Thursday, October 8, 2009

Glee 1.06: "Vitamin D"

"I don't know how important people like presidents or newscasters or mob bosses do it. My mom says I'm stretched too thin, so I gave up homework, but that didn't help. I got vaporized on Level Two. Level TWO! And I didn't have the energy to care."


This week’s episode of Glee was quite fun, and I pretty thoroughly enjoyed it, even if all the relationship drama didn’t go the way I’d prefer. In this episode, the Glee kids are getting overly confident to the point where they don’t feel like they have to put in a lot of work to win the upcoming Sectionals competition. Meanwhile, Sue has a new plan to take down the Glee Club, and it involves Will’s crazy shrew of a wife, Terri.

The line-up for Sectionals has been announced, and New Directions are feeling cocky. They will be competing against a school for the deaf and a reform school for girls recently released from prison. Now, I personally think both groups are perfectly capable of putting on an amazing performance. If Glee doesn’t take a similar perspective, I will be extremely disappointed in it. Glee is generally too clever of a show to play into that sort of stereotype. Stereotypes about the different cliques you find in high school are one thing. You can play up the stereotype to skewer it in a way. The stereotypes about the other schools, especially the school for the deaf, are different. Showing kids with a disability failing at something, and having that played for laughs, does not mock or serve to undermine the stereotype- it perpetuates it. I’m hoping I won’t have to eat my words when I say that I don’t think Glee will go this route.

Will is cutely discussing the situation with Emma in the faculty lunch room (a situation involving a blot of mustard that is kind of the reverse of the chalk dust scene a from a few weeks ago is part of the cuteness) when Sue, seeing an opportunity to both act superior and perhaps hurt Glee, interjects. She says that she chooses one person to kick off the Cheerios every week. This gives Will his own, slightly more humane idea. He splits New Directions into guys and girls teams for a mash-up contest. Winner gets to have a say in designing the routine for Sectionals. This peps the kids up slightly, but not much.

Meanwhile, Sue also implements a second anti-Glee scheme, as outlined in her fairly amusing journal. Speaking of Sue’s journal, that would be a pretty fun web companion for the show, sort of like Barney’s Blog on CBS’s HIMYM site. Anyway, Sue wants to exploit Will’s connection to Emma and cause him personal pain. If she can’t take down Glee, she wants to take down the man in charge of Glee. There’s an “accident” where the school nurse falls down the stairs, and Sue has the perfect replacement in mind. Terri Schuster. Who isn’t even actually a nurse, but, you know, details. Principal Figgins agrees to it, probably because Terri is willing to work for less money than, say, an actual nurse. Terri, just as Sue predicted, uses the opportunity to smother Will (figuratively, not literally…not literally yet, at least) and keep him away from Emma as much as possible.

Terri also uses the opportunity to showcase a brand new level of crazy. Finn comes to see her so he can take a nap. What’s kind of cool about how the writers presented Finn’s situation was that he isn’t tired because of the stress of football, Glee, Quinn, Rachel, or the baby. He’s tired because he is a typical teenager who stays up later than he should. I liked that little touch of realism in an often hyper-real world. Don’t get me wrong, the hyper-reality is one of things I love most about Glee, but a touch of realism here and there helps ground everything else. Instead of letting Finn take his nap, Terri has a different idea. She remembers what kept her going when she was a student and had to put in more than 12 hours of work a week. Decongestants.

Finn returns to Glee practice with the guys ready and raring to go. Next thing you know, they’re all taking decongestants, and for the mash-up contest, they give the performance of their lives. It’s a mash-up of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life,” which took me back to a discotheque in the French Alps in the summer of 2000…long story…and Usher’s “Confessions.” The later features an especially strong performance by Artie (Kevin McHale). Although I think Finn is an adorable character, I wish story didn’t dictate that he had to sing lead all the time. Kevin McHale and Mark Salling (Puck) both have amazing voices. Cory Monteith, although he sounds more like what an especially talented high school kid might sound like, just isn’t at their level. I did love his even more spastic than usual dancing while he was singing “It’s My Life,” though.

Kurt, claiming that even though Will forced him to sing with the guy’s team, his allegiance is really with the ladies, tells Rachel and the rest of the girls about the decongestants. At first, Rachel berates Finn for cheating, but soon enough, the girls are in Terri’s office getting their own decongestants. The result is an extremely manic mash-up performance of “Halo” and “Walking on Sunshine.” About all I can say on that one is that the yellow dresses were cute. Rachel does learn an important lesson, though. She truly wants to be part of a team, and she wants to reevaluate her goals to be less selfish. This is represented by a change in her awesome morning workout routine. Instead of a picture of a Grammy taped next to her elliptical machine, there’s a sign that says “Sectionals.”

Terri is fired once Principal Figgins finds out about the mass distribution of decongestants, but the damage has been done in two ways. First, Principal Figgins no longer trusts Will’s judgment, since he didn’t notice his kids were drugged, so he assigns a co-director to New Directions. None other than Sue. Second, Terri convinces Ken to propose to Emma. After begging Will to give her a reason to turn Ken down and Will doing no more than walking away with a sad look, Emma accepts. With some pretty hilarious (and kind of tragic) conditions. They have to continue living in separate parts of town. And nobody can know about the wedding.

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