Finally, our musical merry misfits got back to what they do best last night: singing, dancing, competing, and having a whole lot of drama. Has the second season of Glee finally found its arc? Damn, I hope so.
I guess it's fitting that I'm writing about the state of Glee because even Glee has become obsessed with itself. A creative writing professor once told me that every poem is also about the act of writing poetry, and it seems like every episode of Glee is the same sort of meta narrative of making the show itself. This episode starts with Will and his beloved Emma in the teacher's lounge and he's talking about the upcoming Sectionals and Emma says, "You'll do a Finn and Rachel solo, followed by a classic rock number with Mercedes hitting the big notes at the end," which is the criticism the show gets from the fans about it always being the same. Then Will says, "No, I'm gonna change." And Emma recommends giving the other students some screen time—another criticism often leveled after season one of the show. Sorry, Glee, but it's not cute that you're aware of your problems and it doesn't make them go away by acknowledging them with a smirk. Why not just making small changes to make them actually go away? Hmm?
But last night was a step in the right direction. We did get to see a bit more of some of the "bit players" and we also got a little hint of something that resembles story movement. Thank god!
As the team got ready for Sectionals Mr. Schue did change it up and told Finn and Rachel they were taking a back seat and that Sam and Quinn were going to get the solo. He also tapped Brittany S. Pearce and Mike Chang's abs to dance a pas de deux together. Oh, and Puck was given the title of Glee Club Am-Badass-ador and had to recruit a new member to replace Babygay Kurt. After getting beaten by the football team and stuffed in a Porta-Potty, he was saved by Wrestler Lauren, who decided to join the club, even though she thought it was stupid.
Though Puck probably smelled, it was Rachel who really stank, moping all around town because she thinks her talents are underappreciated.
This classic from Evita was such a wonderful choice for this moment. Of course both Babygay Kurt and Broadway Baby Rachel would know all the words to this song, and it has just the right sentiment. In the musical Eva Peron is telling her people that even though she's fancy and traveling the world, that she still loves them—they're just really not understanding her. It's a very sweet song, expressing the character's love of the people, but it's the sort of song that only a spoiled narcissist could sing.
That's just what Rachel is acting like, showing up to rehearsal with tape on her mouth in what is simultaneously the most passive aggressive and least passive aggressive protest ever invented. I don't think anyone would have minded the tape if she actually kept it on and didn't talk! Just like Mr. Schue says, Rachel needs to learn a lesson about teamwork.
Things are a bit different for Babygay Kurt. You know he signed up to Dalton Academy, not only to escape his gay-on-the-inside bully who I call Fury (because I can't be bothered to figure out how to spell his last name), but also because he wants to be part of this all-male gay fantasia where they get to wear cute uniforms that look like they were designed by Thom Browne and where Glee club is the coolest activity in school. He's warmly welcomed into the group, but put off to discover that unlike Mr. Schue's benevolent dictatorship, this is run by a committee of members, one that doesn't appreciate his input. It also means he has to audition for his solo. He chooses this song, which is basically saying, "Guys, guys, pick me! You don't know what you're missing."
But that just doesn't fly for BG Kurt. It's a strange thing being gay in high school. Many gay teens feel like outsiders because they're often the only (openly) gay kid in school. The thing about Kurt is that what makes him a misfit has nothing to do with his sexual orientation, it has to do with something that's deep down inside just yearning to be his flamboyant, very different self. You can't just put BG Kurt in a uniform and expect him to blend in like his boyfriend Blaine. No, Kurt loves to stand out and raises his Evita arms up during the climatic moment of the song. Blaine, on the other hand, is keeping his Evita arms down, trying to cover himself up and be one with the group. Sure is easy when he's already the star of the warblers, but that's sort of like being the head of the Borg.
I'm definitely over-thinking this so let's move on to all the problems with communication our little group had last night.
We had a bunch of mini storylines last night that were all about couples that couldn't communicate, that was perfectly embodied by this Mike and the Mechanics song "The Living Years." Ostensibly it's about a man who wants to communicate with his father, but he can't because he's dead. Will and Emma suffer from a similar circumstance. Will wants to tell her that he loves her (I guess after the return of Terri and his flirtation with Holly Holiday we're back to that) but he can't because she's with Karl, the hottest dentist on earth, as Santana accurately calls him. He invites her to sectionals as their "good luck charm" but he's really trying to weasel into her pants. She eventually tells Karl about her plan to go and he's not that excited about it, so she stays away, making Will very very sad, but he can't seem to tell anyone how he really feels. He also can't hide it and makes all these awful faces in the audience.
Brittany always has some problems with communication, but now she's worried that she's not good enough to help the team win at Sectionals. Artie makes up a little lie and says that he has a magic comb and that if she brushes her hair with it, then she'll automatically win. Our Beloved Brittany is just stupid enough to buy it.
But soon she grows distant and Tina thinks that she and Mike Chang's abs are having a little dalliance while rehearsing together. She convinces Artie this is true and they both get worried. Neither Artie nor Tina will confront their significant others about it so they end up thinking the worst.
The worst communication of all though is between Finn and Rachel
I'm not sure what the Warblers' sweet rendition of Train's (ugh) "Hey, Soul Sister" (ugh) was doing in this story, so I'm just going to throw it in here and start talking about Finn and Rachel.
Finn messed up and was lying to Rachel that he was a virgin when he really did it with Santana (and honestly, who among us wouldn't do it with Santana given the opportunity). When Rachel finds out the truth, she is hurt by the lie, but even worse, her insecurities about being ugly and not good enough are brought right back to the surface. Oh, Rachel, for someone so full of yourself, you really have no self-esteem whatsoever.
Between Finn and Rachel on the rocks, Artie and Tina ready to call it quits with Brittany and Mike Chang's abs, Santana and the rest of the crew hating Rachel, and Mercedes wanting a little bit more than just belting the big notes at the end, the Glee club is an absolute mess going into sectionals. But they sure gave a great performance.
So much for mixing it up, Mr. Schue. Sure it might be Quinn and Sam doing the singing instead of Finn and Rachel, but them walking down the aisle from the back of the house is a trick we saw before. And '80s power ballad "I Had the Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing? And you didn't even have Quinn run down the aisle and do the flying lift into
Patrick Swayze Sam's arms? For shame.
Also for all the talk of bit players getting more attention, Quinn and Sam didn't have their own story line and I think that the only line Sam uttered the whole hour was, "You look beautiful," right before the curtain went up. Bah! But it was a great number with just enough choreography.
This really is the time of their lives, and this is when we are happiest with Glee. If every episode of Glee is about the making of Glee, then this whole interlude totally makes sense. Right before this everything was a mess, the stories were a jumble, the episodes were lackluster, the songs weren't serving the story, but then someone came in, reminded everyone of why they were there in the first place and they pulled it together to deliver some great performances. Just like on the show! We hope that Ryan Murphy can pull a Will Schuester and convince all these collicky kids under his command to get along long enough to wow the crowd.
Speaking of wows, this one was great, but just wait for...
"Valerie!" They motherfucking killed this Mark Ronson song. There's sultry Santana doing her best Amy Winehouse on the vocals, Brittany and Mike Chang's abs cutting one hell of a rug all over the stage, and everyone else just falling into place. I haven't seen a production number this good since I went to see Burlesque last Wednesday. OK, that wasn't that long ago, but I haven't see a Glee number that brought me this much joy all year! They didn't need a guest star, a special theme, or some other shiny doodads. All they needed was a good song, good choreography, and the chance to let everyone do what they do best. Welcome home, Glee, we missed you. And for that one sparkling moment, we had you again.
Naturally there is a tie in the competition. A tie?! Please, New Directions wiped the floor with The Warblers. Granted they got to do two songs to The Warblers one (not fair!) and the plot need them to compete against BG Kurt and the crew at Regionals, but a tie? After that? Hell no!
As for the song, it's a woman making a fool out of a man. Artie accuses Brittany of committing "adultery" and she says she has, but she thinks that "adultery" means being stupid. Oh, Brit-Brit! We love you. She says she was distant because she lost the magic comb, and Artie tells her it's OK, that the comb wasn't magic in the first place. Then they kiss and we realize that they may actually be a real couple and it's the sweetest moment. Tina makes up with Mike Chang's Asian abs, but I'm beginning to hate her, so whatever. Screw them.
Emma made a bit of a fool out of Will when she ran off and married Uncle Jesse—I mean, Dr. Karl. She blurts it out quickly and ruins Will's (almost) victory at Sectionals. Will is sad, but he realizes he's the one who made a fool out of himself by holding onto his crush for so long. He's accepted his fate and goes back to celebrate with his Glee club. For a change, he keeps his private life private and doesn't skeeze us all out by bringing it up in front of the kids, even though they already know. Way to get classy, Will.
And celebrate they do, in ironic Glee fashion.
The only thing that ruined this Florence and the Machine song is—as you saw in the video above—Fox and the DVR couldn't get together and cooperate, so the song got cut in half for everyone who taped the show at home and watched it later. Good thing I also tape Raising Hope (and really, you should too, cause it's funny as hell) so I could catch the tail end, but still I was pissed.
This ditty is about the "Dog Days" being over, but for many of our characters the Dog Days are just beginning. After confessing that she tried to sleep with Puck, Finn dumps Rachel. She's so Rachel about the whole thing and all, "You said you'd never dump me!" and tries to be all hurt, but she was the one who fucked it all up by trying to get back at Finn. God, Rachel, just when we liked you a little bit and you were all nice to Babygay Kurt and sat down at Sectionals like Elaine Stritch and Steven Sondheim to tell stories about your war wounds, you had to do something stupid like this. She deserves the loneliness.
Will is also lonely now that Emma has been snatched away from him and Babygay Kurt is disillusioned by his gay fantasia but still too afraid to come back to McKinley, so now he's trapped between a Fury and a gay place. Yes the dog days might be over, but they're just beginning too.
And since this whole episode—one of the better ones this year—is about meta context, we hope it means that the dog days of the second season are over two. It gave us just the sliver of hope that the story is going to pick up, that we were going to see more of our previously ignored favorites (though hopefully not at the expense of Sue Motherfucking Sylvester, who didn't even make an appearance in this episode), and that the show would get back to its singing and dancing best. Yes, please, let's put the dog days to an end for good.