Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GLEE: "Special Education"

Sectionals are upon us! This episode had a bit more for the Mr. Shue/Emma shippers. He invites her to Sectionals as a kind of good luck charm. She points out what the audience has been saying since last year: that his set list is going to include Rachel and Finn doing some ballad and then a classic rock number where Mercedes hits the final note. I'm glad the show is taking its criticism and working it into the story points. At Emma's suggestion, Mr. Shue decides its time to spotlight some other talent in the group. He announces that the solos will be going to Quinn and Sam. Rachel is not at all happy. Mr. Shue also says that there will be dancing featuring Brittany and Mike Chang. He knows their competition will not be into movement. This is a very good idea. For their past competition performances, the group has been barely choreographed, even though they've had more movement in their repertoire and they have good dancers. Why did it take them a year to realize this?

The group is turned against itself in this episode. It was nice to see this kind of drama back after the "we all love each other" stuff the season started with. I like when Rachel is mean and they call her on it. We don't often get to see that side of her anymore, and there was a throwaway reference to her gay dads who we also don't much hear about. In the chaos of Mr. Shue's bombshell, Santana tells Rachel that she and Finn knew each other biblically. This puts Rachel and Finn's relationship on the rocks, mostly because Rachel is very insecure about her own looks when compared to Santana.

Brittany is nervous about dancing in competition with everything depending on her. Artie gives her a comb, saying it is a magic comb that guarantees they will win. Yes, Rachel is just dumb enough to believe in such things, and Glee has just given us an homage to Dumbo.

There's a point where Rachel seeks couple's therapy for her and Finn... with Emma the guidance counselor. It's not very helpful, but it was kind of funny. The best part was Rachel asking if it would be useful to hit Finn, and Emma saying no, but suggesting she storm out.

Meanwhile, Kurt is having trouble settling into his new life at Dalton Academy. Their glee club, the Warblers, are much more uniform and structured than he is used to. He is used to screaming for attention, whereas the Warblers are about a sense of team. It's tradition to present new members with a literal warbler, a small bird to take care of. Why? To make a handy metaphor for Kurt, of course. Glad the show avoided the phrase "I know why the caged bird sings". Kurt is given the opportunity to audition for a solo in competition. He asks Rachel what he should sing, and she suggests "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina". We are treated to an intercutting of Rachel and Kurt singing the song (similar to the "Defying Gravity" last year). I think it was an odd choice, and the Warblers seem to deem it "trying too hard". The best bit is when it cuts to Rachel and she's actually up in a balcony singing. It's just so absurd.

There's a moment when Rachel walks into glee club with duct tape over her mouth in silent protest over Mr. Shue's decision. Firstly, let me just say I hate silent protests. I find them so snobby and ridiculous. Besides, they are usually perpetrated by whiny outspoken people and the chance to not have to listen to them for awhile strikes me as a boon and doesn't sell their protest. It's a funny gag for the show though because it is the sort of thing high schoolers sometimes try, and because Rachel is so bad at it. She doesn't go a minute without removing the tape to explain why she's protesting. Thankfully, Mr. Shue yells at her for it and her attitude.

Tina becomes suspicious of Mike Chang and Brittany, fearing they are doing more than just dance practice. She starts dressing sort of like a goth cheerleader (which leads to a funny exchange with Artie) and tells Artie she suspects Brittany is cheating on him.

I was wondering what they would do about the missing slot now that Kurt is gone. Mr. Shue asks Puck to help him recruit someone. He tries to sell the football players on joining glee club with a speech about Bruce Springsteen. It doesn't work. It seems any football players who would be interested are already in the club. They lock Puck in a port-a-potty for a day. He is rescued by a large girl wrestler. She becomes their newest member.

Finally, it's time for competition with everyone mad at everyone else. Emma cannot go because her dentist boyfriend still doesn't trust Will. So they proceed without their good luck charm. The first group up is a bunch of seniors who've gone back to high school to get their diplomas. This seems to be a shout out to Young At Heart and those kinds of elderly singing groups. They perform "The Living Years", which I think is kind of a funny choice of song for old people. It was strange though because the song was edited oddly and ended at a weird point.

Next up is the Warblers. Of course Blaine gets the solo (what happened to the two guys who beat Kurt for the solo at auditions? Did the Warblers do another song that we don't get to see?). They do an a cappella version of "Hey Soul Sister", another song that I find terribly annoying. The words make no sense. What's next, LFO's "Summer Girls"? Despite my feelings about the song, they do it with a lot of nice harmonies. Kurt seems to enjoy himself, and when they are done, Mercedes leads a standing ovation.

Brittany is upset that she has lost the magic comb (just like Dumbo), and Artie tells her that she doesn't need it (just like Dumbo). She has not been cheating on Artie. Artie and Tina apologize to their significant others. Mr. Shue gives a big pep talk, and on we go.

Oh no, we're starting with a walk down the aisle from the back AGAIN. They did it at Sectionals last year. They did it at Regionals last year. Frankly, I'm really tired of it. Anyway, it's Sam and Quinn singing their duet. Their song is "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", you know, from Dirty Dancing. Their performance is decent. Even though it's not the most inspired of songs, considering the rest of their performance will be dance-heavy, it was nice to have a song that reminds us of dance. As they finish, Santana blasts a solo vocal on "Valerie". Santana's hair looks weird. I don't know if she's wearing some kind of hat thing or something, but it looks stupid. Mike Chang and Brittany have an amazing dance, and the rest of the group have some good moves thrown in as well. If they keep up this sort of thing, they can beat Vocal Adrenaline next time around. It was so refreshing to see dancing at competition.

It turns out that the winner of Sectionals is... a TIE. Both New Directions and the Warblers are going to Regionals. Well, of course they are. Because Kurt's in the other group.

Emma tells Mr. Shue that while they were at Sectionals, she and Carl went to Vegas and got married. Oh no! What will this mean for Will and Emma's relationship? Is it officially over? Personally, I'm hoping this leads to a more permanent return of his ex-wife Terri.

Rachel's jealousy has calmed down and she and Finn seem to have patched things up. He promises no more lies. ...uh oh, you know what that means. Rachel feels the need to come clean about something. She says that she had a little make-out session with Puck in retaliation. I'm curious just what she told Finn, because what we see happened is that Puck backs off, saying he can't hurt Finn that way again. Either way, Finn is ticked at Rachel. He rightly says that they weren't together when he was with Santana, and that Rachel is just mean. It seems they are broken up... again. Sheesh, it's like Ross and Rachel all over again.

The episode ends with Mercedes and Tina singing solos as the group does "Dog Days Are Over" in celebration. It's good hearing Tina sing again! I really wish she got more to do; they don't let her sing enough. Maybe she'll get a solo at regionals.

This episode was much more like classic Glee than the show has been for awhile. There were callbacks to previous episodes, some good lines, most of the major relationship threads, and some good performance. It still frustrates me that they don't know how to do the show this way on a consistent basis. I will say though there was a conspicuous lack of Sue Sylvester this week.

Song's in tonight's episode:
Don't Cry For Me, Argentina
The Living Years
Hey, Soul Sister
(I've Had) The Time of My Life
Dog Days Are Over

Next week's episode: You'd think that with Sectionals over, that would be the end of new episodes until after the holidays. But you'd be wrong! They want to squeeze in a Christmas episode! With Christmas music! Why? So they can sell a Christmas album! One wonders how much the church/state issues surrounding Christmas in public schools will effect the storyline.

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