S3E10: Glee, I’ve put up with your shenanigans for far too long. There are obviously things I still love about the show (most of them musical, at this point), but if there is anything that “Yes/No” has taught me, it’s that even I can’t agree to be bullied into feeling something forever. I’m a sap, to put it lightly. At Christmas, Rory’s reading of the Gospel According to Luke a la A Charlie Brown Christmas plucked at my most nostalgic sensibilities and helped mask an otherwise disaster of an episode. Sue’s occasional moments of clarity and compassion for Becky because of her late sister tug at my heartstrings to the point where I have to feign getting dust in my eye, because I most definitely was not tearing up over Glee of all things. But no more. I’ve finally acknowledged the problem, and I won’t be bullied any longer: the series eschews a narrative structure, character development and common sense in favor of romantic twists and glitzy song and dance numbers.
Case and point: the opening scene of the episode teases a reunion between Mercedes and Sam, as does the following 20 minutes of airtime. However, as soon as Mr. Schue’s proposal gets serious, Samcedes is dropped like a hot ball of lead, we get a Wemma resolution, and suddenly Finn’s popping a big question of his own. The result is a very frustrated, exasperated viewer. Ryan Murphy, we are not rag dolls, but the jerky plotlines of your beloved series are seriously making me question that.
“Swimming is sexy.” –Sam
“Not if it’s synchronized.” –Finn
Poor Trouty Mouth wants Mercedes back – as evidenced by the oddly truncated opening number to “Summer Lovin’” from Grease - but she’s with Shane and makes a point of telling Sam their thing was just a Summer fling. Sam thinks she’s been won over by Shane’s letterman jacket, so he’s desperate to join whatever sports team will take him; synchronized swimming is the only team with space (plus the producers want Sam shirtless as often as possible). Here’s where things get annoying (again). Nene Leakes guest stars as Sam’s new coach, a drill sergeant and solo synchronized swimming Olympic champion. If that sounded like complete gibberish, that’s because it was. The coach character was unnecessary, nonsensical and obnoxious.
Sam gets a little attention from his crush when he’s slushied for joining the second half of his High School death wish – glee club and synchronized swimming don’t exactly scream Prom King. Mercedes immediately comes to his rescue, but is whisked away by Shane, who seems to be getting slightly jealous. And when the glee club girls take their turn helping Schue pick out a proposal song, things get interesting. Schue says he’ll never forget the first time he saw Miss Pillsbury, and they forgo any of that pesky dialog and go straight for their song choice: Johnny Cash’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” It’s a beautiful song choice and the girls are obviously talented, but this a dramedy, not a variety show. We do get some narrative movement, when each singer pictures their significant other – except Mercedes, who pictures Sam instead of Shane. She realizes that maybe she still has feelings for Sam. And my favorite ongoing storyline is left hanging right there.
“Honey, it’s 2012. If you want to marry Will Schuester, ask him.” –Sue
Schue is looking for proposal songs because earlier in the teacher’s lounge, Emma went into a trance, adorably belting out the 60s song, “Wedding Bell Blues.” Thankfully they acknowledge the balance between fantasy and reality: during her little daydream, Emma accidentally asks Will to marry her and rushes away in embarrassment. It gives him the guts to finally ask her, so naturally he forces the Glee club to give him ideas on how to do it.
The girls, as I mentioned, picked a Johnny Cash song to serenade the lady, but the boys took a rather different direction. Artie’s big idea for Schue’s proposal is a mash-up (because the show was running dangerously low on its mash-up quota) of “Moves Like Jagger” and “Jumping Jack Flash.” Travesty of combining those songs aside, it’s a rousing performance, but as always, just a little overindulgent. Will ultimately decides a dance number is too sweaty, and therefore too messy, for Emma.
Aside from the song, Schue needs permission from Emma’s awful parents before he can marry their daughter, but they say no. They’re convinced her OCD will make it impossible for her to get married or have a family. Because Glee characters have personalities so malleable, they make Flex Armstrong look rigid, Schue forgets everything he’s been feeling, thinking and saying for three years and lets Emma’s parents scare him off, telling Emma that he doesn’t know if she can handle marriage. I’m not as invested in these characters as I once was, but watching Emma cry was absolutely heartbreaking.
Schue doesn’t seem to be coming around, but Sam saves the day by coming to the rescue with the “perfect” idea for a proposal. Well, it was certainly a spectacle. The glee club sings “We Found Love (In a Hopeless Place)” as students and faculty members (even Sue) give Emma white roses as she heads to the pool to watch the synchronized swimming/ musical performance. This was cute and exciting, but Schue walking on water in a white tux and top hat before actually taking the plunge into the pool (because it’s a METAPHOR, you guys) was ridiculous. At least his actual speech was sweet and genuine so we could be happy for him when Emma said “yes.”
“I didn’t ask him if he said ‘no’ because I have Downs. I didn’t ask, because I know the answer is yes.’“ –Becky
Becky likes Artie, and with the assistance of Dame Helen Mirren as the voice of her inner thoughts, we learn of her plan to make him her boyfriend. Sue is on a mission to encourage female power this episode, and encourages Becky to do the asking. Right before Becky gets to him, Artie asks Sugar to rehearse, which she assumes is a date, turning him down viciously because of his disability. And after his hurtful encounter with Sugar, there’s no way he can turn Becky down.
Artie thinks that the performance of the “Moves Like Jagger” mash-up suffices as his date with Becky, because he apparently didn’t learn anything from dating Brittany, but Becky insists they go to Breadstix. He has a nice time (as friends) but is reamed by the club the next day. He thinks he’s being a good person for hanging out with Becky until she sends him a racy photo of herself and he realizes he’s leading her on. Once again, Sue does something right and tells Artie to treat Becky like he would any other person – even if it breaks her heart. It does break her heart, and Sue is stinging from the news that Cooter eloped with Bieste, so they share ice cream and watch “Lifetime television for ovaries” together. This storyline was actually moving and this final Sue/Becky scene was a sweet moment because it’s reminiscent of the times we saw Sue visit her ailing sister.
“Rachel Berry, will you marry me?” –Finn
Schue asks Finn to be his best man – which is sweet, but it also worries me that Schue doesn’t have any adult friends – and Finn gladly accepts before confessing that he’s considering enlisting in the army. Finn’s parents, Schue and Emma stage an intervention to keep Finn from going into the army. His step-dad’s only argument seems to be that he needs Finn to run the garage so he can be a congressman, so his mother throws down the gauntlet.
She simultaneous kills Finn’s adolescent plans and tells him that his reason for joining the army, his father, isn’t who Finn thinks he is. His father didn’t die a hero; war forced him into a drug addiction that cost him his life. Whoa, writers. You don’t shatter a kid’s memories of his father that callously, and with so many people around. That could collapse his whole world, and it almost does. Rachel sees that he’s down, so she sings a song to prove how special he is to her, which makes him feel better. It also puts him back on the crazy train because at the end of the episode, he asks her to marry him and the episode drops off there. Granted, in his little pea-brain, he probably thought that Rachel’s doubt about getting into NYADA and his dashed Army dreams means they’re both staying in Lima, but it’s just a little premature (as sweet as his speech is). It would seem that Finn really is struggling with finding a validating path for his future – and we can bet it won’t get any easier anytime soon.
Are you frustrated with Glee? Are you baffled as to how they fit so much plot into an episode when 60 percent of the airtime is devoted to musical performances? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler