April 24, 2012

Episode Review: GLEE, "Dance with Somebody"

I probably shouldn't have expected Glee to give us two good episodes in a row because that kind of thinking could only end in disappointment. As you can probably tell, I didn't love "Dance with Somebody," which isn't to say that it was a horrible episode of television because it had its moments; it just wasn't as strong as I expected it to be.

When I first read that Glee was going to be doing a Whitney Houston tribute episode, I thought that it was appropriate and wasn't appalled like so many people. That's probably because I don't hate these kinds of episodes, and I just chalked it up to Glee being Glee. Then I read that it was going to be about the kids saying goodbye, and that's when I started to become suspicious because it felt like Glee wanted this episode to be more than what it was supposed to be. I'm not saying that I want this show to be devoid of emotion or substance (it's quite the opposite actually), but I couldn't help but think that adding this caveat was a way for Ryan Murphy and Co. to stick it to the show's detractors. "See, we can do a tribute episode that means something!" This approach ended up being the reason why I didn't care for "Dance with Somebody." Mixing the theme of goodbye with Whitney Houston's catalog should have made sense (although I don't see the connection aside from her recent passing), but in the end it all felt crammed and forced.

The episode kicked off with Mercedes, Kurt, Santana and Rachel singing to a picture of Whitney that was hanging in someone's locker, which admittedly was a nice moment, but it confused Will. He didn't quite understand why they would still be grieving over her death, and Emma suggested that it might have something to do with the fact that they're getting ready to graduate, and it's their way of coping with the big changes that are coming. Will being the master educator that he is, gave the glee club an assignment to sing Whitney songs that helped them come to terms with leaving McKinley.

Like some of the previous tribute episodes, the musical moments became the glue that held together various vignettes of members of New Directions prepping for the next steps of their lives. The most prominent was Kurt, who has been so focused on NYADA that he and Blaine have bee growing apart. Cue the possible new love interest in the form of some guy named Chandler who Kurt met at the music store. The new boy started sending Kurt flirting texts which he allowed because he liked the attention; that's until Blaine found out. The two had dueling Whitney solos and decided to go to Emma for guidance, and Blaine admitted that he's been pulling away because he's afraid of being alone when Kurt leaves for New York. By episode's end, the two are back on the same page, and they kissed (or hugged at least) and made up.

Now, I'll be honest and admit that I'm fairly indifferent when it comes to Blaine and Kurt. While I think they're a nice enough couple, I'm not invested in their relationship, and I could care less if they survive Kurt's move to NYC. That being said, I did like most of their scenes during this episode because they finally examined the relationship from Blaine's perspective. It's easy to forget that Blaine sacrificed a lot for Kurt by leaving Dalton to join New Directions because the show really hasn't focused on that aspect of the character. Glee has spent so much time making Blaine into this larger than life boyfriend and gay icon that they've forgotten that he's a human. Sure, they've made some strides by giving him that boxing scene with Finn and a family, but I feels like most of Klaine's story has been told from Kurt's point of view so it was refreshing getting to experience Blaine's feelings. Knowing that he has fears all his own made him more realistic and easier to sympathize with.

Elsewhere, Quinn was back (although she wasn't missing from last week's episode even though all of Twitter thought that she was) dealing with the aftermath of her car accident. She's been going to physical therapy and has been discouraged by the fact that it hasn't been working. Joe noticed that she has been down as of late, so he volunteered to join her at her sessions for moral support. Sparks flew as he helped her with her therapy, and they even worked on a song together, but he pulled away before things got too serious. Quinn took his reluctance as a sign that he was not interested, but he was really confused about his new feelings and how they could compromise his faith. After getting some words of advice from their classmates, and an awkward moment where she made it move, the two decided to be honest about their feelings and see what could develop.

Boner jokes aside, I actually really liked the Quinn and Joe subplot because I think they have some decent chemistry, and their scenes together were cute. It also doesn't hurt that pairing up these two could keep them relevant for the final stretch since it's apparent that Glee can only tell stories that revolve around couples (except for the Changs). My only complaint has to do with the fact that the writers are throwing Quinn into another relationship instead of letting her figure out who she is on her own, and that could do her some good. Yeah, she technically wasn't with Puck during her whole punk rocker/criminally insane phase, but she wasn't not with him either, and now she's moved on to Joe. Letting Quinn be on her own for a little while wouldn't be the worst idea in the world, but she would cease to be important like I mentioned before. Then again, Dianna Agron's been saddled with so many bad plot lines that Quinn's fade into obscurity could be a blessing in disguise.

Will not only came up with this week's theme, but he also had a story all his own. It became pretty clear early on that Whitney Houston week had nothing to do with the kids, but had everything to do with Will. He thought that New Directions was having problems saying goodbye to one another, but in reality he was the one struggling with his favorite students moving on, and he feared that they would forget about him. This new panic manifested itself by causing Will to freak out about having a fall/winter wedding, so he decided to push up the date so everyone could attend. Emma saw through this charade and convinced him that his students cared enough about him that they'd come back to celebrate their nuptials. It looked like Will still had his doubts, but they subsided when he saw the glee club gather for an impromptu group performance, and he realized that this group really does love each other.

It's no secret that Will has gone from the show's moral center to its weakest link in a short amount of time, and while I still think he's partially to blame for the show's decline, I find myself rooting for him and rationalizing his bad behavior. For example, Douchester reared his ugly head as he once again snapped at Emma for things she had nothing to do with, but I also understood where he was coming from. While I'm not excusing Will for how he handled his emotions, at least I get them. I just wish the episode could have made the same point without further ruining Will as a character. For this show to survive more than four seasons, Will needs to be redeemed or written out altogether, and while I think it'd be easier to do that latter, I do want him to stick around. Unfortunately, it might be too late for fans to take him seriously ever again.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • There was a minor sub-plot about Rachel and Santana being friends, but it was only shoe-horned in so they could sing together, so I didn't want to waste too much time on it.
  • I still don't quite comprehend Emma's logic behind linking Whitney Houston to saying goodbye to high school. It just seems flimsy to me, but I did like how all of the students kept shooting down Will's theory.
  • Why did they give Brittany the title song? I get that dancing's synonymous with HeMo, but she's not a strong enough singer to pull it off. I can let Glee slide for letting her sing Britney Spears but not for this move.
  • Another thing I cannot let slide: did they really allow Joe to help out with Quinn's physical therapy? Is that even allowed?
  • Wait, the girl who made out with Puck to get back at her boyfriend for something he did before they were even dating had the nerve to give Kurt relationship advice? Sure, Rachel's grown as a character, but that was a bit hypocritical.
  • The scene between Sam and Sam about faith, religion, spirituality and sexuality was nicely handled, and I hope they address these subjects again down the line.
  • By the way, I'll keep saying it: Chord Overstreet needs to be made a regular for Season 4.
  • Apparently, Blaine's going to end up being a dictator who takes over the world.
  • Yay! More Burt and Kurt!
  • We needed more from Puck. That scene in the locker room would have been way more meaningful if he actually had a storyline this week.
  • So, Blaine means more to Puck than Artie?
  • "And Quinn, you're still dancing in my dreams. And you can fly and breathe fire."
  • "Finn sends me cutesy text messages all the time. Usually, their puns about my boobs, but I still appreciate the effort."
  • "Here's the thing about me. I can be super helpful, but when you ask me stuff, you have to be real specific."
  • "You mean like in your pants feelings."
  • "Sorry, Finn. I tried to get your balls back from Rachel, but she's got those on lock down."
  • "Are you qualified for that?"
While writing this, I realized that I may have liked "Dance with Somebody" more than I initially thought. I still think it had some pacing and thematic problems, and there was way too much singing and not enough cohesive storytelling, but this is Glee so that's to be expected. I guess I just wanted it to be another solid outing like "Saturday Night Glee-ver," but they all can't be winners.


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