May 17, 2011

Episode Review: GLEE, "Funeral"

What can I say about Glee's "Funeral", but I was frustrated in a good way. I think the stories told during this episode worked for the most part, but some major questions arose when it was over. Along with some minor confusion was some pacing issues that made for an odd but still entertaining installment.

One of the main storylines revolved around Sue as she dealt with the passing of her sister. As with most people, Sue did not know who to deal with her grief, and she started to take it out on the wrong people. Since Kurt and Finn have some experience with losing loved ones, they offered to help her make arrangements for her service, which she agreed to assuming they helped her pack up her sister's belongings.

Honestly, there's not much more to write about Sue's story because it was actually pretty straightforward. While there were not a lot of shocking developments brought up by the passing of Jean because Sue reacted the way we would expect her to, a major problem did arise for me as a viewer. If Glee goes out of its way to humanize Sue by making the audience care for her, then they cannot turn her back into a cartoon character next week. While it's true that the writers have always flirted with developing Sue and making her more sympathetic, which I'm all for, she can't go back to doing outlandish things over and over again while trying to destroy Will. It will just undermine everything they tried to do with the character in this episode. Luckily, it seems like they'll be moving away from her pointless vendetta for New Directions, but then we have to wonder what purpose she will play in the future.

The second main storyline had to do with Jesse St. James being brought in as Will's consultant for Nationals. He started off by tearing apart everything that New Directions stood for, and convinced Will that revolving the entire performance around the group's star would the sure fire way to beat Vocal Adrenaline. In order to figure out who the star was, Will decided to hold auditions, and of course Rachel, Santana, Kurt, and Mercedes were the ones who signed up. After some solid performances, Jesse convinced Rachel that she was a lock while also trying to win her back. Schue's final decision was he's not going to highlight just one member of New Directions because that's not their style. Instead, they're going to win or lose Nationals as a team.

Again, the Diva Auditions was pretty straightforward by Glee's standards. The four best singers all vied for the chance to be the star, and they all gave really good performances, but that's all they really contributed to the plot. This part of the episode was clearly a set piece for Jesse St. James because he pretty much stole every scene he was in with his biting critiques (which he picked up during a reality judging class he took at UCLA), one-liners, and rants. Yes, he was a pompous jerk, but that's the role he's supposed to be filling, and he's so good at it. While it was fun watching Jesse do his thing, this storyline had its own set of issues. First, having four songs back-to-back made for an oddly paced episode. We went from a very serious story to nothing but music and then back to the funeral stuff. It just didn't flow all that well. Secondly, I'm still not quite sure why Jesse was even brought in to begin with. Will made up some half-hearted reason, but it just didn't make sense. Then again, I'm not going to complain about having Jonathan Groff back either.

Both Will and Finn kind of meandered through the two main stories while having their own side adventures. Will's going to be sticking around New York after Nationals to work on April's musical, so he was getting ready for the next step while Emma helped nudge him along, and Finn was still dealing with Jesse's reemergence and his on-going feelings for Rachel.

If this episode had focused more on Will and Finn's plots, it would have been marginally better because I was actually interested in what was going on with these characters, and I found myself caring about them again. Will's struggle with staying or going hasn't been as captivating, but I am vaguely intrigued. Finn's role in "Funeral" was by far the story I wanted more off because it tapped into his insecurities and it also was a callback to how his fate might be tied to Lima unlike Rachel's. Unfortunately, it was all glossed over, and I hope they go back to it during the finale.

On the Music Front: All of the solos were good, but the only one that really stood out was Santana's version of "Back to Black", but I'm sure that had more to do with the fact that she's my favorite singer of the group. "Pure Imagination" was a bold move, but I thought they pulled it off, and was the best performance of the night.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • How great was Jesse during this episode?
  • I'm glad Will didn't let Becky join New Directions. That would've been too nice.
  • Frankenteen! Ha!
  • Sue's scene with Kurt and Finn where she questioned why her sister was taken from her was actually pretty deep and moving.
  • Will's look at Finn while he was convincing New Directions to help Sue was great. I miss seeing their relationship.
  • For some reason, I laugh every time Jesse says, "They're on an IV-drip".
  • Why was Quinn wearing white and red to a funeral?
  • I understand why Finn broke up with Quinn, but why even have them get back together in the first place?
  • I would totally watch a "Fondue for Two" that guest starred Jesse.
  • "I don't think I need to do much tricking to get you to do something stupid Finn."
  • "You kind of sing and dance like a zombie who has to poop."
  • "Do I get a super-villain nickname?" "Your nickname is Panda Express." "But I'm not Chinese." "Neither is the food at Panda Express."
  • "I'm "Lima" good. Not "New York City" good."
  • "Wow, Will. That's a lot of vests."
  • "Jesse, maybe you can come on 'Fondue for Two' and judge my cat." "Rock 'n roll."
After a few viewings, I have to admit that I liked "Funeral", but I cannot shake the feeling that the writers painted themselves into a corner regarding Sue. We'll just have to wait and see. It also pumped me up for the finale because hopefully we'll get back to Finn's journey and his relationship with Rachel. For the record, I'm not a Finchel shipper; I just want some closure one way or the other.


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