April 10, 2012

Episode Review: GLEE, "Big Brother"

It's kind of appropriate that Glee's first episode back from a long hiatus would have me torn since that's how I've felt about this show for the last couple of seasons. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan, and there was a lot to like about "Big Brother," but there were also a lot of things that just irked me.

Let's start with the positives. One of the bigger problems Glee has had over the last two seasons has been one of the things that's made it special: Sue Sylvester. Jane Lynch earned her Emmy and Golden Globe thanks to the show's first season, but her character's been a hindrance for some time now, but I think her story during this episode was a step in the right direction. Now, I've never been on board with the "Sue's pregnant" arc, but it doesn't look like it's going away, but "Big Brother" made me care about it for the first time ever. Her role as top dog's being threatened by the synchronized swimming coach, so she decided to barter with Figgins to maintain her status. She promised him that she could help New Directions win Nationals which would bring in some cash, and Figgy would let her keep her job as coach of the Cheerios.

At first, her role as co-glee club coach allowed her to be typical Sue as she berated the kids until they complained to Will, but this situation quickly gave way to the larger story of her being a mother. Now, that she's working a little closer to Will, he and Emma were willing to be more supportive of her, and they even volunteer to accompany her to the doctor's office when she's supposed to learn about the sex of her child. As it turned out, she's going to have a girl but there were some complications. Some how word spread to Becky, and she congratulated her and asked that she learn how to be patient. Becky's words sunk in, and Sue's first step towards redemption was to still push New Directions but she would try to be more weary of their feelings.

For a minute, I'm going to put aside my issues with Sue being pregnant. What I liked about her story line during this episode was the fact that it addressed how problematic she's become. So many viewers have been put off by how wildly inconsistent her character's become because she's nice to the glee club during one episode and evil the next. Sure, it seemed a little easy for her to blame hormones or whatever, but it was a bit of self-aware writing that indicated to me that the show runners are dedicated to refocusing Sue. While I doubt she'll be nice from now on, she needs to have an edge, I'm hoping that her character will not be as manic from this point forward. Plus, it was nice seeing her act like a human being again, and I really do think that her being Will's only adult friend could pay off down the line.

The other part of "Big Brother" that I enjoyed immensely was the titular sibling. Blaine's brother, Cooper Anderson, has become somewhat of a celebrity thanks to a series of commercials he did for a credit score website. His re-emergence in the Midwest set off a frenzy as everyone was star struck, but of course Blaine was not too happy to see him. Being a charitable prima donna, Cooper decided to help New Directions hone their acting skills, but Blaine still wasn't thrilled about the idea.

You see, Cooper has always been overly critical of his younger brother, and he would take any opportunity to point out what he did wrong instead of praising him for what he did right. After years of this kind of treatment, Blaine became resentful and jealous, so having Cooper swoop in and impress all of his friends did not sit well with our favorite Warbler. Since this is television, Blaine refused to really face the issues he had with his brother, and instead he sang angry songs while punching a heavy bag and taking a shower. Luckily, his loving boyfriend convinced him to share his feelings to Cooper, and we got a decent musical moment where the two siblings sang a break-up song to one another.

I'm just going to say it; Matt Bomer may have been the best thing to ever happen to Glee. That statement may have something to do with my love for Chuck and White Collar, but he was amazing as Cooper Anderson. His character brought the right amount of absurdity to the episode, and he was responsible for the majority of the laughs. For example, I died when I realized that he was the star of a credit score website ad, and I laugh every time he shows the gleeks his turn-into poses that he uses for his headshots. Having him comment on things like the importance of the finger point, fame, the death of Broadway and NCIS was also genius. It could be argued that his character was a little too over-the-top and one-dimensional, but most of these types of characters tend to be a little flat, and I loved how Bomer owned it from the first second. Cooper Anderson probably won't go down as one of Glee's best characters, but damn it all if he wasn't a lot of fun thanks to Bryce Larkin.

Now on to the stuff I didn't love. Within in the first couple of minutes we learned that Finn and Rachel did not get married because of what happened to Quinn, and we also found out that she survived the car accident and was wheelchair bound. Quinn was determined to not let her tragedy get her down, so she put on a brave front and even used her time in the chair to get to know Artie a little better. The two had some sweet moments together like him cheering her on as she tackled McKinley High's steepest accessibility ramp, and him taking her to a skate park for people with disabilities, but he also wanted to make sure that she was being realistic about her situation. She informed the glee club that while she was confined to a wheel chair, there's a chance that she could fully recover, and she made her mission to be dancing on the Nationals stage. While Artie wanted to be supportive of Quinn, he also wanted her to be prepared to face the possibility that she may never walk again which upset her and sent her into the arms (or hands) of Samuel from The Glee Project.

During an episode of "The Small Screen Podcast," I shared my thoughts on Quinn's accident. I was convinced that she would have to die after being side-swiped by a truck, and that anything else would be a huge cop out. While I knew that the chances of her being written out of the show were small, I was hoping that Ryan Murphy and Company would be bold enough to go down the route. As we found out, they took the easy way out and put her in a wheelchair. On top of that, they gave themselves another out by focusing on the fact that she could still end up walking by season's end. I get why they did what they did, but I was ultimately disappointed by the gutless move because killing off Quinn could have taken this show to a whole new level. Instead, all we got was some Quartie fan service and Joe Hart being shoe-horned into New Directions.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • On the Music Front: All of the songs were pretty forgettable in my opinion, so let's move on.
  • The only positive of Quinn's accident was the fact that Finn and Rachel didn't get married, but unfortunately we're not done with this story arc.
  • Having Quinn just show up in a wheelchair was kind of anti-climactic, but why should I expect Glee to take any real risks at this point.
  • I can't believe that I'm typing this, but the Housewives lady actually made me laugh a few times.
  • I missed it the first time, but Brad cheering on Sue after she destroyed Mercedes' phone was amazing.
  • Honestly, Sue taking over booty camp makes a lot of sense, and I hope the writers keep it going.
  • Who is Tabitha?
  • Matt Bomer really is a Disney prince.
  • Maybe instead of an NYC spin-off, we can get one about Puck and Finn's misadventures in Los Angeles? That already sounds 10 times more entertaining.
  • Sam's reaction to Cooper's introduction is infectious.
  • Are they really trying to force a Quartie ship?
  • Cooper's master class in acting = brilliant.
  • Puck made some good points about Finn's relationship with Rachel. Could this be the end of Finchel? Let's hope so.
  • Darren Criss in the shower is going to break the Internet.
  • I've let this show slide so many times, but having Artie and Tina go on Senior Ditch Day annoyed the crap out of me.
  • So Joe Hart just shows up and he's in New Directions. They really don't have standards?
  • I'm calling it now: David Boreanaz is going to be Sue's baby daddy.
  • Tell her what's up Finn!
  • "So no tears. That means you Tina."
  • "Stop trying to understand my actions."
  • "Footloose movie marathon! Footloose and Footloose 2011."
  • "The Apple guy, the Facebook guy, Abroham Lincoln..."
  • "My nana loves that show!"
  • "These are my friends. It sounds so weird coming out of my mouth."
  • "It also wouldn't kill you to stop letting Kurt pick out your clothes."
  • "Sorry. Self-obsessed bitch."
  • "I thought I was being kind. For instance, I said absolutely nothing about the implausible sexual tension between Mercedes and the Kentucky Fried Stripper."
  • "I am here for two very important reasons. Number one, Mr. Schuester needs at least one adult friend..."
  • "Hold on a second, I want to remember this emotion so I can use it in a scene one day."
Admittedly, I was hoping for a stronger return after such a long break, but I also can't say that "Big Brother" was a total disaster. Sue and Cooper Anderson provided enough character development and laughs respectively to salvage what could have been a flop, and while I threatened to disown this show if Quinn survived, I know that I'll be on the bandwagon for the foreseeable future. Damn you Murphy, Brennan, Falchuk and your addictive TV show.


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