November 15, 2012

Episode Review: GLEE, "Glease"

Last week's competent episode was followed up by another solid one that may have been a tad bit over-dramatic but still fairly enjoyable.

"Glease" was the second part of Glee's homage to Grease, and it mostly focused on the show's opening night but leave it to this show to toss in a dose of angst just to keep things from being too sane. Thankfully, the melodrama swirling around the musical meshed well with the main objective rather than dominating the hour.

Will announced that he was leaving for Washington and tapped Finn as his substitute to mixed reactions. New Directions' lack of confidence was not the only hurdle that Mr. Schue 2.0 had to clear because his outburst put Sue on the warpath, and she was determined to get him kicked out of McKinley, but she turned to sabotaging Grease when that didn't work by robbing him of his Rizzo and commandeering the auditorium. The resilient Finn was able to side-step Sue's vitriol and was able to put together a successful show with the help of his old choir mates, including Santana who subbed in for Wade.

While Finn was just trying to keep everything together, Sue's newest minion was doing her part to ruin everything. Instead of outright sabotaging Marley, Kitty tampered with her costumes to make her think that she was gaining weight. Since Marley's sensitive about her mother's weight issues, she fell for the prank and was thinking about turning to bulimia when Ryder swooped in for the rescue. After a sweet little pep talk from her Danny, Marley was able to pull herself together and own her role as Sandy.

Aside from all of the drama surrounding the production, we got an extra bit of commotion due to Rachel and Kurt's return to Lima. The two debated about whether they should go back to Ohio to support their friends even though they were guaranteed to run into their exes. Cassandra July encouraged them to go, but it was because she had her own nefarious plan. While Rachel was away, she decided to seduce Brody, and of course she couldn't help but share what she did to Rachel when she called him in a moment of weakness brought on by "You're the One That I Want." A devastated Rachel ran into Finn, and it was clear that it was over between them, and they parted ways once and for all. Meanwhile, Kurt's reunion with Blaine did not go over well since he could no longer trust him, and the New Yorkers returned "home" since Lima no longer filled that role.

Much like last week, I appreciated the fact that the majority of the action revolved around a central event; Grease. Instead of trying to tell multiple stories in various locales, "Glease" benefited from making the musical the centerpiece because it grounded what could have been a very sporadic episode. Yes, there were a few NYC moments, but they were mostly just there to inform what was going on in Lima, and this episode was further proof that Glee's at its best when it can focus the insanity.

As for the actual performance, it took a backseat to all of the characters and their personal issues, and usually I'd be OK with that but I was a little bummed because the show didn't feel as integrated to the overall narrative like West Side Story was last season. That said, I have to admit that the stories this time around were not as distracting even though I cared about them a lot less. For example, "The First Time" centered around a pretty meaningful moment in a young person's life (in theory) whereas the things that were going on in "Glease" were not as monumental and didn't overshadow everything else. That's not to say that important things didn't happen, Marley's eating disorder sub-plot and Wade's parents pulling him from the show were significant, but a lot of the drama had to do with our favorite former couples dealing with the fallout from their break-ups. Maybe it's because I no longer care about Finchel, Klaine or Brittana, and that's why what I didn't feel that "Glease" packed any emotional punch.

While watching this episode, I also realized that I really don't care about what's going on in New York. The second the focus switched from Finn to Rachel, I immediately lost interest, and it didn't help that we had to put up with a mopey Kurt and a scheming Cassandra who apparently only fooled Rachel because everyone saw this one coming months ago. And to be honest, I didn't care one bit about Rachel's heart being broken by Brody. I'm not saying that I wanted to see her get hurt, but right now I'm more invested in what's going on in Lima than I am in NYC. Whoda thunk it?

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Now that Dianna Agron's no longer a regular, it looks like Jenna Ushkowitz is the new black sheep because Tina's been downright despicable this season.
  • Tina's costume designer again. Who says Glee disregards continuity?
  • Is Kitty the most evil Glee character ever? My vote is yes.
  • Sue was back to her off-the-wall malicious ways, but she does tell it like it is.
  • Speaking of truth, I love it how Glee just steers into its contrivances (like Sue's rant about will and Santana just showing up) and owns them. This is what happens when people nit-pick too much.
  • Big Mike!
  • Usually, I don't complain about this kind of stuff, but even I was expecting a Samcedes scene and was irked when we didn't get one.
  • Heck, even Mike and Tina got some screen time and she's the worst.
  • Rachel's daydream was clever in spite of the fact that Sam was left out, and it wasn't because he's not an OG's because Blaine was there. Oh well.
  • Musical Highlight: "There Are Worse Things I Could Do"
  • "Who's gonna drive the bus?"
  • "Will, of course you don't because this is just another one of your ill-conceived, bizarrely sentimental schemes that displays absolutely no forethought and appears immediately ridiculous to everyone in America except you."
  • "You're a menace to the state of Ohio!"
  • "You're kind of my moose."
Again, I'm not going to anoint "Glease" as one of Glee's best episodes, but I do have to give it credit for being a somewhat well constructed, entertaining hour of television that didn't get in its own way. Most of the time, that's nothing to brag about, but sometimes it's the highest compliment that can be paid to this show, and it earned the accolades.


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