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Glee: Throwdown

Will: "I will destroy you."
Sue: "I'm about to vomit down your back."

I had a hard time reviewing this episode, because I had such mixed reactions to it. It was chockful of music, including both a powerful Finn/Rachel pairing on "No Air" (one of my favorite songs), and a ridiculous and over-produced version of "Hate On Me." I found the closing rendition of "Keep Holding On" to be touching, supportive, sweet, and timely... and really, really annoying, thanks to the more-egregious-than-ever Reach to Nowhere choreography.

There were some great one-liners that made me laugh out loud (Finn wanting to name the baby "Drizzle"??), sweet moments like the kids secretly jamming together, and Jacob, who I just find hysterical. But overall, "Throwdown" left me confused and disturbed.

And In This Corner...

I'm not sure if it was the entire episode that felt gloomy, or just the last few minutes that left a bad taste in my mouth. I honestly felt that Sue was sincere in stepping down as co-chair of Glee Club. My first reaction was, "Wow, they're finally showing the human/vulnerable side of Sue Sylvester." Perhaps Will's comment that she's a lousy teacher got to her - perhaps she really does care about teaching.

But then the stunt she pulled on Quinn - having Jacob post about her pregnancy - completely confused me. Was she sincere regarding Will, but then the Quinn thing was dropped on her? It's possible - she did seem genuinely shocked that Quinn lied to her. Did she feel betrayed because she thought she had Quinn's loyalty and respect?

Or was she only pretending with Will, because she already has Quinn's exposure in her back pocket? If yes, how does socially ruining Quinn hurt the Glee Club - the kids are already thought of as misfits and losers. Is she hoping that the Cheerios that defected to Glee, leaving her at risk of losing the Nationals, as well as her TV spot, will flock back to her now that their reigning queen has been humiliated? What's her end game? Have I been watching too much Alias?

This is one of those moments where the timing of the show really throws me off. It's been generally hard for me to guage how much time has passed during the course of an episode, something that has sort of been bothering me because Terri seems to getting uber-pregnant, while Quinn hasn't even started to show. Usually, I don't look for too much realism in my shows, especially Glee, which is so tongue in cheek. But in this case, it really makes a difference to me in terms of my perception of Sue. It's one thing to blackmail Figgins and insult the other teachers; it's quite another to destroy a 16 year old girl who worships you.

I really hope it's the former; I like to believe that people are fundamentally good, but do bad/mean things out of hurt, fear, or a selfish lack of awareness on how they are impacting others. I was also excited at the prospect of really getting to know Sue better as a human being. Regardless, either Sue Sylvester or Jane Lynch acted the hell out of last night's episode, because I can't tell the difference anymore.

Will Grows a Pair... Sort Of.

The other "big" part of this week's episode was Will manning up and finally confronting Sue and Terri. I guess I'm not as shocked or genuinely surprised, because I never found Will to be a pushover, like a lot of people have (or the writers would like us to believe). I figured that he generally didn't think confrontation was effective, and he was just a genuinely nice guy. After all, he did speak up last week when he was feeling suffocated by Terri's 24/7 presence.

The "throwdown" between Will and Sue probably would have had more punch if this was the first time we saw Will stoop to Sue's level. And this is where it gets really hard to describe. I never thought any of Will's actions up until now were terribly competitive, manipulative, and selfish. Yes, he went a little too far and he was overzealous, but I really thought that he cared about the kids. But other characters have been blatantly pointing out that he was being all of the above. In which case, Will's frustration with Sue would simply be part of an escalating pattern of competitiveness, not something that was out of character. (Sorry if that's confusing, I'm having a hard time describing this.)

Finally, I don't think you have to fight dirty to fight back. Although I will admit that Will failing the Cheerios was a stroke of genius, especially the one who "spelled her own name wrong and answered every question with a picture of a sombrero."

The Real Showdown

I think the true emotional climax of the show will be when Will finds out that Terri's not really pregnant. I'm still confused about how she is going to pull this off, although bonus points for (a) managing to fake a sonogram, and (b) miraculously changing your pretend baby from a boy to a girl. I wonder if that was Quinn's sonogram that they were showing Will... although, really, would anyone be able to tell the difference?

And yes, that is my way of saying "GET THE FAKE PREGNANCY STORYLINE OVER WITH ALREADY!"

Bits 'n Pieces

-- I was touched when Terri said that she didn't want her sister's marriage, where Kendra basically just birthed a bunch of kids, "each dumber than the last." Even if she was only saying that because she's not carrying Will's child, I'd like to think that she meant it.

-- Figgins totally stepped up this week. I like tough Figgins. I like even more that he made Will and Sue hug it out.

-- No Emma or Ken this week. No Sandy for the last couple of episodes.

-- I'm starting to feel the chemistry between Rachel and Finn. Although Finn really shouldn't have told Quinn that she needs to be "more like Rachel". Bad Finn.

-- Quinn's "Keep Me Hanging On" was appropriately cheesy. I like watching the cheerleaders dance - I've been hoping for a cool routine since the show started. But I couldn't figure out who she wanted out of her life. Sue? Finn? Rachel?

-- Again, argh, Reach To Nowhere. Please, I beg you, Ryan Murphy - hire a choreographer! I hear Mia Michaels is available now.

-- Sue v. Will in slow mo was pretty great. I loved them arguing in their voice overs. Sue thought she looked "elegant" and "regal" with the veins busting out of her neck.

-- Puck: "Shalom."

-- I know I've already mentioned this, but the last number, "Keep Holding On", was touching. When I saw the preview clip, I thought it was going to be another Quinn v. Rachel over Finn thing, but it turned out to be really sweet. Kurt was especially cute, the way he looked at Quinn. And it was the first time on the show that Quinn's had her hair down (I think). Symbolizing the end of her existence as a cheerleader?

-- Rachel has granny panties. Excellent.

-- They used "O Fortuna" during Will and Sue's battles - nice and epic :-)

-- Jacob: "The independent polling company in my Dockers has determined that you're the hottest girl in the school."
Rachel: "Ew."

-- Speaking of Jacob, how is it possible that Quinn's pregnancy is still a secret, considering Rachel just had a shouting matching with him down the hall?

-- Figgins: "Noooo! Not the children!"

-- Santana's idea of dancing is fluffing her ponytail.

-- The only item in this week's fashion report was Kurt's angora sweater. He looked like he was wearing a cat.

Sue's Corner:

I think pretty much all of the good lines belonged to Sue this week :-)

-- Sue: "I don't trust a man with curly hair. I can't help picturing small birds laying sulfurous eggs in there, and I find it disgusting."

Ah. Finally, we understand Sue's animosity towards Will, hatred of Glee Club, and obsession with his home perm kit.

-- Sue: "I like minorities so much, I'm thinking of moving to California to become one."

So very true.

-- Sue (picking out the kids of her group): "Santana. Wheels. Gay kid. Asian. Other Asian. Aretha. And Shaft."

-- Sue (referring to Spanish): "Oh, we all know about your devotion to this dying language."

-- Sue: "I empower my Cheerios to be champions. Do they go to college? I don't know. I don't care. Should they learn Spanish? Sure, if they wanna become dishwashers and gardeners. But if they want to become lawyers and banker and captains of industry, the most important lesson they could possibly learn is how to do a round off."

-- Sue (to Will): "Don't touch me." Will pokes her.

I haven't felt ambivalent about a single episode until this one, so I'm not sure what that means. Maybe this episode is a set up for next week's, which looks really juicy. Overall, 2 out 4 granny pants.

12 comments:

  1. I thought Monteith's voice was a lot stronger this week. I'm starting to think some of the songs just haven't suited his range; unlike Lea Michele who seems able to kick the crap out of any and every song.

    Sue Sylvester had me in stitches again this week. I love it when a show has an un-PC character in there.

    And I missed Emma too, this week.

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  2. "Usually, I don't look for too much realism in my shows, especially Glee, which is so tongue in cheek."

    I hear you on this one. I completely understand that looking for realism in this show is a huge mistake, but my chief complaint about this week's was that they told Quinn the sex of her baby at a 10-week ultrasound. You CAN NOT tell the sex of a baby that early. The parts just haven't developed yet. All you see is a strangely jelly bean like creature that sort of resembles a baby. This blatant error drove me absolutely nuts!

    Other than that, I really liked this episode. Watching Sue and Will go at it and Sue's completely un-PC shenanigans were massively entertaining. And I really liked the performance of "Hate On Me." I'm not familiar with the original though, so any overproduction wouldn't necessarily bother me.

    I kind of liked the ambiguity in Sue's motives. I, too, thought Will actually got to her with his bad teacher remark and that she was being genuine in stepping aside. But I also couldn't help wondering when the trap door would open and drop Will into the pit of fire. What's her angle?

    Serena, thanks to your reviews, I immediately noticed the Reach to Nowhere in the final number and the extreme overuse made me laugh. Hilarious. I think they do it on purpose, because Will really isn't a choreographing genius.

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  3. Perhaps Will's comment that she's a lousy teacher got to her - perhaps she really does care about teaching.

    When Sue spoke to Will, she told him she couldn't handle the students' emotions. In the scene before that, she looked horrified when the students reprimanded both Sue and Will and then resigned en mass.

    That's why I thought she resigned.

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  4. it's quite another to destroy a 16 year old girl who worships you.

    Quinn's resigning from the Cheerios at this point threatens their winning the championship. Earlier, when we saw Quinn's trembling leg at Cheerio practice, the audience heard Sue's thoughts that losing the championship threatens her tenure as a teacher and her endorsement income. She feels betrayed due to that.

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  5. Sue made me laugh over and over again. "Asian! Other Asian!" The comment about Will's hair was so funny.

    I completely agree with you about the pregnancy plot. Quinn's ultrasound was way too early to be believable. Terri faking a pregnancy is just far fetched to be believable, too.

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  6. Sue did have the best lines this week, though I think there were a lot of other funny lines as well. My favourite bits were the Drizzle thing and referring to Spanish as a dying language. I laso loved Sue and Will fighting in the voice-over, Sue was hilarious there.

    I liked the kids jamming together, it was probably the most vocally 'real' performance they've done.

    I couldn't figure out who Quinn was singing to/about in her song- maybe all 3, Cory, Rachel and Sue?

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  7. Paul - thanks for pointing out Finn's improved singing. I was going to mention it, but forgot. I'm not sure if the songs are more within his range, or if he's just dropped the "reluctant male lead" act (after all, Finn has now acknowledged that he's the "Glee stud").

    Everyone - wasn't sure if I should have put it in the main review, so I just wanted to apologize for having the reviews up so late the last couple of weeks. Things have been very busy at work, and I was actually traveling this week. I'm going to try to have the reviews up by EOD Friday moving forward.

    Also, as I'm getting my groove into the reviewing deal, I might revise some of my previous reviews to streamline the writing style. And I will get to reviewing the Pilot soon, I promise.

    Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting!

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  8. Great review Serena :-) I personally loved Throwdown (I think it's Throwdown, not Takedown isn't it?!) I thought Sue was just too funny :-) The curly hair thing rings true with me! I've never trusted guys with curly hair. Even if Will is gorgeous. I also owe it to you that I am niggled by the Reach to Nowhere, but hopefully they'll stop this soon now!

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  9. Oh I almost forgot - one brilliant quote was Britt snatching Quinn's test and muttering "I just don't understand anything!"

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  10. Hi Serena,

    It's my first time reading a review of yours, and I really enjoyed it.

    I'm surprised everyone is assuming Sue revealed Quinn's secret to hurt her. I think she did it out of love. Quinn's secret was never going to last, and frankly she's putting herself and her unborn child at risk by continuing the cheerleader charade. By keeping the secret, all she is doing is delaying the pain and humiliation, and setting herself up for an even bigger, more unpredictable fall. By outing Quinn (and giving her a few hours warning beforehand), Sue is forcing her favourite student to confront her situation while she still has the strength to manage it (dealing with the humiliation while she's showing would be infinitely harder for a girl like Quinn). I agree that it's brutal, but it's the way Sue cares.

    I also believe Sue resigned to give Quinn the only nurturing environment she'll have access to in the coming weeks. She really does love Sue and wants to do what she feels is right for her, and she's not afraid to look like the bad guy to do it.

    And that's the one thing Will is incapable of doing. I think what this episode revealed is the true source of conflict between Will and Sue: Will nurtures; Sue challenges. They both actually want the best for the students.

    Since the beginning of the series, I've been trying to figure out what the general drive of the story is. Now I think that it's about finding that balance: it's improtant to feel good about who you are (Will's approach with the students), but it's also crucial that you always strive to become better (Sue's approach).

    Both teachers represent an extreme, which is why Will's home life is such a mess and Sue's behaviour is so outrageous (she genuinely believes calling kids losers will force them to change their disposition). Sue has just learnt through Quinn her approach has problems. I get the feeling we're about to enter a new phase in the series where Will learns that nurturing alone is not enough to guide these young minds.

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  11. Harry - thank you SO MUCH for catching the incorrect title. I was posting this pretty late last night, I must have gotten confused. I even remember thinking, "takedown is kind of a weird word, but oh well" :-)

    I've made corrections to the posting.

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  12. Dimitri, I think I like your explanation of Sue's behaviour more than anything I came up with, or read/heard so far. So much so that I will be VERY disappointed if you don't turn out to be correct.

    As to Will's competitive streak, I think we've seen that all along throughout the show. Remember April? He brought her on only so that they could win.

    I missed hearing from or even seeing Emma and Ken. Also, Puck only had one line ("Shalom"), which I found really weird (not the line, the fact that he had so little to say). It's his baby after all, and considering that he offered to support it as soon as he found out, and is super angry about the way Quinn blew him off, it seems weird that he didn't have even a small role to play in this week's storyline.

    Loving your reviews, Serena! Don't worry about how late you post them up, quality always exceeds quantity, in my opinion.

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