September 8, 2012

Episode Review: GLEE, "Wheels"

Some of Glee's later episodes have been accused of being too preachy or felt like an after school special, and from the looks of it "Wheels" was the one that kicked off the trend.

When Will learned that the school could not afford getting a handicap accessible bus to send them to Sectionals, he decided that New Directions would put on a bake sale to raise the money themselves. The glee clubbers were initially unhappy with the idea, and they figured Artie wouldn't mind if his dad drove him to the competition. He was upset by his teammates' lack of sensitivity, and Will insisted that they do the bake sale as well as spend time in a wheelchair to get an idea of what kind of challenges Artie's dealt with everyday. The experiment caused Artie and Tina to grow closer, but the romance was brought to a halt when she admitted that she had been faking her stutter to push people away and Artie was upset that the one thing they had in common wasn't real.

Elsewhere, Finn and Rachel had their own problems to deal with in addition to their chairs. Medical bills are starting pile up for Quinn, and she needed Finn's help to take care of them but he couldn't find a job. When Puck overheard Quinn talking about money problems, he stepped in by selling magic cupcakes and taking the school bus money but Quinn refused to take it. It ended up being a moot point because Finn was able to find a job with Rachel's help. As for her, she had to compete with Kurt in a diva off when Will figured that they should perform Wicked's "Defying Gravity" at Sectionals, but he didn't let Kurt audition until his father got involved. Kurt was the favorite to win until he threw the competition after his father got an abusive anonymous phone call.

Meanwhile, Figgins was inspired by Will's students using wheelchairs as a way to learn how to be more sensitive, so he forced Sue to hold open tryouts to fill Quinn's Cheerio spot in order to make the squad more accessible. After a few duds, Sue picked a girl with Down syndrome but Will thought she was up to something. Her motivation was to treat the girl like everyone else because her sister also had the condition.

Now, I don't have a problem when Glee gets preachy or wants to send a message, but even I have to admit that it laid it on thick this time around and it lacked any subtly. While I initially liked the Artie and Kurt storylines, Ryan Murphy really doubled down on the overcoming adversity angle, and had this one aired in Season 2 it probably would've been titled "Obstacles" or "Challenges" instead of the innocuous "Wheels." Sue's plot on the other hand was more divisive because I'm all for her humanization, but the reveal at the end did feel a tad bit manipulative. Oddly enough, the best parts of the episode had to do with Quinn, Puck and Finn because their story was more grounded while also being emotional.

On the Music Front: "Dancing By Myself" was a standout moment for Kevin McHale, but it couldn't compete with "Defying Gravity." The final number, "Proud Mary," was a fun number but also a little too much.

Other Odds and Ends
  • You got to give it to Sue, her Cheerio routines are pretty impressive.
  • Here we go with Quinn's on-again-off-again status as a cheerleader.
  • See, Glee's been dropping plot points since day one. Whatever happened to them performing "Defying Gravity" at Sectionals or Finn's job that kept him in his wheelchair? Why didn't this upset people back then?
  • Wow, for a show that preaches tolerance and being individuals, it really took a shot at the A.V. club. I guess even underdogs need somebody to mock.
  • Man, Lea Michele's a trooper. Not only did she have to deal with slushies, but she had to take that nasty looking food in the kisser.
  • Who would've thought Ashley Fink would turn Zizes from a sight gag into an actual character?
  • I know that this was an Artie/Kurt episode, but Brittany was the real standout.
  • Rachel running into the door frame makes me laugh every time.
  • Another great episode for Mike O'Malley.
  • "Preach!"
  • "It's not about a guy, it it? 'Cause I'm not ready to have that conversation."
  • "Well, you sing like a girl. You know, in a good way."
  • Burt: "This is really getting you down, isn't it?"
    Kurt: "I'm full of ennui."
    Burt: "So, it's really getting you down?"
  • "I'm just saying that I love you more than I love being a star."
There's no denying that "Wheels" was an important episode of Glee, and once again I don't mind the preachiness that this show's accused of, but there were moments that felt too forced and unnatural.


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