September 9, 2012

Episode Review: GLEE, "Ballad"

I don't think "Ballad" will go down as one of the better episodes of Glee, or even a good one, but for some reason I really enjoyed it and will always be a guilty pleasure of mine.

It has been mandated that every glee club perform a ballad during Sectionals, and Will figured the way to teach his the concept of a ballad by having them pair up and sing to one another. Since Matt was out because a spider laid eggs in his ear, he had to put his name in the hat and got stuck with Rachel. After showing everyone an example ("Endless Love"), Rachel became instantly smitten with her teacher. She spent the rest of the episode trying to win her over, so much so that Terri even used her to do some household chores, but another one of Will's schoolgirl crushes gave her some harsh truth; her feelings for Mr. Schue were just defense mechanisms. Rachel came to her senses and smoothed things over with Will via flowers and a "sorry I went crazy" note.

Finn also had to deal with his own crush in the form of Kurt, who was his partner for the ballad assignment. Things were getting more and more tense with Quinn, and Kurt saw an opening so he tried to trick Finn into seeing how unstable she was with hopes that he would fall for him. Finn really wasn't on the same page with Kurt, but he was stressed out by everything that's been going on with Quinn and by the fact that he may never get to the chance to let his daughter know how he felt. Kurt convinced him to express himself the best way he knew how, via song. After he was caught singing to a sonogram by his mother, Finn ended up breaking the news to Quinn's parents during dinner by singing "(You're) Having My Baby" which didn't go over well. An irate Mr. Fabray kicked Quinn out of the house while her mother looked on but didn't speak up.

As we've seen throughout its run, Glee's always been out there and sometimes this approach works and sometimes it doesn't. Personally, I tend to prefer the more grounded flavor of the show, but the fact that "Ballad" was a tad over the top worked for me. Rachel's crush on Schue was a very standard trope, but Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison's commitment to the insanity made it work more than it should have. And you have to admit that there was some chemistry there.

The Finn storyline would have played better if Kurt wasn't around to make everything feel creepy, and I feel the fallout that occurred after he sang to Quinn in front of her parents would've been more effective if he wasn't duped into it by a boy with a silly crush. Yes, Finn's never been the brightest Crayon in the box, but what happened to him ended up being the punchline to a very unfunny joke, and the moment probably should've gotten a bit more respect than it did.

Other Odds and Ends
  • Once again, the show's message gets mixed up with its execution because it still praises being different but takes swipes at conservative Christians. While I don't agree with that group, it seems a little hypocritical to mock them while cherishing a more liberal viewpoint. Just something to think about.
  • Whatever happened to Susie Pepper?
  • I almost forgot how inappropriate and stalker-y Kurt was during Season 1.
  • Romy Rosemont was pretty terrific during this episode.
  • Sure, it's a little creepy, but the scene between Rachel and Will in his car was pretty entertaining to watch.
  • "It's a male duck."
  • "I bet the duck's in the hat."
  • "I don't know why I find his stupidity charming. I mean, he's cheating off a girl who thinks the square-root of four is rainbows."
  • "You're a very good performer."
  • "You need to find some self-respect, Rachel. Get that mildly attractive groove back."
  • "Is there a cake?"
The schoolgirl crush is a well-worn cliche that almost every high school based show has used, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that Glee went there too. Yet, it felt fresher this time around because the show amped up the absurdity rather than taking things seriously and it was definitely the right call. It's just too bad that Brad Falchuk also let Kurt run amok as well.


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