Adjusting to show choir without Gwyneth Paltrow was bound to be a little tough, but this week brought us back to Glee as usual (or at least as usual as the show’s been lately): another great celeb cameo (the fabulous Carol Burnett), a mixed bag of songs (Leonard Bernstein, yay! Ever more Bruno Mars, nay!), a few skin-crawlingly PSA-ish moments (Sue to mom: “You know what I realized? You’re a bully”), plus the usual wacky range of emotional notes. Everyone (including Kurt) finally dealt with Kurt’s Karofsky problem; Quinn accepted Sam’s promise ring in a very adorable way; Santana addressed Finn with Cory Monteith’s Twitter handle (@Frankenteen); and oh yeah, a wedding happened!
Finally, an episode-long plotline about Sue! A brief moment of “Sue’s Corner” (“Which is why I just prefer to think of the homeless as outdoorsy”) leads us into another humanizing moment for Sue when she hears on air that Rod “You can’t tame the tiger" Anchorman is getting engaged to his idiot anchorlady, which in turn leads us to Sue’s magnificent online dating profile (interests include extreme taxidermy and poking the elderly), followed by the unrealistic-in-real-life (but probably realistic in Sue’s world) decision to marry herself. The weirdness continues when Carol Burnett makes her much ballyhooed appearance as Nazi-hunter extraordinaire Doris Sylvester, who gives us fantastic insight into Sue’s childhood (“Remember how you’d line up your dollies and they’d sing to each other Appalachian murder ballads?”) and into Sue’s, well, bullying complex. But not until she’s convinced Sue to sing this lovely duet from Wonderful Town (including an approximation of the excellent mid-song dialogue!). We can’t help but be charmed by the lovely harmony these two have together, both comedically and musically.
Neither Kurt nor Finn seems shocked by the announcement that their parents are engaged (did this not seem a little too smooth after all the family conflict in past episodes?), though Finn’s less than ebullient: It suddenly sinks in that he’ll be tied to one of the most picked-on kids at school, which in turn drives home the point that he hasn’t exactly stuck up for Kurt on a daily basis. Speaking of which, after many weeks of apparent ignorance on the part of his glee comrades, Kurt’s bullying at the hands of Karofsky takes center stage in everyone’s attention. Rachel wants to band the New Directions boyfriends together for a beat-down, which a rather endearing Sam ends up leading (also, since when is Mike Chang a football player?), and even Sue shows a believable soft side, maintaining Kurt has to learn to rise above bullies but nonetheless expelling Karofsky (and later promising to help protect Kurt in the halls — aw!). Meanwhile, New Directions pulls together the “glee wedding” Kurt envisioned, dancing down the aisle in Bruno Mars Moment No. 1. It’s a surprisingly great number, mainly because each kid gets to shine and we’re thus reminded of the collective talent of the group. Plus, Artie gets to twirl rhythmic-gymnastics ribbons!
Not much to say here, other than that Matthew Morrison obviously looks very cute in a shiny Michael Buble suit and croons handsomely without making us once wince at how icky-or-not his singing is around the kids. Later in the episode, he will watch benevolently as the group sings (without clapping and yelling “Wooo!”), which makes us feel kinda sad for him — remember his wonderful, angry acting moments with Terri? We sort of wish the writers would give him more of that soon.
“Just the Way You Are”
This season began with Finn obviously uncomfortable with Rachel’s overbearing relationship talk; suddenly he’s in love with her, but we’ll chalk this up to a teenage boy looking for safety when a whole lot about his world is changing. Quinn continues to gradually let her walls down around Sam, and we’re still wowed by their quite adorable chemistry. Sue’s time with mom — and wedding plans, apparently — come to an abrupt end as she and her sister stand up to the, er, bully in their lives. And in a drastic moment, Kurt reaches a breaking point with Karofsky, which means that he’s only too ready to transfer to Dalton Academy when his parents are willing to give up their honeymoon money to make it happen. It’s at least evident that Kurt’s not entirely in the right here; the questioning faces of the New Directions crew alone are enough to convey the point that running away isn’t necessarily the solution. Which brings us to Bruno Mars Moment No. 2 of the week. Initially, we rolled our eyes at this extremely obvious song selection — why, with so much great music out there, did this season need three (so far!) very vanilla Bruno songs? But on second thought, it’s a pretty great reflection of what the kids seemed to crave this week: innocence, a little simplicity in a hard world — it’s the musical equivalent of Rachel just wanting someone to tell her she’s pretty. Maybe we can deal with that once in awhile — and at least it sounds like we’ll hear some Florence and the Machine next week!