After horrendously botching its post-Super Bowl slot, Glee bounced right back and reminded us why we love it in the first place. And the show did it with the most sentimental and saccharine weapon in the TV arsenal: a Valentine's Day episode.
Instead of the Super Bowl disaster, I really wish this could have been the episode that was the show's highest rated because it had everything that made its core audience swoon in the first place: character driven stories, great songs, a few good production numbers, and lots and lots of emotion. The best thing about it was that it focused on all the Glee club member rather than the meddling adults that are always trying to steal their spotlight, and everyone got a bit of attention—even Tina and Mercedes!
Well, let's get right into it an look at the songs.
The wonderful thing about Puck's rendition of Queen classic "Fat Bottomed Girls" wasn't hearing him say "bottom" repeatedly (though it was a cheap thrill) it was that he made the song not only a paean to robust beauties but also a song about wanting what you can't have—or shouldn't want in the first place. We learn at the top of the episode that hunky Puck is smitten with Lauren, mostly because she's the only girl in school who doesn't fall for his many charms or his bad boy posturing. That she treats him like shit drives him crazy (and incites his mommy issues), but she's not doing it in a "if I neg him, he'll come after me" Tucker Max kind of way. She seems to really not dig him, despite his best efforts.
After their kiss after the big game, Finn wants to reignite things with his pseudo-babymomma, Quinn. Now that he's the Big Moron on Campus after winning the game, all the ladies want to get with him but he doesn't have eyes for any of the ladies throwing themselves at his feet. No, he only wants Quinn, who is dating his teammate Sam so she's off limits. That's probably what's giving him the big boner in the first place. To give Quinn a dose of the same medicine Finn sets up a kissing booth and is selling kisses, ostensibly to raise money for Glee club, but it's really so that Quinn will get jealous over all the attention he's getting and run right back to him.
Rachel, naturally, is still hung up on Finn after he dumped her so she plots to use the kissing booth to get him back as well. We already see tragedy looming on the horizon.
I railed on "Bills, Bills, Bills" from the last episode for being a totally extraneous number and, in fairness, Artie's version of Michael Jackson's classic "PYT" is equally extraneous. However, this isn't like a dead weight, it's like an added bonus. Not only did the song fit in with the overall "love" theme, but it showed us how two of the characters, Artie and Mike Chang's Abs, feel about their ladies. There was also some killer dancing, great singing, and all around joy. We'll forgive so many of the show's indulgences for a good number.
It's just like we'll forgive someone who's really mean if they're also really funny. Yes, I'm talking about Santana who's observations about Mr. Schue's addiction to vests and Rachel's future in the Broadway musical version of Willow were cruel and hysterical. But these days the pretty young thing Santana is all alone. Quinn has Sam, Brittany has Artie, her man Puck has a new crush, and she's off the cheer leading squad. She has nothing but her bad attitude to keep her warm at night. Oh, Santana, if I went to McKinley High, we would totally be bitchy besties!
Santana really seems upset when everyone calls her a bitch. It's just that everyone around her sucks so much and she has to tell them about it and then they get mad at her. I know how you feel, sister! What does she do to get unlonely? She decides that she's going to get Puck back in her arms. Good luck, sugar.
The thing about Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone" is that it is completely wrong for the occasion. See, Blaine tells Babygay Kurt that he has a big crush on this boy and he wants to confess it in song. Naturally BG Kurt thinks the boy is him and we know right away that it's not and he's got a one-way ticket to Heartbreak City, New Mexico (where else would Heartbreak City be?). When Kurt is under the illusion that Blaine is going to sing to him, he helps convince the Stalinist governing board of the Communist singing collective The People's Republic of A Capella to sing in public. Then he finds out Blaine is crushing on an assistant manager at the Gap. Welcome to Heartbreak City!
OK, so this is why the song is all wrong. First of all, having a boy sing a song to a boy but without changing any of the lyrics so that it's still a song about a girl is a total wood kill. No gay boy wants someone to sing a song to you and paint you as a girl. Secondly, this is kind of a racy song to be singing to some dude you barely know in his place of employment. Basically this song says, "When I get you alone I'm going to fuck you so good that you're going to love me forever." Why not pick something sweet an innocent? Why choose a song that makes a reference to leaving dildos in a drawer? This is the Gap, for Christ's sake! Everyone knows that the dirty sluts all work at Express! Still, it was a good song and a good routine. A dance number in the Gap? I mean, product placement aside, what's wrong with that?
But Blaine's trick doesn't work. It's so great to see some good sense back on the show. Blaine's (not very cute) paramour is not that enamored with his advances because it got him fired and Blaine's underage anyway. Now Blaine, just like Kurt and Rachel and Mercedes, is all alone. There is something to be said for being single, and it was nice to hear Mercedes preach about it while having a sleepover with BG Kurt and Rachel. Valentine's episodes are always about couples or about the cynical single who has to find love to know what he (or she) is missing. It was nice to hear Mercedes say, "It's cool to be single, and you can turn all that longing and loneliness and sexual energy into art and be a true diva like me, girl!" And then she snapped.
"My Funny Valentine" is such a great song. Personally I prefer the Chet Baker version that makes your heart bawl black tears of joy and then makes you want to shoot up in an alley behind a jazz club. Anyway, Tina carries it off as an effective gag here, falling into tears of gratitude for Mike Chang's Abs. But what the song is really about is loving someone despite their flaws.
That seems to be what's happening with Sam and Quinn, sort of. Sam is convinced that Quinn is macking on Finn, when in reality she's rebuffing his advances. He comes up with this idea that he's going to make Quinn kiss Finn at his kissing booth and if she rejects Finn than she can still be his girlfriend. He loves her despite the flaw that she kind of maybe wants some other dude.
But then they do kiss, and they both see Bobby Brady style fireworks. Quinn tells Finn to meet her in the auditorium after school so they can ostensibly get it on. Quinn brings up a good point, Finn dumped both her and Rachel for cheating on him, but now he's asking her to cheat on Sam. He had some sort of rationale and it didn't quite make sense to us, but these things never do. Add in a good dose of teenage hormones and you have a recipe for dirty disaster—or at least dirty dancing. Yes, Finn now loves Quinn despite the fact that she's being unfaithful—again.
Rachel still loves Finn, even though his flaw is that, well, he doesn't love her back. She tries to get her kiss, but Finn just gives her a peck on the cheek. Before she can feel too cheated, he gives her a gold star necklace (how sweet of Finn and the writers to remember that the gold star is Rachel's emblem) that he says he bought her for Christmas before they broke up. He gives her some "just because I don't love you doesn't mean I don't believe in you" line and tries to make it better. Yeah right. We all know that's the sort of thing you say when you want to let someone down easy.
Now, here is where things get interesting. Santana tries to reignite things with Puck, but he brushes her off, she then tussles with Lauren, who literally wipes the floor with our hard-nosed heroine. OK, Puck is officially off the market. Then she figures out that Quinn and Finn are getting it on behind Sam's back and she decides to break them up. There's no good reason, other than the fact that she's a bitch. Sometimes that's all the reasons one needs.
What does she do? She goes to the nurse's office and gets mono, then gives it to Finn in the kissing booth to see if he gives it to Quinn when they mess around. Alight, this is the sort of nonsense plot that is totally awesome. It's Santana being a bitch, it's something that is so ridiculous it strains belief, but it's funny and quirky so we buy into it. Unlike the horrible "brains, brains, brains" ploy that won the football team the big game, which was just stupid. It's like when Terry Schuester got the whole Glee club addicted to speed. Remember that? That was hilarious! Do you guys see the difference? I hope the writers do.
Because there isn't a Katy Perry song this show hasn't done yet, we now have "Fireworks." It's a mediocre song at best, but Rachel's vocals and the sparklers in the hallway production saved it for me.
Santana's Operation Mononucleosis succeeds. Finn and Quinn both have mono (slutty Santana is immune because she's "had mono so many times she's become stereo") and now everyone is sort of a little bit aware that Finn and Quinn are doing it (and by doing it I mean kissing in the auditorium, duh). But while they're laid up in the nurse's office Quinn says that they need to figure out what's going on with their respective significant others. A smart plan, but her saying that Finn isn't over Rachel seems to fly in the face of his behavior for the entire episode. Maybe Quinn is just a little bit clueless.
Rachel shows up to nurse Finn too, and wants to know why he can't forgive her. What she really discovers is that Finn has more fireworks with Quinn than he does with her. It takes a lot of self-respect for Rachel to walk away. It's so easy to just stay with a guy you love so intensely, even though you know he may not feel the same way. Rachel thinks if she can sing better, be prettier, kiss him more, than eventually he'll love her as much as she loves him. Then she hears about Quinn and the fireworks and knows it's not in the cards, and she walks away rather than subject herself to being second best for eternity. You just can't fight the fireworks, you know?
Usually I hate Rachel Barry, but last night churned up a lot of sympathy for her. Sure, she's singing a love song to herself in the mirror, but it takes a certain strength to be Rachel. She's has few friends, no boyfriend, and is unpopular at school, but she stands up for herself when it counts, and that's not easy. Sure, it often turns into her being a narcissistic monster, but sometimes that just comes from her sticking up for herself because no one else will. Well, that and her nagging insecurities. More power to you for showing up to Breadstix alone on Valentine's Day, Rachel. A lesser woman would have cried at home. Hold your head high!
Speaking of alone, Paul McCartney did not do his best work when he was by himself, but this solo tune, in the hands of the Warblers wasn't awful. But what is up with Blaine getting two solos in one episode and BG Kurt (and some of the other stars) don't get any? We'd like to think that this was determined by the Stalinist ruling Board of the Great Warbler's Collective of the People, but it was probably a decision by the great capitalists who see how many iTunes singles Darren Criss songs sell.
After his debacle at the Gap, Blaine is off of love for good, but Babygay Kurt is still hopeful that they can turn it around. Then they have this huge moment in the coffee shop and the mother fucking emergency service siren goes off on my television for the entire fucking scene and I can't hear a word they say. Finally, after all these years, we get some gay teen romance up on the motherfucking television and it revolts against us. That siren was a conspiracy by the Parents Television Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and the ghost of Jerry Falwell. This was only a test and it failed. It fucking FAILED!
So, I think they've decided to be just friends, but Blaine wants to take it slow and see where it leads or something. I'm not sure. Tell me in the comments.
Speaking of starting out as friends, Puck finally convinces Lauren to go out with him (with a Ring Pop, natch) but then she stands him up at Breadstix. He's all, "What the fuck?" And she's all, "Listen, I'm not here to mess around, so if you want to get with me, you have to fall in love with me, so let's take it slow." They go to Kurt's concert at Breadstix and slow they take it.
Oh, and what is that in the corner? Is that Sam making eyes at our lady Santana? Oh, we see trouble a-brewing here in Lima, Ohio. For the first time in a long time, I can't wait for next week's episode to see how it plays out. As I turned off the television, I felt those familiar feelings of romance—a touch of giddiness, a longing to see the person again, and a slight tentiness in my jeans. Yes, last night's Glee was like a good first date, and our romance is back on again.