Can You Have It All? Or Do You Risk Accidentally Inventing a Zombie Virus?
Thanks for holding everything together while I was on vacation – I’ve had so much fun reading your posts this week as I catch up on my dvr’d tv!
So, this week’s Glee… This episode was all about choices. How do you negotiate competing desires? Do you separate them out and force a choice (like Ken making the boys choose between football and glee); refuse to even notice the contradiction (like Puck’s mum serving pork while angsting that he’s a bad Jew for not dating a nice Jewish girl); force together what doesn’t belong (like Emma’s recognition that her and Ken are just like their songs – just because they’re both good, they still don’t go together); or mash them up into a killer combination (as Fin ends up doing in response to Ken’s false ultimatum). Perhaps Mr. Shu is right; it is the difference that makes the pairing so great…seriously, have you tried that chocolate/bacon combo? Delicious!! (with a plug to my favourite chocobaco bar, made by Vosges, sold at the amazing Intelligensia).
I think it’s Quinn’s choice that intrigues me the most, though – as it’s also the one that doesn’t get explicitly articulated. As a broken-hearted Sue Sylvester kicks her off the cheerios, we’re reminded of the choice Quinn made at the beginning of the season. And in an episode that was largely pro-choice or, at least, pro-making-choices, this originally seeming pro-life plot turn might end up being a little more more complicated than it originally appeared. We’ve certainly seen such complexity before with other pop-culture teen kept-pregnancies, like with Juno and with Spike from (shout out to the Canadian readers) Degrassi jr. high circa my jr. high years.
With all these plot turns, however, in the end I want to turn the question back on Glee. Make a choice guys – is it going to be musical numbers or/and developed plot lines? You had the balance right in the beginning: a couple of memorable numbers per episode with a focus on the character and storyline development. But at this point in the game, with 5 or 6 song and dance routines an episode, please, please scale it back and give us a little more story! Your next week previews have become more juicy in terms of narrative than the full length episodes!
That being said, my heart did jump when Rachel joined Puck on the bleachers and I wondered if we were about to launch into Grease’s ‘Summer Lovin’. Realizing we haven’t yet had a great Travolta/Newton-John number, I began to ache for one, only to be met with my own glee in the final credits: the promise in clip-form that Rachel will be doing ‘You’re the One That I Want” some time soon. I can’t wait! But of course, the question remains, who will be the one that she wants?
Glad to be back – I missed you!
So good to have you back – I missed you too!
I hear what you are saying about the dance number count per plot development imbalance, but I have to say I kind of liked it. At least, last week’s episode fell so flat for me that this week was at least a return to zesty, uninhibited fun. Why did Mr. Shu dance so much? I don’t know. Maybe Matthew Morrison wrote a clause into his contract that if he doesn’t get to do a one arm stand kick before mid-season he is out. Maybe they decided if they really weren’t going to give the minority characters any center-stage time, might as well give more to Mr. Shu. There were definitely places where the dancing seem gratuitous and random. If we had to see so much of it, I sort of wished we had gotten to see Mr. Shu teaching Ken his choreography to the Thong Song.
But overall I felt like this episode was more plot driven than the previous “one issue per episode” formula. So far, other than the major plot points (pregnancies and faked pregnancies) each episode had a kind of stand-alone quality. Last night it felt like they were moving into serial story-telling. In the end, we don’t know if Shu and Emma are done with their seemingly innocent cavorting, how Quinn will adjust to her post-Cheerios life, what will transpire in the love quadrant forming between Quinn, Rachael, Fin, and Puck (this was the first time they gave us even a glimpse of Quinn’s inner turmoil as her face lit up when Puck started singing her softly with his song). And the preview for what is coming wasn’t just for one episode, it was for the rest of the season. It felt like the creators were themselves trying to pick up the pieces of the plots they have let loose and weave them into some kind of recognizable prime-time story arc: relationships develop! secrets are revealed! the grand finale is coming!
The question is: is this better than the sort of chaotic, much more quirky, sometimes random, stand-alone strategy? I’m not so sure. What was most frustrating about last night’s episode was the sentimentality it introduced. These are stories we recognize – Rachael and Puck each trying to forget first loves in a botched romance, Emma and Shu having to grow up and stop their futile flirtation. In them, we got much closer to the story-lines we’ve come to expect from any good high school (or adult) drama. But we’ve gotten further away from the weirdness the show first promised. That weirdness totally failed last week. Maybe this week is the show’s acknowledgment that, at heart, it is up to the same old bag of tricks. Or maybe they’ll surprise us again and we’ll only know what this season really was when it is over.
Maybe this is Glee‘s own attempt at a mash-up it just can’t achieve.