Sunday, April 18, 2010

Glee 1.14: "Hell-o"

“I won’t be burying any hatchets, William, unless I happen to get a clear shot to your groin.”


The first episode of the new half-season (really more like 1/3 season) of “Glee” had its high and low points. Overall, a lot of time had to be devoted to unraveling things that had been tied up a bit too neatly in the fall finale (FYI, I adored and may have cried during the fall finale). Despite becoming a pretty big mainstream hit, however, I am pleased to see that “Glee,” at least in this episode, is maintaining the edge that elevates it above the “High School Musical” type fare that it could be. Some events that happened in this episode made me slightly unhappy, but given that the show is maintaining that same irreverent tone, I’m happy to stay along for the ride. I have faith that things will again be tied up in a way that makes me happy in the season finale.

The biggest reset is Sue being reinstated as the McKinley High cheerleading coach. The first scene of the episode is Will being distressed during a conversation with Principal Figgins, since Figgins is keeping the “Must place at Regionals” condition on New Directions. Sue walks into the office and looks a little…close…with Principal Figgins, and that pretty much set off my “oh really gross shenanigans are going on” meter. My suspicions were confirmed by a later conversation between Will and Sue. Sue says she arranged for a professional dinner between herself and Principal Figgins, and at that dinner, Figgins saw she really had a great sense of morality. In a flashback, we see that she actually drugged Figgins and made him think they slept together. Yep, “Glee’s” definitely still got that edge.

The theme of this episode was saying “hello” to yourself. In other words, getting to know yourself again after you go through a rough time. Okay, that sounded vaguely dirty, but I swear it’s not! And I’ll stop half-quoting my favorite episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” (“Into You Like a Train”). This theme, as often happens in “Glee,” is stated over and over until it becomes anvil-like. The two characters really in need of getting in touch with their own feelings are Finn and Will. Both are still kind of figuring out what they want out of life after Fake Babygate. Finn’s playing basketball (and I believe is futilely hoping that it will be better than football season was) and casually dating Rachel. Will’s trying to start a relationship with Emma. Both end up kind of getting in trouble because they rushed into things.

Although, I do have to say, I can see why Finn would be a little scared off by some of Rachel’s actions in this episode, especially considering he’s a teenage boy. Heck, any human being could rightfully be scared off by some of Rachel’s enthusiasm for being in a relationship. She makes his and hers calendars so she and Finn can keep track of when they’re going on dates, and I believe the pictures on the calendars are their faces Photoshopped onto cats. Yep, not only does Glee still have an edge, it still has that zany sense of humor. Sue’s back to her old anti-Glee Club scheming self, and she thinks if she ban break up Rachel and Finn, Rachel will quit Glee Club, and she’ll get her wish for the club’s destruction.

Will, who, as I said, is suffering his own identity crisis, has a chat with Finn and tells him he should think about who he really wants to be and try new things. This combined with Brittany and Santana asking Finn out on a date (yes, with both of them, and yes, they were told to do so by Sue) prompts Finn to dump Rachel. Rachel’s stronger that Sue gives her credit for, though. Will’s given the Glee Club an assignment to come up with songs that include the word “Hello” in the title. Rachel takes this a step farther and performs “Gives You Hell.” What I especially liked about this number, even though the song wasn’t especially suited to Lea Michele’s voice, was that it included the members of the Glee Club who are pretty much just there for their awesome dance ability, like the character played by Harry Shum, Jr. (Mike Chang, I believe). The dancers rarely get the spotlight, and they really got to show their talent in “Gives You Hell.”

Rachel’s personal life takes a turn for the better when she runs into one Jesse St. James at the music store. He’s the lead singer of Vocal Adrenaline. And he’s also played by Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele’s “Spring Awakening” co-star. They hit it off because they appreciate each other’s talent, and they cement their budding relationship with a rendition of Lionel Richie’s “Hello” (which was also sung by Kristin Chenoweth in an episode of “Pushing Daisies”…oh how I miss my dearly departed favorite show). This particular number, although performed well vocally, is a bit over-the-top visually. They even have back-up from some string players who just happen to be playing their instruments in the store. Although I love how the show has a heightened reality, this particular scene just went a little too far for me.

After his date with Brittany and Santana is a disaster (they both clearly don’t want him to be there), Finn has a change of heart and wants Rachel to take him back. He’s not happy when Rachel tells him that he’s missed his chance because she’s seeing Jesse now. The rest of New Directions doesn’t take the news well, either. They basically think Rachel is a traitor. Kurt, Artie, and Tina give Rachel an ultimatum that she’s got to break up with Jesse or they’re kicking her out of the group. Rachel keeps seeing Jesse, but in secret. Finn again asks her to take him back, but she says she thinks they need to keep it professional for now. Finn vows that he will win her back. It seems like this will happen eventually, or at least she’ll be breaking up with Jesse sooner rather than later. It appears that the director of Vocal Adrenaline put Jesse up to this.

Will is facing some of his own problems with his love life. Will thinks he wants to jump into a relationship with Emma right away. I must say that Matthew Morrison and Jayma Mays do have an adorable, quirky chemistry. Emma awkwardly tells Will that she wants to take things kind of slow since she’s a virgin, and Will seems to be cool with that. Then he goes to check out a Vocal Adrenaline rehearsal and ends up making out with Vocal Adrenaline’s director, Ms. Corcoran (played by Broadway great Idina Menzel). Quick sidebar: I love how Vocal Adrenaline always performs songs that seem slightly inappropriate for high school show choir. In the series pilot, it was Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” In this episode, it was “Highway to Hell.”

Will keeps the encounter with Ms. Corcoran from going any farther, although she tells him to call her when he gets his life together. It’s not that encounter that ends his relationship with Emma, though. It’s Terri (of course). Emma is planning a surprise dinner for Will when Terri stops by to pick up some of her DVDs. Terri reveals to Emma that the song Will chose as his and Emma’s song was actually Will and Terri’s junior prom song. Emma confirms this by looking at an old yearbook in the school library. She realizes that Will needs more time to recover from ending such a very long relationship, and she tells him he should be by himself for at least a little while. This has me wary because it sounds suspiciously like the infamous “Dating Plan” from the short-lived Aaron Sorkin sitcom “Sports Night.” “Sports Night” fans, I’m sorry I even brought it up. I know it’s still a sore spot.

The episode ends with a Glee Club performance of “Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles. While watching it, I was thinking it wasn’t as energetic as the best New Directions performances tend to be. Then I realized that was probably by design. Rachel, Will, and Emma all look sad because of the recent events in their personal lives. Rachel completely breaks down by the end of the performance and has to leave the stage. It looks like we’re in for plenty of drama in this second half of the season!

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