September 1, 2012

Episode Review: GLEE, "Acafellas"

Re-watching "Acafellas" was a little bittersweet because it reminded me why I started liking Glee in the first place while also being an example of what this show once was and what it could've been.

The Cheerios have officially started their sabotage mission by convincing Rachel to confront Will about his lackluster dance moves and how they would never be able to compete with Vocal Adrenaline if they used them. She insisted that they hire an outside consultant which was a blow to Schue's confidence. As a way to get his grove back, Will started up an a cappella, new Jack swing boy band with Ken, Howard from Sheets 'N Things and a thumb-less shop teacher. Playing gigs at hole-in-the-wall sports bars was just Will need to boost his confidence since it was taken from him by his students and his wife who was hiding the fact that she really wasn't pregnant.

Quinn and her minions did not just have their sights set on Will, but the entire glee club. The choreographer that they tricked Rachel into hiring was an insane taskmaster, and they were sure that he would be so hard on the rest of New Directions that they'd quit. The plan was coming together after he berated everyone but the cheerleaders into leaving the group, but Rachel came to her senses and admitted that they will never be as good of dancers as VA and that they're uniqueness would be their biggest strength. When Quinn and Santana reported to Sue, she wasn't too pleased to hear the news and punished the girls, which helped Quinn realize that truly confident people did not need to tear others down.

Elsewhere, the Unholy Trinity picked up on Mercedes' crush on Kurt and they told her she should go for it. Somehow she deluded herself into believing that she had a shot with him, but he informed her that he had feelings for someone else. Mercedes miss-read Kurt's longing look and thought that he was in love with Rachel, and she did not react well to the rejection so she busted the windshield of his car. Cooler heads prevailed, and Mercedes felt bad about what she did, and it was at this time that Kurt came out to her. When she asked why he hadn't be honest with the rest of glee, he admitted that he wasn't brave enough to own his sexuality.

On the surface, "Acafellas" was an absurd episode, but it was one of my favorites because of how off-the-wall crazy it was. First, you have to oddest boy band ever created, but they were charming because they just went for it and owned their dorkiness. I also enjoyed it because Will's flaws were really front and center, but you could still empathize with him at this point because he was still the nice guy whose dreams never came true and not the complete d-bag that he morphed into during the show's later stretch. Early Glee could easily be considered Will, Rachel and Finn's stories, and Schue was supposed to be the hero who we related to and was our entrypoint into the world. This show worked so much better when he was just that and not the mess of a human being that he became. But more on that later.

Even the B and C-plots had their share of insanity but they too felt grounded and accessible. We understand why Rachel became so obsessed with winning and why Mercedes' loneliness would fuel an unrealistic crush. We've all been there.

Today, one of the main complaints from fans who long for the glory days is how Glee's become too reliant on themed episodes, but "Acafellas" was the start of that trend because it was all about confidence. Will's confidence was shaken by Rachel and he wondered if he could be a father, his dad did not believe in himself enough to be a lawyer, Finn was still afraid to be honest about his feelings, Rachel didn't think they could beat Vocal Adrenaline, Mercedes wasn't sure anyone would love her, Kurt wasn't strong enough to admit that he was gay. Quinn even spoon-fed us the episodes message in that final scene with Sue. The biggest difference between "Acafellas" and say "Funk" was how much more subtle it was compared to latter ones in regards to theme. If this had been a back nine episode, it would've literally been titled "Confidence" and it would've been more glaring.

On the music front: When I first watched this episode, it was before song lists came out a week ahead of time and clips were everywhere on the 'net, so I was floored when I heard "Poison" and "I Wanna Sex You Up." I never thought a show like Glee would go there, and they did which made me appreciate it even more.  "Mercy" was brilliant as usual. I wasn't a fan of "Bust Your Windows," but I'm not going to object to watching a bunch of cheerleaders dance around in bikini tops and knee-high socks.

Other Odds and Ends
  • Forget Rachel's parents. Whatever happened to Will's? We need Victor Garber back stat.
  • Finn and Rachel were much more interesting before they got together and were bickering with one another instead of pretending that they're getting married.
  • BBD were the sages of the R&B world because you really shouldn't trust a big butt and a smile.
  • Hey, it's Duckface!
  • Puck's introduction to the group was a little clumsy and lazy, but Mark Saling made it work.
  • Even before Heather Morris was "Brittany" it was hard not to notice her. I swear my eyes go straight to her every time I watch "Bust Your Windows."
  • Josh Groban was an example of stunt-casting done right.
  • "I don't have thumbs."
  • "Wait, wait, wait. Is this one of those chick things where you're pissed about one thing but you're just pretending like you're pissed about something else?"
  • "I didn't even have to show any of them my bosoms."
  • "Swing that big 'ole bat."
  • "Josh Groban loves a blousy alcoholic."
I saw a lot of potential in Glee after watching "Acafellas." It was still subversively funny with an edge, but it was also starting to flesh out the characters and made me become invested in their lives. Sure, it was silly in its storytelling, but I couldn't help but be caught up in it all. Thankfully, the show capitalized on the good will, but even I have to admit that it didn't last forever.


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