Episode 5.16: “Tested”

(Spoilers lurk below.)

Glee continues to try to establish its new setting and focus by using what it knows best: copious amounts of voiceover. Hey, it saves actually establishing what’s going on if we just have characters tell us about it, right? In “Tested,” we learn that Artie has become a total player who has two girlfriends and has his eye on a third, that Blaine has gained a crippling amount of insecurity that is both causing him to eat all the time and hurting his relationship with Kurt, and that Mercedes and Sam’s relationship has hit a speedbump because she is a virgin and Sam is a 19-year-old dude. This continues the tradition started by “Bash” of having two plotlines that feel oddly melodramatic/didactic, and one that actually feels somewhat natural and character-based.

Moving to New York City does weird things to a show.

First up, we have Blaine’s inferiority complex and food mania. He just loves New York for the food, the culture, the food, the sights, the food, and the food. He’s enjoying various ethnic foods, ice cream, cronuts, and… cheese puffs… and putting on quite a few pounds in the process. Neither Blaine nor the audience take too long to figure out that his voracious eating is a symptom of another problem. His relationship with Kurt has changed (beyond, you know, them breaking up and then getting engaged and then moving in together and then moving out again). Kurt is comfortable in New York City, almost serene. He’s happy, social, and well-adjusted. That wasn’t the Kurt that Blaine first started dating in season two. Blaine misses the feeling of protecting and guiding Kurt, and has the idea that the new, more normal, Kurt doesn’t need him anymore. This fear not only leads to Blaine’s overeating, but to his being unable to bring himself to be intimate with Kurt, and to the audience getting a little too much TMI information about what’s going on (or not) in their bedrooms.

When Blaine and Kurt finally have a frank discussion about this, Kurt assures him that everything is okay. Their relationship has changed, but they still love each other. Also they both go on a healthy diet.

Blaine has changed a lot since season two, something that I’ve kvetched about once or twice. He’s become whiny, insecure, unconfident, kinda stupid, and all around fairly unpleasant. However, Kurt has also changed a lot. It’s not something that just happened in NYC either, as the episode seems to suggest. It’s been happening throughout the series, but the biggest changes actually happened in season two… way back when Kurt and Blaine first started dating. I’d never really thought to connect Blaine’s changes with Kurt’s before, but it kinda makes sense. Blaine has gone from Kurt’s mentor and role model to, well, his partner. And Blaine has never really managed to adjust to it.

I can’t say I think that this is something they’ve actually been developing over the course of three and a half seasons, but it seems reasonable here. At least it’s some kind of explanation for Blaine’s creeping insanity.

The downfall of this plotline is that it’s just too melodramatic and contrived. Blaine’s voracious eating, inability to face intimacy, and passive-aggressive methods of dealing with his issues (including trying to turn stage combat into real combat) all combine to make this whole thing resemble a Gay Lifetime Movie of the Week. As with “Bash,” the problem is more with the execution than the writing. There’s something here. It’s just dressed up in a way that makes it look overwrought. With the focus more on their relationship than on Blaine’s psychological problems, this would have worked better.

Meanwhile, speaking of characters changing, Artie has become a “film school player,” having unceremoniously broken up with Kitty offscreen. He has two girlfriends who he is consciously just using for sex, but he has his eye on Julie, who he actually likes as a person. It comes to light during a conversation with Sam and Blaine that Artie hasn’t been using condoms because, well, Artie is stupid. Having apparently only recently realized the danger of STD’s (so much for WMHS’s sex ed program), he decides to get himself tested, and finds out that he has chlamydia. It’s at this point that Julie finally comes around and agrees to go out with him.

Artie’s horror at the social stigma of having an STD is believable, but the problem with this plotline, again, is in the execution. Artie’s imaginary STD costume, along with his perception that everyone can tell he’s tainted and is talking about him, make this story seem like the same kind of bad PSA or sex ed video that they bizarrely parodied at the beginning of the episode.

The plotline does take a hard left at the end, when Artie comes clean with his girlfriends regarding his chlamydia. Julie doesn’t care so much that he has an STD as she does that he sleeps around with mindless women, and she tells him she isn’t interested in going out with him anymore.

The other problem I have with this story is that Julie has pretty much no characteristics, but exists only as a symbol of purity to compare with Artie’s shameful fall from grace. In fact, the other two women exist only to be Artie’s poor choices. If Artie is Goldilocks, his girlfriends are the porridge.

The other third of the show accomplishes the impossible: it almost gets me to care about Mercedes and Sam’s relationship. Being a virgin in a relationship is different after high school, even if it’s just a little after high school, and Mercedes’s and Sam’s concerns are believable and feel heartfelt. That Mercedes is a virgin is news but not all that surprising, I guess. As for Sam… he dated Santana, so yeah. Sam’s bumbling about how to approach Mercedes, including presenting her with a clean STD test, feel like exactly the kinds of things that Classic Sam would do as opposed to New Stupid Sam, so that was nice. His reaction after Mercedes tells him that she doesn’t want to have sex until marriage proved that he learned a thing or two from Will the asshole boyfriend. His response to having a relationship with a woman without having sex is “What’s the difference between that and being real good friends?”, which is pretty damn heartless. But, it was his lower brain doing the thinking there. In the end, Sam decides that being with Mercedes is worth abstaining from sex, because that’s not actually the point of a relationship, and they stay together.

This works far better than anything else they’ve done with Sam and Mercedes. It doesn’t assume a past that hasn’t been established, it doesn’t make things overdramatic, and it doesn’t shove everything into the background. It deals with a real problem in a realistic way, and faces it head-on. If they’d done that more often (or ever) with Sam and Mercedes, maybe I would have cared about them a couple of years ago.

Mercedes’s scene with Rachel is also quite good. I like that they manage to talk about Finn without actually having to say his name, and that the issue of Rachel moving on has been broached. She’s clearly not ready yet, but I hope that Lea Michele is dealing with her loss half as well as Rachel is.

Overall, this was an improvement over “Bash,” but we’re still going in the wrong direction. There are some bizarre tonal problems, even for Glee, that make me wonder what they’re thinking.

Musically, there wasn’t much to write home about, but it was decent. “Addicted to Love” was a good performance, and Artie’s harem made me think that maybe I should have gone to film school in NYC… and been paralyzed. Maybe just the first one. In a weak and thin field, this is probably the highlight. “I Want to Know what Love Is” was weird, considering that it was sung as part of a church service and yet seemed to be all about Mercedes and Sam. Shouldn’t she be singing about Jesus or something? I could see this as a spiritual song, but that’s not how they sold it. Good performance, weird context. “Love is a Battlefield” continued Blaine’s descent into madness. The performance and context were good, but what I really loved was the choreography. “Let’s Wait Awhile” was good, but a bit obvious of a choice. It was hurt by the inclusion of Artie, who still thinks that waiting a while means “seven to ten days.” He doesn’t get smacked down until after the song.

Other thoughts:

I can’t even begin to emphasize how ludicrous the amount of voiceover in this episode was. There was probably more voiceover than music.

As incredibly weird as that PSA parody at the beginning of the episode was, my second thought about it was, “Wait, can paraplegics serve in the Navy?”

Speaking of weird choices, what was with Artie’s girlfriends introducing themselves to the audience by talking directly to the camera?

Artie is the new Jake. Discuss.

I can’t imagine that Artie’s “plastic bag in the wind” film isn’t a reference to American Beauty, but they didn’t really do anything with it. They didn’t even emphasize Artie ruining it with voiceover.

Frozen hot chocolate?

Apparently men don’t get anorexic, they get manorexic.

I could be mistaken, but I don’t think that they use sport fencing gear in stage combat classes.

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Episode 5.14: “New New York”

(Spoilers lurk below.)

Last time, I complimented Glee on a funny Friends parody. This week, they’ve apparently taken it a step further and just… become Friends. And the result, as it’s drawn out to an hour and played completely straight, is not nearly as funny or entertaining. As Glee makes its transition to being based entirely in New York, it will be trying to find its new identity and break away from its clear influences. However, it simply hasn’t succeeded at that yet. Everything feels new and different, but not fresh.

It seems like a long time since Rachel and Kurt were out in the big city on their own, and it sure is crowded now. We’ve skipped forward in time a bit, and Sam, Blaine, and Artie are fully integrated into the New York experience, and though Santana is AWOL with Brittany, Mercedes suddenly moves to New York for no good reason. Sam and Blaine play Joey and Chandler (no points for guessing which is which), while Rachel Berry makes like Rachel Green and Artie… well, I guess he’s most like Monica in his attempts to ground Rachel.

Offscreen, Funny Girl has apparently become a reasonably big success, to the point that her producer provides Rachel with a chauffeur and limo (er, town car) on call 24 hours a day. Artie, who has been taking the subway everywhere and is bitter about having been robbed there, angrily accuses Rachel of not being a “real New Yorker” because she’s enjoying her success by going around in a limo (“town car!”) instead of taking public transit. Eventually Rachel gives in, telling her producer she doesn’t want the town car anymore, and joining Artie on his subway commutes as his protection, since he’s scared of muggers.

Artie’s snobbery over what constitutes a “real” New Yorker seems weird at first blush, especially considering this is the guy who, only a short time ago (in universe) was making up stories about how much his mom needed him to try to avoid going to NYC. However, now that he’s jumped in with both feet, it’s actually realistic that he would go a little overboard in embracing his new home. What’s annoying is that he is never called on it. While Rachel did find remarkably quick success in NYC, she spent more time paying dues than Artie did. She lived in that loft and commuted using public transit for months, while working (two jobs at times) and going to school. She has, to some degree, earned her success, and Artie is asking her to let it go because it’s not “authentic,” apparently, to be successful in NYC. Artie, who can’t have been in the city more than a couple of months and who seems to have no job outside of school, is awfully high and mighty and acts like a huge jerk, but is portrayed as being right.

Meanwhile, Sam is struggling with his modeling career, ironically (considering the message of “Movin Out“) because he refuses to change or adapt, just expecting success to fall into his lap while he’s busy being himself playing video games all day. This plotline is intertwined with Kurt and Blaine’s annoyance that Sam is still living with them in the loft, being useless, and Blaine’s attempts to get Sam to move on and out. Sam finally gives in to his agent’s advice and gets a haircut, after which he finally scores a gig. Sam initially moves out at this point and into a dormitory provided by his employer for models. He’s perfectly happy with this until he finds out that his hot blond roommate is on all kinds of drugs, at which point he does the right thing by abandoning her to her fate and moving out again.

Related to this, Kurt feels like Blaine is smothering him, as they’re living together for the first time and have a lot of classes together at NYADA. At least, he suddenly feels that way the very instant that Blaine asks him if he feels that way: they didn’t really lead into that very well at all. It’s realistic, it just feels sudden and underdeveloped, much like a lot of this episode, which attempted unsuccessfully to make up for a significant time skip with a song and expository dialogue.

Blaine has fallen far from the cool, collected kid he was in season two, as he acts like a lunatic here, bursting into Elliot’s apartment to accuse him of going after Kurt. I did like that scene, however, and Elliot’s careful disarming of Blaine was the best character moment he’s had yet.

Anyway, Blaine and Kurt decide that it would be best for their relationship for Blaine to move out, and Blaine and Sam end up rooming with Mercedes in a fancy apartment supplied by her studio.

Speaking of which, Mercedes is in town now, joining Rachel in the club of people who paid dues for a few months and then became successful beyond their wildest dreams. She’s working on songs for her album, and made up a bullshit reason for her studio to send her to NYC to live. This also apparently gives us a chance to pick up on Sam and Mercedes’s relationship, which keeps beginning and ending for very vague reasons. Whoop-de-doo. I suppose that any Friends knockoff needs a good “will they or won’t they” relationship. It’s just that this relationship has existed since the end of season two, and I’ve never cared if they do or don’t. Also, they already did.

You know, they never did explain why Sam and Mercedes were originally keeping their relationship a secret. Sometimes I think that Glee has more unanswered questions than Lost.

This wasn’t a good episode, but it wasn’t without promise. For the first time in a long time, Glee has focus on a single setting and a relatively small cast of characters. “New New York” established a lot of things, and we can only hope they follow through with some fresher writing.

The music was good, but not great. The highlight, by a hair, was opening number “Downtown.” It was great seeing all the NYC characters doing a number together, it established a lot about the new setting and what everyone is doing, and it was a good song choice. It didn’t quite do enough narrative work to justify the time skip, but it was a valiant effort. “You Make Me Feel so Young,” while a good number on its own merits, was an odd choice both because it seemed like a strange genre for Kurt and Blaine, and because it failed to foreshadow Kurt and Blaine’s later plot-dominating problems — it just made their relationship appear idyllic. “Best Day of my Life” was quite good (and I love the location NYC shooting), but it seemed way too easy a way to get Sam moving the right direction. As far as big musical numbers set in Times Square, I prefer Smash‘s “Cheers (Drink to That).” “Rockstar” was fun, but pointless. “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” was… weird. But man, the denizens of the NYC subway system are the friendliest, happiest people ever. “People” was good, but I’m not quite sure that the deadly solemness of the number fit the end of the episode. Also, “People” always reminds me of a bit from The Bob Newhart Show when Bob inadvertently starts reciting the lyrics while trying to give advice to a patient.

Other thoughts:

Having Lea Michele hang her head out the car window like a dog during “Downtown” was a pretty awkward way of getting that shot.

Mime jokes! … This does not make an argument for the freshness of the show’s writing.

I like how Mercedes pretty much just explains how she wrote herself into the spinoff.

I entirely reviewed an episode entitled “New New York” without making a single Futurama reference. That’s willpower.

Episode 5.10: “Trio”

(Spoilers lurk below.)

What do I even say about this mess? Combined with last week’s “Frenemies,” and with nationals suddenly only a week away, Glee since the hiatus feels like it’s trying to just waste time until it can dispense with the Ohio half of the show gracefully. “Trio” gives us the last hurrah of inseparable threesome (?) Tina, Blaine, and Sam; Will and Emma trying to have a baby (a plot point that carries little weight when you remember that Jayma Mays and Matthew Morrison are leaving the series at the end of the season); and Rachel and Santana attempting to fast forward their relationship with Elliot, since the show forgot to develop it. This is an episode comprised of relationships and plotlines pulled completely out of the writer’s ass: nothing follows from anything else. Add to that a side of shit no one cares about, and you have what has become the essence of season five: something that wanders, wastes time, and fails to make a point. Glee has become a series that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do.

To be fair to the Sam/Blaine/Tina plotline, the three of them do have connections. Sam and Blaine became friends in season four (most obviously in “Dynamic Duets“) and Blaine and Tina also had a kind of awkward friendship, which introduced the world to the term “vapor rape.” As for Sam and Tina, Sam agreed to be Tina’s prom date earlier in season five, only to be unceremoniously dumped when Tina thought she could improve her chances of being elected prom queen. So to say that their friendship comes out of nowhere isn’t entirely accurate. However, it is mostly accurate. So, we established that they were friends(ish), but they’ve never come across as the inseparable BFFs forever that “Trio” portrays them as. They just made that up for this episode. It’s particularly egregious as this apes the emotions that the graduates of season three had to deal with, but, with no friendships with anywhere near the strength of Puck/Finn, Rachel/Kurt, or even Santana/Quinn, it just rings hollow. Add to it the distractions of Sam and Tina making out (for no reason, apparently, as they seem to have no desire to follow up on it), Blaine losing his shit over it for no good reason, and Becky crashing their party (which, when you remember that she once brought a gun to school, becomes much more frightening than awkward), and you get a plotline that just isn’t entertaining and doesn’t accomplish anything.

They’ll miss each other. Big deal. You’ve got to give me something more than that, since that’s not exactly an interesting or deep observation about people graduating from high school.

Glee also really needs to reconsider how it’s using Becky. As I alluded to earlier, she is becoming an almost sinister character. Her crashing of the Blaine, Tina, and Sam’s lock-in has a hostage-situation feel to it, not helped by Becky’s prior history as a gun-toter and (let’s face it) a sexual predator.

Santana and Rachel’s feud seems stuck in stasis. Elliot has had very little to do with characters other than Kurt prior to this episode, and now suddenly Rachel is living with him and Santana is calling him a traitor for letting her (though even Elliot lampshades this by pointing out that he “barely knows” Santana). Kurt would have been a much better fit for the role of a friend caught in the middle: placing Elliot there was a strange choice, especially as it doesn’t really seem to establish much if anything about his character. He allows himself to be used as a doormat by Rachel and Santana with apparent goodwill until the very end, when he finally blows up at them. Kurt’s decision to break up the band was a better story decision than anything involving Elliot (especially as it included a character who felt like he ought to be there). Rachel and Santana’s brief scene watching Dani, Elliot, and Kurt singing in harmony and having fun together was one of the two best scenes in the episode, alongside Santana and Rachel’s confrontation when Rachel came back to the apartment for her scented candle. The reason these scenes worked so well is that they featured Rachel and Santana, which was something remarkably rare in a plotline supposedly about Rachel and Santana.

We learn here that Santana has moved past simply being ambitious and catty to actually wanting to destroy Rachel to take her part, and justifies her stance by claiming that Rachel would do the same in her position. Well, maybe she would. Post-Broadway Rachel is a Rachel who has regressed terribly, and is not the person I remember from seasons three and four. Now Santana is regressing right along with her, ditching the personal growth she achieved thanks to Brittany and the glee club in order to become the calculating manipulator we remember from seasons one and two. I don’t think that this is unrealistic in the least, I think they’ve sold it well, and it’s a very tragic turn for both characters.

I just wish they’d focus on it more.

Speaking of stuff they’re focussing on that I don’t care about, Will and Emma are trying to conceive, as we find out when Becky catches them fucking in the faculty bathroom (here’s a tip: if you’re ever having sex in a public or semi-public restroom, lock the door). There was nothing of any value in this subplot. Will and Emma haven’t been interesting since season four’s “I Do,” and babies on TV shows have never been interesting. Part of me thinks that this is meant to be used as a way of saying goodbye to Will and Emma, a way of suggesting that they’re living happily ever after. If so, I’ll suspend judgment on that and wait to see what they do with it. Here, though, it didn’t work.

The music was, once again, okay. “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” might have carried more weight if I had given a shit about the trio of Blaine, Sam, and Tina. But it wasn’t bad. “Barracuda,” aside from giving me Guitar Hero III flashbacks, was okay, but again suffered from a lack of context, since the Rachel/Elliot friendship wasn’t really previously established. “Don’t You Forget About Me” was a number that I had a hard time believing that Glee had never done in the previous four seasons. I just wished they had used it in a better context. Still, it was good. “Danny’s Song” tried to sell the emotion of Will and Emma’s married relationship, but it just didn’t work, since nothing had been done to previously establish it. Songs can’t do the work of narrative. “Gloria,” which on its merits purely as a musical number (and I don’t have a lot more to go on here) was the highlight of the episode, was quite good, but, once again, suffered from a lack of background among Santana, Rachel, and Elliot. Still, it was good to see Santana and Rachel competing at this level, anyway. By that metric, Elliot just got in the way. “The Happening” was good, and at least the second best number of the episode. It was better more for Rachel and Santana’s reactions than for the number itself, mainly because of who were the main characters of the story. “Hold On” was a decent way to end things… and at least they finally included Artie. I actually liked the switches among the various singers here.

Other thoughts:

Really, what the hell was up with all the hate for Artie? “You don’t fit in this episode, begone!”

Boobs. That’s apparently what’s important about Tina.

Santana implies that Rachel was fat during her sophomore year. Um… what?

Why did the cheerios have a female cheerleader uniform that fit Sam, for God’s sake?

Will says that they’re all ready for nationals, but do they even have their songs picked out?

Remember when there were newbies? Me neither.

Episode 5.09: “Frenemies”

(Spoilers lurk below.)

Well Glee is finally back and, just as the prophets fortold, so am I. You’d think that after a two-month hiatus Glee would be able to come back with something truly Earth-shattering, but you’d be wrong. “Frenemies” is okay, but nothing to write home about. Like “Feud,” this episode manufactures conflict between a few pairs of characters and expects us to buy it as plot. Unlike “Feud,” there is one conflict with good history behind it that stands at the forefront and drives the show. Unfortunately, the remaining conflicts, like the ones in “Feud,” no one really cares about.

The driving force in this episode, of course, was the conflict between Santana and Rachel. As the opening scene unartfully reminds us, Santana and Rachel have been friends for a while, despite having been mortal enemies in the past. Santana even admits to having been Rachel’s main antagonist among the “unholy trinity” of Santana, Brittany, and Quinn, that she only pretended that Quinn was in charge. I’m not sure I believe that, given the size of Santana’s ego, but the fact that she says it does say something about the depth of hatred that used to exist between them.

The current state of their friendship, however, is not stable. As Santana claims later in the episode, Rachel is glad to have Santana there as someone to lord her success over, and when Santana threatens to have success as well, it upends things. At the same time, Santana really is jealous of Rachel’s success. While Rachel has dreamed of Broadway since she was capable of having dreams, Santana has always violently desired success as well: recall Kurt’s description of Santana’s unbridled hatred of Rachel when she thought she cost them a nationals win in “New York.” Santana has also always thought she was just as good as Rachel, being relegated to the back just because of Rachel’s whining and complaining (something Mercedes called her on in season three, though that plot thread was never resolved). So when Rachel and Santana have a falling out, it doesn’t come out of nowhere. Far from it: it is built on four seasons of history. Sometimes burying the hatchet isn’t as easy as singing a song together.

Rachel and Santana’s breaking moment comes when Santana auditions to be Rachel’s understudy in Funny Girl, without telling Rachel about it, by singing “Don’t Rain on my Parade” (about which more below). The fight that they have afterwords speaks volumes about the things that they have both been holding in, Rachel even making it racial at one point by claiming that Puerto Rican Santana is not right to play Jewish Fanny Brice (Juan Epstein would probably be offended). Kurt refuses to take sides, but it’s pretty obvious that Rachel is in the wrong here. The Rachel we see in “Frenemies” is a self-absorbed shrew who would rather tear down everyone around her than share the spotlight, something we see in her attitude towards having an understudy even before Santana tries out for it. This is the Rachel I remember from season two’s “Audition,” in which it already felt out of character. Here, though… and I’m not sure I’m not reading too much into the intentions of the writers, because this is very subtle, and “subtle” is not something that the Glee writers tend to do well… but this kinda feels like a real reaction to Finn’s death. I found myself thinking, while Kurt was unsuccessfully attempting to mediate between Santana and Rachel, that I wished Finn were there. Rachel would listen to him. To a large degree, without him Rachel has lost her anchor, the thing kept her grounded. Without him, she’s free to go crazy, and she is doing so. She’s turning her back on her friends and embracing the idea that stardom is what life is all about. She has regressed to the Rachel of season one, without anyone to save her from the spiral.

Anyway, that was the good part of this episode. The rest ranged from pointless to dumb.

On the pointless end of the spectrum, we have Kurt’s concern that Elliot may be planning to take over the band, leading to him spending a lot of time with Elliot just so he can keep an eye on him. We already did this in “A Katy or a Gaga,” and, though it makes sense that Kurt might still not have a ton of self-esteem, the idea that he’s still concerned that Elliot is targeting him feels like a rehash of a previous plot point — especially since Elliot hasn’t shown the slightest hint of any kind of ruthless ambition or animosity. It’s just Kurt being insecure. There was a certain enjoyment in seeing Kurt and Elliot hanging out together, but I wish it had been separated from the plot thread of Kurt’s insecurity. After several scenes of Kurt trying to suss out the traitor in Elliot, Elliot finally says that he has no designs on Kurt’s status as the leader of the band, and they become friends… again.

Meanwhile, in the dumb part of the episode, Tina and Artie have a subplot. I kinda liked Artie and Tina’s initial scene together, because it gave Tina a chance to be something other than whiny and bitchy for the first time since season three… then we had the meeting with Sue, and Tina went right back to being whiny and bitchy. To be fair, there is some history between Artie and Tina, but that history exists, for the most part, in season one for its entirety. Tina and Artie have had virtually nothing to do with each other onscreen since then, so trying to sell this “Tuesday lunch” thing between them just does not work. The ensuing fight for valedictorian (that’s not how valedictorian works, by the way) did not show Tina in a good light, as she acted like a total jackass, including pushing Artie out of his chair, in her quest to get what she wanted. When Tina’s valedictorian campaign speech turned out to be in favor of Artie, it was believable because of course Tina might be feeling some guilt for what she did to him… but what was up with Artie deciding to campaign for Tina in his speech? What did Tina do to deserve that? She’s been nothing but a huge bitch for a season and some change now, and in this episode she pushed Artie out of his chair. It feels like there was a scene missing where they made up.

All in all, Glee is back with more of a “meh” than a “bang.” Still, this is a relative high point for season five.

Regarding the music, the first thing we have to talk about is Santana’s “Don’t Rain on my Parade.” Glee has used reprises a few time in the past couple of seasons, and it’s always been pretty effective. This is no exception, as Santana apes Rachel’s classic performance of the same number from season one’s “Sectionals,” not to mock Rachel but to make the point that Santana is on her level, not just an underling meant to strive and fail so that Rachel can look down on her from a position of stardom. The unfortunate thing about this number, however, is that, in inviting comparisons with Rachel’s earlier performance, the fact that Lea Michele is a much better singer than Naya Rivera is put in stark relief. I kinda feel rotten saying that, because Rivera is great, but Michele is simply in a class by herself. Rivera has talent, Michele has power. Rivera entertains, Michele astounds. To be fair, I think that part of what we’re meant to take away from this is that Santana is not as good a singer as Rachel either, and the point stands that Santana is Rachel’s equal, not her poor stepsister who never gets invited to the ball, but the mental comparison robs the moment of some of its power. This is the musical highlight of the episode, but more for the excellent choice in song and choreography than for the performance, which pales in comparison to the original.

The rest of the music was, for the most part, good. “Whenever I Call You Friend” was nice, but without any previously established strong relationship between Artie and Tina, it didn’t carry the weight that it wanted to. Still, it was a solid number. Santana and Rachel’s “Brave” was a decent way of bidding farewell to their friendliness with each other, as Santana allows herself to play second banana to Rachel for the last time. Artie and Tina’s “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” was quite good, but again it suffered from Tina and Artie’s poorly developed relationship. Kurt and Elliot’s “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” was good, but a bizarre choice for the situation. What did that have to do with guitar shopping? Rachel and Santana’s “Every Breath You Take” was another good song but bizarre choice. I get the idea that they want to keep an eye on each other, but as a duet it sounds like a song about two obsessed lovers, not mortal enemies. Some clever editing might have helped. Still, it was a good performance and the choreography was great. “Breakaway” was a good way to end: it hit all the right notes for Rachel’s departure from their apartment. I liked the contrast between the hopeful nature of the song and Rachel’s hardline stance against making up with Santana.

Other thoughts:

Artie refers to it being “a couple more Tuesdays” until graduation. Hang tight people, we’re almost home free.

Speaking of which, the newbies had nothing to do in this episode. Preparing to cut them loose?

Sue continues to lean on the fourth wall, referring to glee club members who “come and go with no explanation.” Anyone seen Sugar or Joe lately?

Why didn’t Sue appoint an odd number of judges to stave off the possibility of a tie?

This director sure likes having people talk at the camera. It got pretty weird after a while.

Episode 5.01: “Love Love Love”

(Spoilers lurk below.)

Well, it’s the beginning of a season that is destined to be indelibly colored by the death of Cory Monteith. But you wouldn’t know it (mostly) by the season premiere, which is as upbeat as any episode that Glee has ever done. Relationships begin and reignite, Rachel’s career strides forward confidently, and even Sue is presented as a mostly-benign entity. Welcome to Glee plus love times three.

Season four left us with two cliffhangers: the fate of Rachel’s Funny Girl audition, and the status of Blaine’s marriage proposal to Kurt. “Love Love Love” all but admits that the cliffhangers were a mistake, as it begins by pulling back from the cliff. Rachel is still auditioning for her role: the decision has not been made yet. Blaine chickened out in the choir room after regionals, and is still planning his proposal (sans Liz and Jan). Well, if they’re willing to forget “All or Nothing,” then I certainly am.

This episode was long on feel-good moments, but short on plot. You had to love seeing Kitty publicly admit her love for Artie; Tina willingly get cheered up by Sam, Blaine, Ryder, and Jake; Rachel fearlessly submit an impromptu second audition to the producers of Funny Girl (along with a wink to let them know she overheard them saying they thought she was too young); Will being told by Sue that she wanted him to be a winner; and Blaine proposing to Kurt and getting a “yes” with not even a second of discernible hesitation. In the end, however… not a whole lot really happened.

This episode felt a lot like season three, in that it consisted largely of a melange of subplots. Nothing forced its way to the forefront, despite valiant efforts by the Kitty/Artie (Kirtie?) relationship and the Kurt/Blaine relationship.

It was actually nice to see Kitty and Artie getting together with a minimum of drama. Of course in my “Wonder-ful” review I denied that there were any sparks of romance between the two of them, but it makes sense that they might come up. And they do feel like a high school couple in this episode. No real sense of deep love or anything, but they like each other and might as well lock lips while they can. What drama there was in their relationship came from Kitty’s worry about its effect on her status in the school, so Artie and Kitty were a secret couple for about half the episode. Despite all the relationship shenanigans in Glee, I think that this is the first secret relationship not involving cheating that we’ve had on this show since a couple of pointless seconds in season two’s “New York.” Unfortunately, not much was done with it. Tina made a scene about it (since she’s bitter beyond her youth) and Kitty responded by publicly fessing up to being way into Artie. All is well.

It was also very nice to see Kitty showing evidence of having a heart. Maybe we’ve grown beyond the sociopath Kitty who was all over season four. The one with real human emotions is much more interesting. Now we just have to wait and see how she interacts with Marley, who had pretty much nothing to do here.

Meanwhile, Kurt and Blaine also got back together early in the episode with a minimum or drama because… convenience? Kurt was deeply hurt by what Blaine did in season four, and they even went through hooking up (“Bros helping bros”) in “I Do” without Kurt showing much interest in renewing their relationship. But hey, it’s season five so: time to move on. What’s more shocking than that is how quickly the writers and producers decided to advance their newly renewed relationship. By the end of the first episode of season five, Blaine has successfully gotten back together with Kurt and proposed and Kurt has accepted. They even did a dance around Burt’s opposition to the idea last season by having Burt bring it up to his son, only to say that this is entirely Kurt’s decision and it doesn’t matter what he thinks. Judging from the last season, the implication is “if you want to screw up your life, go ahead!”, but it seems to be put in a more positive light in this episode, to the point that Burt allows the specter of his dead wife to give her tacit acceptance of Kurt and Blaine’s union. It just seems like a really weird change of tone, going from full opposition to full acceptance. That’s not to say it’s not in character: season one’s Burt gave every appearance of being a homophobe but for his gay son (a condition known as Cheney-Portman Syndrome). It’s just jarring, especially in light of his resistance to Finn and Rachel’s marriage in season three.

What are we to make of Kurt accepting Blaine back into his life? Kurt brushes off season four’s Adam, saying that it never got serious (I’m guessing that Kurt just couldn’t be with someone who stole from Jonathan Coulton). Blaine sidesteps the question of his loyalty, saying that he cheated because he thought that he and Kurt were “done” (hard to buy, considering that Blaine flew out to New York to see Kurt, greeting him with a kiss, shortly after the illicit sex occurred). In the end, it really just seems like the writers and producers decided that Kurt and Blaine should be together this season, and so be it. It makes large swaths of season four feel like a waste of time, and I really think they should have given it some more justification.

Also happening in this episode: Rachel and Santana are working as singing waitresses in a restaurant on Broadway. Other than how great it was to see Santana again, there really wasn’t much to this. Plotwise, it gave Rachel a chance to throw another audition at her producers, but it didn’t really add anything to Rachel’s struggles that we didn’t see last season.

Meanwhile, Sue finally remembered that she vowed to overthrow Figgins again at the end of season three, and she planted all kinds of incriminating evidence in his office, managing to get him fired and get herself hired on as interim principal. Becky apparently fessed up to bringing the gun to school and received a one-month suspension (for bringing a gun to school) while Sue was fully forgiven for her role (in covering up for a student bringing a gun to school).

Let us never speak of this again.

Anyway, Sue is fully in favor of Will’s glee club and Roz’s cheerios doing well, since it would make her look good, and old Figgins is still around the school working as a janitor, since that’s something that totally makes sense.

Not a great episode overall, but not exactly bad either. Plotwise, I give it a meh-plus.

What really made this episode worth watching was the music. It’s the Beatles, so come on: it had to be good. Even though it did seem a bit musically bloated, every song in the episode was entertaining, at least to some degree reminding me of why I watch this show in the first place. The first number, “Yesterday,” came with weird overtones of the death of Cory Monteith/Finn, something that won’t be fully addressed until this season’s third episode, as Rachel sadly looked towards a past that is very real but which can never come again. “Got to Get You into my Life” was a fun-but-pointless way to restart Kurt and Blaine, though it was a great performance. “You’ve Got to Hide your Love Away” was cute: a better way of selling Kitty and Artie’s relationship than the earlier “Drive My Car,” which honestly could have been cut. “Help” had a ton of energy, though it and the superior followup “All You Need is Love” kinda minimized the efforts of the other groups that Blaine enlisted in helping him propose to Kurt. Give them some solos, yo. The latter, however, has to be the highlight of the episode. As sappy as it is, and as silly as Blaine’s proposing to Kurt is at this point in their lives, it was a fantastic production, a great cover, clearly all that Kurt ever wanted out of a marriage proposal, and it was great to see Rachel, Mercedes, and Santana there for the big moment. “I Saw Her Standing There” was good, and made for a nice moment with Tina, but one wonders if her subplot got lost on the way to the episode it was supposed to be in, since it didn’t have a lot of focus here. This could have been cut. “A Hard Day’s Night” was a great way of showcasing Rachel and Santana’s confidence and friendship, and a really fun number.

Other thoughts:

The neckbrace cheerio seems to still be in a neckbrace. What’s her story, anyway?

Not only where there a ton on numbers in this episode, but most of them were imaginary. Glee is kinda drifting from its roots again. The best numbers were also the ones that were least imaginary: “All You Need is Love,” “Got to get You into my Life,” and “A Hard Day’s Night.”

I’d make fun of Kitty for suddenly having a heart, but it actually feels like they earned it after “Shooting Star” and “Wonder-ful.” Character development!

From Tina’s comments, we can gather than Ryder is somehow gayer and/or more Asian than Sam?

I do like that they didn’t try to milk any drama out of Kurt’s answer to Blaine. He just said yes right away.

Speaking of which, where are they going with Kurt and Blaine deciding to get married? Going a route similar to Finn and Rachel’s in season three would be pretty boring. Are they just going to… stay together?

Episode 4.21: “Wonder-ful”

(Spoilers lurk below.)

I love Stevie Wonder, so I certainly have no complaints about making him the subject of a tribute episode. His music has a unique sound that makes it feel alive, and his songs so often evoke the sheer joy of living. And that’s what this episode is about. No matter what bad things have happened in the past, may happen in the future, or hell, may be happening right now: life is full of wonderful things, and there are so many opportunities to be happy. In many ways, the theme of this episode encapsulates the theme of Glee itself, as it asks the characters to open themselves up to joy.

I liked this episode a lot, though I’d be the first to admit that I might not be the best person to judge it, since I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. It had it’s issues, but it was quite good.

The first scene, with Rachel calling Will to make him the first person she told about her callback, was fantastic. Will and Rachel sometimes had trouble seeing eye to eye, but he definitely helped her to get where she is today. And it was nice seeing Will not being a huge dick for once this season. I loved his shouted response “Did you get Fanny Brice?” It was a completely natural, spontaneous reaction. It drew the attention of the entire teachers’ lounge, but not only did Will not care, he didn’t even notice. It would have been easy to make a throwaway gag about Will being embarrassed about drawing attention to himself, but they let the pure happiness of the situation stand without ruining it. Rachel thanking Will for helping her, despite their differences, also foreshadowed her final scene with Cassie.

Anyway, Rachel is really worried about her callback for Funny Girl, especially since she’s afraid that Cassie might try to sabotage her. Two of NYADA’s resident bullies (at least, what passes for bullies at a musical theater school) also think so, as they plant this idea in Rachel’s head and then tell Cassie about Rachel’s upcoming audition, in an attempt to “win her favor.” While Cassie makes a show of tormenting Rachel, in the end she essentially gives her a free pass on her dance midterm (so that she won’t have that to worry about on top of the audition) and throws her a surprise party to congratulate her on her big audition.

Having Cassie turn out to have a heart of gold after all could easily come across as clichéd and cloying, but it’s actually been obvious for a while. Way back in “The New Rachel,” there’s a brief scene of Cassie congratulating a former student for getting a part in a Broadway play. Part of the point of that scene was Cassie’s sadness at seeing a student succeed where she failed, but a more important part was her sincere desire to see her students succeed. Why would she want Rachel to crash and burn? That’s what neither the bullies nor Rachel understood. Personal issues aside, Cassie is a teacher. This is what she does. When a student succeeds, she succeeds. Her teaching methods may lean a little much towards the “Gordon Ramsay” school, but she tries to do her job well and build Broadway stars.

And, of course, we’ve seen this theme explored before in “Britney 2.0,” but it was done a lot better here. In the end, both Rachel and Cassie can share the joy of Rachel’s success, and they can finally say that they’ve reached a real understanding.

Speaking of being kind by being a total bitch, Kitty has a similar story in this episode. She finds out (since everyone tells Kitty their secrets) that Artie has been accepted to Brooklyn Film School but that he’s not going, ostensibly because his mom is “freaking out” and doesn’t know what she would do without him. Kitty doesn’t buy this and stages a public congratulations of Artie’s accomplishment in the choir room to try to cajole him into changing his mind. When that doesn’t work, she takes the much more drastic step of going to visit his mom, where she finds out that she didn’t even know that Artie had been accepted to film school. Artie confesses to his mother that he’s scared to go to New York, and he was just using her as an excuse. She convinces him that he will be able to adapt, just as he did after becoming paralyzed, and that she wants nothing more than for him to have a lot of success.

What I like about Kitty in this storyline is that she does a nice thing for Artie purely out of the goodness of her heart (explaining that she likes to mix it up a little sometimes), but she does it by being unapologetically mean. Artie asks her to keep a secret, so she announces it in front of everyone. Artie tells her that his mom doesn’t want him to go, so she goes behind his back and tells his mom about what he said. No one else, not even any incarnation of Quinn, would have handled this situation in quite that way. It was a nice way to give Kitty a little characterization without, you know, putting a gun in the school or getting her molested. I also liked that Kitty and Artie’s relationship here was entirely platonic. One could argue that there were hints of romance in the final number (I wouldn’t necessarily agree), but for the most part Kitty was just being nice to Artie out of a feeling of friendship. Contrast this with her interaction with Ryder in “Lights Out,” in which there were pretty clear sparks of romance from Kitty’s side.

Unfortunately, Katy Sagal, while good, was pretty much wasted in the small role as Artie’s mother. How long has it been since Glee had a guest star who they didn’t totally waste? Gwyneth Paltrow in season two? Maybe Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell in season three? Katy Sagal joins the ranks of wasted guest star talent, alongside Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, and Whoopi Goldberg. At least give her a song; I know from Futurama that she can sing.

While all this is happening, Kurt, Mike, and Mercedes have wandered back into town. Kurt is there to be with his family to hear the results of his dad’s cancer treatments, while Mike and Mercedes are there to help the glee club prepare for competition (…again). Mike didn’t have much to do, but at least Mercedes kinda had a storyline this time. She has recorded an album in LA, but is having a disagreement with her producer over the album cover. He wants her to do another photoshoot for it and “show some more skin.” Either that, or he’s going to get someone else to be on the cover. Faced with the harsh reality of the music business (female artists are expected to be hot and dress like a slut), she eventually refuses to have anything to do with it, nixing her album deal entirely and electing to sell it herself independently.

I appreciate seeing Mercedes in a storyline (and I’d forgotten how much I missed her), but they didn’t do enough with it. It wasn’t really fair to ask the audience to come into the middle of Mercedes’s story (we’d heard nothing about this before) and ask her to share the episode with three other stories. Maybe Glee should have just had two or three spinoffs after all.

Kurt has been getting really superstitious and OCD in the days leading up to the results of his dad’s course of treatment, which is something that the episode presents as a joke for the most part. They didn’t really do anything with it. It did bring to mind his use of acupuncture when his dad was in a coma, though. He’s not the most rational person under stress. Anyway, Burt is pronounced cancer-free, in an absolutely unambiguous happy ending. It would have been a better moment if we’d touched base with Burt once or twice while all this was happening. Kinda like with Mercedes, it felt like we were stepping into the middle of Burt’s story. Burt’s absolutely genuine emotional reaction to the news almost made it worth it, though. Happiness just flows out like champagne on New Year’s Eve.

Also, it was really weird to hear Kurt’s voiceover talk about how he was going back to Lima to be with his dad, and then, first thing back in Ohio, to see him walk back into WMHS with Mike and Mercedes, and proceed to creep around his old high school for several scenes before Burt ever shows up.

Side note: where the hell was Finn when he stepdad was getting the results of his cancer treatment? He’s a first semester student at a party college; I’m fairly certain he could have gotten away for an hour.

Also happening in this episode: Blaine asks Burt for permission to ask Kurt to marry him, despite the fact that they aren’t exactly, you know, dating. Burt has a chat with Blaine in which he proves to be the master of the father-son conversation, but makes the odd choice to imply that he knows or suspects that Kurt loves Blaine. Blaine decides to slow down a bit, and just asks Kurt to stick around for regionals. Despite the fact that it’s apparently midterm season at NYADA, he agrees.

One of the things that Burt rhetorically says while trying to dissuade Blaine from asking Kurt to marry him was “Remember Finn and Rachel?” I do remember them, actually, and I remember that I’ve pretty much had enough of their relationship drama. I feel similarly about Kurt and Blaine. Can’t people just be broken up?

Despite the speedbumps, this was a lovely episode filled with optimism and happiness. Rachel mends fences with Cassie and is going on to her callback with a lot of confidence and support. Kurt has a healthy dad again and a renewed relationship with Blaine, if not a romance (yet). Artie surprisingly finds a new friend in Kitty and is joining the roster of characters going off to live their dream in New York. And Mercedes decides to stay true to her character while still pushing forward, determined to prove her talent to the world.

The music this episode was Stevie Wonder, so of course it was great. I’m incredibly biased here, but I’m going to call “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” the highlight. First, I love that song anyway. Second, Kurt once again evokes a moment from Taxi with this song, as this song was prominently featured at the end of “Jim’s Inheritance,” when it was on a cassette tape that was among some belongings that Jim’s recently departed father left him. Kurt uses it to tell his happily still-living father how he feels about him, while Jim’s dead father used it to let Jim know that he always loved him (note: I’d link to that scene on YouTube but the song is muted out for copyright issues, so just watch Taxi already). I don’t know if it was an intentional connection, but I love it anyway. “For Once In My Life” was a lovely way to end, even if the lyrics didn’t entirely seem to match. “Signed Sealed Delivered” was a lot of fun, and it was weird that Mercedes kinda just crapped all over it. Becca Tobin has a nice voice for that kind of music, surprisingly. I also like seeing Kitty performing with Jake and Ryder without there being a lot of high school drama about it. “Higher Ground” and “Superstitious” were both great, and it’s fantastic hearing Mercedes belting it out again. “I Wish” was good, but I expected a little more from Mike and Jake sharing the dance floor. Jake was more impressive on his own back in “My Prerogative.” “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” was good, and a decent way of clearing the air between Rachel and Cassie (considering that most of the previous songs that took place in that room have been pretty mean-spirited).

Other thoughts:

Will and Emma apparently patched up all their problems entirely offscreen. I’d complain, but I’m not sure I really wanted to see more of Will and Emma anyway.

Mercedes’s claim that the glee club lost sectionals because of “fear” rings pretty hollow. Didn’t they lose because Marley fainted and they abandoned the stage? And because they performed “Gangnam Style” for some reason?

Burt sure has a lot of time on his hands for a Congressman who also owns an auto body shop.

See you next week for the season finale, when all our questions will be answered! Or possibly not!

Episode 4.14: “I Do”

(Spoilers lurk below.)

This was a surprisingly great episode, which started on a sad note and then proceeded to slowly let the atmosphere fill with tentative happiness. What with the wedding, there are obvious parallels with season two’s “Furt,” and you’d think that someone would have mentioned that. Also, with so many couples retiring to their bedrooms at the same time, there are parallels with season one’s “The Power of Madonna,” in which Finn lost his virginity (to Santana), but neither Rachel (with Jesse) nor Emma (with Will) were able to go through with it. This is an especially interesting comparison to make because “I Do” presents yet another example of Emma failing to go through with a life-changing event with Will. However, what “I Do” reminds me of more than anything else, at least in tone and structure, is season two’s “Duets.” Both episodes present a fairly disjointed story, one about relationships and how they change, remain the same, or take convenient detours.

One may legitimately ask when enough is enough with these character relationship episodes, especially when we continually revisit things like Kurt/Blaine and Rachel/Finn. We’ve had several episodes that centered around such things just this season, most notably “The Break-Up,” with Blaine moping about Kurt nearly all season and Finn doing his share of moping over Rachel. Well, I guess it’s enough when it ceases to be entertaining, and I don’t think that it’s reached that point yet. However, I’m one of those odd Glee fans who also sees season two as the pinnacle of the series.

The first plot thread, which carries us through two acts and then disappears, is Will and Emma’s wedding. Emma is freaking out over it. Like, having serious “I forgot to take my meds” level freakouts. Will, who is back from Washington but still apparently the same dumbass he was in “The Break-Up,” fails to understand the depth of Emma’s issues, despite the fact that he left her (a woman in therapy with very serious OCD) in charge of planning the entire wedding, and the fact that he knows that she has a very bad past when it comes to weddings. And not just with Carl, mentioned several times in this episode, but with Ken, who significantly left her at the altar in season one’s “Sectionals.” Will also admits later that Emma had tried to warn him that she was overwhelmed and he essentially ignored her. Will and Emma’s performance of “Getting Married Today” was one of the best numbers of the season, despite being mostly imaginary. It did more narrative work than just about any other song in the series, as it showed both Emma’s inability to cope with her feelings and go through with the wedding, as well as Will’s complete obliviousness to the fact that his fiancée is having major problems and needs his support more than she needs… him ignoring her. Anyway, Emma runs away in her wedding dress and hails a cab (reminiscent of a famous scene in Rhoda, but in reverse), leaving Will to mope around for a while and then exit the episode to search for her.

Finn’s kiss with Emma at the end of “Diva” was a red herring throughout the episode. Finn had nothing to do with the wedding disaster; it was Will’s fault for failing to respond to Emma’s needs because of his own self-absorption.

Emma’s parents, who hate Will, footed the bill for the reception, so they figure they might as well go through with it. The next two acts, the bulky middle of the episode, are absolutely fantastic and among the best character writing that has been done on Glee, as the kids and graduates hang around the reception, get drunk, and connect and re-connect with each other. Kurt and Blaine are having a friendly fling (“bros helping bros,” as Blaine puts it) while Finn makes a surprisingly smooth pass at Rachel while trying to explain to her that she is his lobster. Artie shows his desperation by doing everything he can to form a relationship with Emma’s bitchy niece Betty. Jake tries to build on his relationship with Marley with the help of Ryder, who knows exactly what needs to be done to impress her. And, out in left field, we have Santana and Quinn’s relationship becoming suddenly sexual. Make no mistake, though, they built up Santana and Quinn’s slowly escalating relationship beautifully and they actually make the most believable couple of the bunch. And now we just need Quinn and Brittany to have sex with each other, and Glee will finally have a fully complete relationship triangle.

While watching the surprisingly enjoyable escapades of Jake, Marley, and Ryder, I started wondering why this relationship is working for me while Sam and Mercedes in season three never did. It isn’t because the characters are better developed because, while they’re getting better, they really aren’t. A lot of it is that we got to witness the entire relationship from the beginning. A lot of it is that Melissa Benoist and Jacob Artist have more chemistry together than Chord Overstreed and Amber Riley did. And a lot of it is that Ryder’s involvement actually makes it more interesting rather than just another triangle. Ryder is a rare breed in this episode: he is a complete innocent with nary a deceptive bone in his body. He genuinely likes Jake and feels close to him, and we wants to help Jake get closer to Marley because he wants him to be happy. At the same time, he likes Marley a lot, and he’s clearly put a lot of thought into what he would do to win her over if he had the potential for betrayal within him. He wants her to be happy too, and that plays into his attempts to turn Jake into a better boyfriend. And through it all, as he plays Cyrano (“Who?”), he wants nothing more than to trade places with Jake. This may be another love triangle, but it’s unusual for being one with almost no negativity underlying it.

Finn and Rachel may have had sex, and Finn may truly believe that Rachel is “the one,” but I got the idea that Rachel doesn’t really buy it. She did break up with him, after all. All this may mean that Finn is just setting himself up for another big fall. And imagine if Rachel really is pregnant. Back to season one! Fourth verse, same as the first! I must admit, I never saw Rachel taking on Quinn’s role, though.

I’m not sure what to make of Kurt and Blaine. Blaine starts to sound kind of needy and whiny again near the end, and even makes a “You’re my lobster” speech to Kurt similar to the one that Finn delivered to Rachel. Are we supposed to believe it, or is he fooling himself? For his part, Kurt still doesn’t seem to see anything in the future with Blaine. What was really entertaining, though, was Tina’s involvement, as she went back to rage mode to rag on Kurt for how he treated Blaine, and then apologizes and goes out as friends with both Kurt and Blaine. I’m relieved to see everything between Blaine and Tina out in the open now, and we can put the unpleasantness of “Diva” behind us now (“Did you vapor rape my ex-boyfriend?!”).

I can’t emphasize enough how much fun it was to watch Santana and Quinn hang out together and be bitchy. Fuck Kurt and Rachel; give these two their own show. Their going from friendly, to flirty, to slow dancing, to going up to a hotel room was all 100% believable and handled very well. I don’t think that “Quinntana” is going to become a thing, but it was a blast to watch it happen in this episode.

Unfortunately, Artie and Betty’s relationship was mostly disappointing. Betty didn’t really have any characterization beyond “bitch,” and we weren’t given much of a reason why Artie kept pursuing her, unless it was just her huge… tracts of land.

The episode ends with the hint that Rachel might be pregnant (and who’s the father!? — the episode establishes that Finn and Brody are both candidates) and Finn trying to cheer Will up while worming his way into a permanent glee coaching position. Is he even being paid yet? Also, Ryder kisses Marley, but she kinda cornered him.

So, yeah. This was a really good episode and strangely happy and positive, not something I would have expected from Will’s shattered wedding.

The musical highlight by a mile was “Getting Married Today,” which I talked about above. Kurt and Blaine’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” was also very good, and I like the way that they kept some action going underneath the song. Love songs “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “We’ve Got Tonight” did their work, but weren’t spectacular. The final “Anything Could Happen” was pretty good, and suggested a hint of a theme for the episode.

Other thoughts:

The episode alludes to the egotism of both Rachel and Finn, as Rachel thinks that Finn’s loss of control with Emma was about his feelings to Rachel, and Finn thinks that his kiss could have single-handedly broken up Will and Emma.

Is it sad that “impromptu” musical numbers are so commonplace in the Glee universe that I questioned how impressed Marley should have been with Jake’s number? I will say that Jake and company went the extra mile with the lighting. How did they manage that in a classroom?

At least Will has a moment of self-reflection in which he realizes how much he is to blame.

It was kinda fun seeing rage-filled Tina again after a couple of episodes of lovesick Tina.

It’s interesting how an episode that began being about Will’s wedding ended up being all about the glee kids and graduates. It’s almost like a metaphor for the show itself.

Anyone else notice that the number of petals on Finn’s daisy wasn’t completely consistent between shots? You’d think they’d be careful of that, because I doubt I was the only one counting petals to see if he was going to end up on “she loves me” or “she loves me not.”

The scene leading up to and after the “hotel sex” was very artfully shot.

Are four people really living in the loft in New York City now? Sounds pretty awkward.