Random trivia note: Last week’s episode of ‘Glee’ was directed by actor Eric Stoltz. Yes, the Eric Stoltz who was almost Marty McFly. Apparently, he’s been doing some TV directing for a few years now. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything significant. I just thought it was interesting, considering the timing of that ‘Back to the Future’ footage coming out.
Anyway, in ‘Duets’, the Glee clubbers have to sing… well, some duets. Sometimes, a straightforward title in the most effective.
There’s no Puck in this episode. We’re told that he’s spending time in juvy due to smashing his mom’s car into a convenience store and trying to drag away the ATM. This seems out of character. We know that Puck is a little rebellious, a bully, and perhaps a delinquent, but he’s not a real criminal. This feels like lazy writing to me.
With an odd number of students, Mr. Schuester manages to convince new kid Sam to join Glee. Finn is very excited by this, but not nearly as excited as Kurt, whose gaydar has been set off by Sam’s stupid Bieber haircut. Santana takes one look at him and pronounces, Oh wow, he has no game.”
Schuester assigns a duets competition. The grand prize is dinner for two at the Breadsticks chain restaurant. Everyone is extremely hyped up for this. I don’t mean that sarcastically. They all seem to love this restaurant.
With Puck incarcerated, Santana has decided to redirect her sexual frustrations toward Brittany. FAN SERVICE ALERT: The two have a (tame) makeout session in a bed in full cheerleader uniforms. Nonetheless, when it comes time to pick a duet partner, Santana pairs up with Mercedes, because she believes the two of them together will be unstoppable.
This leads Brittany to announce that she’s into Artie, both because she needs a duet partner and also to make Santana jealous. He seems befuddled by her attention. “For a while, I thought you were a robot,” she admits. Brittany then decides that she needs to deflower Artie (whose parts down there do still work, it turns out). “You’re on the football team. This was inevitable anyway.” In retaliation, Santana tells Artie that Brittany is just using him, which really hurts his feelings. He gets very angry at Brittany for spoiling his first time. When he spurns her as a duet partner, she seems to genuinely regret the consequences of her actions.
Kurt puts the moves on Sam big time. This concerns Finn, who’s worried about the abuse Sam will take. Sam himself doesn’t seem to care. Not until he gets his first Slushie in the face, anyway.
Around this time, Rachel comes to the realization that she’s not a nice person. She tells Finn that she wants to be better, and wants the two of them to throw the competition so that Sam can win. This will be good for Sam and help him fit in with the club. Finn points out to her that Sam’s joining the club will also help them get to Nationals this year, which will be good for the club and thus good for Rachel. Her plan isn’t so selfless after all.
Nevertheless, Finn helps Rachel pull Sam away from Kurt and push him towards Quinn as a partner. This happens to coincide with Kurt coming to the realization (via his father) that his aggressive attentions have been a form of bullying. He’s been trying to push Sam to be more like him, even if the boy isn’t ready. Eventually, he tells Sam that he’s letting him go, so that Sam can sing with Quinn.
Well, it turns out that (despite the hair) Sam isn’t gay. He’s actually quite into Quinn. Of all things, he responds to her offhand remark about about the blue Slushie making him look like something out of ‘Avatar’ by reciting Na’Vi dialogue from the movie. It seems that he indeed has no game, and is kind of a dork. But he’s a sweet dork. Quinn is frightened away when he tries to kiss her too soon, but eventually comes back around.
As for the songs…
Finn and Rachel start off with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” which is pretty good. But when the time comes for them to take a dive in the competition, they go for a horrific rendition of “With You I’m Born Again.” Eek.
Mercedes and Santana belt out Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” which makes them the instant front-runners. The performance is energetic enough, but really seems to lack something essential. It’s really not as good as everyone in the show seems to believe.
Kurt, being Kurt, does his duet solo, with the gender-bending “Le Jazz Hot” from ‘Victor/Victoria’. Of course he does.
The best number of the night comes from Tina and Mike Chang, who deliver a fantastic performance of “Sing!” from ‘A Chorus Line’. It’s a delicate balancing act to sing badly on purpose and do it well enough that it’s clearly deliberate. They knock it out of the ballpark.
Unfortunately, for story purposes, they can’t win the competition. The plot requires Quinn and Sam to win for their duet to “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. The number has a sweetness about it that’s pretty appealing, but the singing and performing aren’t that great.
The best moment of the evening comes at the very end. As Quinn and Sam share a bonding moment at Breadsticks, we see Brittany sitting alone in another booth. Earlier, she’d told Artie that if they won the competition, she wanted to re-enact the spaghetti sharing scene from ‘Lady and the Tramp’. Now, all by herself and without a note of explanation, she pushes a meatball across the plate with her nose. Priceless.