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Monday, February 2, 2015

GLEE "Hurt"

Article first published as TV Review: 'Glee' - The Hurt Locker' on Blogcritics.

I’ve reviewed every episode ever aired of FOX’s Glee, good or bad. Still, I couldn’t help but combine last week’s “The Hurt Locker, Part One” with this week’s “The Hurt Locker, Part Two” into a single article. So close to the end of the series, the show takes a side trip into some truly horrendous stories, emphasizing the inconsistency that has always been a hallmark of the characters, and with far less singing than normal. To say I’m disappointed in this two-hour episode is an understatement.

G2The main problem with the episode concerns the story in which Sue (Jane Lynch) hypnotizes Sam (Chord Overstreet) to seduce Rachel (Lea Michele), starts a new feud with Will (Matthew Morrison) over a forgotten plastic fork, and works hard to get Klaine, a.k.a. Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) back together. Sue is often an uneven character, combining an underlying soft heart with true villainy, the two sometimes in direct conflict. But “The Hurt Locker” is a new low for a character that has no true investment in the show’s gay twosome, overreacts more than she usually does with Will, and brings an unneeded, stupid supernatural element into the show.

Despite Sue’s flaws, I usually like her because of the amazing Jane Lynch, who sells some pretty ridiculous things enough to almost be believable. Even she cannot overcome a swinging watch and a creepy storage shed, though. When a Saw-like puppet of her is introduced, one knows Glee has completely lost it. What are the writers thinking?

In these interweaving threads, Sue brings the New Directions, Vocal Adrenaline, and the Warblers together for a show choir invitational. This is a convenient plot to get nearly all of the main characters (save Beiste and the mostly-MIA-this-year Mercedes and Artie) in one place, and allows for performances from the show’s major groups. This, in theory, is a solid concept, even if it is poorly executed.

The invitational actually delivers most of the music for the two hours, including the only songs sang in part two. Sadly, though, these performances are as flawed as the story. Vocal Adrenaline’s “Rock Lobster” and “Whip It” are clearly the best, even if they are awarded second place because of emotional manipulation. The Warblers’ “My Sharona” and “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” are surprisingly flat, and I’m not sure how Sue could possibly be moved by the New Directions’ lackluster “It Must Have Been Love,” “Father Figure,” and “All Out of Love.” Not to mention, Sue doesn’t bring up the 12-member requirement spoken of in the first half, and the New Directions are once again the only group to perform three songs.

There are some better numbers during the episode’s first hour. Sue’s “Bitch” is goofy, but enjoyable. Rachel and Sam’s “A Thousand Miles” is also good. Too bad those are first, and everything else that comes after it pretty much sucks.

It certainly seems that Glee is setting up Sue to be the ultimate villain in this final season. It makes sense for Will to soon abandon his new kids that hate him to return to the fold, and Blaine doesn’t fare much better with the Warblers, whose performance he completely misses while being stuck in a fake elevator. But I guess that is something to sort of look forward to in the end game.

A hint of goodness exists in the way Kitty (Becca Tobin) is recruited back to the glee club. Rachel’s words to her sound sincere, though we know Rachel isn’t the most reliable. Kitty, however, is someone to count on, and now that she’s back on board, the club should only grow. In a perfect world, Kitty will find and bring back her four former classmates whom she thinks abandoned her to fill out some of number needed to compete in Sectionals. But if only one person from that class is going to return, I’m glad it’s her.

I don’t think for a minute anyone thinks Kurt and Blaine won’t end up together. I like Max Adler’s Karofsky, and I’m surprised at how much I enjoy Kurt’s budding relationship with much-older man Walter (Harry Hamlin, Mad Men, Veronica Mars), but Klaine is destiny. “The Hurt Locker” leaves no doubt in my mind about that.

So what will it take Glee to get its act together? I think the answer is: more involvement from Ryan Murphy. I can only assume that most of the troubles plaguing Glee these past years are because he’s busy with many projects, as his other work such as The Normal Heart and American Horror Story have been excellent. Glee has almost always stuck its landing on emotion, though, so I’m expecting a moving finale. Comparing Spencer (Marshall Williams) to Finn in this episode strikes a wrong chord, but hopefully there will be less of that moving forward and more of what Glee does well. Unfortunately, since Glee has disappointed many times, including in this double episode, I can’t say with certainty it will give fans the conclusion they deserve.

Glee airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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