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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Glee - "Special Education"

     In season one, it seemed like almost the entire fall run of episodes in FOX's Glee was leading up to Sectionals. It was a big deal, constantly talked and worried about. It was the fall finale, of course, with huge drama. This year has been different. Instead of getting 'SECTIONALS! SECTIONALS! SECTIONALS!', we got 'KURT! KURT! Uh, oh, we forgot! It's time for Sectionals!' Plus, this week's episode, "Special Education", was not the mid-season finale, as there will be a Christmas episode next week.

     Don't get me wrong. I've loved most of season two. However, the sudden arrival at such an important event was slightly disappointing. Not to mention, we only got two songs from New Directions this year, instead of the three they've always done in competition. Despite the threat of last minute shakeups, they did what they had planned to do. I expected Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) to take on the solos at the last minute, but they didn't. I expected Kurt (Chris Colfer) to realize the mistake he made switching schools and rejoin his friends, but he didn't. On the whole, it was relatively low key.

     Now that's not to say nothing interesting happened. We finally got a good Rachel / Finn story. They used to be such a focus of the show that I longed for other characters to get more screen time. Now that it's The Kurt Show, I didn't realize how much I missed the central duo. Their relationship woes, and Rachel's sabotage of them, was heartbreaking. I enjoyed them together very much, and while Rachel's drama-queen behavior was not out of character, it was disappointing. I thought she'd changed, as evidenced by her new found friendship with Kurt, which is not something she would have maintained earlier in the show. However, I still liked what was done, story-wise. Something the two of them will have to overcome.

     The other couples also got some time this week. Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) sparkled in their duet. The sweet pair are probably the new power couple, since Rachel and Finn self-destructed. For the first time, I actually saw a little bit of plausibility in Artie (Kevin McHale) and Brittany (Heather Morris) together, though I predict they will fail when Brittany realizes that Artie knows how stupid she is. He tried to play off a comb as magic, for goodness sakes, and she believed him! I still can't shake the feeling that putting Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) together was vaguely racist. Mike Chang has recently become one of my favorite characters, but he could do much better than Tina.

     The music was not bad at all. Not the highlight of the season, but far from the lowpoint. Both of New Directions's competitors delivered awesome numbers, even if Kurt looked uncomfortable through all of the Warblers's. Blaine (Darren Criss), however, owned that song. Mike and Brittany's dancing was perfect, though Santana's (Naya Rivera) solo was definitely overshadowed by them. I do not understand at all why there were only three choirs (as there always are on the show) in competition, or how, in that situation, two could tie and move onto Regionals. But I guess that was to further the Kurt story.

     A new member was added to the club to replace Kurt. Her name is Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink), who first appeared last April, and was in her seventh episode of the series last night. This was the first time my wife even noticed her, and the first time she had any more than a snarky line. Not to make fun of her, but her inclusion was visually entertaining in the musical numbers, in a good way. The actress herself made Lauren instantly likable in her roughness. Her interactions with Puck (Mark Salling), finally back to who he previously was, were a highlight of last night. I found myself hoping she sticks around. Maybe as Puck's girlfriend, or is that asking too much? I just want to see a smack down between her and Santana. Though, that adds yet another to a very long list of wonderful supporting players.

     Huge developments for Will (Matthew Morrison), who played very angry all through this episode. Although it's been more background then foreground, his jealousy over Emma (Jayma Mays) and Carl (John Stamos) has been building for some time, and it seemed to come to a head, though he took the ill feelings out on the group instead of Emma. Emma's surprise weekend marriage in Vegas to Carl was unexpected, and unwelcome. Surely, since Emma and Will never really got a chance, they will at some point. As such, the wedding is pointless, obviously doomed from the start. I don't want poor Emma to have to go through a divorce. The whole thing was rather distasteful and unnecessary. Sure, it was supposed to be another stumbling block for Will, but it feels like a mountain unwelcome in an array of hills.

     Overall, I would rank this episode somewhere in the middle for the season. Decent, but not mind blowing, music. Some good plot developments, mixed with a couple of stupid ideas. A great not-so-new character being featured. And some very funny one liners. Plus, it was a true ensemble cast episode, which is what every episode should be at this point, with so many rich characters to feature.

     I look forward to next week's episode, when Sue (Jane Lynch) will certainly try to steal Christmas. Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8pm on FOX.

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Article first published as TV Review: Glee "Special Education" on Blogcritics.



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