Glee: Willy Wonkee and the Awful Factory

Yes, there are some things in life that are apparently too exotic to ever covet: a golden ticket, an oompa-loompa, and three good episodes of Glee in a row. Last night's wasn't just a bad episode, it might have been the worst.

Yes, worse than the Britney Spears crapfest, worse than the "everyone gets drunk" disaster, worse than a whole hour of mashups. God, it was really just awful. Maybe it's just that coming off the high of the Rumours episode and the prom episode that this one just seemed so much worse in comparison. The songs all came in one big chuck and had very little emotional resonance. The story plodded along arbitrarily with no rhyme or reason, and the characters didn't behave like their usual idiotic selves, but like people that we hardly even know. God, what an absolute waste of an hour.

So, Jesse St. James (who I am thoroughly convinced is the son of Susan St. James who has been living in Lima, Ohio off her Kate & Ally residuals for all these years) is the new Glee Club consultant and he's trying to tell them what it takes to win the national title. Being a member of Vocal Adrenaline for all those years, Jesse's cut-throat tactics are a little bit different than the sweater-vested hug approach favored by Mr. Schue.

The group starts to discuss their set list for Nationals and Mr. Schue says, "We've been working so hard leading up to this." No you have not. They haven't been working hard at all. They've been raising money at stupid charity shows no one comes to. They've been doing the half time number at the football game. They've been dicking around with stupid assignments about Lady Gaga or Fleetwood Mac or singing duets. They've been learning about sex from Our Lady of GOOP Holly Holiday. They have not once, ever, been working hard and consistently on the same numbers in order to win a competition. They just have not. Period.

And, release. OK, when they group talks about what they're going to sing at Nationals, they want to do a group number and a duet. Jesse says it would be better to do a solo and that they should audition the bestest singers in the group to see who is the most fitting to sing at Nationals. Where he comes from, that competition breeds quality. He can't be that far off, methinks.

Then the show dumped nearly all the songs in the episode in one big chunk. It's sort of like when your pancakes come with one giant pat of butter in the middle and it makes the center of the pancake all warm and gooey and tasty, but then the rest of the pancake is all dry and boring and you're just eating it so you can get to the delicious center. Spread that butter around, Glee. And I'm all for changing it up, and I think an entire episode where each person has to sing a song audition style could have been fun, but this was just a half-assed way to pack a bunch of songs into an episode that had no other rational through line. Since they dumped all the songs on us, I'm dumping them all on you.

Santana sure can rock an Amy Winehouse and her "Back to Black" was a fitting song choice for the character. But this was just a very standard rendition of the number—proficient, but standard. I hate to be all Simon Cowell, but don't try to sound like Amy, Santana. Try to sound like yourself!

Of course Babygay Kurt picks a number from Gypsy and he does a good (if slightly squeaky-voiced) version of it with a little bit of choreography. A good showing, BG Kurt. But, again, a little expected. I kind of liked that Jesse was bitching about BG Kurt singing ladies' songs and Kurt was all like "Whatever, we worked through that already." I'm all for being as girly as you wanna be (hello, have you met me, lady?) but Kurt needs to realize that if he wants to do ladies' songs that he's going to have to deal with people like Jesse St. Jackass
who aren't going to get it. It's like the whole kilt thing from last week all over again.

Now it's Mercedes turn with "Try a Little Tenderness," which is a good choice for her. All the song selections may be a bit obvious, but at least they're consistent with the characters, which is really hard for the writers of Glee to muster. Mercedes, of course, kills it. Great job. But Jesse is right. If she's not going to practice and dance and really try her hardest, then she's just not right for the lead soloist. It's a hard truth, girl, but you gotta do the work if you want the greatness.

Here is Rachel Barry with her obligatory Barbra Streisand song. As BG Kurt says, Rachel can sang, but it's just a stand and belt. A great belt, but this is Nationals. Can't she do a little step touch in the middle of it or something? Oh, and just to make sure we know that she's singing this song about Finn, we get to see pictures of him in her mind thinking about him while she sings. Subtle. Real subtle.

Clearly, Rachel is the winner and the only one Jesse has nice things to say anything about. We learn later that Jesse wants to help Rachel win because he's still in love with her and he kisses her in front of Finn and totally kills Finn's wood for Rachel in a major way. But then, of course, Mr. Schue is all, "Fuck you, Jesse. We don't need your Vocal Adrenaline jazz hands to win this. We're going to write original songs and everyone is going to sing them. That's just what got us here. Now, everyone come in for a big sweater vest hug." Blah.

Speaking of Will, there was a whole storyline about how after Nationals he's going to New York to try to make it big, but it seems like Emma wants him to go more than he wants to go. Whatever. I don't care a lick about this.

Alright, there was another storyline too. Sue Motherfucking Sylvester's sister died (spoiler alert). Big sigh. I don't know why this whole storyline upset me so much, but it did. It just seemed so "very special episode of Glee" and so transparently emotionally manipulative that it wasn't effective as emotional manipulation. I liked it when Sue's sister was used to give her just a shade of relatability. Just a scoch. A waft of it, if you will. But this was all way too much. And then Sue is moping around being all, "My sister was sweet and I'm mean." That's what didn't ring true for me. Sue Motherfucking Sylvester doesn't think she's mean. She thinks she's right—always. She is an engine fueled by confidence and arrogance, and someone like that does not think that she is mean. Ruthless, for sure. Heartless, definitely. But she doesn't think what she does to Glee is mean. No, she thinks it is justice and she should comport herself with concomitant righteousness.

Sue can't bring herself to clean out her sister Jean's room or to arrange a funeral, so the Glee club decides to help, because they're sweet like that. When they find out that Jean's favorite movie was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory they sing this song from the movie. This is one of those songs that I always hated as a kid. It just slowed the movie down and I would fast forward through it to get to the more upbeat and clever oompa-loompa songs later in the movie. As an adult, I really enjoy the artistry and simple beauty of it. Guess some things you can only appreciate with age.

Because Glee was so nice to her, Sue MF Sylvester has decided that she would be nice to them too, so she lets them know that she was going to have their plane diverted to Libya so they'd be kidnapped and killed, but she canceled that plan. It's so sad to see Sue be nice. She enlisted the help of Terry Schuester to get their flight back in order and she came through in the clutch. Damn, I miss crazy liar Terri too. She was always one of my favorites with her insane antics and warped sense of importance. I'm a little bit sad that she's moving down to Florida to be forgotten about and that she and Will made their peace. Couldn't he have pissed her off so that she's come screeching back at the worst possible moment and ruin everyone's lives? I mean, she dosed the entire Glee club with speed just for kicks! That was so great. More of that, please.

Now, finally, we must get to the worst part of the whole evening. The Finn/Quinn breakup scene. What the fuck was that? Where did that come from? Finn was really so moved by Sue's speech at the funeral that he just breaks up with Quinn right there on the spot? It was actually a fairly decent scene—and Quinn scrambling to hold onto her popularity at any cost gave us shades of insane Terri Schuester, which was nice—but it was just so out of the blue and without any sort of emotional buildup or pay-off to be effective. It was like, "OK, guys, we need to break them up. Let's just do it. We don't need a reason. Just think up some bullshit excuse and make it happen, because the season is almost over and we need to break Finn and Quinn up one more time."

I mean, is this the only plot they can think up? Let's have Finn bounce between Quinn and Rachel and then when he decides he wants Rachel, then Rachel should be with Jesse St. James and Finn can't have her. That is exactly what happened last year. These characters aren't even growing or developing, they're just floating in the bottom of the bathwater and circling the drain in the exact same configuration that they were a year ago.

Jesus, Glee, this season can't end soon enough.