Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Glee 2.04: "Duets"

“What’s the point of being popular if you can’t do what you want?”

“Duets,” while it had some entertaining moments, was overall a lower-than-middling episode of “Glee.” Overall, it just really didn’t have a lot of substance. Come to think of it, the musical numbers weren’t especially memorable, either. All of the drama came from shuffling around the typical pairings of the kids, and that just didn’t interest me. I’m in my late 20’s- the revolving romantic relationships of high schoolers just don’t involve high enough stakes in my world. I guess I’m one of the few “Glee” viewers who prefers an episode that mixes up plots between the adults and the kids, as opposed to the many who prefer that episodes focus just on the kids. “Who will sing a duet with whom” just isn’t a really suspenseful question that is going to keep me wanting to watch the episode.

The episode opens with Will announcing to the glee club that Puck is in juvenile detention (aka Mark Salling took a brief leave of absence to promote his new album). Therefore, Sam is suddenly joining the group. There really isn’t any time devoted at all to explaining Sam’s change of heart. He’s just there. Will tells the group that the assignment for the week is going to be duets, and they’ll be holding a duet competition. The prize is a dinner for two at Breadsticks. The kids are all super excited about this, but it sounds kind of “meh” to me. From the way the kids describe it, Breadsticks is pretty much the Olive Garden. There are lots of jokes about all you can eat breadsticks and salad.

Kurt enlists Sam for his duet, and it’s obvious Kurt has more than a bit of a crush. Finn calls Kurt on his tendency to come on a bit strong, referencing how Kurt got their parents together and even maneuvered so they would share a bed room before things finally blew up. Finn kind of has a point, even though he didn’t really express it in the best way. Kurt’s fixation with Finn last season got a bit creepy, and I don’t blame Finn for finally putting his foot down, even if he did use unfortunate language when doing so. Finn also takes his case to Sam, too, which I thought might be going a bit far. In the locker room after football practice, Finn tells Sam that if Sam sings with Kurt, he’ll have to quit the football team. The ridicule will become too intense. Sam doesn’t understand why Finn once told him that joining Glee would make him super popular. I’m still wondering why the heck Sam suddenly decided to join the glee club.

Other pairings for the contest are Finn and Rachel (of course), Santana and Mercedes, Artie and Brittany, and Tina and Mike. Brittany and Santana had been making out in one of their bedrooms (Santana was lonely with Puck locked up) when Santana sprung the news on Brittany that she didn’t want to be her partner for the competition. She really wanted her Breadsticks dinner, and she wanted to give herself a better chance of winning. Brittany and Santana should really make their relationship official already. Meanwhile, Tina and Mike are arguing. Apparently they’ve never been on a proper date. They just always go out for dim sum with Mike’s mom. Artie agrees to partner with the abandoned Brittany, and she takes his virginity in gratitude. I thought that moment was a bit too sudden. I thought it should have been a bigger deal to Artie, although it did have some consequences.

Rachel and Finn are practicing a badly lip synched version of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” when Rachel has a realization. She wants to throw the competition in favor of Sam. She feels like it will make him feel part of the team. Finn’s a little skeptical that Rachel’s motives are altruistic, but he goes with it. Finn again warns Sam about the consequences of partnering with Kurt, and his point is punctuated when Sam gets slushied. Quinn helps Sam clean off the slushy, and they have some chemistry, I guess. Sam’s a bit obsessive about Avatar, which could be geekily endearing. We’ll see how that goes.

Kurt is taking care of his dad, who is no longer in a coma but is convalescing at home. Kurt is telling him about his Sam troubles, and Burt suggests that maybe Kurt should back off a bit. Burt says that until he meets someone just as courageous as himself, Kurt is just going to have to be okay with being alone. Kurt takes his dad’s advice to heart and “sets Sam free.” He instead does a duet with himself to a song from “Victor/Victoria.” Sam goes to partner with Quinn, and Quinn tries to run. Rachel and Finn, continuing Rachel’s plan to help Sam, get them back together. Rachel and Finn then give the worst performance of their careers. They sing an easy listening tune and mock religion in the process. They’ve pretty successfully thrown the competition. Mercedes and Quinn give a solid, although not really my cup of tea, performance, and Tina and Mike perform a cute little number about how Mike can’t sing. I think Mike said more in this episode than he has in the rest of the series combined, which I think was definitely a good thing. Artie backs out of the competition when he’s informed that he was most likely used by Brittany. He tells her that because of his injury, the fact that he can have sex is really special to him, and he regrets wasting his first time on her. It’s sad, because it seems like Brittany had some actual fondness for the guy. She wanted to reenact the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp with him at Breadsticks if they won.

Sam and Quinn are the last to perform, and I really do love their song choice. They chose “Lucky” by Jason Mraz. It’s a really beautiful song. Unfortunately, their performance is rather lackluster. It’s a shame, because I probably really would have enjoyed it with other cast members singing it. Anyway, Sam and Quinn win the dinner at Breadsticks, and the outing turns into a date, even though Quinn protested at first. The best moment of the episode is when the camera pans from their table to the next table, where Brittany is sitting practicing pushing a meatball across the plate with her nose. Finally, Rachel saw Kurt looking sad as the competition winners were announced, and she convinces Kurt to sing a duet with her. That truly is Rachel’s first genuine moment of the episode, perhaps of the season.

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