Previously, on the midseason finale of Glee, Finn and Rachel were on the brink of marriage and Quinn was hit by a truck while drive-texting. Thirty seconds into this episode, Finn and Rachel mention their postponed wedding; thirty seconds after that, Quinn rolls up in a wheelchair but very much alive. I'm not exactly disappointed that Quinn lived through the accident, but her death would've been an interesting direction for the show to move in, and since Dianna Argon was obviously engineered in a lab that breeds future leads in Nicholas Sparks adaptations, it's not like she would've been out of work for long.
In conclusion: Phew, I guess? On we go!
Straight off, Quinn and Artie launch into Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," which is peppy and fun enough, although a little hard to focus on because Sugar is sitting in the front row of the choir room wearing what looks like a run-over men's dress shoe as a headband. Quinn announces that her spine is compressed, but says she'll be dancing by nationals. Tina sniffles at the end of her speech. I am reasonably confident that sniffle was Tina's only line in the episode. I would not be surprised if it was Tina's last line this season.
Surprisingly, it takes Rachel thirteen full minutes to find a way to make Quinn's accident all about her. During a brainstorming session for senior ditch day activities (Brittany once again wins everything by announcing that since it's springtime, she'd like to see something give birth), Rachel breaks down in tears. Quinn promises she'll be walking soon, and then gets Rachel to stop crying by suggesting senior ditch day be held at Six Flags. Rachel is mollified and scurries away in search of something else to overreact to. The blend of Quinn's optimism and denial throughout the course of the entire episode is really nice, especially coupled with the support Artie gives her. The scene where he encourages her all the way up the steepest ramp at McKinley is handled well, as is the scene where he asks her to stop denying the reality of her situation. I'm hoping this arc unfolds over multiple episodes; it'd be unfortunate in a lot of ways if she were up and walking by next week.
Serious question: When did Darren Criss become the star of Glee? I'm not necessarily complaining. I would watch a television series called Dar-ringing off the Hook! in which Darren Criss reads aloud from a telephone book in his boxing clothes for an hour. Still, he gets the main story and three separate songs in this episode, and I can't think of another episode this season where one character's had so much to do. Fortunately, his plotline works well: Blaine's big brother Cooper (played by Matt Bomer) is in town, and his semi-fame as the star of credit report commercials coupled with his tendency to criticize his little brother have complicated their relationship. Cooper lives in Los Angeles, auditions for Michael Bay movies, speaks in Irish accents to waitresses, sleeps with the Progressive Auto Insurance lady, misquotes Stanislavski, and subscribes to the point-and-shout school of dramatic arts. Meanwhile, Blaine's still stuck in Ohio, letting Kurt pick out his clothes.
Cooper is the kind of guest star the Glee writers handle beautifully: funny and over-the-top without being unbelievable or distracting. I'm tempted to compare this to the Neil Patrick Harris guest appearance, but I could just be in the thrall of their similar jaw lines. Cooper gets too many outstanding lines to recap them all, but my personal favorite was his exchange with Blaine after their Duran Duran duet: "Your moves lacked a theme, though." "My theme was dancing, I guess." It's the first time we've seen any real sibling interaction on Glee, and the range from alienation to irritation to aggression to reconciliation is really well done.
That chemistry carries over to Blaine and Cooper's songs; unfortunately, the song choices themselves are a little off base. A good Glee episode becomes a great Glee episode when the songs are as much of a backbone of the episode as the plot, and when they pull you further into the story. But … Glee writers? Did you choose "Fighter" because you wanted to see Blaine box in slow motion and then take a shower? I want that, too. We all want that. But you still have to WRITE TELEVISION in order for that to happen. And while I kind of can't believe I'm advocating for a more stringent interpretation of Christina Aguilera songs, "Fighter" isn't about being mad, it's about moving through anger to empowerment. Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" is an even more baffling choice. It is undeniably a song about a breakup, and it is incredibly awkward to watch brothers sing it, especially after Kurt explicitly tells Blaine to go and sing to his brother about his feelings. This leads to the conclusion that Blaine feels like he and his brother can still be friends as opposed to … brothers? Unclear. It's a good moment, but a less distracting song choice would've made it great.
I spent a lot of this episode getting overinvested in Puck's plan to move to California after graduation and set up his pool-cleaning business there. I'm not a Puck lover by nature, but it's a totally okay idea, and certainly a realistic one for an underachieving kid from a small town to have. Generally, the more realistic Glee plots are abandoned the quickest, but I'm going to hope this one lasts and there's a montage set to "9 to 5" in an upcoming episode while Puck shops for chlorine and reads Who Moved My Cheese. Puck tries to lure Finn into business with him using mocktails and MILFs, but Rachel is incredibly ridiculous with Finn about how the only possible option is for them to move to New York after graduation.
Oh, Joe, the kid with the massive dreads and Jesus tattoos, joins New Directions, and Brittany seems to think he is actually Jesus. It is my fervent hope that this confusion continues to play out in future episodes. And speaking of confusion: Sue is still pregnant, it's a girl, and the amniocentesis revealed some sort of abnormality. I'm not sure what to think about this, and I'm not entirely sure the writers are, either. There's potential here for this to be a serious, tender arc for Sue, but if that's where it's headed, the writers are going to have to figure out how to do that in a way that's funny without turning the baby into a punch line. I hope they're able to.
I also hope that "I'm Margaret Thatcher dog. My relationship with the queen was RUFF!" was a brilliant, subliminal advertisement for The Iron Lady. At the same time, I've been watching Glee for long enough that, even after a good episode, I am careful about getting my hopes up.
Next week: Saturday Night Glee-ver! Fingers crossed for an unannounced Barry Gibb guest appearance, or at least some impressively feathered hair.