May 25, 2010

Episode Review: GLEE, "Theatricality"

I don't get Lady Gaga. I've never heard any of her music, and all I know about her is that she dresses like a freak. While tonight's Glee did not convert me to one of Gaga's followers, "Theatricality" was one of the better episodes of the back-9.

To me, the episode was strong in spite of the music because I thought most of the song choices and the performances were just OK. Glee's strength is it can still be entertaining even if the music doesn't totally work, and tonight's episode was just another example of this ability.

Almost every storyline was on point, and it was easier to get swept up by the drama than by the singing. Tina being forced to change her look due to Figgin's fear of vampires and Twihard violence was the catalyst for the episode, and I'm sure a lot of people could relate to Tina's struggle with being picked on for just being herself.

Sometimes the messages Glee tries to get across (body issues, fitting in, self-expression) can be a little on the nose, but they are usually pretty effective, and tonight's episode was no different. Tina's story was able to combine the angst that comes with being a "freak" in high school with some well-timed humor. In the end, Tina was able to stand up to Figgins in her own, awesome way, was back to herself, and wasn't going to let anyone bring her down. It shouldn't have been a surprise since she is an Asian vampire, and they are the most vicious of all the vampires.

The Kurt-Finn storyarc came to a head with an extremely emotional scene. I think most of us saw Finn's outburst coming as soon as Kurt started to be flirty with him, and while him dropping the f-bomb was not OK by any stretch of the imagination, it was also kind of understandable. It's easy to villainize Finn for what he said to Kurt, but he had to deal with a lot of change and was put into an uncomfortable situation. Again, let me repeat that what he said was not acceptable, but he's an upset and confused kid, and he let his emotions get the better of him. We've all been there before. At least he was able to learn and grow from his mistake, and now he's on the road toward becoming a better friend and human being. I do wish we spent more time on Finn's redemption though.

Another reason the Kurt-Finn subplot worked so well was because of the always reliable Mike O'Malley because he once again hit it out of the park as Burt Hummel. Burt let Finn have it after hearing what was said, but his reaction wasn't out of anger but out of disappointment. It would have been easy, and justified, if Burt just tore Finn's head off, but instead was able to show Finn the error of his ways through personal experience and reminding him that he's supposed to be better than them all. Burt's speech was not just an example of him being a great parent to Kurt, but to Finn as well. People who do not understand why Glee is great need to watch every Burt Hummel scene, and they'll quickly get it.

The Rachel-Shelby story kind of fell flat to me mostly because it felt like it was much ado about nothing. So many Gleeks have been waiting for the mommy-daughter scenes between Lea Michele and Idina Menzel, but their storyline was wrapped up after two episodes. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of Shelby in the future, and the creators will probably build off of the foundation that was set, but tonight's episode was little payoff after so much hype.

Other Odds and Ends: The Quinn-Puck d-plot felt tacked on, and probably suffered due to fact that so many stories were packed into one episode. It did have its sweet moments though (Puck and the boys singing "Beth"). Am I the only one getting tired of Shu's preachiness? Not enough Brittany and/or Santana this week, but they took advantage of what little screen time they had (Britt's one-liners and Santana showing off her pipes). The biggest shocker of the episode: Matt (AKA "Shaft") actually said something!

While the Lady Gaga and KISS motifs didn't work for me, the overall themes of individuality through theatricality, redemption, and unity are all things I can get behind. Again, what makes Glee great is it can convey said themes in both humorous and dramatic ways. Not many shows can say that.


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