Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Glee: Wheels

Sue: "If I have a pregnant girl doing a handspring into a double layout, the judges aren't going to be admiring her impeccable form. They're going to be wondering if the centrifugal force is going to make the baby's head start crowning."

What a wonderful and unexpected return from hiatus. I was expecting Glee to come back with a bang - all bite, snark, and over the top drama. Instead, we were treated to a sweet and sincere episode that focused on some of our supporting characters: Artie, Kurt, and Tina. What a way to get, er, rolling after the 3 week break.

Artie! Tina!

Artie has always been a favorite of mine. Every time I listen to the Glee version of "Push It", I crack up when I get to his "Holla!" And he's got incredible talent - just listen to his solo on the "It's My Life/Confessions" mash up. No offense to our resident Glee stud, but Artie totally punks Finn in that number.

So I was pretty excited to have an episode centered around Artie. There were so many excellent moments in this storyline, ranging from poignant (Artie's acoustic version of "Dancing with Myself"), brilliant (Mr. Schue's plan to have everyone be in a wheelchair for 3 hours/day), to plain hysterical (when Artie told Tina how he became handicapped, concluded with, "But I want to be very clear. I still have the use of my penis."). I especially liked watching the kids roll around the halls in wheelchairs, and seeing the challenges of not being able to reach, or being at waist height. It's a good thing that Rachel's dads are apparently rich; that girl gets more food on her clothes than an episode of Double Dare.

His crush on Tina was adorable, and I totally melted (puppy love!) when she kissed him. At first, I couldn't understand why he kept bringing up her stutter, but her admission that she was faking made sense. Even though I felt his reaction was a little harsh, I can totally understand where he's coming from: she was pushing away everything that he wished he could have, and she could be normal at any point, but he was still stuck being handicapped. I hope that he'll come around and forgive her - even if he identified with her initially because of their disabilities, the connection and the friendship is based on much more than that.

But I have to admit that Artie's story felt a little lacking. It might have been because he was sharing the episode with Kurt and Puck/Quinn, but I don't feel like I got to know his character any more then I already did. Sure, we found out how he became handicapped, but we didn't really learn about his history, how it changed him, etc. It would have been interesting to see if Artie would still be the jazz/Glee geek if he hadn't gotten into the accident.

Kurt! Kurt's Dad! Whose name I don't know!

There should definitely be more diva-offs in Glee's future - the Kurt/Rachel rivalry was terrific! And there are certainly more then enough divas to make for lots and lots of Broadway duets and Mariah Carey solos. I'm glad that Kurt finally had an opportunity to showcase his singing talent. Even though the "Single Ladies" episode was centered around him and his sexuality, he danced more then he sang. I have to say, hitting that high F was pretty impressive - I talk like Minnie Mouse and I can't even get close.

Of course, the best part about Kurt's storyline tonight - wanting to have the Wicked solo, even though it was a traditionally female part - was his relationship with his father. When we first met Kurt, I figured he had a rich, neglectful daddy, since he had that sweet car and all this designer clothes. Finding out that his dad owns an autobody shop and is sort of this guy's guy that works with his hands was a nice surprise.

The relationship between Kurt and his dad is a lovely anchor, in a show where most families are completely, outrageously dysfunctional (ahem, Terri). It also seems fairly realistic. Since I'm not a gay teenager in the middle of whitebread America, I can't comment on how realistic it is, but there are too many shows/stories where the focus is all about the character coming out, and whether or not their family will accept them. Once that happens - nothing. It was nice to watch Kurt's dad continue to struggle and understand his son's sexuality, the conflicting reactions he had to that phone call (both resentment at Kurt initially, then anger at the caller), and trying to support his son, even if he couldn't really understand why it was so important to him. Mike O'Malley did a knock out job - I hope we'll continue to see him.

I'm bummed that Kurt threw the diva-off, but his reasoning made me tear up. And Kurt changing from his Alexander McQueen sweater into coveralls to work on a car with his dad spoke volumes about their relationship. I'm hoping that we'll eventually get to see all of the kids with their families - especially Quinn.


I'm going to skip the Quinn/Finn/Puck baby money storyline, and wrap up with some Becky moments. She wasn't a prominent character, but her role in the episode certainly revealed a lot about our other players.

First, Will. I'm really mixed about Will. I mean, he's an awesome guy, a teacher who really cares, and he does have the best intentions. As I said before, his wheelchair idea was brilliant. But let's be honest - sometimes, he's a dodohead. In a way, I like it - it's nice that he's far from perfect, and that he's human like the rest of us with good intentions. At the same time, he was judging Sue just as much as he accuses her of judging other people. I know he genuinely thought he was helping Becky when he chastised Sue for being so harsh, but he totally didn't get it: Becky does want to be treated like everyone else, Sue-torture or not. And let's not even talk about how he hasn't figured out that his wife has been faking a pregnancy for like 3 months!

The Sue reveal at the end was just... whoa. I don't want to say it was shocking, but I didn't see it coming at all. I totally misted up when she gave her sister the pom-pom, and the tenderness and love in her face when she read Little Red Riding Hood was probably the first genuine Sue moment we've seen. We started to see little cracks in her facade with the Sue-Will throwdown, and the Rod situation, but let's face it - the Rod/Sue storyline was cheesy and cheeky, and only showed that Sue could be vulnerable.

I do hope that the writers bring back inappropriately snarky Sue, though - we need that bite to balance the softness, and it's just not nearly as funny when she's a human being :-) And if Jane Lynch doesn't win an Emmy, I swear, I'll eat Kurt's tiara collection and puke it over the Emmy voters.

But I have to tell you, my favorite favorite moment was when Brittany bought Becky a cupcake. No analysis. It was just sweet and simple and wonderful.

The Music!

Here's this week's musical, er, score. (Sorry, I can't seem to stop punning tonight.)

+2 for Artie's acoustic version of "Dancing with Myself". It took me probably 20 seconds to even recognize it.

- 1 for replaying the original Billy Idol version while the kids were struggling with the wheelchairs. Hello, overkill? They did the same thing with "Single Ladies" - hilarious as it was, it lost it's impact by time #3

- 1 for the sluggish beginning of "Proud Mary", but +3 for when they cranked up the energy. It rocked.

-1 for the wheelchair choreography - interesting, but not exciting. I was expecting to see some wheelies. But +10 because their hands were so busy with the wheels that they couldn't reach anywhere.

+2 for giving Tina a chance to perform on "Proud Mary". She's pretty incredible. I was just thinking the other day that they need to have more females than Lea Michele singing.

+2 for the spliced in duet on "Defying Gravity", but -1 because it would have been more interesting if there was no Rachel singing at all this week.

Total: 15. Not too bad, given the number of points they gain for excluding The Reach.

GLEEful Moments 'n Quotes:

-- No Emma, Ken, or Terri tonight (thank God), but we... got... SANDY!!! More Sandy! More Sandy!

-- Sandy (after Puck tells him a shark fractured his spinal cord): ''This is why I don't go to the aquarium."

-- Puck's good at 2 things: Lying, and crime. I have to admit, the pot cupcakes were rather ingenious, especially since Puck "[doesn't] put in enough to get you hallucinating... just enough to give you a wicked case of the munchies.

-- Baby with a mohawk! That would be so very awesome.

-- Brittany: "Most of us don’t know how to bake. I find (pause) recipes (pause) confusing."

-- Kurt: "At least you don't have to worry about me getting a girl pregnant."

-- Sue: "I’m about to projectile-express myself all over your Hush Puppies."

-- Rachel: "We didn't think you would take it personally."
Artie: ''Well, you're irritating most of the time, but don't take that personally."

This one was so good, I have to mention it again:
-- Artie: "But I want to be very clear. I still have the use of my penis."

-- Fashion of the week: What was with Quinn's outfit in the first scene? She looked like a walking US propaganda poster, all red, white and blue.

-- Kurt: "We all know I'm more popular than Rachel, and I dress better than her."

All in all, I thought it was a nice, sweet episode. I like it when Glee balances its crazy, snarky over-the-topness with some more low key episodes. I only wish that they had focused on Artie more. It did feel a little like they were trying to get all of the "miscellaneous" characters stories out so that they could move on.

2.5 out of 4 wheelchairs.


  1. I absolutely agree with your comments, Serena. I liked a lot of this episode, but also found it unsatisfying, exactly like they were focusing on supporting characters just to get them out of the way. I'm also glad that they gave Sue such a real moment.

    The diva-off was great, and Kurt's relationship with his cool father is definitely a highlight for me. I also thought that Rachel would have won, though, even if Kurt hadn't thrown the note.

    There's a piece on the Sci-Fi Wire right now about Captain Jack of Torchwood doing "Single Ladies" and it also has the football clip from Glee, too. Torchwood meets Glee on the SciFiWire. I love it.

  2. Great review. I was kind of in the middle with this episode, too. I absolutely loved the parts with Kurt and his dad. Very moving. Kurt's explanation of why he threw the diva-off was so touching. Plus, it is so refreshing to see a manly-man dad being so supportive of his gay son, even though he doesn't quite understand him. O'Malley was great.

    That said, the Artie material felt seriously lacking. I really expected the writers to do a bit more with him, given that the focus was ostensibly on him. I wish they had done less with Quinn/Puck and more with Artie.

    The softer side of Sue was quite unexpected and touching. I do love her snark and political incorrectness, but it was kind of nice seeing her have a bit of high ground over Will. She was spot on when she told him that Becky just wanted to be treated like everyone else.

    Loved the 'Defying Gravity' performances. I've been listening to all three versions (Kurt solo, Rachel solo, and duet) repeatedly since it aired.

    My favorite line was when Puck (?) said that he thought Brittany and Becky were friends and that Brittany was always cheating off Becky's tests. Hilarious!

    The thing that bothered me most about the episode is that I didn't understand why they couldn't just carry Artie onto a regular bus and stash his chair underneath (where we used to put all our band equipment, etc.). Don't school buses have seatbelts now? Why did they need a lift-equipped bus? Was it some kind of school liability issue? It just didn't make any sense at all to me.

  3. Great review, Serena. As you said, both good and bad here.

    My overall impression, though, was 'after-school special.' And there seemed to be a lot of disconnects in terms of tone: Will looked like he felt sorry for Artie in the Billy Idol sequence, but Artie seems perfectly fine with his life, girl trouble aside.

    The overall message seemed to be: "They're different! Disabled! But love them anyway, because disability is a transformative life experience that will make you a stronger and better person!"

    I guess, in a club filled with freaks and outcasts, I don't see why--or how--the writers would choose to single out two characters (Artie and Beckie) as 'more special' and defined by just one trait--and not even a character trait, at that.

  4. When I first started watching this show, I was worried that there would be too much focus on Rachel and Finn, leaving the others as window-dressing. I'm glad the writers spread the attention around, especially since so many of the secondary characters (Kurt, his dad, Sue) are so interesting.

    I imagine we will continue to get snippets of each character as the show continues, so we can continue to expand our view of them as whole people. I would like a bit more on Artie and Tina--that seems like an intriguing pairing.

    Last point: Until he purposefully blew the high F, I liked Kurt's version of "Defying Gravity" better. His voice is simply amazing. Why not make it a duet? Kurt's and Rachel's voices blend well. How old is the actor playing Kurt? Has his voice already changed? I hope so--I like it just the way it is.


  5. Now that we had an episode dedicated to the second-tier characters, could we also get one for the third tier? Pretty please? I just love smug Santana and dull-witted Brittany. Plus, I really had to smile when I saw Piano Man in a wheelchair.

    The song at the end was probably based on the Ike&Tina-version of Proud Mary. And that's supposed to start easy and end rough.

  6. Jesse - I totally didn't get the Brittany/Becky test cheating thing. Totally hysterical, copying off of a special needs kid.

    I really like Brittany, actually. How much do you guys want to bet that she's the Cheerio who spelled her name wrong and drew a sombrero for every question on the Spanish test?

  7. I was just rereading this as I was archiving it on the main site, and I have to say, I love this line: "And if Jane Lynch doesn't win an Emmy, I swear, I'll eat Kurt's tiara collection and puke it over the Emmy voters." And so say all of us. Jane Lynch deserves an Emmy for this character.

  8. I disagree with the -1 for the beginning of Proud Mary - they were performing the Ike and Tina version - which I love.

  9. Serena, Glee got it absolutely right. I came out to my parents as a teen, and both were very supportive. I was extremely moved by the portrayal in this episode. It reminded me so much of my own father. He's never extremely comfortable, but he loves me and tries his best. Glee knocked it out of the park.

  10. The best villains are those grounded in humanity -- think The Mayor on 'Buffy'. And we got that in spades here. The scene with Sue and her sister was just lovely. Will be interested to see where they take this.


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.