It Must Have Been Love, But It's Over Now
Will the New Directions find twelve members in time to compete? Will Kurt and Blaine be forcibly reunited? Will Part 2 of this episode be dumber than Part 1? Tune in and see! ...Or just skip to the singing.
On Extra Hot Great, a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't remember which of the Glee creators besides Ryan Murphy was known for which type of episode, but now my memory has been jogged, if not beaten with a stick. Brad Falchuk (who also co-created American Horror Story with Murphy), tends to write the heartstring-tugging episodes, and Ian Brennan, who wrote "The Hurt Locker, Parts 1 and 2," writes the whackadoo ones. Brennan actually conceived Glee, and his original film script was completely rewritten by Murphy and Falchuk. I don't want to read too much into this history, but given my feelings about last week's episode, I thought I'd do some research. I've liked a lot of Brennan's episodes in the past. Crazypants can be fun! He's responsible for a lot of the best of Brittany, for example. Though he's also responsible for last year's episode in which Kurt literally crashed someone else's gay-bashing.
Glee can be a cartoon (this is, after all, a world in which people frequently break into song), but it still has to make some kind of sense. Even cartoons can be consistent. I usually say this about shows that have more actual magic in them, but in order for us to suspend our disbelief about Sue's insane reign or Figgins's sister or, yes, the singing and dancing, we have to have some grounding in reality from which those fantasy elements take off. And in a way, this season, so far, has been all about continuity, calling back more consciously than ever to early episodes, the characters' histories, and the things that made some of us fall in love with Glee in the first place. That's been heartening for this show that's often had trouble with that, though in the past it was usually at least consistent within a single episode.
Well, we have the Glee we have, not necessarily the Glee we want. There's more to like this week than last, so let's get to the watching and the skipping!
Her Name Is Alberta, She Lives In Vancouver
We pick up immediately where we left off, as Vocal Adrenaline takes its bow. Sue announces that she will be judging the Invitational. Will protests that the Invitational wasn't supposed to be a competition. "My school, my rules," Sue says, "and speaking of rules, here are the rules for this competition." Will further protests that Sue can't announce the rules after one team has already performed. Rachel and Kurt make these faces:
I was pretty hard on Will last week, and sure, it's fun to watch him whine like a baby, but come on, Smuggy McGee, he's right. Anyway, the rules are as follows: the theme is Old School. That's it. So that was a long way to go for that "joke." And to scare Will -- who is fine because his songs were from the early '80s. Sigh, Glee. The Warblers will perform tomorrow, and the New Directions will perform the following day. "Wait," says a Warbler who looks like Grant Gustin but isn't, asking exactly what I'm thinking. "This is a three-day competition?" "Where will we sleep?" asks the one with a girlfriend in Canada from a couple of weeks ago. Why wouldn't they just go home? Sue: "I imagine you two will sleep inside one another." Well, there goes Sue's leg to stand on about Will's boundaries and possible pederasty last week. Though one Warbler looks shocked and the other one looks like it's not a bad suggestion...
...so jokewise it's a wash. Sue explains that she's extended the competition to give the New Directions time to come up with twelve members, "the only show choir rule anyone remembers, and yet every year is surprised by." Hee. Sue declares that this event is mandatory, "even if one show choir's co-director is kidnapped and held against his will, causing him to miss the performance." Oh boy. Can I just declare a skip right now and check out myself?
Prove Your Worth, Only Surviving 2.0 Cast Member
Kurt suggests that they recruit Kitty (who he says is a senior, so I guess that timeline checks out if she was a very...mature freshman when Rachel and Kurt were seniors?). Rachel protests that Kitty (and all the New Directions 2.0) hate her because she was "so intent on being a Broadway star that I never learned her name or any of their names. There was Puck's brother and then there was cross-dressing Mercedes and the one with the fat mom and whatever, Raider." One suspects she could legitimately be speaking for the writers here, but still, hee. Kurt says they don't have a choice.
I Wonder If Kurt's Seen Clash Of The Titans
Kurt is at Breadstix with Harry Hamlin, but isn't sure if Harry Hamlin thinks it's a date or not. Harry Hamlin asks if Kurt wants it to be a date, and Kurt says he had a good time the last time they went out, so yes, and toasts, "To our second date." It's sweet! This is not an insignificant age difference, but Harry Hamlin has only been out for a year, so they're on weirdly equal footing in a lot of ways. I'm not saying this is actually a good idea (and it bothers me that we're sort of getting Kurt and Blaine's rebounds portrayed as equally inappropriate because one is fifty years older and one is...chubby?), but Kurt isn't always the most open-minded, so it's nice to see him at least expanding his horizons a bit. It's a pretty wild tonal swing from the Kurt/Harry Hamlin scene last week, though. Speaking of wild tonal swings, the boys' waiter arrives and it's Sue, who offers Kurt a Shirley Temple in a sippy cup and Harry Hamlin an Ensure. Kurt apologizes for her, but Harry Hamlin thinks Sue is hilarious. "You have to understand," he tells Kurt calmly, "when you're as handsome as I am, very little bothers you." You guys, Harry Hamlin is the best.
In her shrine to Klaine, Sue shows Becky video of the boys in happier times. Sue explains that she has cameras everywhere, and Becky asks, as a clip of "Come What May" plays, "But this is a dream sequence! How could you film that?" In the season premiere, I said I liked when the show got a little meta. A little. Becky points out that it looks like Kurt and Blaine don't even like each other and that they're not making eye contact. Sue goes on about how "hackneyed circumstance" has somehow come between this couple that's obviously made for each other. Fine, uncle, I give up. Get Kurt and Blaine back together. Can it please just make the tiniest bit of sense? Or is Brennan on my side here, putting the Klaine 'shippers' words in the mouth of an unhinged Sue to make them seem terrible?
Rachel accosts Kitty in the hall and rattles off a list of facts about her to prove that she knows her after all. Kitty says that she joined the old Glee Club because she knew that Will was kind and genuinely committed to teaching and that the other kids would have her back. Aw. But the new kids are useless and Rachel will bolt as soon as she gets offered an acting job. Rachel appeals to Kitty's love of performing. Plus, "the Glee Club needs a top bitch to keep everyone in line." Kitty has missed it, but she feels deserted by the old club, and she knows that Sue would come after her. Rachel promises that she's not leaving until Glee is permanently reinstated. This is a lovely scene between two characters who seem like real people and I'm convinced someone else wrote it.
Blaine bumps into Kurt in the hall, where they see a sign pointing to a new elevator to the auditorium. Maybe it's just the presence of Harry Hamlin, but is anyone else hoping we just get rid of these two with an L.A. Law Rosalind Shays reference here? No? Just me? Okay. They get in the elevator and quickly realize that it's fake (it includes a bathroom), and they're trapped.
Oh, The Warbling
Sue introduces the Warblers, who perform an unusually athletic version of "My Sharona." Apparently the Warblers and Vocal Adrenaline are using the same choreographer, and there's no way it's Mr. Schue or Blaine. They segue into "You Spin Me." It's fine. If I can nitpick here for a moment (because usually I restrain myself?), it's weird that the super-traditional Warblers use a backing track, and the supposedly edgy Vocal Adrenaline go full a cappella. Apart from that, and the costumes vs. prep school uniforms, these two performances are virtually indistinguishable. The Warblers' is less weird, and therefore generally dull.
Sue sneaks up on Sam and hypnotizes him. Oh right, that's still happening. She gives him a set list he has to convince the New Directions to use, sabotaging them: "Ascension Millennium" by Corey Feldman; "Dear Mr. Jesus," "a song about the horrors of child abuse that actually makes you want to go out and locate a child for the express purpose of beating him up"; and Tammy Wynette and KLF's "Justified And Ancient." Those are all real, I looked them up. I'm not going to link to them because I like you guys. If Glee had the follow-through to actually have the New Directions perform these somehow, I'd be so impressed.
I Manchoo-choo-choo-rian Candidate You
Rachel files a missing person report on Kurt over the phone. When she says her name, the officer asks about the TV show. "Yes I've taken acting classes before! ...You know what, sir? That is very rude of you!" He apparently hangs up on her. Points for Rachel-shaming. Sam presents Sue's songs to Rachel, and also declares his love and tries to kiss her. Rachel knows something's up and manages to snap him out of it. Why would Sue make that part of the programming? Sam says he's been having gaps in his memory lately, "like even bigger than usual." Hee. Rachel politely turns down the songs.
A panel opens in the "elevator"and a doll of Sue comes out riding a tricycle.
Ooh, a Saw reference, how current! Props to the props department though: the puppet is amazing. Jigsue says that if they kiss, they can leave. "Really go at it." They refuse, and Jigsue says she'll raise the temperature so that they're forced to remove clothing. And again, pot/kettle with the whole Will thing last week. I just ask for consistency within the episode. Another panel opens and a picnic basket with a romantic dinner slides out. If this episode had any interest in being a real musical, these two would have sung a song by now.
Kitty agrees to join the club, and breaks into Sue's office to find out what songs she'll like. She's bribed Becky for Sue's password and somehow knows that Sue has a "secret playlist of songs that she's so emotionally vulnerable to that they're hidden in an encrypted, password-protected folder." See, this is the kind of absurd thing that actually makes total sense given what we know from six seasons of Sue. I'm in. (It's still a boring scene though.)
Dead Finn Manipulation Alert
Sam finds Spencer in the locker room late, studying plays. Sam says that he's changed his mind about Spencer being QB, because "quarterbacks are leaders, not cowards." Sam's noticed Spencer lurking around the choir room and thinks he's just afraid to join. Spencer says he has "no wiggle room." He has to be tougher and butcher than everyone else because he's a gay jock. He thinks everything he's worked for will be ruined if he joins Glee, even though he's a "frickin' rock star." Sam says he has his back and gives him a nice pep talk, invoking Finn (whose jersey is framed on the wall), saying that when he joined the Glee Club "it changed everything here forever." Sam wasn't at McKinley when that happened, but never mind, it's very sweet!
Imagine This Scene Never Happened, It's Easy If You Try
Kitty shows up at rehearsal, and not to get too off-track but I notice one of my favorite demotivational posters on the wall. The set decorators have really had fun with Sue's regime. A policeman is in Rachel's office dumping out her bag. It's the coach from the deaf choir. Oh good, let's all think about that episode again. Their funding was cut too, and now he's a cop? "Ten to one [Kurt and Blaine] have eloped to New York where they belong," he tells Rachel. "You don't belong there, you're a quitter." Ouch. Unless Karofsky kidnapped them, or Rachel did something to them herself out of jealousy for being more talented than she is. Maybe this is how Ian Brennan feels about the other Glee writers?
Maybe Less Art, More Math
When asked why they're getting a whole new set list, Rachel explains that the Bruno Mars songs were too predictable. Also, the one rule of the Invitational is "Old School"? Am I the only one paying attention here? Of course, they also don't have twelve people, unless Kitty is hiding seven more under her Cheerios skirt, so.... Kitty backs Rachel up, and Rachel levels with the kids that she wants to stick it to Sue, who hates them all. Spencer arrives. Still not twelve.
This Doesn't Seem So Bad?
The boys eat their dinner, try and fail to escape, and take turns sleeping in the elevator. You know what I'd do in their situation? Well, probably kiss like Sue asked, but also sing a damn song.
To Sir, With Love
In the auditorium, Will reminds Rachel that coaching Vocal Adrenaline is his job now, and she apologizes right away and says his job is a lot harder than it looked from the other side. It's all very grown up. Will admits, "It's a lot harder to be devoted to kids I don't particularly like." He tells Rachel to enjoy this part, where she doesn't know how they're going to do, "because one day, years from now, you'll be talking to one of them, and you'll be amazed by the man or woman they've become." Rachel thanks him. "Oh, I didn't mean you," he says. Just kidding, they hug and it's adorable, and it makes me like both Will and Rachel more than I have in years, let alone in this pair of episodes. Will says he's still a little mad at Rachel, what with sending Sam to steal his mail and all, which of course she didn't actually do. "Sue," they light-bulb in unison. "Appreciate her too," Will says. "A good nemesis only makes you better."
The Password Is: Idiot
Back in the elevator, Kurt and Blaine are playing something like Password to keep themselves occupied (and still fully clothed, it's worth noting). The clues Kurt gives Blaine tap into their history together and how well they know each other. When they switch, Blaine's first clue involves Dave, and Kurt gets mad. This is not only insensitive of Blaine, it's also terrible game-playing strategy. How would Kurt know anything about Dave? Come on! Jigsue rolls out again and starts filling the room with a gas she claims is a sexual stimulant. Blaine whines that they should just give her what she wants and get this over with. I think I speak for the entire audience when I say I agree.
Lay A Whisper On My Pillow, Leave The Winter On The Ground
At the Invitational, Spencer and Kitty sing lead on "It Must Have Been Love," which starts out a little rough but gets better, though I admit I am wildly biased in favor of anything Roxette-related. The band and last week's string quartet are there, too. The second it begins, Sue turns around with a look of rage. We cut to the elevator, where Blaine and Kurt promise each other that they can kiss without its meaning anything, just to make Sue happy. Obviously, it's going to mean something: one of the greatest power ballads of the '90s is playing! They do it, and I know I've spent five weeks in this space railing against this pairing, but I have to admit it's pretty hot. The doors open and they run down the hall in slow motion, to catch the end of the number in the auditorium.
For their second song, Roderick takes lead on George Michael's "Father Figure." In an epic and unusual show of restraint, there is no cut to Harry Hamlin. For maybe the first time all season, the show is really capturing the joy these kids feel performing, and it's super-fun to watch. Everyone is smiling and looks like they actually like each other, without a hint of contractual obligation. Less fun to watch is that the song makes Sue flash back to Bob Dole's, John McCain's, and Mitt Romney's presidential concession speeches. Those are her father figures, get it? For their final number, the twins kick off an acoustic version of Air Supply's "I'm All Out of Love," and Sue collapses into a seat in the back row and lip-syncs along. She flashes back to her screen tests for Princess Leia, Pretty Woman, and Tony Montoya for some reason? (Good sight gags, but I'm gonna have to call nerd bullshit because Star Wars came out in 1977 and "I'm All Out Of Love" came out in 1980.) On the key change, Sue bursts into tears.
Well, That Was Meaningless
Sue hands out awards, putting the Warblers in third place, VA in second, and New Directions in first. She seems grudging, but she was also the only judge, so....
Backstage, Will approaches Not-Groff (whose name is Clint, apparently) and tries to pep-talk him. Clint thinks Will deliberately screwed them because he cares more about his "prodigal troll Rachel" (ouch) than them: "I'm a senior, this matters to me." You are thirty if you're a day, but okay. Clint threatens Will and stalks off. Sue arrives and tells Will that hearing that music has made her "purge the anger," but that "if you ever litter at my school again and expect me to clean it up, you sorry excuse for a stain on a dead tramp's lacy panties, I swear to sweet holy Satan, I will end you." Oh right, the fork. Thanks for bringing that back, when I was actually enjoying Part 2!
...And Then There's Meta
Kurt and Blaine meet Sue in her office and point out that they could have her arrested. Blaine says that Sue's plan backfired, only helping them get over their bitterness and resentment and making them realize they're better as friends. Sue and Becky visit the storage unit, which feels hollow to Sue now that her anger is gone: "We have had a most awesome week, Becky. Honestly, what we accomplished in this week makes it feel like two weeks." Try seventeen, Sue! Becky points out that Sue's plan didn't actually work, but Sue says she has them right where she wants them, and "we still have six more weeks for scheming, possibly seven, depending on network preemeptions." Can severe eye-rolling cause permanent damage? If so, can I sue Fox for my medical expenses?
Fat Kid, Gay Boy, Creepy Incest Twins, Other Girl
The Glee kids place their trophy in the choir room, and Kitty gives a very Santana-esque pep talk in which she simultaneously builds up and breaks down, explaining that she's sure she'll be making fun of each of them individually many times, but that as a team, they're unbeatable. Roderick thanks Rachel and Kurt for bringing them together. Rachel says how proud she is of them and makes it about her, which does not go unnoticed by the twins, who can apparently communicate psychically. They, unlike Vocal Adrenaline, do a show circle.
That was better! Not so much better that you should watch very much of it, but enough that I wish they had edited it down to a single episode using the decent material they had. I don't mind Sue being insane, because even that setup led to some nice moments (Kurt and Harry Hamlin, Kurt and Blaine's eventual kiss, Will and Sue's sort-of reconciliation), I just needed there to be about 80% less of it. And the Rachel/Kitty and Rachel/Will scenes were the most I've liked any of those characters in ages, so it's extra-sad that last week did a lot to remind us that Will is a demonstrably terrible teacher and then this week's emotional payoff had a lot to do with him supposedly being a great teacher. It's a disappointing episode musically, but the payoff of the New Directions killing it made having lesser Warblers and Vocal Adrenaline numbers (and no non-performance numbers) almost worth it. Almost.