All of my recent traveling resulted in my falling behind in critical TV watching. Consequently, I’ve also fallen behind in recapping some of the shows I watch. So let’s do some quick catching up with ‘Glee’ before tonight’s new episode.
It looks like I’m four episodes behind. The title of ‘The Rocky Horror Glee Show‘ pretty much sums the whole thing up. The New Directions team puts on a (very censored) production of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’. The episode even has guest appearances from Meat Loaf and Barry Bostwick. This seems like a natural fit for the series, but I think it was a mistake to do another theme show so soon after the Britney Spears episode, which was frankly a lot more fun. This one just feels forced. Then again, ‘Rocky Horror’ has never done much for me. As usual, Sue has the best line of the episode: “I’m so bored I just fell into a micro-sleep.”
That was followed by ‘Never Been Kissed‘, in which the kids develop a horribly mean-spirited game at the expense of Coach Beiste, who’s so hurt when she hears about it that she resigns. Will makes the kids feel really bad about this, and then tries to talk Beiste into coming back. When she reveals that she’s never even been kissed, he kisses her in some sort of attempt to boost her self esteem. The episode plays this as a sweet moment, but I found it terribly condescending and uncomfortable. In other developments, this episode also ramps up the storyline about football player Karofsky bullying Kurt. Predictably, this all stems from Karofsky’s own sexual confusion. He corners Kurt in the locker room and kisses him. Kurt is left shell shocked and horrified. While attempting to spy on a rival glee team at the Dalton Academy private school, Kurt becomes infatuated with their lead singer Blaine, who is openly gay. He also wishes he could attend the school itself, which has a much more welcoming atmosphere and a zero tolerance policy for bullying.
Next comes ‘The Substitute‘. When Will and Principal Figgins are sidelined by the flu, substitute teacher Holly Holliday (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) takes over the glee club, and Sue steps up as acting principal. (Does this school not have a Vice Principal?) Holly wants to be the “cool” teacher, and wins the kids over by letting them pick their own contemporary songs to perform. (The episode has a hilarious running gag with flashbacks that repeatedly show Will searching for new Journey songs for the kids to sing.) Sue connives her way into making her promotion permanent, and then makes her first order of business firing Will. The kids eventually realize that they need Will, and demand that Sue rehire him. Also, Karofsky threatens to kill Kurt if he tells anyone about their kiss. This is a pretty good episode, and Paltrow has a lot of fun in her guest spot. However, Will’s compromise to the kids – he agrees to combine a contemporary song with a classic – results in a hip-hop mash-up of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ that is the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of music.
That all brings us to the most recent episode, ‘Furt‘. Kurt’s father Burt finally proposes to Finn’s mother, and they decide to forego a long engagement so that they can conveniently be married by the end of the episode. In an unconvincingly silly side-plot, Sue likewise decides to get married… to herself. This is kind of stupid and out of character, but the storyline brings in Carol Burnett as Sue’s mother, a famous Nazi hunter (!) who abandoned her kids when they were young. Burnett is perfectly cast and a lot of fun. Also on the engagement theme, boring Sam tells boring Quinn that he loves her, and gives her a boring promise ring.
Karofsky’s bullying of Kurt escalates. When Burt finds out about this, he takes it straight to Sue, who expels Karofsky. (Could Sue actually be a good principal?) What’s nice about this storyline is that Karofsky’s father shows genuine concern at his son’s behavior, rather than the expected cliché about the bully having an abusive dad. Unfortunately, the school board overturns the expulsion due to lack of evidence. Sue resigns her position in protest, thus bringing back Figgins. At episode’s end, Kurt announces that he will be transferring to Dalton Academy. Rachel’s immediate reaction is to ask whether this means he’ll be competing against them at Sectionals. (The writers have been steadily turning Rachel into an unlikable bitch over the course of the season.) This is a very good episode from a story perspective, but it doesn’t have a single memorable song.
And that’s what you missed on ‘Glee’.