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And all you wanted was somebody who cares

Glee, 2x07, "The Substitute"
SEASON TWO HIGHLIGHT. 3,000 word epic what?

It is crazy how much I loved this episode. I'm losing track of how many times I've run through it. Even with only tolerable feelings toward Paltrow, this is still going down as one of my favorites with season 1 factored in. Over the course of a week, it's so good it's nearly wiped out my season 2 grudge entirely.

Will/Terri: You Like Me Best When I'm Weak
"Maybe!", Terri and I both echo thoughtfully. That should have probably given me more pause, but much like Terri, I will instead acknowledge it as a very real possibility and continue on unperturbed by my love for this plotline. I can't even talk about how much I loved that first scene, it is such an explosion of HAPPY in my brain. She was always very good at taking care of him when he was sick! I love this so much that I don't even care that they just ripped out a chunk of my personal canon (I assumed that Terri would have banished her ill husband to the sickroom so as not to deal with the inconvenience).

Between ignoring his feeble and untrue protests about being able to take care of himself, the cool washcloth, and the crowning moment of admitting she still loves him (IRRATIONAL SEEDS OF HOPE IN MY HEART), I feel like I might have unwittingly signed away my dog - that's my equivalent of a firstborn child - in exchange for this magic. Bonus: vindictively chucking his favorite DVD on the bed after he throws her out. "Singing in the Rain. We were together 16 years, you think I don't know what movie makes you feel better when you're sick?"

Now, I had not seen the first 12 or so minutes of this episode when I posted my flailing capslock on the night it aired. I have accordingly skipped over one part of the above, because the baby talk is creepy, so creepy, like, to the nth degree of creepy; there is not even a scale to measure how disgusting that was. I should have been able to live my life without hearing "Sick Baby" referenced as something to be played. This is like five times the power of unclean that came from "Tell Me Something Good." Even if you combined that moment with "The Thong Song" and episode 2x05 it would not come close to this kind of nausea.

Moving on.

Will/Terri: I'm Not Going to Kill You
Notice she does not promise not to jump him, which I think is what we were all more worried about upon hearing "Take off your shirt." AND THEN THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS, causing a spontaneous and crazed burst of LJ flailing. You know those tin monkeys with clapping cymbals? That's pretty much me, with a giant grin. Future Me is still not comfortable enough to preserve it in screenshots on the blog, but Subversive Current Me is all over that and disappointed we cut away so quickly (off to the Acafellas episode!).

I love that his feeble excuse is "I don't want you to get sick." Really, that's your #1 objection? That is generally not how you object to someone you've divorced and profess to have no feelings for at all except possibly dislike. That's not even an objection. Objections are things like "I divorced your lying, psycho ass for a reason," or...well, no, that's about the only one I can think of, since he clearly does not care about taking advantage of her.

Which does mildly bother me, but it is not like I would have had Terri do anything differently anyway. Worth it!  It is so nice to have a non-traumatizing excuse for Shirtless Will. I mean, I was perfectly happy just with the Generic Vick's Rub(and a giggle when he puts his hands up to avoid touching her as she lunges across him), and then there was more! I keep wondering where these purring noises are coming from, and then I realize it's my contentment taking on a life of its own.

(although: is Terri capable of Vanishing her clothes, Harry Potter style? Because she's out of the frame for like 1.25 seconds and suddenly has her shirt off, which I do not think is physically possible).

HEAD STILL WHIRLING. So much so that I apparently keep skipping over the good stuff at the beginning, like her feeding him soup or his oh-so-pitiful "Are you happy?" Whereupon I was sorely tempted to stop watching Glee forever so I could believe that he actually missed her, rather than just being lonely in general.

P.S. Writers, I'm just saying, I would super-respect you if Terri managed to get pregnant off this. I mean, if I were her, I'd have gone in there with a plan. I know the internet is already mounting DO NOT WANT campaigns, but this does not deter me at all.

Will/Terri: Don't Come Back
Hey, where's that Progression of Reviewer's Heart imagery I had lying around for "Mattress"...oh, let's go ahead and make a new one.



Yeah, this one gets more violent at the end.

I knew the magic had to break, but ouch, that was a sharp twist of the knife. I'm clearly a glutton for punishment, given how many times I let Doctor Who break me, but still. It actually wasn't as bad as I remembered it, the second time through -- he gave her a chance to discuss it later; she let the crazy run a little too long before she backed down -- but it still ended like this:
THIS LOOK MAKES ME SAD. This dead-eyed look of dismissal should not be aimed at anyone except Sue Sylvester. You want to know how long I denied the divorce and bitched about everlasting marriage vows on Private Practice? Three long years, my good buddy. I will never take this lying down, or cease to believe in the potential rekindling of your feelings. Now, this, this is the look we're going for:
You're going to regret this, Will.

Holly Holiday: It Is Really Hard Not to Like This Woman
My turn-offs include endorsing blowing off class/smoking marijuana, subtly putting down Mr. Schue, and telling Rachel she sucks. My admiration of her includes EVERYTHING ELSE. From her opening monologue about the things done to her car (where did the kids get an alligator? more importantly, why don't we have a visual of that?) to the final performance, she was just likable all around. How could she not be? She wins over everybody in her path. I bet she could even still hit it off with Terri if you gave her an hour.

Ordinarily there would be like 8 more paragraphs of praise about her character, but despite its misleading placement in the review I left this part 'til last and now I'm tired so the above will have to suffice. Still hasn't cracked the top tier of guest stars, but she managed to come right up underneath.

Will/Holly?
And in answer to the shipping question, yes. Yes I am. She's an attractive woman on this show; that is my only qualification to ship her with Will. It ranks near the bottom of that ship list, but it's not so far off that I can't appreciate a hand on her shoulder after she comes over in need of cheering up. (DON'T THINK I MISSED THAT "I LIVE ON ONE NIGHT STANDS" REMARK. I told you. Until Will screws his head on straight and goes back to his wife, I want him sluttin' it up all over town. I'm going to get something out of this deal.)

Besides, I am still in search of a replacement teacher/teacher pairing now that Numb3rs' absence has left me cold and bereft of that particular joy, and I can play up her actual teaching-as-opposed-to-befriending-students strength as necessary.

Will/Rachel
YEAH, THIS HAPPENED TOO. I can't believe this show granted two impossible dreams in the space of ten minutes. Remember how once upon a time when I wanted Rachel to be the kind of student who just talked to him all the time? I think her randomly coming over to the apartment when he's sick to chatter about what's going on with glee and demand that he get well fits into that dream. And -- I already got this once. In what world do I get to have her visit again? Quick, what else do I want to repeat from season 1, 'cause clearly checking something off does not remove it from the wish-granting list.

My favorite part is his claim that nobody's going to usurp him because "You kids love me," which sounds so hilariously arrogant, and yet -- is true! And therefore cannot really be argued or faulted. Besides, anything he does wrong in this episode will be filed under the excuse of fever.

Kurt/Blaine/Mercedes
1 million laughs for Mercedes' zoning out until she hears "gay, gay, gay" and sees a little pink purse falling out of Kurt's mouth. BEST. OK, from now on, instead of getting angry at Kurt, I'm going to consider inventing similar daydreams. I think we're onto something.

That said, I am still highly charmed by Blaine, and think we should all stop talking about Kurt and let Blaine be the national ambassador/role model for gay teens instead, because he is Doing It Right and proving a fantastic moderate. Following in the footsteps of Will Truman, as it were.

Tater Tots
I ended up skipping large portions of this because I just could not tolerate it (tater tots: nigh-inedible and one of the few cafeteria foods that didn't taste good. I loved school lunches. I only drew the line at macaroni & cheese and those. Greasy outside, mushy inside, ew). And it is gross to watch people zoom in on food like a dog. And not being a fan of Mercedes anyway, this did not help matters.

That said, I found the Cheerio henchgirls and their cafeteria policing rather amusing, and I can't decide whose side I'm on. On the one hand, I am super-anti-food-policing and don't think anything should be banned or punished (junk food taxes can die a swift death). On the other hand, adding healthier food to the school cafeteria isn't really a bad cause - a lot of it really is full of crap, and I always thought my healthy choices far more limited than my unhealthy ones. That, and I still like Sue this season (yes, even while running around firing Will and deciding that friendship has gotten boring!), so I'm inclined to be on her side. You know what I think part of it is? Her hair's still short, but I've noticed, in comparing it to season 1, that it's grown out a bit and is a lot less severe than it used to be.

Also: "It's broccoli. When I showed this to Brittany earlier she began to whimper, thinking I had cut down a small tree where a family of Gummi Bears lived."

Bullying du Jour
You know, Kurt keeps saying Karofsky kissed him, but that's just not the way I'm remembering it. My memory's funny that way, Kurt. Your history of being a stalker has a tendency to confuse and distort the images of you until they make sense. And remember! If you persist in telling anyone this filthy lie about him being the instigator, THE SOUND AND THE FURY ARE WAITING. Ahhh, I love not having to give that up. *threatening fist to palm punch*

Furthermore: Oh, Glee, don't give me the image of Karofsky actually killing Kurt. Because now my violent fantasies are going to graduate and take that seriously. I mean it. Episodes of Cold Case and tire irons are already floating through my mind, neurons firing to fit things together.  It's taking them out of shiny Glee context and putting them in a world where murder happens. His face didn't look like a joke. I believe he could do it.

Mini Glee Club
SO AMAZING. Casting department is, yep, still clearly full of magic. They should have been in way more than 1 scene, or at least enough for everybody to get a line. They managed to look and sound like our kids. Especially Mini Rachel. I want to adopt her right now. Also Mini Brittany and her adorable splash of freckles. If anyone wants to write childhood AUs, which I would normally avoid like the plague, bring 'em on.

Tons of Other Random Highlights
+ Rachel taking over the Glee club, and clearly doing just fine with it. Shut up, Kurt. If anyone is shaking with rage, it's me, and it's because you're talking again. At least he slipped on a buttered floor and landed on his ass too (hilarious).

+ Rachel's "Finn" necklace. So pretty, so cute. As was her foreshadowy umbrella top.

+ Hey, at least we name-checked Jesse/Rachel, even if not in a positive light (bring it back! Why couldn't you sign him on as a regular for 2 seasons? Oh, great, now I subconsciously resent Darren Criss/Blaine. Boo!).

+ Glee clubbers giving fake names, complete with exaggerated characterizations.

+ Finn standing up for their Sectionals Journey medley, which was actually pretty damned amazing, and which they all seemed psyched about performing at the time. Shut up, everyone.

+ Becky!  With her headset!

+ CAMEO. Internet is outraged by this for some inexplicable reason; now I love it more.

+ Will/hats: my unlikely Inanimate Object OTP.

+ Bieste!  Making her least embarrassing/obnoxious appearance ever to point out to Principal Sue, nonplussed, that the Cheerios have no one to cheer for if she shuts down the football team (faulty logic, though. They can cheer for basketball, at the very least, and technically they don't have to cheer for a team at all, as that's more of a side diversion while they practice for their own competitions).

+ Sue reinstating Will because "Your kids sure love you, as evidenced by the amount of treacly blubbering I had to sit through." And now we take a moment for me to bask in the warm glow, To-Sir-With-Love style, of various students (albeit not nearly enough -- I want Quinn's sound bite!) pledging devotion to their regular teacher. Just imagine how much it took Rachel to admit that she's not the best thing that's ever happened to this school.

+ Bipolar Mary Lincoln: I should be angry, or at least annoyed, and yet instead am enchanted? Cracky fun times. Miss Holiday es bien loca, no?
(and that brings the number of things I can say in Spanish up to 5!  Oh, I'm just going to obnoxiously use this phrase all the time now.)

Detractions
----------Disgusting Girl & the slow-mo virus (though the music was epic). Apparently her name is Lauren, but I cannot think of anything else when I see her. She's officially appeared one too many times for me to even confine it to character hate anymore; this actress sickens me.

-All the whining about how the kids never get to pick their music. If that's even true, then maybe it's because when he lets you pick your music you do things like Push It and Toxic and stuff from Lady Gaga.

-Kurt & Blaine's gay marriage discussion, which sounded so shoehorned. Writers, your politics are interfering with my enjoyment again.

-This entire episode's loltastic lack of regard for the existence of teachers' unions (re: hiring/firing). That said, I don't really have a problem with seeing less of Figgins on my screen. As long as she more or less leaves the club alone, Principal Sue forever!

Music: Ending On a High Note
+Conjunction Junction: YOU KNOW YOU LOVE IT. Alas, we must file it away with "Piano Man" and "Ride Wit Me" under the header "brilliant songs we shall tragically never know the full versions of."

++Forget You: I haven't heard the original, and I've also never even heard of Cee Lo, but upon hearing this I am not really clear why this song ever needed to be anything except "Forget You." I've also never heard a song that sounded better with the complete S-word than a "Shh!" sound, so I approve this clean version a lot. While I suspect that Cee Lo is trash** and thus I am naturally inclined to fold my arms and sit in the corner with Disapproving Rachel (my hero!), and Glee has apparently broken the crucial switch in my heart required to fall in love with its music - or at least, the desire to play it on loop until I love it - I found this whole thing pretty fun. Especially the Cheerios as backup singers.

(** Wait, it's a guy? ...isn't this song from the perspective of a girl?  no?  oh my god, the original must be horrendous. I was picturing someone like Kat DeLuna, somewhere between pop and R&B; this dude just sounds like THE WORST. I have so much more respect for Glee's version now).

+Make 'Em Laugh: A minute into this was where I first tuned into the episode, and it promptly glued me to my seat. It's rubbish as music, of course, and normally I would write off anything so clearly connected to Broadway and barely half sung, except this performance was AMAZING. The humor was wonderful, the choreography out of sight (running up a wall and doing a backflip just eclipsed the one-handed stand from "Bust a Move"). Reminded me a lot of the sheer joy in the Neil/Kent baseball duet on So You Think You Can Dance. The fact that this is the sort of crazy fever dream his subconscious comes up just makes it that much better.

(For the record, I'm counting Mike's comical fall into Mr. Schue as a hug. Arms were wrapped. By the time they graduate, I will have them all checked off on this count.)

-Rachel/Holly duet: Hey, what was I saying about "writing off anything so clearly connected to Broadway"? This was both ridiculously boring and plain ridiculous.

++Singing in the Rain/Umbrella: I know, I should hate mashups as well as the fact that I've finally been forced to hear this legendarily addictive Rihanna song after years of successful avoidance...but I can't, because it makes me so HAPPY. Granted, there's a bittersweet tinge to it all, because the broader I watch him smile the more empathy I feel for Terri getting a really raw deal. And part of me just wants his voice to shine on SitR alone, which I (like the kids) have always dismissed as "bleh, old and boring," but which he gives new life...but you know, it's a wonderfully uplifting performance and they really don't sound so bad blended together. The Umbrella chorus gets stuck in my head, and yet I don't care. SHEER JOY. Oh, that's it. 5 watches later, it just became Music List material, and I think it's going to bring a couple of friends with it.

In short, a 75-80% success rate on music, depending how you count, is a rare and impressive feat for any episode.

Conclusion: AMAZING. Do I have to go to episode 8? Because episode 8 last year was a terrible letdown after episode 7, and the previews are not instilling me with confidence.

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