Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dr. Who: "The End of the World." Retrospective Recap, Season One, Episode Two

Right then!

In the last episode the Doctor met Rose and they battled evil plastic creatures intent on destroying the earth in Rose's own era.  But that's just child's play. The Doctor enticed Rose away from Micky's clinging, not only by merely Not Being Micky, but through promises of time travel, and he aims to deliver.  So, where does she want to go? A hundred years in the future? BOOOOORING! No, let's do this wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing right... (sorry, wrong Doctor.) He spins some dials and causes the TARDIS to make funny noises, and before they know it, he's beckoning for her to step outside the little box into... a pretty dull looking hallway. Rose is a bit crestfallen at first, because the mere movement from one place to another has lost most of its excitement value, but the Doctor isn't done yet. He lowers the shutters of a window portal to show her Earth, looking much as it does in the present day... but it is not present day.  He's taken her five billion years into the future, and the evening's planned entertainment is the death of planet Earth.

What, you thought the destruction of the world was at hand with the Nestene Consciousness? Certainly not. The world can't possibly really end until this date in the future, because the Doctor knows the day exists. As they watch, the sun expands, filling the sky with reddish heat.  "Welcome to the end of the world" says the Doctor dramatically.  Rose looks at him as if he caused it, and begins to rethink this whole time traveling arrangement she's gotten herself into.

As the expanding sun glows threateningly on the horizon, a host of spaceships dock at a station that looking forbiddingly like a hypodermic needle and a soothing, welcoming voice reminds them that use of weapons, teleportation and religion is forbidden on Platform One. Earth death is scheduled for 15:39.  Drinks to follow.  Nice of the universe to work the event into their hospitality schedule.

The Doctor assures Rose that they will be seeing plenty of strange aliens - and by aliens, he means people who do not resemble humans as he does -  and that the richest and most powerful beings around are gathering to watch the planet burn.  Fun times! Surely the intergalactic social event of the millenium. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dr. Who Retrospective: Season One, Episode One "Rose"

 Fifty years ago, a crochety old man on a planet far, far away stole a strange blue box, and a legendary program was born - the British sci-fi show Dr. Who.

I discovered it last month.  Yep, always late to the party.  But what a party it is scheduled to be! Most shows don't survive for fifty years; who knew that the secret to longevity was to kill off the main character, revive him, and completely revamp the cast every three or four years or so?

In honor of Dr. Who's 50th Anniversary, I am going to attempt to crank up my recap machine once more and go through every episode of the revamped series, revived in 2005 and starring Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith in successive years and regenerations.  The Doctor's strange longevity is the key to the success of this franchise, and he's the lynchpin on which the whole thing lives or dies, so of course, the first person we meet in the very first episode of the reboot is...


Apparently, Rose must get up at 7:30 each morning, and so she does, already looking gorgeous and freshly made up as she grabs her car keys, kisses her mum goodbye and heads to her job at Harrod's.  So sorry.  It's not Harrod's.  It's Henrik's. Apparently they don't have offensively crass and omnipresent product placement on British television. Well, that's one thing it's got going for it. At any rate, Rose works in a shop that has mannequins.  Who knows?  If she'd been a florist, maybe the entire series would have ended up entirely differently.

Rose has a sweet, cute, very normal lunch with her sweet, cute, very normal boyfriend and then at closing time realizes she must go down to the dark, spooky basement of Not Harrod's to give the lottery money to some poor sap named Wilson.  Hi, Wilson.  Bye, Wilson.  We hardly knew ye.  Watch out for the guy with the weird screwdriver.  People seem to die a lot when he's around.

At any rate, Rose delves deeper and deeper into the dark, scary basement looking for a man who isn't there, and suddenly finds herself locked in.  This is the exact moment when Rose's life ceases forever to be normal or even sane. There are no people around, but there sure seem to be a lot of mannequins.  Creepy mannequins.  Moving mannequins.  Mannequins moving towards her. First one, then another, then a whole street gang of half-dressed plastic men begin crowding in on Rose as she screams at somebody named Derek.  If she thinks Derek is able to make plastic zombies who want to take over the world, I want to meet this guy and find out what he's been up to. Just as Rose is about to give up hope - she gets a little bit more resourceful later on - she feels a warm hand in her own, and hears a friendly voice hiss a command: "RUN!"

Rose, meet the most delightfully dangerous person you will ever know.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rest in Peace, Cory Monteith 1982 - 2013

As my enthusiasm for Glee waned and my tone in writing recaps became increasingly bitter, I decided it was best to set this blog aside for awhile. I knew it would probably take an event of horrific importance to make me return to this particular subject.

I am terribly sorry to say that such an event has in fact occurred.

Glee fans all over the world are shocked and horrified today to hear of the death of Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson for four years.

Photo provided by Kristen Dos Santos

Cory Monteith was one of the truly bright lights that kept Glee going, even as the quality of the scripts began to falter.  He was one of the four people playing teenagers on the show (along with Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Naya Rivera) who brought the level of acting talent required to keep the fans truly invested in the fate of the characters.  Even when I found a script lacking, or I found myself frustrated with Finn's life choices, I was always impressed with the power and the conviction Cory brought to his scenes.

My heart goes out to his family, his friends, and the fans who are as personally invested in Finn and in Cory as I once was in Kurt and Chris. Most of all, my heart goes out to Lea Michele.  I cannot begin to fathom her loss at the moment.

A few of the best Finn Hudson quotes from Glee:

When I first joined, I thought you were kind of insane. I mean, you talk a lot more than you should, and to be honest with you, I looked under the bed and made sure that you weren't hanging out under there. But then, I heard you sing. I don't know how to say this, but you touched something in me. Right here. 

"The Rhodes Not Taken"
[to Rachel] You're the most talented person I know. Even more than that guy at the mall who can juggle chainsaws. 

"Journey to Regionals"
Rachel: Break a leg. 
Finn: I love you.

Thank you, Cory, for the magic, the music and the memories. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Movie Review - Struck By Lightning

Movie Review - Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer

I have just finished watching "Struck by Lightning", the new movie written by and starring Chris Colfer, now available for rent on Amazon and I-Tunes.

I would like to start this review by making a confession.  If you look through the archive of this blog, you may find that there is no review or any kind of commentary for Chris' first children's book, Land of Stories.  There's a reason for that.  I didn't really care for it all that much and didn't feel like broadcasting that piece of information. I mention it now only because I want to make this absolutely clear:  I am not about to give Struck By Lightning the praise that is coming because I'm a Chris Colfer fan.  I do not necessarily love everything he does.  But I will tell you, very honestly, that this funny, quirky, wise and ultimately very bittersweet movie is without question the best work he's ever done.

Move over, Kurt Hummel.  Carson Phillips is now the shining star of Chris Colfer's career, for one dazzling and painful reason.  The writing for Struck by Lightning is much, MUCH better than it is for Glee.

This review will get a little spoiler-y although it is not a recap, so I will present it after the jump.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Glee Episode Recap: "Glee... Actually" Kurt's Story

Happy Holidays, Hummelberry
Glee Episode Recap:  "Glee, Actually." - Kurt's Story

Go here for Part One:  Artie's Story. 

Puck's story, Bram's Story and Marley's Story will come as I have time. 

This episode was written  by Matthew Hogsden, who also wrote Kissed a Girl. He has written a resolution to the Klaine rift that I do not think works well.  In this episode, as in that one, Matthew had a specific, tricky task to carry out.  He had to take a particular character on a very difficult personal journey from anger and pain over being hurt to grace and acceptance of a particular delicate situation. In both cases, he did get mostly from point A to point B, but in each case, he did it by having that acceptance be forced on the character from outside rather than coaxing it out from within.  And that's too bad, because the script for the Thanksgiving episode set up a resolution for this that I thought was going to be almost pitch perfect.

Rachel is packing for her holiday trip to Lima, and she is trying to coax Kurt into coming with her, at least on the Rosie O'Donnell Gay Holiday Cruise. Kurt has made the very strange decision to spend Christmas entirely by himself, despite his earlier offer to take Blaine ice skating. Either Matthew forgot that Kurt had already set this up, or Kurt's had a fit of self-pity, or Kurt suddenly realized that he really does not ice skate at all well and he's going to look really awkward.

Kurt tells Rachel that Burt, Carole and Finn are going to see Carole's sister, and I still am not hearing why it's better for him to spend the holiday sulking by himself. Maybe Isabelle has invited him to another Kiki?  What about Blaine? Kurt's saving his money?  Or saving himself some very mixed emotions, more likely. I can't tell if Matthew really thinks Kurt has decided he can't go home because he has to pay tuition now, or if it's masking something else.  There was a LOT of that going on in this story this week. At any rate, he's reneged on the skating date he set up with Blaine, and I wonder if Burt knows this, and how much he knows about this.

Speaking of Burt.... (Bang, bang bang.) Kurt opens the door. Surprise! There Burt is, hidden behind the tree he's bought as a gift in a scene that is almost screen for screen exactly like the sequence with which Blaine arrived bearing flowers back during The Breakup. Only difference - Kurt does not actually kiss his daddy, because you know, that would be weird.

People like to surprise Kurt by appearing out of nowhere with large plants

They set up the tree, and we learn more sweet moments about the Hummel family.  Kurt's mother - the woman who still has no name, after four seasons of Glee - used to buy the tree, but the Christmas after she died, Burt forgot. Then he found little Kurt hanging his mother's perfume bottle - this is a beautiful touch - on his own window shade and decided he needed to drive Kurt through a snow storm in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to buy him a tree.  But they got there safely, because at least he was not texting while he was driving in the snow storm, and besides, how much tragedy can one family take?

Wait, don't answer that yet.

So they got back with the tree and they put it up, and it was the first time Kurt smiled since his mom died.  I sincerely hope she died in the late autumn, or it's just going to be too sad for words.

Kurt interrupts the latest installment of the pity party to enjoy some other Hummel treasures; apparently the Hummels all took a Christmas trip to Dollywood, and Rachel went with them. I guess this must have been last year, since both Rachel and Burt went on that trip. Burt also dragged Kurt to Nascar at some point.  There's a flashback I would like to see. Burt gives Rachel a new Christmas memory - a shiny, glittery Big Apple - as her uh, Hannukah present, and with that, Rachel is done for the episode. For the show's lead character, she sure has been underused.

 One of Burt's presents to Kurt this Christmas appears to be willingness to sit through a Broadway musical.   I doubt this was Burt's idea.  So much for Kurt saving his money for NYADA. The Hummels go for hot chocolate, and Kurt sets many hearts a twitter and a tumblr by licking whipped cream off his fingers.  It's all very pleasant and warm and happy and fun, and therefore, there has to be an abrupt dynamic change, because Kurt's beginning to look happy and contented and we can't have that. So Burt drops a bomb - and it's the worst bomb of the season.  It's worse than all three breakups, New Directions losing Sectionals and Kurt's first NYADA letter combined.

Burt has prostate cancer.  Just like Ryan Murphy's deceased father did.

Burt's got CANCER???????????


Hey, Kurt you got into NYADA last week.  Didn't you know that you have to pay the price every time something good happens to you? (Now, what I want to know is... does this news affect Congressman Hummel and the national dialogue, or did Congressman Hummel lose his reelection campaign and is now a private citizen, or did Congressman Hummel disappear into the ether along with the April Rhodes Auditorium that can't possibly be taken from the Glee Club?)

Mike O'Malley actually warned us about this. We thought he was joking.Kurt thinks he's going to be sick, and at least half the audience does, too. Burt insists that he's not dying, because they caught it early thanks to his regular checkups, and I don't know if that's a PSA for middle aged people to see their doctors regularly or clever misdirection so that we can be shocked and saddened when we get to see Burt's funeral as the cliffhanger at the end of season five. Season Four, if the ratings don't pick up soon.

And with that shocking piece of news, Burt advises Kurt to hold the people he loves dear close no matter what.  That's actually not bad advice, considering that Kurt had planned to spend his Christmas sulking alone in his room, but there's a manipulative little catch to it that's really pretty weird and gross.  We don 't know what that is... just yet.

The Hummel men go home, and Kurt frets a bit until Burt tells him to chill so that they can have Christmas and pretend the Grim Reaper is not sitting outside the door, as he will be for every frame of Kurt's storyline from now on. Unless they drop it, because, you know... they might.  They dropped  Burt being in Congress.  Maybe they will drop the fact that he's got a potentially fatal illness.

Burt does not want to contemplate being an invalid at the moment, and I don't blame him. He would rather tease Kurt for his complete inability to enjoy televised basketball and exchange Christmas presents.  Sounds like a wise plan. Kurt's present to Burt is cheesy and charming - a NYADA hat and T-shirt, the emblems of his final triumph in New York City. "In Me-hee-co they would call me Senor Queso" - God, Burt always brings such a believable warmth to his scenes.  He humanizes this show immensely.  Or at least, Mike O'Malley does.

I am going to assume, because of my immense affection for Burt's character, that he has absolutely no understanding of what he's about to do to his son here. Burt has a present for Kurt as well - something beyond the tree, the surprise visit and the patience to see the Rockettes. And if he doesn't like it, he can return it. No, he can't.  That's the problem.  

The present is too big to put under the tree.

 The present was not brought up until the shadow of death entered this storyline and filled Kurt with the obligation to make his father happy at all costs. 

The present has been waiting and waiting for hours and hours to be slipped finally into the conversation.

The present is at Rockerfeller Center, quite possibly freezing his ass off.  Actually, the present has reason to be a little annoyed.

Does the present have a family that might want him around on Christmas Eve?  Speaking of holding the people who love you close, as opposed to lying in wait at the skating rink for a guy who actually avoided coming home for the holidays twice now to avoid seeing you face to face....  If this really is the present's best possible holiday plan, I feel kind of sorry for the present.

As Kurt arrives at the skating rink at Rockerfeller Center, he hears a familiar voice chirp "Package for Kurt Hummel!" and he turns around to see Blaine. Yep, Burt's present to Kurt on Christmas Eve is a reunion Kurt may or may not want with the ex-boyfriend who cheated on him, and the admonishment that he needs to hold his loved ones close, no matter what.

Package for Kurt Hummel!

 And if he doesn't like it, he can return it. No, he can't.  That's the problem.  You can't do that to a human being who has been waiting in the freezing cold for hours without being a complete turd.

This is where the episode really, really gets very weird for me, and I think it must have been a little weird for the actors, too.  See, the script tells us one warm, happy, story, and the acting tells us another creepy and worrisome story completely.

I honestly think Matthew Hodgsden intended to write a tale in which Burt gives Kurt Blaine for Christmas and Kurt is happy to see him as that friendship is restored.  That's what the script gives us.  I would bet money that was Matthew's assignment. It was ABSOLUTELY the setup we had reason to expect after Kurt's wonderful conversation with Isabella at Thanksgiving.

However, Hodgsden made the same mistake here that he made with handling Santana's outing during Kissed a Girl.  Finn forced Santana to accept her sexuality on the terms Finn rather brutally dictated, rather than coaxing it out of her with understanding and kindness. Burt has just forced a reconciliation between Kurt and Blaine that Kurt must go along with because it has the scent of being a dying wish. And unfortunately, that is exactly how Chris played this entire sequence. Director Adam Shankman allowed it.  Kurt's body language toward Blaine the entire time is politely reserved and extremely conflicted, as if he's entered a charade that he must see to the end, regardless of his true feelings on the subject... and to his credit, Darren feeds off of the acting choices Chris is making here, reflecting both Blaine's very obvious, passionately continued longing and his fear of being rejected.

"You are happy to see me, right?" This line, well delivered, tentative, searching.
"Yeah, yeah.  Always." So many possible line readings.  There could have been warmth, there could have been a huge smile, there could have been that wondrous moment when Kurt realized he was telling the truth and the walls came down.  What we got was hesitation, reluctance, and finally, a decision to play this out with kindness and hopes that it might end up being true.

You are happy to see me, aren't you?
Don't believe me?  Look at his eyes, and then look at Blaine's. They tell the story. Kurt actually shook his head as he said "Always."

I wish very much that they had stayed the original plan laid out for us at Christmas - that Kurt goes home to Lima and voluntarily meets Blaine for the skating date that Kurt originally suggested. For that matter, they could have fixed this by saying that Kurt was very sad that he could not come home for Christmas because he had to save his money for NYADA, and that he was sad that he would not be able to keep his skating date with Blaine. In that case, Burt would have been giving him a present that we knew Kurt really wanted. If this scene had been chosen by Kurt rather than forced upon him, it would have been the heartwarming scene that the writing staff clearly had in mind.  The reconciliation is not only acceptable, but overdue and necessary, but the execution is pretty triggering, especially for a story arc that has been disregarding Kurt's feelings about the situation all autumn. 

So Kurt looks at Blaine like he's just been regifted with an ugly white elephant he's been trying to unload for months, because that's the actor's choice. Blaine cheerfully chirps that Burt flew him out to New York so that Blaine could see the surprised and happy look on Kurt's face... because that is in the writer's script. Then we learn that Blaine already knows about the cancer, as he offers to keep an eye on Burt for Kurt.  Another reason why this scene should have been in Lima rather than New York; that's Finn's line, not Blaine's.

In the meantime, they need to follow through on a Glee tradition that's actually been pretty awesome through the years - The Klistmas Klaine Kluet.  And they are dreaming of a White Christmas, but Baby, It's Cold Outside between them, still.  We have been told that they spent eleven hourse shooting this skating scene, and I am going to guess that it's because Chris may have had a very difficult time giving them workable footage.  As it is, we have a first verse with Darren, who is a passable skater, singing alone so that Kurt can get his bearings and get some skates on - remember that he did not even know that he was going to end up doing this. Then we have a lot of random shots of extras in on the ice doing nice tricks so that we can get the emphasis off the fact that Glee finally found something that Chris Colfer isn't good at.  That may also be why this duet is so much shorter than the other two.
As it is, Darren has to help him come to a stop so that Blaine can stare deeply into Kurt's eyes and Kurt can regard him quietly with courteous, icy reserve.

As the bells ring to summon in Christmas day, Blaine warmly promises Kurt that no matter what, whether they are a couple or not, they will always be together for each other - a line that would have been absolutely perfect, beautiful, forgiving and healing if it had been uttered by Kurt instead. He was the person who had to offer that conclusion.  This was not Blaine's case to make; it was the conclusion that Kurt needed to offer from his heart, not to accept with a hug and a shotgun of potential tragedy aimed at his head. That is literally the one line that could have saved this whole thing if they had given it to the right person.

They end this with a hug, and Burt watches on, believing that he's made his son happy this Christmas day.  After all, that's what the script clearly says. The director and actors do not appear to be quite on board with that. Unfortunately, this particular cartoon sums up the situation pretty well. 

Klaine: there for each other, but only as friends.... for now.

Glee Actually Episode Recap: Artie's Story

 Episode Recap. Glee,  Actually - Artie's Story

Go here for Part Two:  Kurt's Story

Part one of a five-part recap of Glee episode "Glee Actually."  In this installment, Artie has a dream in which he envisioned how life would be for everybody at Lima if he had not been put into a wheelchair.

Sue Sylvester, destroyer of Glee Clubs, manipulator of all around her, the woman who deliberately forced the Glee Club to disband this year as she stews in the juice of her own overexuberant malice... is writing in her journal.

Sue writes in her journal at Christmas time

Dear Journal,

It's Christmas again, that time of year when the Glee writing staff puts funny stuff in the eggnog and then writes really weird, trippy episodes that, don't always make any sense.  That magical season when five somewhat disjointed storylines are crammed together in a hodgepodge that was very obviously edited together in an order that differs from what was originally intended by the script, and smashed awkwardly together at the end like in-laws from two different sides who arrive once a year bearing hand-knitted socks and last year's fruitcake as presents.  Like that movie, Love Actually, except with a lot less nudity.

It's Christmas, we are in hiatus and I've got a very crammed life at the moment, so I am going to divide this recap into five sections and post each individual vignette as I can get to it. This may help keep us occupied until Glee starts up again in late January. 

As we begin this episode, Artie is a mess. He's wheeling unsteadily down the hall in a mixture of anger, humiliation and pain, his face scraped, his morale in the dumpster. Nothing is going well for him as he reaches his locker and his belongings spill out on the floor. Fortunately, Hero Finn arrives just in time to save the day.... although I don't understand why Finn is there, since the Glee Club no longer has any place to rehearse except the courtyard after hours and school is still in session. Finn notices the gash on Artie's cheek, and we learn that Artie slipped and fell on an icy ramp. Finn wheels him off to see the nurse, and it is obvious that Artie is horribly frustrated and angry.

 In the nurses' office, we learn that Artie has hit his head so hard he needs to go home, so the nurse tells him to lay down. That's always the best way to handle a possible concussion, right? At any rate, Artie's not even going to have an easy time laying down, so Finn has to carry him to the cot like a small child. Artie passes out from the humiliation, and immediately dives into a dreamland. Didn't think kind of happen to Tina last year? Oh, wait, she turned into Rachel.

He went to sleep awfully fast... gotta be kind of concerned about the possible concussion....

As Artie dreams, he is still Artie, but he's a new, different Artie. He is able to walk. Strangely enough, he also has perfect 20/20 vision, a letterman's jacket, and has turned an odd greyish color. So has everybody and everything else. He walks out triumphantly into the weird black and white hallway where he sees Tina.

Hey, Tina! I got a dream sequence too! Isn't this cool? Yeah, you got to be Rachel, but I get to WALK! I only get to do that once or twice a year, and only because my actor is so good at it!

T-t-t-t-t-t-tina is n-n-n-n-n-not imp-p-p-p-p-p-pressed. Why is Tina stuttering again? And why is Rory here? Didn't he go back to Ireland? And how does Rory know that Artie went out with Tina? OK, let's get some answers, bud - and talk slowly so that everybody can understand you.

They found a way to bring Rory back! I hope he's not an Angel because he's really dead! Too much death in this script!

Thanks for that piece of direction, Artie, because it has brought us a Christmas Miracle. Rory is absolutely and completely coherent - every single syllable as clear as a bell - the entire episode. I took a lot of flack for grumbling about Damian's accent last year, but I feel a bit exonerated now, because yes, Virginia, an Irishman CAN have an accent without mumbling. Gee, if he'd done this a year ago, maybe he'd still be a regular.

Of course, it doesn't explain why Rory is Artie's Christmas Guardian Angel, and I sincerely hope it's not because he's dead. Well, I guess it's because he's dead to Glee; there may be literally no other way to give Damien work now. Or maybe it's just a season thing; A leprechaun in the fall, an angel in the winter... At any rate, Rory has granted Artie his wish. The car accident never happened. Artie was never in the wheelchair. And apparently - because this is Artie's dream - Artie discovers that he is the most important person in the entire Glee universe. George Bailey may have discovered that he changed and enriched lives by lending people money for their homes and businesses, but apparently Artie did it by being in a wheelchair.

No, it's not supposed to make sense, silly, it's a dream. Dreams are like that. You know that dream where you are in an airplane and suddenly the plane disappears and you are sitting in your seat but the seat is on a cloud and you know that you won't fall as long as you don't leave your seat and the plane will come back as soon as the stewardess gives you more peanuts... but you don't know where she went...

Yeah, this makes the same amount of sense. Somehow, everybody's life sucks now because Artie's not in a wheelchair.

Ask Becky Jackson. She waddles up to him, looking particularly fetching in really juvenile droopy martians and a very pregnant belly, offering him the option to fool around. I am finding it hard to believe that Artie turned that offer down.... but this has what, exactly, to do with Artie's car accident? Well, when he was in a wheelchair, Artie once took her on a date, and apparently that is where Becky learned self respect.. Yes, we are discussing the same girl who was hell-bent on playing strip poker with Puck at the anti-prom last year. Becky may not be the school slut in the regular time line, but it does not appear to be for lack of trying. I think it far more likely that Becky learned that Sue turns her back on pregnant Cheerios. But hey, it's Artie's dream. Let him think his single date with Becky shaped her entire life and personality.

Ask Kurt Hummel. UGH! Here's a bit of deja vu I could have done without! The douchebag jocks of Lima are slamming Kurt into lockers again. Head douchebags - Finn Hudson and Noah Puckerman. So, basically we are back to the very first episode of Glee. ,When Artie protests, he finds himself squashed against the locker as well. God, I love the Zero Tolerance Policy of Lima that only applies to Santana Lopez. Puck threatens to break Artie's legs if he ever mentions Lady Gaga songs again, and the football players all drift away.

Wait a minute... didn't Kurt graduate? No, no, Kurt did not graduate. Kurt has gone into a particularly disturbing piece of actor bleed; Chris Colfer once got bullied so badly that they had to pull him out of school and educate him at home. So Kurt is being homeschooled... which is, uh, why he's at McKinley twice a week...uh... right...

Kurt is still being bullied.  Apparently, nobody graduated.

And Artie wants to know what Blaine's opinion of all this is, which makes no real sense because he should know that Blaine and Kurt have not been on speaking terms since Octooooooh, no. "Who's Blaine?" asks Kurt as hearts shatter and Klainers scream in agony all over the world. Well, that sucks. Kurt got bullied AND he didn't get to go to Dalton? And can you believe that's not the worst thing that happens to him in this episode?

Of course, while this all explains why Kurt did not graduate, but it does not explain why Puck, Finn,, and Mike did not graduate and are still roaming the halls to terrorize Kurt. Eh. It's a dream. The stewardess has arrived, but she's all out of peanuts. However, if you tear out the pages of the in-flight magazine and turn it into a paper airplane, you can fly home on that.

Artie thinks the way to get Finn and Puck to leave Kurt alone and let him graduate is to call an emergency meeting of the Glee club... yes, that organization was always very effective at preventing Kurt from being horribly bullied, especially his junior year ... but Will takes a swig from a flask and barks at him. He never was able to get anybody interested in that. Terri charges in - HI, TERRI! Oh, it's another Christmas Miracle! Apparently Santa Ryan and his elves have been giving out walk-on parts for all our dear departed characters who have been written off the show! Terri charges in! She had that fake baby! You might say it's a real doll! Will's too drunk to care, Terri's salivating all over Artie within seconds, and Emma Pillsbury Tanaka is in Hawaii with her husband, Ken.

Hi, Terri!  Cute baby...doll.

Ken Tenaka - the one guy in this scenario whose life would have IMPROVED if Artie hadn't had that accident. Actually, I am kind of wondering if Blaine might be in that category as well. After all... he'd be on his way to Regionals right now with his boyfriend, Sebastian. On the other hand, with Sebastian as a partner, he might want to get that itchy sensation checked out...

Artie enters the library and discovers that even worse horrors await. There's RACHEL! She's... she's... omibarbra, she's a LIBRARIAN!* Yes, somehow, because Artie is able to walk, Rachel has given up on all her dreams and she never got into NYADA. No, Rachel's in the chorus of a community production of The Music Man! Her personal drive, ambition and talent have all vanished, all because Artie can walk! The HORROR! The HORROR! Artie grabs her for no particular reason, overcome with the tragedy of it all, and flies in terror to the... auditorium. Which is somehow still there, even though it was a gift to the Glee Club from April Rhodes. It's a dream. And the flight on the paper airplane is going very well, as long as we don't run into any turbulence. But there's a big scary monster on the wing.

Rory explains that because Artie was never in a wheelchair, he played football and never joined the Glee Club. And apparently, he was the glue of Glee. Artie was the one who held it all together. He;s the one who made the Glee Club work. Not Rachel. Not Finn. Not Will.

Not likely.

Artie is a legend in his own mind. Wait... Artie is graduating this year. Does this mean that when he leaves, the McKinley part of the show is over? Hey, Artie, how do you feel about New York City? Can you go and be the beating heart of the group there?

Artie decides that he can make it all work out. All he has to do is gather everybody together in the choir room... which is now Sue's costume room, and everybody has a sewing machine, including Finn and Puck. Artie has figured out that he can get the monster off the wing of my airplane... er, make everybody want to become members of the Glee Club... by singing "Feliz Navidad" to them.

A rare treat: Kevin McHale is singing and dancing. Feliz Navidad!
I always get a little smile on my face whenever they find a way to get Artie out of his wheelchair and let him dance. Kevin really is one of their genuine triple threats, and it's a damned shame he has to spend so much time sitting down. The song is spritely and fun, and Kevin's clearly having a wonderful time with it even if everybody else is staring at him like he's turned into the monster on the wing of the airplane and he's trying to get Tina to dance with him. She allows him to twirl her around. Kurt looks like he thinks Artie's insanity might be contagious, and he's already being abused enough as it is. At least Brittany is willing to dance with him.... she always did have that one skill at the base of her soul. Unfortunately, Brittany is the only person who enjoys this performance.

After Artie's big finish, Finn, who is sitting in the middle of Sue's craft room in front of the sewing machine he's supposed to use to... make a cheerleading outfit for that monster on the wing of the airplane... before the football game... tells Artie that his performance was "So gay."

Alas, there will be no convincing these folks to join the Glee Club now. Artie walks dejectedly into the hall. Because he can walk, Becky is a slut, Kurt is a punching bag, Blaine is a Warbler, Finn and Puck are vicious little thugs who can't seem to graduate, Will is a drunk, Emma is a Tenaka, Rachel is a librarian, and Quinn.....

I see a vacant seat, and a wheelchair without an owner... RIP, Tiny Quinn
Her wheelchair faces him. Apparently, even though Finn and Rachel never fell in love in this timeline, Quinn is a damned texting fool in every timeline. In every timeline, she has the accident. In every timeline, she is put in the wheelchair. In this timeline, she does not
have the support of the Glee Club. make Joe horny enough to give her personal therapy and moral support.

Suddenly, we aren't in It's a Wonderful Life anymore. This is more like A Christmas Carol.

`I see a vacant seat,' replied the Rory, `in the poor chimney-corner, and a wheelchair without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, Quinn Fabray will die.'

There is a LOT of walking thorugh the shadow of death in this heartwarming holiday episode of Glee.

And Artie knows that the only thing to do to set everything right is to claim Quinn's wheelchair as his own. So he does. He sits in the wheelchair, he claims his infirmity, the monster falls off the wing of my airplane as it lands safely on the roof of McKinley High School, and he hears the voice of Finn Hudson, high school graduate, one-time Glee Club counselor, protective stepbrother to Kurt Hummel, informing him that his mother has arrived.

Artie sits up. His world is in color, his legs do not work, his face has a nasty abrasion on the cheek, and he just couldn't be any happier or more relieved.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Glee Episode Recap: "Swan Song"

Here's what you missed on Glee:

Kitty is an evil pyschobitch who totally wants to kill Marley because she's going out with Kitty's ex-boyfriend so Kitty somehow talked Marley into becoming an anorexic because it really is that simple and the writing really is that bad. So Marley fainted onstage. In the meantime, Kurt and Rachel had a big party and Rachel made up with Brody and Kurt is back on speaking terms with Blaine, which is kind of important so that Hummelberry can be aware of what's going on in Lima, and that's what you missed on Glee.

Marley passes out on Glee
Marley, can you hear me? Can you hear me? A frantic Unique is barking orders; her best friend has passed out, and she needs space. Kitty, looking very worried, asks if anybody has anything Marley can eat, because she knows why this happened. I am a little surprised that she is concerned. Blaine has a juice box in his backpack. Nightbird to the rescue again! Marley tries to reject it, and Kitty is VERY insistent that she drink it.

Uh, Kitty... is this not what you've been scheming for all autumn? What exactly was your plan here?

Santana gets it immediately.

Jake mentions that Marley has been skipping lunch regularly, and Ryder - if he's thinking clearly - will remember that she's been throwing up deliberately. Santana flat - out accuses Kitty of trying to turn Marley into an anorexic - which I still think does not ever happen, and certainly not this quickly. Will arrives. A nurse is on the way. Good. A professional whose job it is to assess this kind of situation. If Santana has already figured it out, I'm sure a trained heath care professional will as well.

Will pulls out the first of what will be many Contrived Rules Suddenly Put In Place to Create Conflict by informing everybody that they can be disqualified for leaving the stage for any reason... including, presumably, a fire, terrorist attack, or the physical collapse of a student. "That's a rule?" asks Finn. Well, yes, Finn. It got added to the rule books today, right before you went onstage. Five bucks says Sue is the person who lobbied for that rule change, because here she is, cheerfully announcing that the Warblers have won Sectionals.

Well, yeah, of course they have. They'd have done that even if Marley had not fainted, because... Gangnam Style.

Blaine takes advantage of the fact that Kurt is now speaking to him to call New York, where Kurt and Rachel are cleaning up from the Kiki. Kurt feels bad for Blaine; if Blaine had not left the Warblers, he'd be on his way to Regionals right now. And that's true, although... if Blaine had not left the Warblers, he'd have lost Regionals last year, so it kind of evens out.

Should Rachel call Finn? Uh, Finn does not want to talk to her, right?

Kurt explains the Winter Showcase to us

Kurt sees this as a sign that he must not screw up his second and final chance to audition for NYADA and Carmen Thibadeux, who is now a scary opponent for him even though she praised him very highly the only time they ever met. Speaking of Carmen... Kurt gives us some expository dialogue that shows Carmen, who is Dean for the first time this year, going through her long-standing annual tradition...uh, as Dean... of hand delivering Winter Showcase invitations to the ten finest students in all of NYADA. Only the cream of the crop, advanced students who have been preparing for months for their moment to shine. No random strangers in off the street allowed to sing here, no sir, at this very prestigious annual showcase led by a woman who has been Dean for a year. Past participants include winners of Emmys, Tonys, and one Oscar winner.

Jennifer Hudson, is that you? Or could it be... Meryl Streep? Evidently, Carmen did NOT become Dean at NYADA this year after all, and Rachel is not part of her inaugural class. Don't worry... that does not even begin to be the worst continuity error they make in this episode. But the proudest moment of the careers of these illustrious people was the moment Carmen handed them their ticket.

Jennifer, toss the envelope and go polish your Oscar instead, because the Academy tends to reward good work, and Carmen's just arbitrary, inconsistent and random in every single judgment we've seen her make since she first came on Glee.

And now that we know for sure that getting this silly envelope is the crowing glory of a young performer's entire professional life until the day they die, it pretty much stands to reason that Rachel's getting one of these things as a Freshman in her first semester because Brad directed the episode and she's his special, special snowflake. Rachel gets the envelope even though she choked at her audition, she can't dance and she's been fighting with the dance instructor all year. Right.

Rachel has a Golden Ticket.  Where's Mr. Wonka?

Fun fact: Kurt and Rachel have an old-fashioned turntable with vinyl albums. Well, sure. This is the same kid who sang "Blackbird" to a cassette tape. Clearly, Kurt is a traditionalist.

 Finn arrives in the choir room to see that an army of Cheerios have swarmed in like looters during a major blackout. Apparently, at McKinley High School, extra-curricular clubs like Glee Club do not exist because they are fun, because they hone performing skills, solidify friendships, develop leadership ability or even just sing pretty songs. At McKinley, clubs only exist for trophies. I want to know what kind of trophies the superhero club is preparing for. (Maybe they have to win costume contests at a Con, or some such thing.) Sue has commandeered their rehearsal space because she doesn't have three or four of her own. Interestingly enough, Brittany and Kitty are not helping with this project, and that's too bad. There was potential for a really weird, sad, awkward moment that they chose to ignore.

Indeed, this could have been a very sad and interesting episode for guilt-stricken Kitty all around. They really missed an opportunity to develop her here. See, this is why the newbies can't get any depth.

Finn and Sue fight over the trophy

Sue grabs the Nationals trophy and prepares to run over it with her car; Sue does not appear to understand that while the room may now be hers, the trophy is not. Finn grabs the other side of the trophy, and they play tug o war all the way into Figgin's office, where the stupidest school administrator in the history of television compares their loss to the end of a season for a football team. Of course, the football season is over because there is no inherent entertainment value in watching a football team with no opponent; at least in theory, good Glee Clubs are fun to watch whether they have competition or not. That's... kind of why we all watch the 19 episodes a year that are not about one of the three annual competitions.

Figgins also says they can't use the April Rhodes auditorium anymore, even though it's called the April Rhodes Auditorium because she bought it for them so this specific thing could never happen to them again. I see the opportunity for a fabulous guest star visit and a comic lawsuit over this decision, but... they just accept that the choir has no place to rehearse. This goes in the file under "Contrived Rules set up just to cause conflict".

As soon as she takes possession of the keys, however, Sue feels... empty. Possibly this is because when she finally succeeds at her objective to Destroy the Glee Club, her narrative purpose is basically over. Imagine a cartoon where Wiley Coyote gets that darned Roadrunner in the first minute of the cartoon... and they still have four minutes to go. Now what? And while she may have really enjoyed upsetting Will and foiling Finn, she is actually a teacher, and is strangely a little worried for the rest.

Will Tina become a drug mule? (Well, at least she'd have a story line.)
Will Artie have to sell his legs to Science? (And why does Science want them?)
Will Blaine be performing on the bathhouse circuit? (Will there be photos reblogged on tumblr 2000 times?)
Will Brittany become a finance major because Glee was holding her back, (and if she does, why is she still wearing a Cheerios uniform?)

Sue asks the cosmos for a sign that she was doing the right thing, and gets it in the person of Brad the Piano Guy in one of the two or three genuinely laugh-out-loud scenes of the episode. It is apparent that Brad's silence is the product of sullen rage, not a vocal chord impediment. He hates these kids because they keep ordering him to play songs without telling him what they are, and you know all that mind reading can make a guy cranky.

Brad speaks!

He's so grateful, he doesn't even mind that he's out of a job.

 Finn and Will sit everybody down in the bare choir room... which they aren't supposed to be allowed in any more... and Tina, who has been continually informed that a Senior Year without Rachel would be HER year to shine, is feeling very bitter. Tina did not get the memo Santana sent out about how Kitty forced Marley into the most contrived case of anorexia in the history of teen eating disorders. Even though Jake knew Marley was skipping lunches, and Ryder knew she was purging on purpose, and Santana came out and told everybody exactly what was happening, Tina has decided that this is all Marley's fault. Wow, Tina. It took us four years to discover that you are a heartless bitch with absolutely no compassion for a girl who collapsed on stage. Gee. Can you please go back to not talking?

Also, while we fans have been continually referring to Marley as Rachel 2.0, I am a little confused here. Tina wants us to know that Marley is no Rachel Berry. Well, given that Rachel Berry 1.0 has conviction, drive, self-respect, and more brains than God gave a turtle, I'd agree with this. However.... didn't the Glee Club declare Blaine to be The New Rachel? Marley certainly did not nominate herself for this title.

This script is really bad in a lot of places. Here I am defending Marley. Guys, I don't even LIKE Marley. She's my least favorite regular Glee character of all time, right below Kitty, but this is just ridiculous.

Finn tries to turn the conversation to a happier tack by reminding everybody that they've got a holiday concert coming up. (That makes the girl I used to be, still hiding away inside, very happy. I always loved being in the school choir during Christmas time.) Unfortunately, the Glee Clubbers have momentarily forgotten that Glee Club is about opening yourself up to the joy of singing. If they can't strut around as Sectionals Champs while singing their Christmas Carols, they don't wanna sing at all.

Sam makes a poignant point. For most of these kids, and virtually everybody I actually have any affection for at all, there will be no next year. This is it for them. That does include Tina, forced to stand in Rachel's shadow and promised the spotlight in her senior year.

Carpe Diem, Tina. We never know for sure what the future will hold.

A late breakfast for Brittany

And now the show gets extremely uncomfortable for me to watch, just bathed in the glow of wave after wave of second-hand embarrassment. I am embarrassed for Brittany as she sees a line of cheerios standing on end for her on the floor. I am embarrassed for her as she gets down on the floor next to them. I am grossed out for Heather Morris as she starts eating them (but I guess it's better than candy bar turds covered in kitty litter) and I am confused when this unconventional breakfast offering leads her to a classroom where Sam waits for her. Apparently Brittany forgets to eat breakfast on Tuesday because weekends confuse her, because this week Brittany will have the brainpower of a mentally challenged toddler. (Rendering her unfit for a romantic story line.)

Sam has decided that Santana used to pick on him, not because he was the boyfriend that finally put her off guys for good, but because she knew The Truth about how Sam has been Totally Into Brittany since... never. See, when Santana was around, Sam was totally into MERCEDES.

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Was this just a dream?

He sang beautiful duets with her. He pined for her. He begged her to dump her boyfriend for him. He helped her realize her dreams. And now... it never happened. We have been wondering why we never saw them break up, but apparently, it is because they never existed.

That's... pretty damned poor, Glee. It was the only love story arc Mercedes ever got.

OK, in Alternative Reality Glee, Sam has been Totally Into Brittany since before Santana graduated. Uh huh. Sure.

So now Brittany is the only person who understands Sam, which is going to be very disappointing to Blaine, and Brittany is ready to be totally into Sam, even though she just saw Santana earlier this week and the old wounds should have been scraped a little bit.

So, now that Dumb Ken and Excruciatingly Dumb Barbie are going to be a romantic pairing, they are going to sing a duet together, because that's the mating ritual on Glee. And the song is... "Something Stupid."

Of course it is.

And a dull, lifeless version it is, too, easily the worst song of the week. It's also much, much, much too early in this romance for them to be staring into each other's eyes and singing "I love you."

At the end of this, Sam goes in for a kiss and Brittany breaks the internet. She can't kiss Sam yet. Is it because she just saw Santana? Because they've been a romantic pairing for two minutes? Because he's got bad breath? No, apparently it's because the writers of Glee are now quite deliberately and pointedly insulting the more opinionated members of their audience. Every lesbian in the world, apparently, is deeply overinvested in Brittana as a couple and they've been hounding Brittany's Facebook and twitter. She fears violence.

Well, sweetie, I don't know if just developing a new love interest would warrant that kind of violence, but deliberately sneering at people will guarantee it. And once again... I was not a Brittana shipper. I thought it was a grossly unbalanced combination but this was just rude.

The next scene is almost a complete waste of time. We are in Cassie's dance class. Lather, rinse, repeat. Cassie decides to pick on Rachel. Lather, rinse, repeat. Rachel makes some innocuous request that gives Cassie the opportunity to insult her and sneer at her. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The only sense I can make of this is that Cassie does not approve of the fact that Rachel has gotten a golden ticket - maybe because NYADA tries to train triple threats and Rachel still can't dance for squat. And this whole argument really is nothing more than a pretext for these two to end up in a nonsensical "dance-off" to All That Jazz. At the end of it, we learn that Cassie is a better dancer than Rachel is.

You don't say.

And Rachel decides she'd probably better sing rather than dance during her showcase. In other relevant and earth-shattering news, it's helpful to drink water when you are thirsty. At any rate, what kind of head teacher pumps up her own self-esteem by beating a FRESHMAN at the skill she teaches? How pathetic is that?

You know, at the very least, this scene would have made more sense if Cassie had come in to hear Rachel chatting with Kurt on the phone about how mean and unfair Cassie is and how the Golden Ticket would force her to respect Rachel or some such thing.Then Cassie might have felt that Rachel was getting arrogant and needed a smackdown.

Quote of the week: "Nothing I do here is random or unintentional." Actually, those two words describe more than half of what happened in the script this week.

Glee burned barns down in their haste to completely destroy all continuity this week, and the complete oblivion of Samcedes was probably the worst example of it, but now we are up to a scene that drove me completely nuts the first time I watched it.

Excuse me, Mr. Hummel, but are you under the impression that I liked your first audition?  However did you get that idea?

Carmen Thibideaux is working on Showcase arrangements when Kurt peeks into her office. He has learned a very important lesson from watching Rachel's experiences last year. If you really want to get into NYADA, stalk Carmen Thibideaux. Burst into her office unannounced and beg for a second chance, because doing a fine job the first time is not something she respects.

Of course, it helps that Carmen has forgotten that she heaped layers of praise onto him when she saw his first NYADA audition. She looks disgusted to see him, extremely disdainful and she informs him with a sneer in her voice that as a performer he is devoid of complexity and depth. "You gave me surface when I was looking for soul" and she appears to be very angry with him that he has asked for another opportunity to audition for her.

Given that showing vulnerability and heart is actually Chris Colfer's primary strength as a singer, this is really extremely hard to swallow. It's especially hard to swallow in light of the feedback she gave him when they first met each other. I will never forget, because in a season that was absolutely miserable for Kurt and every fan who cared for him, "Choke" was the ONLY bright spot all year long. This was my commentary on the recap for that episode:


In the audience, Will, Blaine and Rachel applaud. Carmen Thibadeaux does not. She makes stern notes, and then says a little coldly, that Hugh Jackman won a Tony for The Boy From Oz, Kurt makes a terrified little nod. Carmen feels that Hugh would have been... as impressed... as she was. Carmen praises his bold choice and his willing to take a risk. I personally don't think the risk was what made this impressive; I just think it was a great song that Chris knocked out of the park, because he WAS comparable to Jackman in a way that he wasn't to Crawford.

What has happened, obviously, is that the writers of Glee found it useful at the time to make Kurt appear successful so that he could contrast with Rachel's failure, and then they had him be rejected so that it could contrast with her success. There has been absolutely nothing in Kurt's NYADA arc that was actually written in order to make any sense on its own terms; it's all been counterpoint to whatever Rachel happens to be doing at the time, and the result is an incoherent hot mess that makes Carmen come across as exceptionally arbitrary, cruel, and given to irrational whims. Certainly not somebody who would be the Dean of a really prestigious arts school. And at this exact moment, when Kurt has just been told in no uncertain terms that he has no chance whatsoever of being allowed to take Carmen's feedback and try again...the writers pull away from his story and go someplace else. Once again, Kurt is handed a fat, smelly turd of a situation, one of the most crushing and conclusive defeats of his life, and he's not allowed to have any reaction at all.

 Fortunately, we are now up to one of the most successful scenes in the episode. The members of Glee Club, faced with the fact that their club is done for the year, have reacted in an amazingly realistic and sensible way... they all went out and found something else to do! Artie is looking pretty fine in his nifty new drum major outfit, while Tina and Blaine have joined the Cheerios. Apparently, Kurt has never explained to Blaine how sadistic Sue can be to her Cheerios. On the other hand,, Kurt DID get a 14 minute solo at Nationals with Sue, the only competition solo of his entire high school career, and it may be that Blaine wants some of that.

Hey, maybe there IS life after Glee Club!

Why did Sue let them in? Demographics, ladies and gents. She needs a handsome, non-flammable gay guy and a "yellow" girl to give her homogenous Cheerios a more inclusive look for National television. (Of course, Sue's not averse to inducting a gay boy even if he is flammable, but her memory appears to be almost as bad as Carmen's.) And since they both dance pretty well (better than Rachel does) they should work out fine. This actually appears to be a pretty reasonable fit for both of them, now that I know why they did it.

Jake and Ryder have joined the basketball team and Unique is hilariously attempting to learn Roller Skating 101 so that she can be on the Floor Hockey team. That could be Consistent. Comic. Gold. for the girl who continues to be the best new character of the year. My god, Alex got better fast. And this is my favorite: Joe has joined the Interfaith Paintball League, where Jews, Christians and Muslims can shoot at each other, laugh, and end it all in a big group hug.

I really like that. They are handling Joe and his religious faith better than they have most sensitive things on Glee. So... they've all moved on to join activities that aren't, you know, CANCELED... but what are they going to tell Finn?

Even though they've been told they have no place to go, no space in which to meet, the Glee Club manages to all gather in the same place (the April Rhodes Auditorium that she bought for them) to inform Finn that they are cheating on him with other clubs. Finn is furious, betrayed, horrified.

"It's the healthy thing to do" says Tina.

"IS IT???!!!" barks Finn.

Uh, yeah, Finn. It really is. Although you might have a point about Sue Sylvester. And yes, Finn, Artie dragged you out of the tire shop, yes, but see, there was a REHEARSAL SPACE at the time and it was POSSIBLE to do something. He calls Artie's cool drum major hat ridiculous and tells them he was able to book the auditorium for six minutes. Well, that's OK. On Glee, nobody needs any rehearsal time for any performances ever under any circumstances anyway, so why is the rehearsal space even an issue?

Marley promises to be at his six-minute rehearsal, and Tina blames Marley again, because you know that never gets old, and why isn't anybody investigating the claims Santana made about Marley's anorexia? Why isn't Kitty taking any heat for her part in all this? And... everybody walks out on Finn, because there's really nothing else to say.

Finn was in more than one club when he was in high school. Why can't they do the same? Why the zero sum game? And... they leave Finn and Marley alone as the auditorium lights go dark. See, that's why they walked out on you, Finn. Besides which, you guys would have lost Sectionals anyway, because... Gangnam Style.

Finn is furious that they all got lives.

I do notice some brief interaction between Jake and Marley before he leaves...they are clearly still an item. Now, explain to me again why Ryder didn't speak up about the bulimia to his best friend, who is dating the girl who fainted? Explain to me why this is still some big secret and the entire group has not turned on Kitty rather than Marley like a pack of angry wolves? And hell's bells, why is this episode about the desperate need for new extra-curriculars rather than the desperate need for medical help for Marley?

This anorexia storyline has been an offensive, irresponsible disaster from the very first frame, and continues to be so now.

 Brittany bops up to Sam, rejects his offer of chapstick, and asks him on a date. They would have to do this during the five minutes Finn carved out for rehearsal on late Friday night. Yeah, you might as well go on that date, kids. Brittany has figured out that her relationship with Santana is legitimately over, and has been for two months, so she might as well go out with the only person who makes her smile now. That's actually a pretty wise and rational statement for a girl who was eating cereal directly off the floor earlier this episode. OK, kids, I will make you a deal. I will tolerate this very dull partnership of the two blond village idiots if you guys promise to do two things:

1. Please stop pretending Samcedes (a much more interesting pair) never existed and
2. Stop deliberately baiting the lesbian blogger community (look, you just did it again).

Brittany very deliberately and carefully gives all those Brittana fans out there direct orders on how they are allowed to feel about this, and kisses Sam. Love is love? These two are already in love? They've been dating for fifteen seconds.

Love is love.  Now, everybody... DUCK! Brittana shippers are MAD.

Back to New York.

The auditorium at NYADA is gorgeous, the faces of the concert-goers joyless, the mood pretentious, self-important, and stuffy. It's time for the Winter Showcase. Carmen tells the that NYADA faculty chooses ten students that exemplify the best of what they are trying to achieve, and I find myself wishing that she'd admit that Carmen herself chooses her own ten favorite students. See, Rachel has at least one very, very bitter enemy on the NYADA faculty. I would think that in order to be chosen by the "NYADA faculty" at large, you would have to be generally liked by the entire staff and have never been in danger of being permanently barred from your dance class because you are a lousy dancer and you repeatedly mouth off to the teacher. I love Rachel, and god knows Cassandra is a hateful hot mess, but this does not work. Well, maybe each faculty member got to choose one or two kids, and Carmen chose Rachel. Maybe that's why Cassandra was extra cranky in dance class that week. I would have liked to have seen that staff meeting. Maybe we could have had a funny scene at NYADA for once.

The first performer is ballet dancer Alexandra Blesushi, who has seen Black Swan one too many times and is under the unfortunate impression that Nina Sayers is a role model. I understand that we may be seeing this girl again.

Meanwhile, Brody arrives on the great staircase where Rachel is trying to dial down her own nervousness. She's looking rather stunning in white, I've got to say. Brody tells her that he was also nervous at his first showcase, and I am wondering who on earth would put Brody in the showcase. It must have been his sophomore year, because he's a junior now and he didn't make the cut as a freshman. Maybe Brody should have just said "at my showcase" because there is no mathematical way he's been to more than one. And clearly he must have done it as a dancer, because it probably wasn't his acting or singing. Do they have a showcase for rocking abs?

Brody and Rachel speak for a few moments just to remind everybody that Rachel is a special, special snowflake, and Rachel kisses him. I wish they could have taken some time out to console Kurt for being rejected a second and final time. However, that's OK because he's not a special snowflake. He's just a sidekick. Oh, there's Kurt. Is he looking depressed about the death of his dream? No, he's just there to let the star know she's due onstage. There's a good boy.

Rachel's Winter Showcase. Being Rachel is Good Enough.

Rachel immediately goes in and begins to do yet another impersonation of Barbra Streisand with a wonderfully powerful rendition of "Being Good Isn't Good Enough". This is enough to remind us that she really is one of the best singers in Glee and really ought to have more solos than Brittany does this season. And Kitty. And Blaine. And Blaine. And Blaine. And even Marley. Really, what's up with that? It used to be that we couldn't shut her up; now having Rachel really sing is becoming something of a rare treat, so they had to stuff two songs in for her where one should have been sufficient just to make up for lost time. It appears that the first song is about giving the middle finger to Cassie. Brody eggs the audience into screaming for an encore - well, there's a good boyfriend - and this Jewish girl sings "O Holy Night", her favorite holiday song.

Say what?

Interestingly, it's probably the more important of Rachel's two solos, because her triumph here is set in very poignant contrast to what's going on back at Lima. Finn is sadly packing up New Direction's trophies as the Cheerios practice in what used to be his choir room. By the end of Rachel's solo, she's got other people singing along - hush, folks, we are here to hear Rachel - and Finn wheels the trophies out, looking very dejected. Ah, it's good that Rachel got an encore, because I think Finn would have done a lousy job with O Holy Night. They'd have made Blaine sing it.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, Carmen Thibideux notices that Kurt Hummel is sitting quietly in the audience, being the loyal loser sidekick to this gloriously triumphant diva, as he has been for the past two years. What she does next is unexplained, but you can almost bet money it would not have happened if he had not been there to support Rachel. As Carmen's little pet goes up to embrace her closest friend, Carmen gets a hint of a smile on her stern face , praises Rachel's performance, and throws down a gauntlet.

"We'll have a brief intermission, and when we come back, if he thinks he's ready, we'll have a performance from Mr. Hummel."

Excuse me, you want me to do WHAT????

The only reason why this is not still making me throw things at the television is that on Glee, preparation and rehearsal are completely unimportant when getting ready for a show. All you need is absolute raw talent and determination to do well, and it may in fact be that Carmen is acting under the same logic that has Jake taking over a dance solo for Ryder without practice at Sectionals. We can call this the "100% inspiration, 0% perspiration principle". So, one of a few things may have happened here:

- Carmen is cut from the same malicious cloth as Cassandra and she wants to see if she can humiliate Kurt for the crime of barging into her office. Either that, or she's hoping he'll run screaming from the room, never to return to the NYADA campus. Yes, this does mean she'd be undermining her own Winter Showcase by letting it be potentially marred by a bad performer, and I think that's unlikely. Apparently, she knows he's going to kill this.

- She suddenly remembered that she praised him to the skies at his initial audition and she's really been giving him mixed messages. She decides she's been unfair and wants to make up for it.

- She secretly loves it when people stalk her for extra chances and she lives to reward such behavior.

- She figures that if he's caught off guard, and has to sing a song he already knows by heart with no preparation, all he can possibly do is park and bark, which is apparently what she prefers. There is no time for a scaffold or a pair of gold lame' pants. It may be that she figures, if he's hanging around with Rachel Berry, that he's basically cut from the same cloth and cannot possibly pass up an opportunity to perform. She also assumes he's got a bunch of songs he knows well.

At the intermission, Rachel, who has been working with Carmen all semester, explains Carmen's behavior to Kurt and to us. Kurt thinks Carmen is insane, and he's right. Rachel thinks she wants to see how he performs under pressure. That's... quite a gamble, Carmen, for a boy you've crushed like a bug twice. Kurt suggests a song from Phantom, and the girl who pleaded with him to sing "Music of the Night" last year now says he really can't do Phantom in front of this crowd. However... "Being Alive" from Company might work... even though Carmen has explicitly said that it's been terribly overused.

Rachel offers Kurt some encouragement.

Well, yes, Kurt, you can do it without a costume or props. It's very much a park and bark song, a soul-baring wail from a desperately lonely man who has no love in his life. And at this point, we get a glimpse as to why (at least with this retcon) Kurt has been so consistently unsuccessful with every single audition he's ever given. When given a chance to prepare, Kurt tends to come up with bells and whistles, but the most epic Chris Colfer performances in the history of Glee have - every single one of them - been him alone on a bare stage, very emotional about something or other. He may be crying because his father is dying, or screaming because he feels like his father doesn't love him. He may be waxing nostalgic about his return to McKinley or weeping over a dead bird, but this is where Chris consistently kills it, and I do suspect that the writers are acknowledging this. Rachel reminds Kurt that the most universally celebrated solo of his entire Glee career was "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." Of course, that song was dedicated to Burt. Who will this be dedicated to?

Even though "Being Alive" is a song about lacking love in your life, Rachel very pointedly does NOT suggest that he dedicate this song to Blaine. Nope. This is just for him. She's right.

And it's about damned time.

 Kurt gets very stiff when he's nervous, with rigid arms. It's a consistent little tic that Chris remembers faithfully - we saw it at Regionals when he was a Warbler, too - and he takes the stage.

Nervous, Kurt?

"I'm Kurt Hummel, and I'll be auditioning for the role of..." Kicker? That's the last time he ever got to win ANYTHING by himself. Three very long years ago. "Audition for the role of NYADA student."

He does mention that although he's loved "Being Alive" since he was six, this is the first time he's really understood it. We can guess that being terribly betrayed by the person he loved most - and then be denied the opportunity to express that pain at all for over two months - may be informing this performance, because I do agree. The lyrics are applicable. However, it's not expressly stated, and I am glad that Glee decided to be subtle about something for once. I have to wonder if this is why Kurt was not allowed any voice at all in the breakup for such a long time - because they wanted it to flood out here.

Chris told reporters that the music staff originally wanted this in a higher key, and he had to fight to be allowed to use his rich lower register for this "man song." The result is glorious. He begins with nervous trepidation, almost shaking. Carmen watches him with great intensity. I do think she really wants this to work. By the time he reaches the bridge, he's beginning to get swept away by the feeling, and his fear is gone. He knocks this out of the park, and the entire auditorium rises to their feet.

Being Alive

Kurt Hummel, solo performer, has just gotten the first standing ovation of his entire life, and it happened - not in Lima, where he should have been a huge fish in a tiny pond dominated by such great talents as Finn Hudson, but in New York City, in front of the most pretentiously self-important snobs possible. And yes, Carmen is pleased. This is clearly what she wanted.

He cries. Somehow, Kurt always ends up in tears.

Rachel calls Finn. What is she calling to discuss? Does she want to console him for losing Sectionals? Does she want to tell him this amazing story about how Carmen suddenly asked Kurt to sing at the Showcase and he's just gotten the biggest ovation of his entire life? Nope. This is about her. She won the Showcase. Me me me me me. She never even mentions what happened to Finn's brother. Yep, Rachel's been at NYADA for a single semester and she's already achieved the single biggest honor that school can possibly give her. This is like what would happen if the Glee Club won Nationals their very first year. There's nowhere to go with her NYADA arc now. She's ready to graduate. I'm not saying her songs weren't sublime - they were - but this was a huge narrative miscalculation on the writers' part. Of course, if Mr Loser Sidekick gets a standing ovation, Rachel's got to beat that somehow, because he can never, ever be allowed to shine in a venue where she does not shine brighter.

OK, she's a Special Snowflake. Well, if that's the case, would you all at least stop writing her entirely out of episodes? Either she's the star or she's not. Make up your minds. Anyway, in the midst of the celebration of all things Berry, she does stop to remind Finn that the most important thing about music is not trophies. It never has been, and that's why it's so stupid that Figgins thinks they don't need rehearsal space anymore. Glee made Puck friends with Artie, gave Brittany the chance to dance with Mike. And the ships are important too. Don't forget the ships! God knows, this show exists entirely for people to keep jumping their ships! So Finn needs to encourage the kids not to give up on their dreams. Well, he's pretty much on the same page here, so this is not an new idea. Finn also should not give up on his own dreams.

Finn is back on speaking terms with Rachel

Of course, it's hard not to give up when the only person who shows up at 9:45 on Friday night is Marley. However, she's come up with a more workable solution.

 Finn listens to Marley's idea, and begins an email to all the other Glee Club members, as strains of "Don't You Forget About Me" from The Breakfast Club are heard in the background. He writes:

Dear Glee Club,

I realize most of you think it's stupid for me to write this essay telling you who I think you are. What do you care? Our season is over. They see us as they want to see us - as losers. As a brain (Artie), an athlete (Jake, Ryder, Sam and all of the Cheerios) a basket case (clearly Marley, right now, and maybe Unique too) a princess (wait, maybe not, because Sugar bailed) and a criminal. (That would be Kitty. Joe defies category again.) But what we should be learning is that each of us is a member of this Glee Club, and we've still got half a season to finish, or Kurt and Rachel are going to have to carry this whole show by themselves. (Of course, if they were both NYADA students, that might actually be a bit more workable, but I am not going to tell you about Kurt's audition because Rachel didn't even think it important enough to tell me.)

Anyway Rachel won the showcase at NYADA, which reminded me what performing is really about: winning competitions. No, no, somehow Rachel winning yet another competition while we languish in failure reminded me that performing is really about the love of music. Marley has figured out that we can rehearse outside in the courtyard in Ohio. Oh, and the average outdoor temperature in Lima, Ohio in early December is about 45 degrees.  It will get colder later in the winter. So if you are with me, and you want to sing in the snow all winter, come meet me at 5:00 p.m. Sound good? Has everybody had their flu shot?


Oh, I'm sorry. That's not really what he said. He forgot to tell them that they were rehearsing in the courtyard. And maybe that's why, at 5:00, only Marley and Finn are there, freezing their butts off, sitting in that courtyard. Marley apologizes for being tricked into developing anorexia, because she was naive and self-centered, and Finn says, "Wait? You fainted because you were naive? Would you care to back up and explain that one to me again? Oh, wait. Santana already did. And does this little speech mean that you are very, very sorry that you were an anorexic and you will never, ever do it again, as if this were a momentary LAPSE IN JUDGMENT????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Awful, awful, terrible, irresponsible story line. A complete nightmare. Some of the worst work Glee has ever done. If Marley is magically healed I am going to lose it.

Fortunately, the real reason why everybody is late is that Finn did not tell them where they would be rehearsing and they've all been looking for him for the past fifteen minutes. Finn begins to comfort himself by singing "Don't Dream It's Over" and Marley joins in as a duet. For one panicked minute, I wonder if Farley is about to become the new romantic ship, and how awkward would THAT be? Well, she is Rachel 2.0 after all, and Finn is not only Finn 1.0, missing Rachel 1.0, but he's also Will 2.0, and Rachel 1.0 used to have a crush on Will 1.0, and they sure love recycling story lines, so Finn, get out of there before you get arrested for statutory rape. But then, thank goodness, everybody else begins to figure out where rehearsal is, and they all show up.

Don't Dream, It's Over on Glee
 Blaine and Tina first, because Blaine simply cannot pass up a chance to sing in the courtyard and Tina deserves her Senior year with Glee Club one way or another. Then Brittany and Sam come in, and Artie arrives from the other side. He's got Sugar with him. Oh, crud, that's not his girlfriend, Sugar. That's the girl who has yet to bear any consequences at all for what she did here. Marley runs over to greet them with a big smile. You have got to be kidding me. Finn hugs Kitty. Seriously? Ah, here's Joe, Ryder, Jake. And they are all so happy singing together in the snow.

OK, show's almost over. Let's see. The Glee club is back together, they've got a place to rehearse, Marley is magically cured, Kitty is not getting punished, and Rachel is a special, special snowflake who has everything handed to her. We are in the very last minute of the episode. Is there any other loose end to tie up here?

Oh, yeah. Kurt's got a letter in his hand. He finally got into NYADA. We have time for a really quick hug from Rachel, since she is only person who cares about this. Won't it be much easier for him to be her loyal loser sidekick if he's actually in more scenes with her, after all?

"I got in."