Sunday, April 29, 2012

Glee Recap: Dance With Somebody

Glee Recap:  Dance With Somebody 

Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012. Her greatest commercial success, The Bodyguard, came out in 1992, twenty years ago, before any of these Glee kids were even born. It is likely, if however tragic, that her life was beginning to hit the Bobby Brown skids before these teenagers could read. Mercedes Jones is eighteen years old. As of the air date, April 24, Whitney Houston, sadly, has been dead for two months.

Am I supposed to believe that Mercedes is so obsessed by this - still - that she's breaking spontaneously into song in the middle of the school hallway? No, it's not a fantasy sequence. Will can hear her. He's staring at her with something close to alarm as she begins to sing "How Will I Know" a capella to a photograph. Well, Mercedes is a big, brassy diva, and Whitney was what Mercedes wants to be. Maybe it's reasonable to expect that one of the Gleeks is upse... uh, Santana? Really? Funny, I pictured you more as an Amy Winehouse mourner.. Maybe it's a Troubletone thi - Wait, stop. KURT???? No, no, no. Kurt's idol is Patti LuPone. He didn't break out into mourning song when Alexander McQueen died, although he did get kind of tuneful about a bird. And where is he going? What is... is that a SHRINE in that locker? OK, I know you all are graduating and McKinley was kind of rough on you, but whose bright idea is it to stick smouldering candles and brittle photographs in the same enclosed space? You all get to move on, but Will is stuck here and he would like for McKinley not to burn down, please... Oh, great, now we have Rachel. No, no. This does not make sense. Rachel's big idol is Streisand, and she's very much alive. Now this little quartet of four mourners are striding down the halls, singing in a capella four part harmony, and I wonder... "Why?"

Why? Because they sound GORGEOUS. That's why. If celebrity tragedy produces this kind of work from the New Directions, then feed them a steady stream of Hollywood obituaries, because this the best work Glee has done since "Rumor Has It". It represents what can happen when the show reaches out and grabs its potential - this cover is not a tired rehash, but a fresh revisiting that reinvents a beloved song and gives it a new dimension. And now they are suddenly dressed for their debut at Carnegie Hall with this song. Ah, the magical power of music!

 Will is in Emma's office, and he's as weirded out as I am. It's the year 2012 and a bunch of teenagers in his Glee Club are having catatonic fits over the death of a woman whose career and life had begun sliding into the Bobby Brown Abyss before any of them knew how to walk. This is what renders them immobile with grief? Who knew?

Emma understands. She remembers... Diana. She's got a Very Special pamphlet dedicated to... Diana. In it, a little red haired girl wails disconsolately about the death of... Diana. Princess of Wales, gone in 1997. Emma wrote condolence letters to Harry and William and listened to Candle in the Wind on constant repeat. I remember that year. I spent one day or so feeling pretty bummed out, and then the media frenzy got so overwrought I pulled out my Evita soundtrack and listened to "Oh what a circus, Oh what a show" for a week on constant repeat. Want the lyrics?

Emma explains that she wasn't really all... THAT... into Diana. That's fortunate, since they've got a wedding episode coming up pretty soon and I'd hate for Emma, with her strong Diana connection, to wear that awful meringue pie they foisted on the Princess of Wales. Emma says that Diana's death was the physical manifestation of her underlying fears about High School ending. Uh, sure. OK, you have to shoehorn a reason for this tribute episode in there somehow, since "We are greedy vultures who want to sell a lot of substandard Whitney knockoffs on Itunes, come show your grief by buying from US! It's what Whitney would want, kids!" And I promise you, we've already heard the only really good cover we are going to get tonight.

It's not right... but it's OK.

In the choir room, Rachel reveals that she is a Whitney Houston mourner poser who really idolizes Barbra Streisand instead; she's under the impression that Babs was actually pegged to be in The Bodyguard before Whitney was cast instead. Uh... no. it was Diana Ross who, while not quite as strong a singer as Whitney was, is the better actress. Gee, what could have been.

When Will reveals that they will be wallowing in their Whitney Wailing for a week, instead of preparing for Nationals, Sam asks if it's appropriate and Mercedes immediate breaks up with him, disowns him, and permanently disavows any kisses they might have ever shared. Yes, she had problems. His name was Bobby Brown, and he's the one still above ground, more's the pity, shut up. "This week isn't about passing judgement on Whitney", it's about capitalizing on her death. We are doing this tribute money grab, and that's final.

In the meantime, why don't you also use the music of Whitney Houston express how you FEEL about all the CHANGES coming, which means... please feel free to embarrass and hurt each other, flirt quite inappropriately, air your dirty laundry in public, or just showcase the fact that you are better at dancing, acting, or looking sexy that you are at belting out a number intended for a really big-voiced, soulful female diva whose legendary voice leaves yours in the dust. If you try really hard, Will's assignment might even succeed in scaring the living daylights out of people who thought they were handling things OK. Maybe by forcing people to ponder the coming changes, we can even cause a fight! Yeah, Will! Should be a fantastic week!

Leave it to Santana to object to this cloying, condescending bull-oney.

Later, by the lockers, Kurt comes up and starts babbling happily and excitedly about the Whitney week., He's got all kinds of ideas about what solo he's going to do, none of which we will hear because Kurt never gets to sing anymore unless it is actually impossible to get through the narrative without his vocals. He wants to do "So Emotional", which I think would probably not fit his voice at all. He also wants to do "One Moment in Time", which I am also pretty sure is not vocally suited to him, although it makes me sad that he feels he needs this song to express himself:

Give me one moment in time, come on, Glee, just one damned, stinking moment when my talents are praised and my contributions are acknowledged after three years, two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win for my actor. JUST ONE.

The spoilers are in. Neeeeeever gonna happen. Move along, kid, we like our new toys better. And then Kurt babbles that he might even sing Whitney for his NYADA audition, and two odd things happen simultaneously. I shake my head vigorously and yell "No!" at the TV screen to the guy who really needs to avoid songs that were written for Mercedes, and Blaine startles a little like he's been bitten by a bug. Just a little flinch. Then he is suddenly unavailable to help Kurt pick out music at the music store, Between the Sheets. Kurt slumps, disappointed, as if this particular conversation has been happening a lot lately.

Later, at Between the Sheets, a friendly poster informs us that Love is A Friendship Set to Music as Kurt is thumbing through sheet music for Whitney songs that are completely wrong for him when this slightly dorky... elf... pops up and starts babbling very excitedly. Tumblr rumors have it that he's patterned after an uber-fan named Tyler Oakley, which is so meta to the meta-limits that I may need a meta minute to metabolize it. This guy is... effusive, to say the least.

He thinks Kurt's hippopotamus brooch is awesome!
He thinks his outfit is amazing!
He wants to do Rainbow High from Evita, but the music guy won't sell him a female diva song!
He's going to NYU! He's going to be in New York, studying musical theatre!
OMIGOD! Whitney Houston!

He's basically a less attractive Kurt clone on speed with glasses, and I think a steady diet of him, although he's positive, upbeat and friendly, might be kind of exhausting. Kurt finds his enthusiasm refreshing, and Chandler... who really is being quite sweet, pleasant and genuine in a way that we did not see from, say, Sebastian, decides to quit while he's ahead and... asks for Kurt's phone number.

This... is a pick-up. Kurt's so surprised it takes him a moment to process what has just happened. He's not used to being on the receiving end of an attraction. Chris' face says a lot more here than the script does.

Ah, the slippery slope begins with a single, innocent step. A word to the wise, kid. If a guy shows what appears to be romantic interest in you, and you have a boyfriend it really isn't appropriate to exchange phone numbers, whether his name is Chandler... or Sebastian. Not a good choice either way.

 Now, remember when I said


just showcase the fact that you are better at dancing, acting, or looking sexy that you are at belting out a number intended for a really big-voiced, soulful female diva whose legendary voice leaves yours in the dust.

Yeah, well, here's exhibit number one. Brittney has to do her assignment, and so she's channeling Whitney Houston to tell everybody that she, the exceptional dancer, wants to dance with somebody who loves her.

 That would be Santana. You know what? Heather Morris can do some very nice work with Ke$sha and Britney, but her voice isn't up for Whitney, and she sounds awful on this song. I am used to hearing something rich and resonant here; Heather is thin and reedy, and if they get one more layer of autotune in there she's going to turn into an android. How did she manage to sound like two voices during the part where she's singing by herself? Why is the dancing so frenetic and hyperspeed? It doesn't look good and it isn't showcasing Heather's strong suit well. Where's the fire? Uh... why did you pull Quinn out to dance with you? She looks REALLY uncomfortable there... The singing does get a little better when the fantasy sequence begins and Santana begins to sing along with Britney, but the song is already pretty much ruined by then, and that grey dress Whitney wore for this song really doesn't look that good on either of them.

See, this is the problem with tribute episodes. You should be crafting the show around the characters and the strong suits of the actors, not forcing the characters and actors to attempt things that are not best for them because it fits the theme. This issue came up last week, too.

Also... is that grey dress sequence a fantasy sequence? Well, no, it can't be, because they end the number in the auditorium still in costume. But why would they bother to sing the same song for the same audience twice? Or did they magically change clothes AND venue in the middle of the number? You know girls, if you could teach ND how to do that trick for Nationals, you all would win for sure. What Brittney is not going to do, however, is win points for her sensitivity... at least not this particular incarnation of Brittney in this particular scene, as she casually tells Quinn that she can still dance in Whitney's dreams. Quinn's face gets very cold and hard, and the person who notices and becomes concerned is...

Joe? Seriously? He catches up with Quinn in the hallway, where she is still struggling with her upper locker and looking very frustrated. Quinn's entire demeanor suggests that she'd really rather not discuss this, but Joe manages to coax some honest talk out of her with some... fairly wooden and not terribly convincing line readings... and Quinn reveals that the physical therapy is not yet working. It's becoming depressing. Joe decides that he's somehow going to make it better by going with her, if only because it will be less depressing for her. Given Quinn's need for privacy on this, I don't know that inviting himself to her therapy sessions is going to help... Oh, wait.

He's a guy. He's on Glee. He's the guy who is going to help this particular girl find the wisdom and strength to get through this particular problem, because there always needs to be a guy. Aye yi yi. And now he's got magic dreadlocks that will bring her luck.

 Will passes Cripple Quinn and Sexy Glee Jesus determined to save her as he heads towards his own save-a-troubled-female project, Emma. He has a surprise for her... no, they aren't going to do another production number in the pool, that's so last February. No, he's just brought her the world's most elaborate pop-up advertisement for some guy named Mr. Lavender, who is Ohio's premiere Wedding Planner, which means Shue can't afford him. No, Will, you can't. You are a teacher. No, your tax refund won't pay for her bouquet, Will. Your blood platelets... need to stay where you found them. NO, WILL. YOU CAN'T AFFORD THIS. Emma knows it, too. See, she's the one who had the stack of Bride magazines hidden in the cupboard. She's been pricing this stuff. Her Christmas Wedding on a Shoestring plan sounds like a real winner, and I hope the baby Jesus enjoys playing in the champagne fountain. He always was big on turning water into wine.

No, Veruca Salt Schuster wants it NOW. He wants to get married in May. No, Emma, this is not about S-E-X, since you could have S-E-X without getting M-A-R-R-I-E-D and you yourself appear to specialize in getting M-A-R-R-I-E-D without having S-E-X. Emma just feels like wedding planning takes so much TIME - although that comes as a surprise to me, since Kurt whipped up a full church wedding for his dad in about a week and Finchel had everybody in matching bridesmaid dresses in about fifteen minutes. It would have been better for everybody if they had slowed it down a bit.

Will kisses her. That seems to solve the argument. 

Kurt is in front of his Whitney Locker Shrine dusting her.... I still can't believe it's Kurt who has the Whitney locker...when Rachel arrives to gripe about her inability to do justice to a Whitney Version of something. It's a shame more people didn't realize this about themselves. She hears a buzz. Kurt has a text. Ooh, she knows what that is! No, Rachel, you really don't, and please don't tell me anymore about Finn's texting habits.

And here's where Kurt makes his second big mistake of the episode; he admits the text is not from Blaine, which gets Rachel's curiosity up, because who would send Kurt a text besides Blaine? I dunno, a big closeted gorilla? And correct me if I am wrong, but isn't it possible to send mundane texts about stuff like homework assignments?

It's just a guy? The girl whose crack detective skills unmasked Kurt's epic romance with Sam back in Rumors can already smell the suspicious behavior. OK girl, let's dish! Here's what Chandler said... Oooooh eeeeeee oh, hey wait a minute! That actually does sound like flirting! Sherlock Berry actually uncovered something this time. They've been texting each other really cheesy flirting messages ... it's too nerdy and awkward to really call "sexting"... for two days now.

Kurt thinks it's harmless fun. Rachel thinks it's cheating, and god knows she's an expert on the subject; she's a member of the New Directions Glee Club. They all are. Kurt makes a few well-delivered excuses: The texts are sweet and fun... they make him feel good.... (honey, that's how Bill Clinton and John Edwards got started, just so you know.) Then he delivers the real nitty gritty... Blaine and Kurt are in the throes of Lesbian Bed Death, which is a neat trick when you are a guy. They haven't had an unscheduled makeout session in a month... and as far as the audience knows, their version of a makeout session involves lying on a bed fully clothed holding hands, so things are looking a bit frosty. Blaine is being kind of distant, so Kurt thought that somehow made it OK to let a dork he doesn't know text him valentines that got rejected by Hallmark. Rachel makes a superb point: if he wouldn't show Blaine the text messages, then it's not really innocent, and she's right. That's true whether you are hiding the fact that you let a guy text you, or if you have made a discreet coffee date with a guy who calls you Sex on a Stick, and has openly told you he doesn't care that you have a boyfriend. "Doesn't bother me if it doesn't bother you." Same damned thing. Same dumb thing.

And by the way, I fully understand and agree that two wrongs do not make a right in this matter.

Will throws out some overly maudlin dialogue that I had to mute to get through so that Joe could announce how he's giving "therapy" to Quinn. They have been working on a song together. Super Cool Teen Jesus, currently clearly falling in love for the first time, is going to express his feelings towards Quinn by singing that classic song about adultery, "Saving All My Love." Yeah, he hasn't got a clue what the song is really about, although I wonder if, somewhere, poor little Chandler is singing this in the shower and getting his little nerdy hopes up.

 Quinn joins Joe on the line "No other man's gonna do" just in time to prevent Joe from joining the growing list of Glee people who have suddenly changed sexual preference, Quinn is singing a song about cheating, and she's really quite good at it. Although they are not singing in Whitney's style, this folksy version... is OK. A little charming, almost. By the end of the song, chemistry is sparkling quite nicely and we see Joe helping Quinn out with her physical therapy, which means he gets to caress and raise her legs a lot. (What happened to the actual therapist?) No, that's not creepy or inappropriate, as they almost immediately shoot back to the classroom to sing "making love the whole night throoo -hoo -hoo". Since everybody in Glee club understands that you can't sing a duet unless you are lovers, everybody is raising their eyebrows and grinning at them.

... And Joe, who is raising her legs in the physical therapy flashback and staring at her like she's a really yummy dessert, ...almost.... kisses her. He holds back, because even he realizes how creepy that is. But it's an INTENDED kiss people! The fact that it exists is an important part of the plot here. The erotic tension between them is thick enough to blind a guy, Unfortunately, Quinn has misunderstood Joe's reason for not disrespecting her personal boundaries or pressing his advantage in a very vulnerable situation. It's been so long since anybody respected Quinn, she does not understand this is part of what she is seeing.

 We are back in the choir room, and Santana's new duet partner is... Rachel... for no earthly reason that I can tell. Santana has already done her assignment for the week. Oh, sorry, it's to sell downloads. Santana now has it written into her contract that she gets to sing twice an episode, whether it makes narrative sense or not. Tina has it written into her contract that she gets to have her solo interrupted twice a year, whether it makes narrative sense or not. And Kurt is completely ignoring both of them because he's giggling almost uncontrollably at his phone. One thing I've got to admit; he's certainly not making any attempt at all to hide what he's reading, which is either stupid or utterly selfish. If I were Will, I'd be confiscating that phone until after class just because texting during performances is rude. Blaine's sitting about six feet away and he's shooting gloomy glances at Kurt as if he already knew exactly what was going on... Gee, he looks as glum as Kurt did at Scandals when Blaine was dancing with Sebastian. Huh. People shouldn't make their lovers feel like that.

The girls converge in the bathroom and pump Quinn for information about Joe. They think there's something else going on.. they are clearly more than singing partners! Wait... do the concepts "lovers" and "duet partners" mean different things in Glee? Quinn firmly, coldly tells them that Joe and Quinn are just friends... and Quinn thinks it's because he was grossed out by her disability. Honey, he was stroking your legs like they were made of silk. He's into you. He's just not an exploitative jackass. This is not Puck.

Will comes into his dining room to see Emma and the wedding planner, Mr. LavENDer, a gruff old fellow who I suspect we are supposed to laugh at because he doesn't throw fairy dust and feed glitter to pigeons. He's showing Emma some nice citrus blossoms and grumbling about the venues. They don't have time get a venue that allows a stage by May - although that could be good, if it means Will won't be rapping after all. The kids don't need a stage. They've been known to sing on rollercoasters, in swimming pools, on lunch tables, on scaffolding... they can improvise. LaVENder thinks they ought to move the ceremony to September... I think Will needs a tranquilizer, because he very rudely throws the guy out on his ass for daring to suggest such a thing. Hey, Emma, are you sure you want to marry this?

I am beginning to be quite certain they need to book Kurt.

1. He will get the job done in time, under budget, quite tastefully.
2. It will get him off the damned phone.

Sam is lifting weights in the gym when Joe shuffles in, looking alarmingly like a medusa when his dreadlocks are on top of his head like that. He wants to talk to Sam about Quinn. This does not surprise Sam; the only person who can't see how much Joe is into Quinn is Quinn. He needs some advice from Sam on how to handle his... feelings... Sam asks him to be more specific, because he's more nice than intelligent. Joe admits that he's really turned on by Quinn, and it hits me that he's asking another boy how do deal with sexual temptation with a girl he's never kissed or made any overt romantic gesture towards. He's getting quite ahead of himself here.

Sam the Christian cheerfully informs us that he gave up his virginity in a strip club during the months when he was banished to Contractual Dispute Hell, and has decided that he's just going to follow the parts of the Bible that he likes and thinks are relevant. Well, most Christians are like that, since Leviticus is pretty much impossible to obey faithfully unless you are prepared to spend a lot of time killing livestock for burnt offerings.

Sam has decided that this means he can have sex with people he meets in strip clubs! OK, kid, just go see a doctor about that burning in your pants before something falls off. Joe says the sex rule makes sense, and as I listen to him give his point of view, I get the very uncomfortable feeling that this script was written by somebody who is trying to please a particular demographic, and not somebody who actually understands Joe's point of view. It feels like very paint-by-numbers writing. OK, the Christian fans will like it if Joe uses Religious sentiment Ochre #3 here and we shade it with Sex Appeal Tan #4...Let's paint the background Angels Come Down Blue #8. Sam cheerfully ends the conversation by telling Joe he's going to have to choose whether he wants to get closer to God or to Quinn, with the implication that he can't have Quinn unless he has sex with her, which is strange because we can gather from this conversation that Sam did not have sex with Quinn. Hey, maybe that's why she left him for Finn. What's even weirder is that they are discussing having sex with Quinn before they've, you know, ever dated... Had dinner together... gone to see a movie... had a kiss...

Kurt and Blaine have gathered for a marathon showing of the Being Bobby Brown marathon. I personally cannot think of a more depressing way to celebrate Whitney Houston's life, talent, and legacy, but at any rate, Kurt has a cheese plate!

..And Blaine has Kurt's phone. I have to say, I can't believe that Kurt left it out. Maybe he actually thinks he's blameless here. You see, Blaine finally picked it up because... Chandler won't stop texting Kurt. And baybee, it's the good stuff. Chandler wants to meet Kurt in front of the Plaza in New York (where Blaine won't be, because he's stuck in Lima) and reenact the Way We Were. Chandler wants to make Kurt's voice his ring tone. That's as suggestive as saying ""Is it that you were bored with all the preppies around here? Or is it that you broke too many hearts to stay?"

(When you first watch this, you might think Chandler's "let's reenact the end of the Way We Were" is the upsetting part. It's not. It's the "New York" part, but we don't know that yet.) Blaine continues as his unhappiness grows There are dozens of texts here. . They are all mildly suggestive. Kurt has texted Blaine four times about shoe polish. Kurt thinks it's innocent; Blaine correctly says it is cheating, so Kurt brings up Sebastian, and we learn a new, rather disturbing tidbit: "You used to text Sebastian all the time. You would call him, even." OK, we didn't know that, but we do know damned well exactly what Sebastian wanted from Blaine. Blaine waves this away by saying he did not like Sebastian, and all the texts were family friendly.

Really. Begging your pardon, Blaine, but nothing Sebastian ever said to you that we actually heard was even close to being family friendly.  That argument does not even begin to wash.    Let me break this down for you with direct quotes from The First Time. 

-In their very first meeting, Sebastian informed Blaine that he was sex on a stick and sings like a dream. This is family friendly?
- "Why did you leave Dalton?  Were you bored with all the preppies around here, or did you just break too many hearts to stay?"  I will recognize here that this quote basically brings up Kurt, and counter with Sebastian's very obvious flirting, which - and this is extremely important - Blaine allows.
-At this exact moment, Santana begins to sing "A Boy Like That" to Rachel.  Even the meta commentary for the show is very carefully pointing out how dangerous Sebastian is.  The footage of the girls is continuously interspliced with footage of Sebastian leering at Blaine like he's about to rip his clothes off.
- Sebastian ends that meeting with this quote:  "Could we meet again?  I could really use some more... insights from you, Blaine.  You know, Warbler to Warbler."  If I could screencap that, I would play it for you, because Grant's line reading is excellent here and he makes it extraordinarily clear that his interest in Blaine is sexual. Blaine agrees, and looks EXTREMELY guilty afterwards.
- When they meet for coffee, Sebastian says, "Your whole bashful schoolboy thing?  Super hot."
- Blaine does indeed tell Sebastian that he has a boyfriend.  Sebastian immediately replies, "It doesn't bother me if it doesn't bother you."   It could not be any more clear after that that Sebastian considers this coffee talk to be a date.  Blaine does indeed tell Sebastian that he does not want to mess up his relationship with Kurt... and Kurt, who just randomly drops by uninvited, hears enough of this to know immediately that Sebastian is going to be a problem. Sebastian's intentions are never even the slightest bit ambiguous at all.
- Kurt's arrival very clearly surprises and flusters Blaine.
- Kurt's reaction to Sebastian is to wrap his arm very tightly around Blaine's.  He knows what is happening.
- Once in Scandals, Kurt sits alone, grimly watching Blaine and Sebastian dance as ABC sings "Who broke my heart?  You did!  You did!"  That song was not chosen randomly.
- The heat between Blaine and Sebastian is so obvious, David Karofsky picks up on it.  "Better watch your boyfriend."  A guy who has not been involved in this situation at all knows exactly what is happening.
- Among the reasons Kurt gives for not wanting to have sex with Blaine is that he spent half the night dancing with another guy.
- Blaine tells Kurt at the end of The First Time that Sebastian doesn't mean anything to him.  There's a reason why he has to clarify that.  But here's the really important point.  We have very clearly established that Sebastian's intentions toward Blaine are unambiguously sexual.  Why the hell does Blaine continue to have contact with him?  

- In "Michael" we learn that Blaine and Sebastian are still talking to each other on the phone.  Kurt's reaction is squeaky and upset, with excellent reason.  Sebastian manages to coax the New Directions setlist out of Blaine, and he makes a very disturbing attempt to attack Kurt physically that happens to backfire.  This all happens because Blaine continues to be in contact with this boy who very obviously wants a sexual relationship with him.  Now, Blaine may characterize what's going on between himself and Sebastian as family friendly, but there is nothing that we have seen in Sebastian's behavior that gives us any reason to believe it is true.  What we do know, is that Blaine has a terrible habit of pretending to himself that Sebastian is "harmless."  The moment he made the choice to continue contact with Sebastian after every thing that happened in The First Time, my ability to consider him blameless in the matter was irrevocably revoked.   If Sebastian's motives toward Blaine after The First Time had been sexless and innocent, he would not have been planning a physical attack on Kurt.  It cannot be stressed enough; Sebastian intended Kurt real physical harm.  However, Blaine's trip to the hospital served as rather harsh punishment for allowing this dangerous slimeball to remain in his life, and it did not seem necessary at the time of the Michael recap to dwell on it any further.

Blaine did not sleep with Sebastian, nor did he make out with him,  He did allow consistently flirtatious behavior.  Kurt has not slept with Chandler, nor has he made out with him.  He is allowing consistently flirtatious behavior.   These are very parallel situations, and as far as I am concerned any attempt to whitewash the Sebastian/Blaine connection is dishonest garbage.  However... and let me make this extremely clear... just because the pot is calling the kettle black... doesn't mean the kettle isn't black.  Yes, Kurt is most certainly cheating on Blaine here to the very same degree that Blaine cheated on him, which is.. allowing the flirtatious advances of another boy with whom he does not intend any real romance.  No less, no more. Wrong both times, but very mild compared to the behavior we usually see from the kids of New Directions.  And both times, the boy cheating does not really understand the degree to which his behavior is hurting the other, because it does not involve any real physical contact with the interloper or any desire to start a full-fledged romance.   And in both cases, the interloper thinks that there is more potential for a romance there than there really is.  Kurt and Blaine have both been leading these boys on, which is the other grim consequence of this poor behavior.  In Sebastian's case, it led to some very bad consequences.  We can hope that little Chandler is not so malevolent.

 Fortunately in the end, this story is actually not about this seeming hypocrisy in the slightest. It's actually very carefully thought out and extremely well done - one of the best subplots Glee has had in awhile. If all of Glee were as carefully written as this story was, it would still be considered an Emmy contender.

 Kurt admits that he likes the way Chandler makes him feel. Blaine does not compliment him anymore. Blaine is extraordinarily upset by this, because he transferred schools to be with Kurt. That by itself should make Kurt feel loved, because Dalton was a very good school and McKinley is a mess. Kurt was concerned early in the year that this decision might lead to resentment. He was right, and that also has some influence on the Sebastian situation, since Blaine clearly hung out with Sebastian so that Sebastian could feed him compliments about what a legend he still is at Dalton.  Blaine hung out with flirty Sebastian because he made him feel good.  He did not intend to cheat any more or less than Kurt has here.   And then the script gets very meta for a moment as Kurt deflects attention away from his own wrongdoing here to voice every complaint his fans have had about Blaine all year long. Blaine is portrayed as the alpha gay, Kurt used to get solos every week, and now he can't even sing when they are doing the flipping Bee Gees. Even neutral reviewers thought this was weird. (Well, I don't know that he used to get solos EVERY week, but yes... when Blaine showed up, Kurt's singing got cut about in half. It's like there's a quota on songs by gay singers, and Blaine and Santana are using them all. To be fair, Kurt gets songs like Blaine gets story lines, and vice versa. The whole thing is very poorly managed. At least they can both be grateful they are not Tina.)

Blaine begs Kurt to talk to him about the unhappiness instead of cheating on him. (Not that Blaine could really do a damned thing about the fact that Will simply will not allow Kurt to sing. And Kurt... the one time you showed any attempt to come across as straight, you found yourself horizontal with a hot blonde cheerleader in a day. Every male gay character we've met except Sebastian has been attracted to you at some point. You are sexier than you think.) Of course, Blaine's not really communicating so well himself right now, but we don't know that yet.

Kurt, still in denial about his culpability here, spouts some very clunky dialogue that allows Blaine to segue into his contractually obligated Song of the Week. "It's Not Right, But It's OK"

Blaine throws his musical tantrum of the week - somewhat more justified than the one against his brother - in school the next day. This song is dedicated to anybody who has ever been cheated on!

What a lovely thing to do for every single member of New Directions! Let me break this down for you! It's hysterical.

Roll call:
Quinn and Rachel have cheated on Finn.
Finn has cheated on Quinn. He has also encouraged Quinn to cheat on Sam.
Sam has encouraged Mercedes to cheat on Shane.
Puck has encouraged Quinn to cheat on Finn.
Rachel has cheated on Finn. She has also encouraged Finn to cheat on Quinn.
Brittney has cheated on Artie.
Tina has cheated on Artie.
Mike has encouraged Tina to cheat on Artie.
Santana has encouraged Brittney to cheat on Artie.
Santana has cheated on Sam.
Puck is a complete horndog.
Will cheated on Terri.
Blaine traded phone calls, Facebook messages and coffee dates with a guy who openly wanted in his pants.

And Blaine is now encouraging a choir-wide singalong condemning Kurt for sending a goober some text messages. It's not right... but it's OK. This story was awesome anyway.

The solo isn't, really. This is one of the bad things about tribute episodes. They force the cast to sing songs that aren't really well suited to them and they shoehorn the narrative to fit the songs rather than having the songs support the story. I personally think this is the weakest solo Darren's ever had on Glee.

The best part of the scene is the crowd reaction. Everybody is glaring at Kurt like they don't do stuff that's ten times worse as often as they go to Breadstix, and Will looks awfully uncomfortable... but not enough to, you know, declare this behavior inappropriate and stop the song. I can't say I think much of Will's consistent inability to prevent these kids from humiliating each other in class. I think in a real school this would not have gone on past the introduction. Kurt rolls his eyes so hard they are about to pop out of his head, and to be fair, the others might not have been so aware of the problem if he hadn't squeaked "I didn't cheat on you!" to start the whole thing out.

When Quinn, of all people, begins singing along, we have officially entered crazy town. OK, little mama, just close your mouth now.

This scene does come very much across as if Blaine is publicly breaking up with Kurt in the most degrading way possible. Santana sneers "Snap!" as the song ends, and Kurt looks close to tears. You know, Kurt seems to spend a lot of time close to tears when he's around Blaine. Maybe this breaking up thing isn't such a bad idea, even if it is his fault.

Has anyone else noticed that the Glee writers appear to be completely incapable of writing stories about relationships unless somebody is cheating on somebody?

In the hallway, Rachel decides to make friendly overtures to Santana. She's decided that they should have spent the last three years singing together instead of arguing. I am puzzled at the chronology here; Rachel wants to be friends because they sang together, but it would make more narrative sense if they had decided to sing together because they were trying to become friends. Santana admits that she hated Rachel - she's not clear on why - and we don't really get a good explanation on why Rachel suddenly wants to be friends with the walking insult factory. All I can think of is that is seems to work for her; she turned two other insult- spouting enemies, Kurt and Quinn, into friends as well, and Kurt ended up being her very dearest before it was all over. (Yeah, I'm still pretty sure that only happened because Chris started popping out Emmy nominations everywhere and turned into a lead character who lost half his snark when he became noble. Yes, I love him, but I'm just saying. That's actually one of the reasons why this was such a good episode for Klaine. St. Kurt was nowhere in sight.) It appears that friendship with Rachel is one of the hallmarks of a redemption arc for a character who will now be a central protagonist instead of a villain. And of course, Rachel celebrates this new friendship by giving Santana a picture of herself to put in her locker.

Ah, that's right. Now I remember why they did not like you.

Burt walks into Kurt's bedroom to find him putting sticky notes on stuff as he decides what is going to New York (boy, he's awfully certain about this, isn't he? Kurt does not yet know for sure that he's getting into NYADA.) Burt is welcome to his leftovers. Gee, that's nice of you, kid. He bought most of it, Kurt. Burt notices with concern that the Prom Queen picture has a pink note on it. It also has a fresh carnation beside it... but it's staying in Ohio. Kurt admits that he and Blaine are on the rocks. He honestly doesn't know what's up with Blaine, which is kind of inexcusable, not only because Blaine has told him pretty explicitly what's wrong, but because Kurt has been on the receiving end of the same kind of anxiety and should understand why it's so painful.  

Burt decides that he wants to keep the certificate of participation Kurt was given for a Regionals loss two years ago; he feels they need to be more sentimental. See, Congressman Hummel (who actually IS doing his job! I am so glad they finally confirmed this!) has been avoiding coming home for Friday Night Dinners... because he knows the time is slipping away. Kurt will be leaving soon. "I don't want you to go!" They've been Starsky and Gay Hutch for over a decade. (You know, Burt, it's OK to just say that you are Starsky and Hutch. Kurt does not have to be defined solely by his sexual orientation, especially by his father.) Kurt is confused by Burt's confession... he's skipping dinners because he's sad there will be no more dinners. (What, Burt, you can't fly from DC to New York? But yes, it will not be the same.) Nothing lasts. Everything is going to change forever. Burt is proud of Kurt, and he feels they made each other men.

Burt is going to miss Kurt a lot. As they share a hug, I realize with a jolt that this was Mike O'Malley's swan song. They are writing him off the show, and they are warning us of this. The epic Burt/Kurt relationship, such an important factor of Glee, is over now, swept aside to make way for extra helpings of Rory, Joe, and Sugar. There is something else I found out this week that has made my blood run pretty cold, too. Chris Colfer does not know for sure that he's going to be a regular next year. Apparently, there is a very good chance he's going to be relegated to guest star status. http://www.wetpaint....-of-kurt-hummel

Burt Hummel has just spoken for me. Thanks, Burt. We will miss you, but I promise... if Kurt (and Rachel) are really written out of the show, I will not watch anymore. Period. The writing on this show is not good enough to sustain removal of interesting, effective characters played by brilliant actors in favor of cardboard characters played by blocks of wood. I don't care what they are singing, and I am very angry right now. Maybe I was also avoiding Friday Night Dinners.

Kurt decides to attempt to fix the breech with Blaine by singing to him. It is the first solo he's been given since "I am Unicorn" - he's been sidelined or forced to share for FIFTEEN EPISODES. I am not exaggerating. This is the longest stretch Chris has gone without a solo in Glee history. It's absolutely inexcusable, and what's worse is that this song is not really a good choice for Chris. He begins quite beautifully, but Chris chose to sing this in too high a key, and gets a bit shrill at the highest points. The music director should have overruled him. Unfortunately, they can now use this song as evidence that Chris is not fit to sing on Glee and justify what they did to him this year.

Narratively, this is a pretty painful scene, though very effective; Kurt, who was publicly shamed and humiliated in the previous song, is now baring his soul to the same people who were jeering at him a minute ago, We see worried looks, compassionate smiles, sad expressions, and nods from most of New Directions, but Blaine... sits in cold, angry silence. Kurt's shrieking to the whole world that he has nothing if he doesn't have Blaine, and Blaine rejects him. Ouch. He does look VERY sad, though, by the end of the song, and applauds a little.

I bet you are glad nobody treated you like this when your secret conversations with Sebastian led him to steal New Direction's setlist, huh, buddy?
Fortunately, once again... this is not what this story is really about. There is an excellent reason why Blaine's being so distant, and it's not really because he's a hypocritical little prick, although it seems like this at the moment. He's actually... a little like Burt. There's a reason why he's so sad and it's not Chandler.

In the locker room, Puck is giving out goody bags to all his best bros. He's got presents for all his male friends, all the guys he hangs out with. This includes Blaine... but Kurt's absence from this scene is glaring, because it makes it look as if Puck does not care about Kurt or want to give him a goody bag. Given what a rough episode Kurt is having, this is pretty cruel, although my head canon has Puck running over to Rachel later and trying to figure out where Kurt went because he wants to give him something. I am going to guess that they did not want both halves of awkwardly arguing Klaine in this scene, which makes sense, but they should have taken Blaine out as well. Maybe Kurt is just too humiliated to show his face right now.

What is Puck giving out? Well, he can't give Finn back his balls, since Rachel has them - boy, he got that right! - but he can give everybody shot glasses. I love the one to Blaine. "Drink 'till she's cute"... and then Blame It On The Alcohol! Puck knows the clock is ticking for all of them - Mark Salling is almost certainly going to be written off the show at the end of the year - and he wants to celebrate all the bro moments they had together. Maybe throwing Kurt in the dumpster does not qualify as a bro moment worthy of a shotglass, but how about a flash mob to Barbra Streisand? He is grateful to them for forgiving him for sleeping with their women - ah, there is redemption for cheaters, I see, even if Finn winces! - he will miss all of them. I bet Mark's going to miss this paycheck, too.

Hoo, boy, I have to go in fifteen minutes and I don't know if I can do this pivotal scene justice in time, but I will try. Kurt and Blaine are in Emma's office; Kurt has suggested couples counseling, and Blaine... has actually agreed to come, which is a minor miracle if he's really THAT angry about the cheating, which he actually isn't. No, Emma is not really qualified to be a couples counselor, and her help with the Mercedes/Sam relationship does not make her seem more effective. I don't know for sure if they are dating or not right now.

Emma wants them to air everything that's really bothering them right now, as this is a safe place for them. Blaine leads off by telling Emma about the texting to Chandler, and with the line "... although awhile back, I was sort of doing the same thing..." he ends the debate about Sebastian for good. Even Blaine and the writers know that the situations are virtually identical, and I am proud of both Blaine and the staff for admitting it.

Kurt fusses at Blaine because he sang him a song to express his regret (Emma hides the pamphlet "Say Sorry With a Song" - Kurt's been talking with her about this) and Blaine deflects that very raw memory by snipping about some of Kurt's other bad habits, like snapping his fingers at waiters and slipping bronzer into Blaine's moisturizer. Now, THAT'S possibly worthy of a public temper tantrum. Blaine also hates the fact that Kurt won't stop talking about NYADA. Is it because Kurt is quite presumptuous to be so sure he's getting in? Is it because Kurt's conversation is so self-centered and egotistical? No... not really. Blaine feels like Kurt can't wait to get out of Lima... leaving Blaine alone. At awful McKinley. By himself. (I bet you could transfer back to Dalton if you really wanted to, sweetie... Oh wait, no, you can't. This show is going to have a hard enough time losing Kurt, Finn and Rachel without losing you as well. They might as well just cancel it immediately instead of waiting six months. Heeeeeere's New Directions! Starring.... Rory Flanagan!) Blaine apologizes for the coldness that led Kurt to feel unloved; he was doing what Burt did. Blaine has been trying to wean himself off of Kurt, to practice being alone. Kurt is the love of his seventeen-year-long life. He's angry that he has to learn to be alone. And the text about Chandler at plaza... reminds Blaine that Kurt will be away from him, able to meet up with Chandler... or anybody else who fancies a cute, talented little number like him in a city where it's not a scandal to be gay.

Kurt promises to Skype every day, and Blaine will be flying to New York to see him every weekend. Maybe that's how they are going to keep Kurt and Rachel on the show - through Blaine's attempts to keep this romance going. Then Kurt really will be just a minor character in Blaine's storyline, and Blaine has replaced him completely. We knew this was coming. The worrisome thing is this; Glee revolves almost entirely around couples drama. I don't know that they are going to be able to write Blaine a storyline that does not involve romance at McKinley.

The two boys tell each other that they love each other and...

They hug. THEY HUG. Lesbian Bed Death. You have got to be kidding me. A near breakup caused partly by Blaine's sexual coldness is resolved with a HUG. It's the weakest moment of an otherwise nearly brilliant storyline.

I've heard people say that Darren was brilliant here and deserves awards. I've heard people sneer at how terrible he was here. I think it was pretty serviceable, and some of Darren's better work on the series, but probably not Emmy worthy. Once the Big Three are gone, he and Kevin really are going to be by far the best actors in the student cast, and that's a really worrisome situation.

It's Tuesday, and Will has gone completely crazy, baby. He's offering up champagne, because he's found the perfect wedding solution, even though I still don't understand why they don't ask Kurt for help... now that he's put the damned phone down. He's found the perfect wedding location! He didn't ask for the bride's input at all! This is going to go well!

Yes, Will Schuster wants to get married on a big old campground. Will has thought of everything - the amps, the stage, even the restrooms. He's only forgotten one thing: He's marrying a woman who gets the vapors when she finds dust on her mantle, and he wants to get married in a place where there's dirt. Lots of dirt.

Emma says gently that it sounds a bit rustic. Yes, you might say that. It's more than just not ideal, Will. It's her worst nightmare. Will you be asking her to honeymoon in a tent near the La Brea Tar Pits? Emma wants to move the wedding to November, but Will won't do that - because he's afraid
the Glee kids won't come back for a November wedding. (Of course they will. November is Sweeps Month, and this will be about the time RIB realize their new cast is tanking.) Will yells his fear, and Emma looks at him reprovingly until he gets a grip. Will doesn't want
them to leave. That's a pretty popular sentiment right now. Emma gently tells him that he will get a new group of kids to inspire him, but Will says
these kids are special.
They changed his life by somehow breaking up his marriage to Terri and orchestrating his marriage to Emma... no, Will, I'd say Emma did both those things, and of course, Terri helped. However, Emma's speech here offers great wisdom that makes me see why she might just be an OK school counselor; she tells Will that the love he has for
these kids will never go away. They will carry it with them as they all go on. If he had his wedding ten years from now on the moon... None of them would come, Emma, what, are you insane? Well, ,maybe Finn.

I do feel very much that I am hearing these characters give me repeated sermons about how I need to let the current cast of kids go so they can focus on new directions for New Directions. However, there's one very pressing reason why I resist this. These kids did not really change Will's marriage status What these kids really did was make one year of great, great television and two splotchy years that had moments of great, great television. I remain quite concerned that, the writing on this show is sometimes excruciating and it takes performances from a Montieth or a Michele or a Colfer to make them work, I've seen a real parade of new kids come in and most of them are awful. If we suddenly had Harmony and Sebastian come over to McKinley, the situation might improve, because they both have very capable people playing them, but I don't think Blaine is written or acted well enough to carry this thing entirely on his own, and he's not getting ANY help at all from Rory, Joe, or even Sugar unless she gets a lot of depth real fast.

I think, when the Seniors are all gone, we will have a splotchy year... with a few moments of passable television.

Joe is busy giving Quinn some physical therapy when we get a real I - can't - believe - they - went - there moment. I mean, GROSS. Joe is lifting Quinn's leg high into the air, and he's pressing his own groin area against her leg. Quinn gets to experience Little Joe standing quite at attention. REALLY, Glee???? You had this romance start with Quinn feeling good about herself because the guy stretching her leg got a boner? Is this girl's self-respect completely gone? How was she able to even feel it, anyway? This from the same script that gave us the superb Klaine argument.

Well, the erection gives Joe the opportunity to pay Quinn lots of compliments, and she responds by putting herself down, so yes. Quinn's self-respect may indeed be completely gone. That actually worries Joe, to his credit. (Hey, he's fifteen and this is probably the first time he's ever even touched a girl who wasn't his sister.) He offers to let Quinn use his eyes to see herself... well, at least he probably won't get an erection doing that... but he might just give her a very swelled head and return her to being the nightmarishly conceited princess she was when Glee began, because he thinks she's perfect.

Quinn asks if Joe wants her to be his girlfriend, and he says that he does, but his faith means everything to him... which is great, but you know what, kid? She was inquiring as to whether you wanted a girlfriend, not an instant roll in the hay. ...And now he's going on about Sins of the Flesh, as if she was this temptress he had to gird himself against.. except that he's also being pretty explicit about how horny she makes him. Well, this might actually be believable characterization, but I am not sure my teenaged self would have wanted to date him. Wait... is he saying he wants to sleep with me, or thinks I'm a Sin of the Flesh? Am I both? Is he going to hate me if I don't put out or hate me if I do? Or both? Can't we just go to breadstix and eat pasta and see if we can even fall in love first before we start discussing a subject it took Klaine months and Finchel years to address? Sam... don't help anymore. But what Quinn wants to know instead is whether Joe would give up his faith to be with her, and I think this question is at least six months premature. She decides that she would not pressure him for sex... not that she was doing that. It seems closer to being the other way around. Actually, I think Sam is pressuring Joe for sex with Quinn. Butt out, Sam. You didn't sleep with her. Why does Joe have to?

They both seem to be under the impression that practicing self-control is the same as not finding another person attractive. Eh, they are kids, but this conversation was written with a sledgehammer and it needed the scalpel that they used on Klaine... and it needed to come much later in the romance. They don't know what they have together because they aren't going to jump into bed right away, and I think that's pretty sad. But then, Joe has just been told by Sam that he HAS to have sex to be with Quinn, and Quinn hasn't been with a guy who hasn't taken advantage of her since... uh... Sam. Butt out, Sam. I think I said that already.

Back in the hallways...

Klaine is working on their issues. Blaine's holding his phone. He has a text message. He also has a very deliberate compliment for Kurt's jauntily placed cap. Kurt gets a text, and he's a bit defensive. He told Chandler not to text him anymore... somewhere Chandler is

1. Weeping bitterly into his sheet music, wondering what he did wrong.
2. Making a voodoo doll of Blaine.
3. Making a voodoo doll of Kurt.
4. Sending NYADA anonymous messages about how they must not let Kurt Hummel into their school because he's a heartbreaking diva who is going to be much too difficult to work with because he can't get along with anybody, and oh yeah, he's also a serial killer and drunk and a rapist and he got three jaywalking tickets in a week.
5. With any luck, running into Scandals and getting into a epic romance with Sebastian. I hope it lasts longer than twenty minutes.

Blaine wants to skip choir practice and go make out. Will said it wasn't mandatory, which of course he would, since they aren't actually on the bus to Nationals yet so they have no need to prepare. Blaine thinks none of the others will be at Glee practice. But Kurt wants to go... there are only a few precious sessions left.

Yep, sweetie. Five And then they break my show because Ryan Murphy got diarrhea of the mouth one summer day and decided he didn't need his three most effective characters anymore.

When they arrive at the non-mandatory glee club meeting, Artie and Mercedes are singing for fun, anyway. You know, I am going to miss that musical coupling. They sound really good together. Blaine and Kurt begin to sing along, and then Finchel arrives; Rachel grabs Kurt in a big hug, and then he hugs Mercedes, as if they are giving little curtain calls to some of the more important friendships of the show's run. Will comes in, and he is touched to see them singing.

Oh, look, here's Puckerman. Five shows left Mark. By all means, be in this scene. In comes Brittana, holding hands and Santana hugs her newest BFF, Rachel. Uh, I am still not ready for that. And we have Joe wheeling Quinn, and Sam slipped in without me noticing, and then Mike and Tina bring up the rear. Obviously everybody is feeling very sentimental today - well, everybody except Sue, who was not in this episode and we neither needed her nor missed her. You know, they've benched Jane a LOT lately. It used to be... she WAS Glee.

Kurt takes down the Whitney shrine from his locker, and replaces it with memories from his time at McKinley.

I am with Will and Burt. I do not want them to go. I think the producers of this show are making a terrible mistake.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment