NOW BACK TO MORE IMPORTANT THINGS.
After avoiding it for days and finally watching it...oh, let's say a full week after its original airdate, I issued a challenge: "All right, let's just do this thing. Setting phasers to default: hate. Change my mind!"
Glee, 2x16, "Original Song"
My initial impression was pretty neutral, because I still had bad burns from the previous weeks. The scars of betrayal ran deep. After viewing I wasn't exactly full of hate, I also just wasn't that impressed. But then a funny thing happened...I kept watching all the performances in an attempt to divert my one-track Off the Map mind (clearly that was a success), and somehow I found myself pretty in love with this hour.
The first thing I notice is this episode opens with no previouslies and extra minutes. The second thing I notice is that we open at Dalton, and even when they add music to their work, I'm already bored, and I wish Blaine would quit singing at Kurt in that weird way. Sorry, but thanks to your recent tomfoolery, when Blaine's not flirting with girls I just don't know what to do with him. BLAINE/RACHEL OR NOTHING. Acceptable alternative(s): Blaine/Catholic School Girls.
Voice: Now, is this going to be like where you belatedly came around on Sam/Quinn after you accepted his sexuality?
RS: Yeah, probably, once the grudge settles down.
May I just say, I love how Rachel has this gift for coming up with lyrics that sound pretty individually, and have a decent if simple melody, but when put together and examined in context come out sounding silly and juvenile.
-Sister, brother, wherefore art thou?
-More than enough for them, but not enough for me
It's actually kind of awesome. This sounds like the kind of stuff I come up with when I am desperate to have my own songs for personal story purposes, while lacking the actual gift for songwriting or even poetry. Based on the above lyrics, I feel like there is legitimate potential in this song if it was a little less specific and avoided actual egg imagery.
Quinn: Smart, Super Pretty, and Relatively Sane for a Girl
Quinn voiceovers are among my favorites, and she's wearing an adorably fitted straw hat with a bow in this scene. That's all I wanted to say. Her obsession with winning things that will make her matter is a little bit sad, but despite last episode's hate flareup, I find I can't fault her
P.S. Dear show, when I said I wanted Quinn and Rachel to be friends, I meant sincerely...but I will accept anything that gets them to behave civilly toward one another for five seconds and/or share a scene of their very own.
[edit: or does everyone get their own? This part of the show is so confusing when you skip half their scenes]
What I do understand is that his rendition of the song is absolutely lovely. I don't think it's possible for "Blackbird" NOT to be pretty, although the Beatles do my least favorite version of it, but it is nice to see Kurt and not feel like wanting to hit him.
Voice: Isn't most of this scene focused on Blaine's face?
RS: That is a bonus feature.
And if I was going to get on board Blaine/Kurt, then good job on using pet death as a catalyst. Falling for someone crying over a dead bird makes enough sense to override my confusion about the fact that two weeks ago Blaine did not seem to have ever entertained the notion of liking Kurt That Way.
"This is a song I wrote for Sam. It's called Trouty Mouth."
"Wait. What's it called?"
(Mike helpfully clarifies)
And it is, basically, wanton cruelty. OH COME ON. You're pummeling an opponent who isn't fighting back! Look at the kicked puppy face. Why, Santana? Why do you cause this?
It's not even good music; it's this horrible slow...jazz, I guess? Lounge singer style? It's the kind of music that makes me want shoot people on sight.
And then Sam explodes and makes this entire scene more than worth it. That's it, forget EVERYBODY, Sam is my new favorite group member. He has yet to significantly piss me off, and where most of the other good characters bored me along the way, his boredom days were over with at the beginning.
"OK, can we stop? Stop with the mouth jokes!"
"Sit down, I'm not finished."
"Yes, you are. Mr. Schue, we're not doing a song at Regionals called 'Trouty Mouth.'"
Do you know how many times I have waited for someone to interrupt somebody in the middle of a clearly horrifying performance? That's another reason Sam is my favorite, cutting this nonsense off at the knees and pointing out sensible truths. Nice job, everyone else, including the teacher. (although Schue did at least have the decency to turn around and look concerned. Baby steps back to being a good teacher)
I will give this to DG, she has brought about a relatively inoffensive and rather neutered version of Puck that I am enjoying a lot this week, even with scuzzy hair. The besotted hearts in his eyes while singing to her charm me. And although Mr. Schue seems to be the only one* who realizes that these lyrics are nearly as offensive as the last time Puck sang (not that he will be stopping it or anything), I kind of don't care because its rockabilly theme IS catchy. I am gradually starting to not even care whether it has legitimate lyrics. I will play this thing on its own.
*Tina does too, but she took part in "Trouty Mouth," so she's kinda lost credibility for today
My favorite part is Sam defiantly snapping along to the catchy beat, despite Santana's WTF glares at him for doing so. Bitch, please.
The Ballad of Quinn and Finn
"Whoa. Scary Quinn." Ahahahahaha, Finn, it's so easy to get back in my good graces. *narrows eyes* Too easy.
Huh, That Was A Thing That Happened
After immediately skipping over the pending boredom of Blaine talking to Kurt YET AGAIN, I landed in the middle of Mercedes' song, so I quickly skipped back, and then landed smack in the middle of the first kiss. Immediate reaction:
"WAUGH! OK. Wow. I did not know that was happening today. Huh. Yeah. I don't think I'm ready for that."
However, just for you, LJ, I backed up a bit more and watched the whole thing. And now I have to admit, if you're going to foist this nonsense about Blaine somehow not falling in love with Rachel on me, this was probably as picturesque and non-objectionable as a kiss was going to get, so kudos. Of course, if you do not stick to this formula every single time, my good will goes up in flames on the spot. Fair warning.
Hell to the No
Again, this is a song that I wish had better lyrics, because it's harder to ignore the stupidity here than on Puck's. Unfortunately, it's also a much catchier song. If it had even slightly better verse lyrics, it would absolutely be a radio hit. Why can't you be better! This phrase is what made me fall in love with Mercedes in the pilot.
-Brittany is wearing a super adorable floppy hat
-I have a sudden need for Sam and Mercedes to become buddies and hang out. It would be an upgrade for both of them in the friend department.
-The girls are all extra adorable while dancing up front by the piano (even Santana temporarily seems harmless)
-So is Mr. Schue, whom I keep mistaking for a student grooving along there in the background, and who as of this scene is officially back in my good graces. Now QUIT LEAVING THEM. Glee is depressing when he's not at the top of my favorites list.
Schue: Yeah, Mercedes! Really, really good. But um...
Mercedes: "But" my butt, Mr. Schue, that song was amazing.
Schue: No, I agree, I'm just not sure it's Regionals material.
Santana: Mr. Schue, I wrote another verse of Trouty Mouth.
It's the notebook page that keeps on giving.
All My Underdogs
Love the mini brainstorming session as the kids recount the various ways Sue tortures them on a daily basis. And how Mr. Schue looks particularly appalled by Sue attempting to legally change Tina's last name to Cohen-Loser. But the visual of Sue randomly throwing standing in the hall and throwing sticks at Mercedes is priceless.
I Get Finn, You Get Heartbroken
"Do you want to know how the story plays out?"
Quinn's speech was confusing, and I feel like there were so many layers to it. Why was she nearly crying? My first impression was frustration at seeing herself boxed in because she didn't know how else to be. Does Quinn really dream of being a successful real estate agent here in Lima (doubtful), or is she actually envious of Rachel's future path, chasing gold stars? But Quinn doesn't have the talent for it and that's not how she's going to make something for herself, so she's picked a feasible plan. Rachel honing in on Finn is not only a threat in and of itself, but a threat to take away the stability of her only plan. She calls Rachel out on her schoolgirl fantasy of life, looking for a happy ending she'll never get, but why is it OK for Quinn to assume she's going to get hers?
Or the tears are just to fake the above, or they're real but she's just peeved that Rachel is making her life unnecessarily difficult. That seems more like the superficial Glee I know.
[edit: internet seems on board with my original interpretation, so now I want to pack it away and really pick it apart later.] [edit 2: Or I will just let this amazing recap, which you should read in its entirety for entertainment value, explain it much better.]
I did like the wistful, upper-octave piano notes that tinkled throughout said speech, though, along with the heavier chords that provided the brief montage of Rachel's subsequent songwriting.
Jesus is a Friend
HAPPY TIMES! Oh my God, the big cheesy stage grins and theatrical dancing + cheesy lyrics fill me with such incomprehensible joy. As dumb as this is, this is the kind of stuff I would like to see on Glee all the time. If every week was full of cheery, childish numbers like this instead of Top 40 radio sleaze, I would not profess to hate the majority of Glee's music as much as I generally do. J-J-J-J-Jesus!
Raise Your Glass
Skipping right over that unspeakably boring duet I still can't make myself sit through, WOW, "Raise Your Glass" blew me away. It was right around this time that the original brainwashed me into loving it with excessive radio play, but I think what pushed it over the edge was this performance convincing me to think of it as a theme song for the Warblers underdogs, wrong in all the right ways.
Even though I don't particularly like all of Blaine's odd facial expressions (though the choreography's kinda cute), and I'm really distracted by the way the background chorus seems to be repeatedly singing "jenga," musically this is by FAR the best song they've ever done. It has no competition at all from their other fare. I enjoy the fact that this is 100% clean, and how his voice is smoother than Pink's (the quasi-falsetto bit at the end gives me shivers), even though the Music List has no plans to mention that at this point.
And as a performance, it's got so much wonderful, confident energy -- I don't know how a song like this manages to come off so inspiring, but it does, it DOES. If New Directions had not brought their A++ game, Warblers would have deserved to win on this alone. They just own that stage.
In the audience, there's a cute bit where Quinn bumps Finn's shoulder and leans against him affectionately, but I particularly like how on the line "And you're treated like a fool," Sam turns to look at Santana. Tiny things: much appreciated!
Get It Right
Ostensibly, she is focused on Finn before she goes on stage, but you know who the last person we see her look to before the music begins is? Mr. Schue. Ha, ha! FANTASTIC. (I thought that was a deliberate shot of student looking for support/reassurance from the teacher; the internet just thinks it is oddly cut editing. If it's the latter, then I am subverting the hell out of it)
[edit: my theory wins. damn you, deleted scenes! damn you all to hell!]
As for the song, of course I love it. I loved it sight unseen, there was never a question, but as soon as the words begin to roll out and I actually heard it for the first time, my eyes glazed over in bliss. This is the song I have been waiting for Rachel to bring all year, a proper non-Broadway solo all to herself, one with beauty and meaning and "Rachel" stamped all over it. As a performance, it's less than exciting*, but I've been playing that song on loop for days.
*Except for the shots back to the wings, where Finn is looking kind of stupidly adorable again, and then the camera shifts left and focuses on the stormcloud that is Quinn's face while watching him watch Rachel. :(
Absolutely beautiful dresses on the girls, too - very much performance dresses I don't know if you could wear anywhere else, but why not take advantage of the stage while it's there to go with extra glitter and shimmer in your costume choice? And the boys look really sharp in all black next to them.
Loser Like Me
My first impression was something like...horror? The AutoTune was insane. It was insane because I actually noticed it, swore that it didn't even sound like Lea Michele's voice. It drove me nuts because there was SUCH POTENTIAL in the lyrics, and the melody was amazing, and the performance made me really happy on principle...but it just sounded like a generic pop princess. Which I'm OK with, generally, but not when I am accustomed to a particular favorite singer. It is bad when you like Finn's voice better on a verse.
But! Through sheer determination and force of will I have decided I love it and managed to drum the difference out of my ears. When they sing this, hopping up and down, bursting with pride and confidence and happiness, it reminds me of that very first Don't Stop Believin' performance. Plus, Mike strolling across the stage with the slushie machine? NICE TOUCH. Almost worth the 20395823 idiotic slushie facials.
Little things to notice:
* Mr. Schue all giddy and proud in the wings
* The first time I have ever not minded DG's existence in this club was her fun gesturing on "see you when you wash my car"
* Watching the anger and disbelief grow on Sue's face as the auditorium erupts in cheers
* Rachel with Artie, center stage, making adorable L-shapes against their foreheads
* Quinn's faaaaaaaace (watching Finn with his arm around Rachel at the end). Why can't she ever just have a nice time at Regionals?
In conclusion: amazing. Through two rounds of Sectionals AND last year's Regionals, I have never seen them actually hit it out of the park at competition until today. Today they earned that win. And it was magical.
Is It A Gay School, Or Is It Just A School That Appears Gay?
SISTER MARY CONSTANCE IS MY NEW FAVORITE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE GLEE UNIVERSE. I have been typing the above quote in various places for days now, because I so enjoy articulating every word as I gleefully repeat it back to myself. I have no idea why it delights me so much, but something about her inflection sends me into hysterics.
Voice: It's true. She is laughing out loud right now.
RS: Can we please just have Sister Mary Constance come back all the time instead of, I don't know, Holly freaking Holiday? Loretta Devine is the much better actress, anyway.
Tammy Jean Albertson, I did not love so much. I want to appreciate everything Kathy Griffin does, but this character was just so bizarrely...pointless. It was like they were aiming for satire, but they didn't add anything new -- they just had her repeat a bunch of popular buzzwords and catch phrases verbatim, and you knew you were supposed to find them outlandish or over the top, but they were pretty mild ones and since no one reacted to them in any way, they just hung there in the air as flat statements. It wasn't even offensive, just boring. The only thing that had any spark to it was the quick side quip that when she lost her election, she didn't go around singing about being a loser... she twittered that Obama was a terrorist. As you do. ("Oh no you didn't!" // "I had to. It's a fact.")
Winners and New Champions
This is its own category so I can mention Mr. Schue clapping a hand on Rachel's shoulder.
And wonder why Sue is allowed to walk over and punch someone in the face, unprovoked, in front of a full house and not get arrested.
Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End
"You did win. So did I. We got each other out of all this."
Damn you, show. Damn you and your universally perfect dialogue that elicits an actual "awww." When did I give you permission to zipline to my heart with them?
Voice: 'Bout ten categories up when you warned them they had to follow the perfect formula in every interaction or risk your wrath.
RS: Right. Well, in that case, good job so far.
That's A Wrap
-WAIT, WHAT, how in the hell are Sam and Santana still together at the end of this? The *hell*? After Trouty Mouth? Fanfic, you got some 'splainin to do. '
-Based on a 1-sided phone conversation, Will/Holly still grosses me out. So much for that shipping plan I had for them. It was more of a one-night-stand plan, anyway. Rejecting them goes against every Will-shipping principle I have, but that is how much I cannot stand her after last week.
-I predict that no one ever gets an MVP award again, but this was a nice gold-star-shaped gesture.
(translation: oh my God, surprise adorable congratulations hug LASDFASD!)
-*gasp* And then EVERYBODY joins in the hugging! All I ever want out of life is for everybody to love Rachel, and look, a lovefest is happening before my very eyes. Quick, pull the plug on this show immediately. I don't want anything to happen after this pitch-perfect conclusion, which is even better than last season's finale.
*perks up* Hey, Sam/Rachel, I could do that. Both of them are pretty and they've totally lost out on the romance front this year. Chemistry? I don't need chemistry -- or reason or logic or motive -- I just need Pretty Factor.
In Conclusion: There is actually nothing to hate about this episode. Its worst offenses are Santana being a whiny bitch, a couple of boring Warblers pieces and an excessive number of dull conversations between Blaine & Kurt. And there's so much to love. Is it fighting for a spot among the season favorites, possibly even the top prize? Yes. It is.
Up Next: Boooo, do not want more Holly. However, super excited for the Legion of Doom (actual name), including TERRI!