Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Glee 1.18: "Laryngitis"

“I’m not a box. There are more than four sides to me.”


"Laryngitis" is probably my least favorite episode of “Glee” this season, but for the sake of completion (and being all the closer to recapping the amazing “Dream On), I’m taking one for the team and -finally- getting this recap posted. This episode was about characters losing their identity or actively trying to change their identity. Of course, with the title of “Laryngitis” the concept of “identity” had to be referred to as “voice” throughout the episode, because it was as close to repeating the title ad nauseam as the writers could get. Puck gets his head shaved and loses his mojo, Rachel gets sick and loses her voice, and Kurt gets jealous when his dad continues to try and reach out to Finn. Normally, such coherence around a theme would lead to me praising an episode, but it just wasn’t enough this time around. The storylines and performance were just too earnest. I like my “Glee” to have an edge. It should be dark comedy, not half-step above the Disney Channel.

Puck’s Mohawk is shaved off during a trip to the dermatologist that turned out to be unnecessary. Losing the hair leads to puck Posing his mojo. The other McKinley kids don’t cower in fear when he walks by anymore, and Noah Puckerman just can’t have that. As some nerds are tossing him in the dumpster, Puck sees Mercedes hanging out with some other Cheerios, and he gets an idea. He wants to date Mercedes and use her new-found popularity to boost his own. Which sounds like a pretty crappy thing to do. Mercedes is not thrilled about the idea when Puck first asks her out.

Meanwhile, Rachel has a sore throat, and she blames it on the fact that several of the other glee club members aren’t pulling their weight at rehearsal. She asks a girl from the AV Club (who was rather annoyingly stereotypical) to bug the choir room to prove her point. When Will finds out the results of Rachel’s experiment, he doesn’t punish the slacker glee kids with detention or kick them out of the group. He gives the entire club an assignment where they each have to perform a song that exemplifies their voice and who they are. Rachel kicks it off by attempting to sing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. If her song choice wasn’t bad enough to begin with (believe me, it is), it is made worse by the fact that Rachel has now come down with full-blown laryngitis. What bugged me about this particular scene was that Rachel kept singing her awful, out-of-tune song for so long. I don’t really find it plausible that as a trained musician, she wouldn’t have picked up on being pitchy immediately and put a stop to the whole thing. Maybe a few starts and stops out of denial that she’s sick, but not a whole verse and chorus before stopping.

Finn and Puck employ similar tactics with their Glee Club assignments for the week. They both want to impress a girl. Finn is fed up with Rachel remaining loyal to Jesse, even as Finn supports Rachel during the laryngitis drama while Jesse is off on a spring break trip with some friends from his former school and hasn’t spoken to her since the “Run, Joey, Run” debacle. Finn’s song of choice, is, naturally, “Jesse’s Girl,” and I think it’s one of Corey Monteith’s better musical performances of the series. It definitely had a lot of energy. Puck is still on a mission to mooch off of Mercedes’ popularity, so his song choice is “The Lady Is a Tramp.” Mercedes joins in half way through, and she thinks they have great musical chemistry. I don’t think this was one of Mark Salling’s better performances, although it certainly wasn’t bad. I just think his voice is more suited to rock. Puck’s move and Mercedes’ acceptance has an unintended consequence. Santana, who is still extremely possessive of Puck (I don’t quite understand why) is on the warpath. She and Mercedes duel it out diva-off style, and they almost come to blows.

Burt takes Finn to a Reds game, and Kurt is once again feeling like an outsider in his own family. He decides that he’s going to use the week’s assignment to try and turn himself into the son he thinks his father really wanted. He starts wearing flannel and trucker hats, and instead of singing the Broadway tunes that he usually rocks, he sings Mellencamp. Oh, and most bizarrely of all, he starts dating Brittany. I’m not quite sure why I found this particular subplot so irritating, but I did. The one good thing about it was its conclusion. Despite all the changes Kurt has made, Burt tells him he’s taking Finn on yet another outing. Kurt is outraged and finally starts acting like himself again. He breaks into a personalized version of “Rose’s Turn” from “Gypsy,” and it’s spectacular. I think it’s Chris Colfer’s best performance to date. Burt actually sees the performance, and he decides to start spending more time with Kurt.

Rachel’s plot resolved in a way that I think sounded better on paper than it actually turned out. Finn takes her to see a friend of his from football camp who was paralyzed in a big game. Basically, Finn is trying to get Rachel out of her “I’m losing my voice and that’s all I have!” funk. Rachel realizes that sometimes life deals you a rough hand and you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got left. It’s a nice sentiment, but I think the whole thing is played a bit too earnest. Rachel offers to give Finn’s friend singing lessons to show her thanks for the lesson learned.

The conclusion to Mercedes’ plot was a bit too earnest for my taste as well. Now that Puck has his mojo back, he’s dumpstering nerds with a vengeance. Mercedes sees this happening and is not happy at all. In fact she feels so bad about the whole thing that she quits the Cheerios, much to Sue’s chagrin. She tries getting Puck to change his ways and pay more attention to her, but by the end of the episode they’ve broken up. Guess that made Santana happy, at least. One thing I did like about the Mercedes/Puck plot, as random as it might have been, was that Mercedes asked Quinn’s permission before dating Puck. I do like the budding friendship between Mercedes and Quinn.

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