: GLEE, “Prom-asaurus” (03.19)

Written by: Ryan Murphy
Directed by: Eric Stoltz
US Airdate: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

In Short: A lot of introspection amongst the Glee club members as McKinley High builds up to its prom, and it votes for Prom King and Queen.
Recommended: Yes.

SAM: Looks like everybody’s happy tonight.

Principal Figgins has Brittany into his office to talk about the upcoming prom, and specifically her tenure as senior class president. Brittany speaks in her usual, comically incorrect sentences – in that vein, later there is an hilarious moment that may make the episode worthwhile on its own, when she unilaterally rejects all of the themes that the Prom Council came up with (for example, Brittany doesn’t want “Stairway to Heaven” because she doesn’t want to also build escalators to help handicapped people into Heaven).

But back to her conversation with Principal Figgins. He says that if she doesn’t do a good job with prom, she might ruin the position of President forever. But this issue never comes up again. I suppose his comment was in the vein of a sitcom character saying “why I oughta…!”, as a commentary on how stressed out he is. But that’s just it. The stress in this episode is a little forced.

To elaborate on that point, let’s talk about the star of this week’s episode, Quinn. So, as we all know by now, Quinn got in a terrible car accident, and now she’s in a wheel chair. The school’s been feeling really bad for her, and she’s one of the three finalists for Prom Queen (along with Santana and a “fill-in female” that is never featured in the episode). While all this is happening, she’s going to physical therapy with Joe Hart, the dreadlocked-Christian guy.

Sidebar: I know that it’s great that characters go in new directions as a show progresses, but Joe went from the naive Bible thumper in previous episodes to doing whatever Quinn tells him to. Emblematic of the laziness I felt with this episode.

So, at physical therapy, Quinn walks without any artificial means of support! Joe wants to tell everyone about her miraculous abilities, but Quinn won’t let him. She tells him that she wants to surprise everyone, and it could be at Glee practice, or even at prom. When I heard this, I assumed she was trying to make everyone at school happy. But, apparently, as the episode forces you to think, since she didn’t confess to it right away, she’s a conniving bitch!

The episode’s other story is better, and more coherent. So, the contestants for Prom King are Finn, Brittany, and hockey bully Rick “The Stick”. (Brittany running as a King was practically ignored, by the way. Why would you write gold like that into an episode, then not use it?) Rachel is upset. You know she’s upset because she sat in the auditorium and sang “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with Kurt and Blaine. I’m a big fan of Rachel’s emotional solos, but this one seemed a little weak. I guess “quietly somber” is a tough mood to pull off.

Rachel doesn’t want to go to a prom where Prom King Finn would dance with some other woman. So she decides to have an anti-Prom. And she has an oddball cast of odd ducklings. Becky thought she should be Prom Queen, so in this episode she became really upset and smashed any announcement xylophone should could find. Not going to Prom makes sense for her. Puck’s not graduating, so he’s an easy sell. And Blaine and Kurt don’t want to go, at least partially because Blaine can’t wear hair gel at a stone-age themed prom.

Which brings us to the prom. Brittany picked the theme of dinosaurs. Makes perfect sense. It’s off the wall, the audience can relate to the basic idea… and the prom kind of ignored it. Sigh. When she announces the theme to Glee Club, Coach Shue says: “We need to find some dinosaur songs.” And they only use one dinosaur song! Brittany’s rendition of Ke$ha’s “Dinosaur” was crazy fun, and the choreography was great. And everyone else sang generic prom filler with a slow tempo, and whose meaning goes as far as how much you love someone. Santana at least sang well on her version of Selena Gomez’s “Love You Like A Love Song”. The Glee Men’s Choir singing One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” was dull and forgettable. [Hey! New Directions… One Direction… get it? – Ed.]

The Anti-Prom went about how’d you expect, but that wasn’t a bad thing at all. The Anti-Prom group rented out a hotel room, and everyone was really bored. Puck and Becky hung around when everyone left for Prom and then, I kid you not, (in my opinion) the GREATEST GLEE MOMENT EVER happened! Puck saw how upset Becky was about not being Queen, and he took an empty beer box and made them King and Queen crowns! It was heart-meltingly sweet, and became even more so when they showed up at Prom. Sue loves Becky, of course, so she was happy to see her as a Prom Queen. It was just a great moment.

Oh, and at the Prom, we all get to see that Blaine’s gel-less hair is a moderately less attractive white person’s Afro. The build-up and pay-off were super fast, but I guess it’s an insight into Blaine’s inner self.

Anyway, back to Quinn, inevitably. The plot twists start to get incredibly convoluted at this point. It’s amazing how they thought they could say how things are happening, without giving the viewer time to process them. Finn is upset with Quinn about lying, and yells at her on the dance floor to stand up. Joe, the dreadlocks guy, gets in Finn’s face (see what I mean? What is this guy, the Christian Bodyguard?). Finn calms down.

Rachel tells Quinn that she voted for her, and that she’ll always treasure their friendship. Santana and Quinn, as the greatest ballot counters in the world, tally out the votes. Finn wins Prom King easily, and Quinn beat Santana by one vote.

We don’t see exactly what happened after this, only a suggestion of the transformation of Quinn from her negative attitude for like 3/4 of the episode into a 180 degree transformation back to being normal again. All they show is the results of the vote. Finn is Prom King, and by write-in vote: Rachel, as Prom Queen! And, um, they dance to Quinn singing Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”. Song choice was suspect, but Quinn stands up during that. Finally, Quinn overcame a white lie and acted nicely again! Mild yay!

My takeaway is that the episode is pretty good, with some funny stuff at the beginning, and the episode flowed well. But above all else, Quinn’s forced melodrama detracted some of the overall quality of this episode.

The Checklist

Brit’s Wit: (On “Drill, baby, drill!”) “I no longer think we should be drilling for babies.”
Best Song: Brittany’s “Dinosaur”. Not even close.
Relationships: Most emotions were directed inwards, or everyone was content throughout romantically. Joe and Quinn may be moving in a romantic direction, but it’s hard to tell. They’re just good friends for now.

– Jason Luna

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