I cannot believe I’m going to say this, but I think I may have actually kind of loved last night’s episode of Glee. Maybe it is the fact that almost every character felt like a character during the episode, maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with Billy Joel and his music, or maybe it’s because I was still on an emotional high while watching this episode, since I had just gotten back from seeing Catching Fire, but last night’s Glee made me smile more instead of sigh, laugh instead of roll my eyes, and even made me connect with the characters from McKinley in a way that I thought was impossible after last week.
Since I’ve had such a bone to pick with the high school characters on Glee as of late, let’s start with why most of this stuff worked last night. First of all, Glee actually remembered that one time that Artie and Becky sort of became friends after she had feelings for him back in season three, and the series decided to explore what the future would be like for a mentally challenged individual after high school.
This storyline worked for numerous reasons, but I mainly liked it because much of its emotional weight came from the depth of pre-established relationships. I believed both Artie and Sue’s concern for Becky (even though they were initially in disagreement about what was actually best for her). When Becky finally decided that she wanted to go the University of Cincinnati after visiting (another emotionally powerful scene), Becky’s excitement and Sue’s support as she helped Becky write her college were really sweet and genuine.
Something else that felt surprisingly genuine about last night’s Glee too was the re-established love triangle between Marley, Ryder, and Jake. While I still don’t buy into the fact that Jake would actually cheat on Marley, Ryder’s earnest pursuit of her (accompanied by his awesome performance of “Innocent Man”) was enjoyable, and it really helped that the storyline was grounded by the conversation shared between Marley and her mother, AKA the best parent on Glee when Burt Hummel’s not around. Their cafeteria chat was one of my favorite scenes in the entire episode again and reminded me of why I liked Marley so much last season, when her sweetness and kindness made her real and relatable rather than boring.
On the New York side of things, I enjoyed watching Sam and Blaine pursue their New York ambitions, if only because it meant we got to spend more time with Rachel, Kurt, and Santana. While I thought Blaine (as usual) sang too much during this episode, I actually would have liked a little more focus on his NYADA audition than we got, but I thought his conversation with Kurt about how worried he was worked well.
Furthermore, I really liked the comedy aspects of Sam’s storyline and believe that his attempts at being a male model could be pretty hilarious if not taken too far (which means I would not like to see Tyra Banks on a consistent basis, even though she did pretty well here during this episode). One thing I was not a fan of at all though was the uncomfortable sexual tension between Sam and Rachel. It seemed to come completely out of left field, and personally, I really think it would be a disservice to Rachel’s character if Glee had her jump into a fling or relationship with someone anytime soon, especially after the series’ persistence about how she and Finn were soul mates. For an episode that I mostly enjoyed, the Sam/Rachel stuff was the one thing that I really could not stand.
Overall, this was a tribute episode of Glee that really worked well because the songs helped tell the story, instead of vice versa, and the show’s focus was on characters that had developed and meaningful relationships with one another rather than the random, overly preachy or overly nonsensical storylines that Glee finds itself typically meddling in on a weekly basis anymore. I may be crazy (and I hope I’m right), but I’m really thinking that Glee could keep this going.
– Again, my judgment of this episode may be clouded because of my intense love of Billy Joel’s music. My favorite covers were probably Ryder’s “Innocent Man,” Jake’s “My Life,” the New York crew’s “Just the Way You Are,” and, my favorite of all, Artie’s rendition of “Honesty.”
– I really, really would not be okay with Sam and Rachel hooking up. My feelings about Finn aside (he and Rachel have always been my favorite characters), I just don’t see any chemistry there.
– I laughed out loud at Kitty thinking it was going to be Marilyn Manson week.
– “I’m not gonna be able to survive if you and your Hagberry are gonna be tickling those ivories, belting out gay hits from Rent and Showboat all day.” –Santana about Blaine’s newly purchased piano. Moments later, she comes out to join the group of them singing “Just the Way You Are.” That made me smile.
– “Oh no, no, no — don’t you dare. Over my dead body will you inexplicably shoehorn in another Billy Joel song just to punctuate one of your weekly lessons that inevitably veers off into an acrid barrage of angst and affirmation.”
What did everyone else think of last night’s episode of Glee?
[Photo via Mike Yarish/FOX]