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Glee: Yes/No

So it seems Bieste has conveniently married Cooter in order to avoid having any actual fun with the plot about her and Sue fighting over a man. It’s also convenient because Emma’s thinking about being a 21st Century Girl and asking Will to marry her. Meanwhile, Becky and Artie date, and Finn thinks about joining the army.

Summer Lovin’, Happened So Fast

First off, let me apologise for the lateness of this review. I could give you excuses, but perhaps you’d rather I give you what you came here to read. This was a mildly dissatisfying episode. I was rubbed up the wrong way from the start, with Mercedes and Sam doing Grease in a performance that was not a fresh take on a great song, more exactly the same as the film but with actors from Glee. It also felt a rather hollow since Mercedes and Sam have very little chemistry and their whole romance happened off screen. Seeing as Sam had disappeared at the beginning of this Season, I didn’t invest anything in his ‘fling’ with Mercedes. Instead I took it for what it probably was – two characters the writers didn’t really a plan for being flung together in order to tie up loose threads from Season 2, despite the fact that they had zero history of connecting. This season and this episode have spent almost no time developing Merc and Sam’s relationship, so I object to the command to care about them as a couple that was implicit in Summer Lovin’.

Much as I enjoy Chord Overstreet in a bathing suit, there didn’t seem to be much point to Sam joining the swim team other than gratuitous flesh, and to set up the ridiculous We Found Love proposal. It seems the writers are running out of ideas for new characters – the swim coach was basically Sue Sylvester crossed with Martin Luther King. It didn’t work. I did feel sorry for Sam getting synchro-slushied, but Shane handled the situation fairly gracefully. In fact, he has never been anything but a supportive and loving boyfriend to Mercedes, so why are we expected to be onboard with Sam-cedes?

We Found Love in a Hopeless Place

I have to give Glee props for the sheer zaniness of casting Helen Mirren, star of The Queen to be the voice of Becky’s inner monologue. They gave her some great lines, and it was an effective way to tell Becky’s story without it getting unclear or too cute. I personally thought she sounded like a drag queen but Becky has the right to decide how she sounds so I won’t be one of the haterz! Other than awesome Ms Mirren coming out of the left field, I found this sub-plot to be rather predictable. It would have been too painful to have Artie outright reject Becky, but given what we know about Artie, completely unbelievable for them to end up together too. Despite knowing what was coming, the conclusion with Becky’s admittance that Artie didn’t want her because she had Down’s Syndrome had some real emotional weight, and allowed us a rare moment to watch Sue be kind without expecting some cutting remark right after. It’s also good to see a character grow from something more than a one-liner machine into a believable person, and that’s what Becky did this week. I only hope the Glee will recognise and build on that growth in future episodes.

I’ve Got The Wedding Bell Blues

Where this episode really fell down was with Mr Shue. Will used to be a fairly solid and consistent character that could be relied upon to crush on Emma, actually teach his glee club, and be frustrated yet naive about his scheming wife Terri. We all wanted Will to escape his circumstances and take New Directions as far as they could go. We wanted him to get together with Emma. Now Will is proposing to her and my first response is to roll my eyes, why is that? Maybe it’s because Season 3 has spent many episodes giving no time to Will and Emma as a couple, not showing them progress in any way. There have been many promises of this happening, such when Will promised to help Emma recover from her OCD. Now apparently Will feels Emma’s OCD is hopeless, presumably so that the lyrics of We Found Love will make more sense as his proposal. Emma’s obnoxious parents return which at least reminds us why Emma might not have much inner strength to fight her compulsion – she’s growing up enduring people who would rather not see her marry a man who loves her. Emma’s speech to Will about accepting her as she is did resonate with me, probably more due to Jayma Mays and her big doe eyes rather than the quality of the material. Although the eventual proposal was fun, I couldn’t help feeling like this was all a bit of a charade, happening between the writers decreed it time for this episode, rather than because Will and Emma had been moving towards this for some time. Will in particular had such a strong arc in Season One – it feels almost nonexistent this year.

Loved

- Sugar hasn’t been forgotten about completely. Not that I like her, but I don’t like characters being thrown away.

- The one plotline that never seems to get forgotten this season is the students’ impending graduation and more importantly, what comes after? It’s a big question which Rachel, Kurt and Finn have all wrestled with, and although Finn’s army ideas seemed rather out of the blue (they should have been built up over a few episodes ever since his football dreams were crushed), it made sense that he should be thinking about this stuff. The reveal of Finn’s father’s suicide had some gravitas to it, but I found the scene where he was told – in school with his mother and father figures all sitting far away from him rather unbelievable, it should have been set at home.

- Is Mr Shue secretly Jesus?

- It makes complete sense that Finn would propose to Rachel. And I also love the fact that I have no idea whether she’ll say Yes or No.

Didn’t Love

- Sugar sang, and it sounded good! I thought one of her 3 personality traits was ‘untrainable’. Maybe I didn’t give Shelby enough credit.

- Mr Shue slo-mo dancing – no-no.

- I very much Don’t Love the clashing narrative devices of mimesis, where characters are knowingly putting on a performance (which is what Glee normally does) and diegesis, with characters unknowingly bursting into song which is more akin to traditional musicals and only really works when the story full commits to it. Occasionally you have something stellar like Once More, With Feeling that made us think the narrative was diegetic and then revealed it to be mimetic, with the characters all aware they were singing and in that case, trying to discover the cause of it. Yes/No isn’t the same, the first two songs were very much in musical mode and the rest of them were New Directions performances, with no explanation for the switch in narrative.

- Too many recent chart hits that seemed to be included for no reason. I’ll forgive We Found Love, but Moves Like Jagger and Without You didn’t need to be there – I could just imagine Ryan Murphy’s eyes turning into dollar signs from all the iTunes downloads this episode will generate. Don’t be a sell-out, Glee.

Glee Against The Music

Summer Nights from Grease performed by Mercedes and Sam with New Directions:
On the first watch, I just went with it and enjoyed the song, but after I watched through and discovered we weren’t being asked to suspend disbelief about the characters this was just the writers being damn lazy. Grade C-

Wedding Bell Blues by Laura Nyro performed by Emma with Sue and Shannon:
I have already bitched about this, but Glee asking us to suspend disbelief for the first two songs (to the point of watching Sue and Bieste backing Emma), then dropping the whole idea for the rest of the episode, was really jarring. I couldn’t get into it during this song. Grade D+

Moves Like Jagger/Jumpin' Jack Flash by Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera/Rolling Stones performed by Artie with Will and New Directions Boys:
This has been on my iPod for over a month – it’s a brilliant mashup and Artie was great on lead vocal here, but I sort of wish I’d never seen it in the context of the show. This was somehow supposed to be a proposal to Emma? What?! Taken as a standalone performance it was great, the choreography, the set and the arrangement all worked (the weird neck scarves didn’t though), but it didn’t fit into the episode. Grade B

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack performed by Rachel, Santana, Mercedes, and Tina:
Paper thin set-up for the song, but it was a beautiful performance. Despite it feeling a bit forced, I did enjoy seeing the girls meet their respective significant others for the first time. Grade B

Without You by David Guetta ft. Usher performed by Rachel:
The transition from Rachel imagining singing at Breadsticks, to the real choir room performance, to Finn imagining Rachel coming up to him was done well, it was clear what was going on and I like that we saw the flow of Rachel realising Finn needed reminding that he had something really special in his life, to Finn waking up to that fact in the choir room. I think it could have been tied into the Finn army plot better, but all in all a good effort. Grade B+

We Found Love by Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris performed by Rachel and Santana:
I am glad Glee can still pull off a performance like this, something completely ridiculous yet amazing, one that makes me think ‘this would never happen in a real high school but I really don’t care’. I think the last time was Umbrella/Singin’ In The Rain. Although I’m sure the song was primarily chosen because it would sell well, there’s an interesting parallel between Emma needing drugs to get better and make her relationship work, and Rihanna's video in which recreational drugs destroy her relationship. Hmm, maybe it’s best not to peer too deeply at this stuff. Grade B+

Quotes for Gleeks

Becky: “I, Becky Faye Jackson, am the hottest bitch at McKinley High School.”

Becky: “No Chang do, I’m no rice queen.”

Sue: “Well, Michael Chiklis in a wig, I would like to offer my congratulations. I’ve been bested. I guess it’s time to call Boreanaz.”

Sugar: “I just think we’d look really weird together. It’s not that you’re disabled, it’s cuz I’m abled and people are really mean. I’m really worried that people are gonna think your legs look thinner than my arms.”

Finn: “Dude, you’re in synchronized swimming and glee club. That’s like some kind of weird death wish.”

Artie: “What’s your favorite movie?"
Becky: “Schindler’s List."
Artie: “Seriously?"
Becky: “Toy Story 3 is a close second."

Sue: “For God’s sake, can you maybe go one day without the driving gloves? It’s a wheelchair, Artie, not a Porsche.”

Finn: “Rachel Berry, will you marry me?"

I’m growing increasingly dissatisfied with the sloppy storytelling and the cavalier treatment of characters, but there were still some good moments here. Yes/No – I’d prefer Ask Again Later. Two out of four incredibly sexy bathing suits (yes, I’m talking about Santana).

9 comments:

  1. Great review full of the required snark that goes with Glee, Harry!

    I just want to punch half the characters in Glee this season. If Damian McGinty hadn't been in it, I doubt I'd still be watching. I loved how they addressed that when he does smile, he does look like an insane person.

    Also, I am really tired of Finn/Rachel/Kurt. And "Samcedes". I'm only hoping that when they bring in Samuel Larson in the next episode or so, there is a new dynamic.

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  2. Yes, terrific review, Harry. I didn't hate it, though. A lot of it was just music, music, music, and that was fun for a change -- even the ridiculous swimming pool proposal. I even enjoyed the Grease number, even though I'm not feeling Mercedes and Sam at all. I rather liked Sue and Bieste backing up Emma, and I liked Becky's internal monologue, too.

    I keep thinking of Glee these days as uneven but fun. It's lost some of its appeal for me, but I still enjoy it.

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  3. It's not the best episode we've had but it's not the worst either. Some great song and nice character moments here too. Looking forward to the next one.

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  4. I have the problem that I couldn't care less about pretty much everyone - the only characters I'm actually invested in are Kurt, Blaine, Santana and Bieste and I'm giving up on Bieste ever being used effectively or given a decent storyline.

    The problem is the writers clearly don't have a grip on who their characters are and as a result they come across as incredibly inconsistent. With Finn it was particularly glaring when he's complaining about how he has nothing in his life and then proposing to Rachel 20 minutes later. Similarly, Rachel is one of the most self-absorbed, self-reliant characters on TV so why would she sing about being nothing without Finn?

    Then we get to the nightmare that is Will and Emma. Emma has been engaged three times in three years and had two weddings - why on earth should we think her relationship with Will is going to last any longer? She has clear commitment issues. Then we have the nightmare that is Will - is he really so pathetic that he has no adult friends he can ask to be his best man and has to rely on an emotionally stunted teenager? I've never liked Will, I think he's actively a danger to children, but this was a real nadir.

    But then we get to the songs and my cynicism disappears. Whilst I didn't enjoy the Grease remake or the Jagger song, I loved the others. We Found Love was a shining example of what Glee does best - wonderfully choreographed absurdity. And Santana, yet again, can get a guy to question his orientation - she really is something else.

    Please let Rachel say no next week.

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  5. For me, the stuff in between the musical numbers has gotten so bad that I don't even watch the show for the musical numbers anymore.

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  6. Thanks Morgan and Billie :) Great comment Iago, I know exactly what you mean about Bieste. That's sad Sooze, maybe you can bring yourself to tune in next week for a double length Michael Jackson tribute? :)

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  7. Harry - Ya, it is sad because I really did like the show a lot at first, and I could watch it with my girls.

    Actually I am planning on watching this week's episode...the previews look awesome. Maybe if next season's story lines seem to be better I'll start watching regularly again.

    I do keep reading your reviews though!

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  8. Hope you're not as disappointed as me with this week's Glee, Sooze! That means a lot that you'd keep reading even after giving up on the show. I hope it picks up and I can convince you to return to it.

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  9. I did like Sue's "Kate Middleton's facinator" in Emma's song...

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