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Glee Recap: Suicide and Regionals

GLEE: New Directions perform at Regionals in the "On My Way" Winter Finale episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, Feb. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Adam Rose/FOX

In the beginning, it seems like any other ho-hum Tuesday on Glee — one scoop nonsense, two scoops racism, a bushel of Mr. Schue being insensitive, and a peck of scientific impossibility. In the beginning. First, Sebastian corners Rachel and Kurt at the Lima Bean ("Well, if it isn't a young Barbra Streisand and an old Betty White" — good line!) to deliver a dire warning: He has jankily Photoshopped Finn’s face onto some pictures of a dude in ladies’ shoes with a bare-naked Johnson! Curses! And he threatens to upload them to “THE INTERNET” unless Rachel agrees to drop out of Regionals so the Warblers can achieve an incredibly unsatisfying fake win! Because that makes total sense — I’m sure everyone in Ohio is spending nights and weekends Googling the name of the world’s most terra-cotta high school show choir performer, and, if they are, would give TONS of cares about a glaringly fake and narcoleptically tame Photoshop project. I’m sure. Not even considering forfeiting the spotlight for one goddamn moment, Rachel is like, “That is show choir terrorism!” and announces to the glee club that she WILL perform at Regionals regardless of the consequences for Finn’s genitals. Finn is mad for sixteen seconds. Then Mr. Schue, predictably unhelpful, literally says, "You guys are just going to have to deal with things like this!” Because he is a sociopath.

Sue announces that she’s pregnant even though she was almost born in the fifties, and no one even thinks that’s a little bit weird or that she possibly got banged by the Holy Spirit. She follows it up with this chestnut, while discussing her pregnancy-heightened sense of smell: "In the last 24 hours you've either enjoyed a delicious curry or a hug from principal Figgins." See, get it, because he’s Pakistani? And Pakistani people smell like curry? Because they’re Pakistani, which means that all they do is eat curry all day and all night? My other car is a curry? Curry is my co-pilot? Curry on my wayward son? (At least actor Iqbal Theba is Pakistani. I don’t know whether Principal Figgins is supposed to be Pakistani or Indian or what — I’m not an expert on the Principal Figgins backstory — but I’d like to point out that my taking two seconds to look up Iqbal Theba’s ethnic heritage on Wikipedia instead of just going with “Indian” to save time shows slightly more racial sensitivity than THE ENTIRE THREE SEASONS OF GLEE COMBINED.)

Quinn asks Sue if she can rejoin the Cheerioblahbahbalbhbhldslfsadfdfzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sue is like “no.” Then Sue sniffs some hot dog water and vomits into a bag. Everything seems meganormal so far, right? Right.

Okay. Then comes the part when a completely normal episode of Glee goes OFF THE EFFING RAILS AND NEVER COMES BACK. Here we go. Suckerpunchtown, USA. Reformed bully Dave Karofsky returns to McKinley, only to discover that his garbage jock friends found out about his secret gay touchings, spray-painted “FAG” on his locker, and cyberbullied him all up and down the Facebook. I hate them so much. So — accompanied by a super-angsty and sensitive rendition of “Cough Syrup” by Blaine — Karofsky goes home, puts on a fancy suit, and hangs himself with a belt. Onscreen. It is rough. (I don’t know if it’s a miraculous coincidence or some form of macabre product placement that this episode aired on the same night as the "It Gets Better" TV special, but kudos to someone.) Okay. So chill — Karofsky ISN’T DEAD at this point (suspense!). His dad found him right away — a harrowing scene that Glee insists we watch — and took him to the hospital and he’s unconscious but the God Squad is sending him an Edible Arrangement as soon as they get finished having an extremely condescending conversation about the selfishness of suicide. (Remember how sensitive and wise Quinn was last episode? Apparently that was some sort of fugue state, and she’s back to her normal self now: "I feel sorry for Karofsky. But what he did was so selfish ... I went through the ringer, but I never got to that place." WELL, CONGRATULATIONS, DUCHESS.) Kurt is all upset because Karofsky called him nine times but Kurt didn’t pick up because he felt awkward. Everyone agrees that life is too short (game: take a drink every time someone in this episode says that life is too short! [do not attempt unless you are a seasoned alcoholic]), and Rachel decides to push up the wedding date AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN because ATTENTION.

Sebastian apologizes to the New Directions for lacerating Blaine’s eyeballs and also for the thing with the Finn and the Photoshopped penis. He explains that he used to bully Karofsky about being “100 pounds overweight” and tell him that he should “stay in the closet, buddy.” Now Sebastian feels hella remorseful, and so, "Win, lose, or draw, we're going to dedicate our [Regionals] performance to Dave Karofsky." How nice. This has to be some sort of long-game bully megacaper, right? Or they just have to hurry up and make Sebastian not-evil so that he and Blaine can bang later? Whatever.

All of a sudden everyone is in the choir room and Mr. Schue is holding up a jar of peanut butter and looking impish. That Irish kid, he explains, has NEVER TASTED PEANUT BUTTER (impossible — peanut butter is actually how the Hollywizards get Irish people to look like they’re “talking” onscreen!). Now, this might seem like the most abrupt, insensitive segue since whatever I hated in the last episode (teen suicide à PB and high jinks sandwich!), but it all kind of connects in a minute, I promise. Mr. Schue explains that life is full of exciting firsts — like licking a peanut-butter spoon in a dirty band room in Ohio — and makes everyone promise to remember that they’re young and they might get to lick figurative peanut butter some day so they’d better not kill themselves. Then everyone goes around the room and says what they’re most looking forward to in life. (Brittany is looking forward to Lord Tubbington kicking his Ecstasy addiction!!!) Then they cut back to the Irish kid and the ENTIRE JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER IS GONE (I wish).

Now it’s Regionals. The Warblers open with two perfectly serviceable and medium-charming songs that I’ve never heard of (“Stand” by Lenny Kravitz and “Glad You Came” by the Wanted). New Directions decide that since life is too short and the dulcet tones of Kravitz are irresistible, they’re going to give the Warblers a standing ovation. So they do. In the name of Karofsky. It’s very sweet.

Then an ACTUAL CHOIR — the Golden Goblet Madrigal Singers — gets up and sings approximately four seconds of an actual choir song without doing a single jazz square and everyone makes fun of them even though that shit is hella hard, you guys! (As a lifelong choir person, I BRISTLE.) They are wearing bonnets, which is unfortunate but cannot be helped at this point.

Oh, great. More rapping. More rapping than ever before. Glee, we’ve discussed this. For their big moment in Regionals, New Directions performs “Fly” by Nicki Minaj mashed up with R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” while dancing in a marshy smog cloud. It is … adequate. I don’t know. All these big, bland, megaproduced ensemble numbers just run together for me. Like, you know what I like about choirs? Humans singing. You know what I like about Nicki Minaj songs? NICKI MINAJ. Plus, it seems like it should be a piece of cake to make the audience feel something in such an emotionally fraught episode, right? But … nothing. All I can think about is the fact that Regionals is the main story line here and KAROFSKY’S SUICIDE ATTEMPT IS NOW OFFICIALLY A SUBPLOT. Anyway, the Trouble Tones follow that up with “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” which is, again, forgettably fine.

Rachel commandeers the stage to sing “Here’s to Us,” which I guess is an oblique wedding announcement because the gay dads go bonkers. Then the New Directions boys peek out of the auditorium balconies and sing backup harmony from way up there and everything sounds perfect. (HA. SHYEAH RIGHT. Real choir nerds know that THAT SHIT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE. Ask the Golden Goblets.)

Okay, then the vampire judge (oh, there’s a vampire judging Regionals — missed opportunity for a hilarious cameo, in my opinion) gets wheeled out on to the stage in a coffin to announce the results. A coffin. In an episode about SUICIDE. So … we’re supposed to take death really, really seriously … but also it’s a joke? Because vampires are wacky? Hey, maybe Karofsky will come back as a gay vampire! That would be cool! Hhhhhhh. Oh, and duh, also New Directions wins Regionals! Which I actually legitimately forgot to write down because it seemed so inconsequential when KAROFSKY IS IN THE HOSPITAL IN A COMA BECAUSE HE GOT BULLIED TO DEATH, YOU GUYS.

Then we’re supposed to give a quick shit about Quinn being back in the Cheerios. She apologizes to Rachel for being unsupportive of the wedding because — surprise — life’s too short.

Kurt goes to visit Karofsky in the hospital (he’s awake!), where he hasn’t even touched his Edible Arrangement. Kurt says, “I’m really happy that you’re alive, David.” And David says, "I made your life a living hell for months, but when the same thing happened to me I couldn't even take it for a week." Kurt takes Karofsky on a guided fantasy through his future not-dead life as a successful sports agent with a hot boyfriend, and it is beyond darling. This is the kind of moment when Glee excels — when it can bring this level of thoughtful, nuanced, socially responsible conversation into bajillions of American homes in an election year when crazed bigots are trying to legislate gay children to death. This scene should have been the whole episode.

Oh, OKAY, then Quinn is driving home to grab her bridesmaid’s dress for Rachel and Finn’s wedding (don’t worry about how she has a bridesmaid’s dress when twenty minutes ago she wasn’t even invited to the wedding), when she looks down to send Rachel a quick “on my way” text. OOPS, THEN QUINN GETS SAVAGELY T-BONED BY A TRUCK. Boom. Cliff-hanger. Don’t text and drive. (Because that’s what this episode needs: another object lesson.) SEE YOU ON APRIL 10, GUYS.

Photo: Adam Rose/FOX