February 8, 2011

Episode Review: GLEE, "Silly Love Songs"

With the exception of Halloween, Glee's been able to put on some pretty entertaining holiday-themed episodes. "Silly Love Songs" was not just a good Valentine's Day ep, but one of the better installments of the show's rocky second season.

In typical Glee fashion, "Silly Love Songs" jammed way too many storylines into a small amount of time, but luckily they all worked for the most part. Much like my recap of "Special Education", I'm going to try to tackle each plot point individually.

The Quinchelam Quadrangle
Apparently this show is not satisfied with just love triangles because the writers always have the throw a fourth (sometimes fifth) person in the mix. Early this season, there was a hint at a Brittany/Artie/Tina/Mike rhombus, but thankfully those four are set with their current significant others. Since that foursome fizzled, Ryan Murphy decided to shake up the Finn/Rachel/Quinn/Sam pairings just for the fun of it.

Finn and Quinn have seen their feelings for one another be reignited after their kiss at the end of the Super Bowl episode, and "Silly Love Songs" spent a lot of time on the aftermath. Finn's new found swagger and popularity led him to come up with the idea of setting up a kissing booth to earn some cash for New Directions, but to also make Quinn jealous enough to admit her feelings. Sam caught on to what was going on, and Rachel just wanted some closure. By the end of it all, we learned that both Finn and Quinn are being torn by two lovers, and they need to figure out who they belong with.

Watching high school-aged characters get caught up in their own romantic lives can be tiring and infuriating because they can act so irrationally that it just becomes annoying. Every once in a while Glee steers towards that unbearable zone when it comes to couples, but I start to calm down when I remind myself that this is how most teenagers act. That's just a long-winded way of me saying that I didn't hate the love quadrangle this time around.

The main reason why I could actually tolerate the drama was it allowed the characters to actually grow. For the first time in a long time we got to see Quinn regret what she did to Finn, which made her character more sympathetic and interesting (take her out of her Cheerios uniform, and Quinn becomes relevant again). Finn still needs to make up his mind, but at least he's being more upfront with both Quinn and Rachel, even though he's still lying to himself. Even though they're cheating, I felt sorry for them rather than contempt which I wasn't expecting. The lovelorn Rachel finally realized that she's fabulous on her own and can finally move on...until Finn gets his act together. The only weak link was Sam, but I was glad that he didn't just let Quinn and Finn play their flirty games. Unfortunately his solution to have them kiss wasn't the smartest move.

Puck and Lauren
The show's newest ship was also the most unlikely; Puckerman and Lauren Zizes. After their seven minutes in Heaven, technically it was only three due to Puck's lack of game, the mohawked one became obsessed with the female wrestling champion. At first, Lauren wasn't buying what Puck was selling, which threw him off of his game. Not to be denied, he pulled out all of the stops in order to woo her which included a serenade and a Ring Pop. Zizes finally gave in and agreed to go out on a date with Puck just to stand him up, but he was still not deterred and confessed his true feelings for her: he likes her because she's the only girl as badass as him. She was willing to throw Puck a bone by starting off as friends and to see where things go from there.

For some odd reason that I cannot really articulate, I really like the idea of Puck and Lauren as a couple. I think it has something to do with the fact that it's so out of the ordinary that it's an interesting idea. The pairing also works because it's not being played for just laughs. While watching Puck woo Lauren, I truly believed that he wanted to be with her for legitimate reasons. It'd be easy to make this subplot a cruel, unfunny joke, but I really think he's smitten. The fact that Zizes was also given some character development, and some truly cute moments, didn't hurt either.

The Warblers
Back at Dalton Academy, Blaine and Kurt's friendship blossomed to the point where the Harry Potter look-a-like knew exactly how the Golden Globe winner took his coffee. While debating about the merits of Valentine's Day, Blaine confessed that he liked someone and wanted to have the Warblers help him express his feelings. Of course Kurt thought it was him, which obviously meant Blaine was talking about someone else: some guy who worked at the Gap. Although Kurt was heartbroken, his BFFs (Mercedes and Rachel) convinced him to support his champion. Too bad for Blaine his crush didn't feel the same way, but Kurt did muster up the courage to tell him how he felt. There's still hope for all of the Blurt shippers out there.

Like most Dalton moments, this one felt a little bit out of place, but it wasn't as glaring as the "Bills, Bills, Bills" scene from Sunday's episode. At least Kurt and Blaine had an actual storyline this time around, even if it was a predictable one. As a fan, I've always wanted Blaine to be Kurt's friend and nothing more because putting them together would be too easy. I want Kurt to find love, but I want it to be with someone who wasn't his white knight like both Finn and Blaine have been. Oddly enough, the Kurt/Blaine C-plot was more about the former than the latter, which kind of contradicts the arguments that Season 2 has been all about Kurt. Once again, one of the marginal characters got to grow as Blaine admitted that he's not as put together as he seems. It's nice to know that Blaine isn't perfect, and he has the same insecurities as all teenage boys.

Santana Worship
After a year and a half of torture, the glee club finally called Santana out on her bad behavior which just caused her to crank up her bitchiness to eleven. She didn't really have a story of her own, but she did pull of her best trickster impersonation and caused trouble for everyone else. She was jealous that Puck was paying attention to Lauren, so she tried to steal him back which led to the best girlfight ever. She even tricked Finn and Quinn into revealing their scandalous kiss by having him give her mono.

One thing was very clear after tonight's episode: we need more Santana! Sure, she's always been there with a well timed insult, but having her scheme the way she did just added to her already fiery personality. With Quinn giving up her Libby ways, Santana has been primed to take over the role of HBIC, and we got a glimpse of what she's capable of during this week's episode. In the end, I still want Santana to be a good person, but it's fun watching her be so bad, and she could be a more convincing villain than Sue.

The Rest
Not everyone had a prominent role during "Silly Love Songs", but I'm pretty sure every member of New Directions had a line. Mercedes was there to help Rachel and Kurt realize that being single could be beneficial. Mike and Artie teamed up for their love song assignment and sang "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)". The only gleek who wasn't well served during this episode was Tina because she broke down during her performance of "My Funny Valentine" because she loved Mike too much. What the what? I guess they all can't be home runs.

Whew, that's everything! "Silly Love Songs" was so jammed packed, and plot threads were flying all over the place, but it was paced better than "Special Education". While there as a lot going on, I never felt like the stories were rushed or haphazardly strewn about, which is a definite upgrade.

On the music side of things, I really enjoyed "P.Y.T." mostly because it allowed Harry Shum, Jr. to pull out his best Michael Jackson moves. I'm also a fan of the guys performing like their own little boy band, so I dug "Fat Bottomed Girls". The two Warblers numbers, "When I Get You Alone" and "Silly Love Songs", were good but featured Blaine way too much. We wouldn't have even gotten a second number without Kurt, but he was relegated to the background yet again. I was bummed that they wasted "My Funny Valentine" on a sight gag, and "Firework" was a little too overproduced (most of Lea's solos tend to be). Overall, the songs and the performances worked really well within the context of the episode.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • I wasn't a fan of Cocky Finn, and I was bummed that the writers are toying around with his character, but I was back on his side by episode's end.
  • It was nice having Fashionista Kurt back for a spell.
  • When Blaine called Kurt "dummy", I couldn't help but have a Liz/Dennis flashback.
  • Brittany, Santana, and Quinn are hot out of their cheerleader uniforms...and in street clothes. Pervs.
  • The Diva Slumber Party should be a weekly thing.
  • Finn's kissing booth looked just like Lucy's psychiatrist booth. Just another reason why this show rocks.
  • Blaine and Kurt should have pulled up to the Gap in a Chevrolet Cruze.
  • How is Santana in a sexy candy-striper outfit gay?
  • That extra who got to mack with Naya Rivera might be the second luckiest guy ever. Right after Kevin McHale.
  • "I'm totally going to graduate now!"
  • "You're addicted to vests."
  • "You MOCK us, sir!"
  • "High five!"
  • "Tenderoni!"
  • "That's how we do it in Lima Heights!"
  • "I have had mono so many times it turned into stereo."
  • "What is this place?" "It's the library."
There are plenty of critics out there who enjoyed "Silly Love Songs" because it focused on the New Directions students instead of the adults (A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff's write-up was by far my favorite), and it's hard to argue with that logic. This season, the show's been dragged down by Schue's self-destructive behavior and Sue's cartoonish antics, but special things can when an episode gets back to basics and lets the young actors do their thing. "Silly Love Songs" proved that you can have an overstuffed episode with coherent plotlines, character development, and big musical numbers and still be good. This was the version of Glee that won over so many fans last fall, and it's hopefully an example of where the show is heading this spring.


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