S3E6: I don’t think the overwhelming number of plotlines issue is ever going to be solved for Glee, but at least this week, most of them worked together and had a sense of urgency. That tends to happen when everyone seems to have a conflict with everyone else.
I will say one thing about “Mash-Off”: it seems the series is finally learning that it’s okay to open up large conflicts and let them linger over multiple episodes. It’s nice to have a question or two at the end of the hour, and we certainly have a few.
“Maybe competition will bring them together.” –Shelby
“Or maybe it will be World War Glee.” –Schue That line is so cheesy, yet so appropriate that I couldn’t not include it. The rivalry between the choirs – and amongst the singers – is reaching a head, so Shelby and Schue decide to have the groups do a Mash-Off, which they announce via their own mash-up of “You and I” and well, “You and I.” It’s a fantastic rendition – as is to be expected with Idina Menzel involved.
This "healthy" competition brings out Santana’s megabitch side and Finn and Rory decide it’s gone on too long. They attempt to insult her back, but she’s too well-trained in the art of the insult so they decide on a game of dodgeball to settle their differences. While it provides an interesting backdrop for their joint mash-up of “One Way or Another” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” it turns a little too violent when the TroubleTones pelt Rory repeatedly until he bleeds for no other reason than a heartless victory lap. I personally don’t understand why the whole group behaved this way, Santana is the only one dealing with the emotional turmoil. The other girls just aren't that mean.
It turns out the group isn’t that vicious and they vote Mercedes as their president in light of all the work she’s done for the group and the fact that Santana is so mean. They decide to fight with talent, not mean words, yet Santana runs out into the hall to apologize to Finn by insulting him further. He bursts and says she should just come out of the closet, because keeping those emotions inside is making her a mean-spirited person. I understand why he did it, and he probably thinks he's helping, but you had know immediately that this didn't bode well.
Next, the New Directions start off the Mash-Off with a Hall and Oates mash-up complete with Hall and Oates get-ups, which is the costume equivalent of hairography if you ask me. It’s cute and well-executed, but by the time we get to the end of the episode, it can’t hold a candle to the TroubleTones’ Adele mash-up. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
“You know it’s going to happen.” –Puck
And by “it” he means he and Shelby are going to end up together. Puck is in love – or what he thinks is love – with Shelby. Of course, he professes this with a rendition of Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” which treated us to what it would look like to have a Tony winner in a 1980s rock video. It was actually kind of great minus the really inappropriate crotch-grabbing and mic-stand-riding dance moves from Mike and Blaine.
Puck is so in love with Shelby, in fact, that he reveals Quinn’s master plan to get Child Protective Services to take Beth away. He tells her because he knows she's meant to be Beth's mom and he wants to apologize. And while we get more than a few shots of Shelby staring sadly at Quinn, she eventually works up the nerve to have it out with the delusional teen.
Quinn is frustrated with the lack of progress in regaining Beth and tries to join the TroubleTones, but once Shelby knows her real motivation she says no. She also tells Quinn being a mother has nothing to do with blood to which Quinn responds with claims that Shelby is a “cash whore.” This erratic behavior is very teen-like, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. This is getting messy and uncomfortable, but that doesn't hurt when Glee is struggling to regain its Season One hooking ability.
At the end of all of this, Shelby doesn’t answer Quinn’s question about how involved Puck gets to be in Beth’s life – and if those longing glances are any indication, the answer is very. (He’s 18, but it’s still a strange story to tackle.)
”Winning is really about poop-flinging.” –Sue
Once we make it through Sue’s obnoxiously desperate (and those words are directed at the show’s writers, not the character) campaign ads that the Ohio public is somehow buying into (how dumb do these writers think Midwesterners are? It’s insulting), we get to the theme at the center: elections. Burt is losing his to Sue because of all her ridiculous, completely absurd lies and Kurt is looking for a strategy to help him win an election full of “teachers are dumb” and “root beer fountain” platforms.
Sue tells him to play dirty, but also, she notes he needs an issue to run on – which is actually sound advice. After witnessing Santana’s treatment of Rory during the dodgeball game, he runs on an anti-bullying program, more specifically, anti-dodgeball. While I understand the reasoning behind it, I think comparing it to modern day stoning is a bit much. It's violent and breeds bullying, it's not stoning.
He’s helped by the fact that Rachel pulls her name from the ring and endorses Kurt. After she asks Shelby to write her a recommendation letter and Shelby notes how ahead of the game Rachel is, Miss Berry realizes Kurt needs the election more than she does. Plus, she misses him and doesn’t want to be at NYADA without him. I know it’s a little out of left field because they’ve hated each other for so long, but I do love this pairing.
”I love her. She sounds like what Banana Cream Pie sounds like when it sings.” –Brittany
You know what Brittany, she actually kind of does. Anyway, Finn’s suggestion that Santana come out and admit that Brittany probably doesn’t love her the way Santana loves Brittany turns out to be a bigger deal that the dumb schmuck ever thought it would. One of Sue’s competitors has a niece at McKinley and she overhears the conversation, tells her uncle, and he turns it into an ad that suggests Sue is a lesbian because her head cheerleader is. The ad blatantly outs Santana and mocks her. She hadn’t even told her parents. This shocking revelation leads into the final performance, the Adele mash-up of “Someone Like You” and “Rumor Has It.”
I’ll admit I thought the mash-up was just alright – no one holds a candle to the real Adele – when I first saw it. But now, in context with the episode – and compared to the cheesy Hall and Oates cover – it really does work to support the story emotionally. We end with Santana, slapping Finn with tears in her eyes. He truly thinks that no one cares and that it will help her to be out at McKinley, but Santana doesn’t see it that way. And from the looks of that ad, much of Ohio doesn’t either. It looks like a major conflict might be a-brewing between those prejudiced folks and the LBGT community represented on the series. And this time, the story seems strong enough that the political undertones might be spared the fate of feeling forced or contrived. Then again, only time will tell.