It was time once again for Regionals on GLEE. Recall that last year the plucky underdogs from McKinley High School lost at Regionals. But this year, New Directions were determined to take home that ridiculously oversized trophy.
GLEE’s big gimmick this week was to have New Directions perform original songs at Regionals. This was justified by having Sue conspire to get the band’s permission to use a song revoked. But instead of simply choosing another song, Will (Matthew Morrison) went with Rachel’s (Lea Michele) suggestion to write and perform original songs. Talk about taking the long way! But it proved worth it in the end.
Last year, GLEE’s “Sectionals” episode was all about that scrappy collection of outsiders coming together to form a family (or at least a team) to win sectionals. This year, Show Choir Sectionals was an excuse to tear the team apart via outside influences and internal strife.
Believe it or not, Emma (Jayma Mays) actually gets the blame for sowing the seeds of discontent, because she suggested to Will (Matthew Morrison) that he should change things up for sectionals and not go with his rigid format. “You’re a constellation of stars,” Emma noted in pointing out that lots of glee club members are capable of singing and should be showcased. (She said this right after perfectly pegging his predictable program.) Will agreed that after devoting so much time to making everyone feel like a star, it’s actually time to make them stars.
Is it possible that GLEE finally managed to go too far with Sue Sylvester? (I don’t like to say “jumped the shark” because… D’oh!) Having Sue marry herself seemed to redefine self-absorption, even for Sue! What’s more, it seemed to come totally out of the blue. Y’know, like the blue of her tracksuit wedding dress. (Wow, that was hideous!)
The one bright spot in the story was the appearance of Carol Burnett as Sue’s dictatorial mother, Doris, the “famous Nazi-hunter.” It’s easy to see where Sue (Jane Lynch) gets her bullying attitude. Doris started tearing down Sue from the first sentence out of her mouth. And while Doris felt that Sue had shut her mother out of her life, Doris was reluctant to share any details of her own. (In fact, I began to doubt that she has been hunting Nazis all this time.) And I was not familiar with the song “Ohio,” or the fact that people wrote songs about Ohio. Notice that Sue’s father did not appear. I’m guessing the show is holding him back for next season.
GLEE, I have to say it: I enjoyed your “Duets” episode at least twice as much as last week’s “Grilled Cheesus” show about faith, or even the previous week’s Britney Spears spectacular. The premise was simple: Everyone pairs off to perform duets. What was complicated was who paired with whom, and why. The prize was a dinner for two at Breadstix, and from the way the kids went crazy, one might assume Wolfgang Puck – or at least Gordon Ramsey – had take over the kitchen.
“Great duets are like a marriage,” Will (Matthew Morrison) suggested, and in this case, it made for some strange bedfellows. I mean, Artie (Kevin McHale) and…Brittany (Heather Morris)? Santana (Naya Rivera) and…Mercedes (Amber Riley)? Quinn (Dianna Agron) and…Sam (Chord Overstreet)? And what happened to Mark Salling that necessitated sending Puck to juvie? Perhaps it was just a stunt to get Sam into the glee club?
Ya gotta give GLEE credit for not backing down from the Big Issues. It’s not every light entertainment program that will tackle a heavy subject like religion – let alone address it in a mostly balanced fashion that did not implicitly endorse organized religion in general and Christianity in particular. In fact, it was so even-handed that no particular belief system was demonized.
Finn (Corey Monteith) got the ball rolling by trying to make lunch one day. He tried to make a grilled-cheese sandwich, but what he got was a charred piece of bread upon which he perceived the image of Jesus Christ. Being Finn, he dubbed his lunchtime apparition “Grilled Cheesus,” wrapped it in plastic, and began praying to it.
GLEE faced the monumental challenge of following up last year’s breakout season as the critical darling or, if you prefer, the teacher’s pet of television. So what could GLEE do you do for an encore? Why, more of the same – only different, of course! And, for the most part, the sophomore season’s debut succeeded by quickly establishing a new status quo that was actually the old status quo with a fresh coat of paint.
Fresh off losing at Regionals (McKinley High finished third out of…three schools.); the members of New Directions find themselves back for another fall semester at the bottom of the social ladder. (They are the “plankton” of the food chain, Kurt (Chris Colfer) notes, wryly. Will (Matthew Morrison) decided the answer lay in recruiting new members. Two promising newbies presented themselves: Sam Evans (newcomer Chord Overstreet) and Sunshine Corazon (pop star Charice). The problem was, Sunshine was a little too good. Rachel (Lea Michelle) feared that Sunshine might hog the spotlight from her, so Rachel set about preemptively eliminating Sunshine before she got a chance to shine.
Will and April duet right.
Each episode of GLEE since its return has been better than the one before, and this week’s installment, called “Home,” was no exception. A treatise on the concept of finding someplace to belong, the story also saw the welcome return of Kristen Chenoweth as April Rhodes. This was one of those episodes that had viewers laughing, singing along and then crying – sometimes practically all at once.
The storyline saw Sue (Jane Lynch) boot the glee club from the auditorium, sending Will (Matthew Morrison) in search of rehearsal space. That quest brought him into contact with April, who was running a roller rink because she got sidetracked on her journey to Branson. April, too, was searching for someplace to belong – was she really happy playing the mistress of a local strip-mall king? When she and Will dueted on “Fire,” it felt like she rediscovered where she belongs: by his side. Morrison’s and Cheno’s voices mesh perfectly, and they look good together, so it was no wonder April wanted to move in with him immediately. (I’m sure Emma would have something to say about that…) Their duet on “One Less Bell to Answer” was heartbreaking.