Considering how much they focused on pairings I dislike, that was actually pretty great! I credit the highly successful selection of music, because despite the amount of insufferable scenes, right now I'm thinking Top 5 of the season. I need to remember that Quality Glee is a waiting game.
My thoughts are not particularly in order, but here goes.
Things I Love With Every Fiber Of My Being In The Opening Scene
1. Depressed Puppy Kurt, moping lonesomely around the piano while everybody else plays kissyface. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen short of an actual puppy with its chin flat on the floor between its front paws.
2. Sugar literally wiggling with excitement while holding out $250 of Regionals-saving cash.
3. Kurt rousing himself from depression long enough to snap at Mr. Schue to take the money, and Schue once again folding like a wet napkin when glee kids order him around.
4. Finn, in a rare moment of being adorable, guiding Rachel through some clumsy drumset work.
5. "No single people allowed. They're sad and boring and they don't exist in my world." -- Fact: Sugar now owns all the best lines. Plus she loves the sound of applause, even if she has to buy it.
Mr. & Mr. Berry
The day I've been dreading has finally come to pass. We met Rachel's dads...and they immediately got on my every last nerve. (Glee: Failing At Non-Warbler Gay Characters since 2009) So much so that even though I applaud their elaborate scheme to undermine the engagement, I now almost WANT Rachel to marry Finn so she can get away and be fully absorbed into the Hudmel clan, which at this point is pretty much the One Great Big Happy Weasley Family of Glee.
(think about it. Kurt + Finn, then pull in Rachel and you're biologically linked to Quinn and Puck, + Blaine. + Sam living there makes him an honorary family member. Half the club)
WORST: Finn/Rachel: Crazy, Stupid Love
Everything about their storyline from the stage meeting with her dads to Finn stomping off was goddamn excruciating. I couldn't even finish the dinner scenes and I never will. The only thing I liked in this entire plot strand was Rachel throwing a hairbrush at Finn and then jumping when it hit the door and bounced off. Freakishly adorable. Nothing else was, including the snuggling at the end where everything in me is objectively like, "YES! THAT IS WHAT I WANT FROM MY TELEVISION," but because it's them, I'm just like: " ... *vaguely ill feeling* "
New Kid On the Block: Joe Hart
We also met Samuel "Glee Project 'Co-Winner' " Larsen's character, and whoa boy, I am so on board. One play of that "Stereo Hearts" clip a few days early, and I was gone. Why the hell did we get Rory first?? I would greatly prefer to have 10 or so episodes banked of Larsen's pretty eyes in the background. And while Joe and his boring name are handicapped by his hair and gross nose ring/tattoos, the fact remains that I like him enough to mostly overlook it.
The moment of truth was left for the first time we actually heard him speak -- but it took about two minutes of his homeschooled, religious, guitar-playing, non-judgmental, ideal-peace-studies-major self for me to sign off on his character with a flourish. The last time I was this instantly enchanted by a new kid, his name was Blaine Anderson (edit: whoops. Harmony). And while Joe is not quiiiiite in that league character-wise, he IS already jockeying for position as my second or third favorite male vocalist on the show, depending on where Will & Sam fall in a given month.
His hair/tats/piercing make me wary of the bizarre plans to push Quinn onto him (already?!), yet I am cautiously optimistic because dreads > mohawk. Also: sophomore? So...he can stay forever, y/y?
The God Squad
...I'm sorry, the entire discussion in the second meeting is too bizarre. The dialogue is so terribly wooden and out of character that it might as well have been performed by string puppets. I especially don't know why Sam is talking here. Need I remind you of your smile when Blaine asked the Prom Queen for the first dance? (wait, never mind, he probably just thought they were really good friends) Besides, even if someone's completely homophobic, I fail to see how simply performing a love song for a third party makes one uncomfortable. The singing and the gayness do not quite meet. Finn wasn't even in sight for Rachel's tribute.
I do love how the writers just make up random extracurriculars for the glee kids and nobody else to be in whenever they need a quick storyline crutch. This seems like a cute group, and their dialogue was not nearly as excruciating as, oh I don't know, Celibacy Club.
The Sugar Wars
All of this was so cute!! Artie did so many things right, including verbally smacking down Rory like the hand of God at lunch, and looking at him -- especially in comparison to the 10 year old -- he would be the obvious pick, right? Assuming you can just forget about his horrible personality? Did you see that doggy stuffed animal he picked out, because I want it. BUT THEN: Rory shows up with an actual puppy. Game over, bitches.
On a related note, I am running around crying and flailing because Glee has granted another impossible dream from the RS Makes A Wish program by finally giving one of the club members a dog. Even more than Blaine, this was the show's Valentine to me. Best part, it's one of the extremely rare small dogs I find adorable and would personally adopt.
Old Post Ironies, circa Rumours: Finn storms in, yelling at Sam for explanations of this cheating bullshit, because why wouldn't he do the same thing that Finn did to him? (hmm. Because Sam's not an ass?)
Finally seeing fallout of kiss besides just making me ill. I realize it's hard to think of Shane as a legitimate character (LOL-ing forever at the notion of his crocodile tears), but still, that happened - Sam snuck in and stole someone else's girl. Uncool. On bright side, Sam is super pretty when he cries. I expect Fabrevans shippers to edit this footage into a Sam/Quinn fanvid ASAP so we can fully enjoy it. Tumblr is already working on the GIF sets. Also acceptable: Sam/Rachel.
OTHER WORST: Brittana
Successfully self-censored and have only been hit with glancing blows on Tumblr, which tells me that their awful relationship was nicely sequestered, pared down and minimally relevant to the plot. Except where I wanted to smack Santana for trying to deliberately antagonize The God Squad. Bitch, wipe the smug smirk off your face and just buy a singing telegram like a normal person. They don't need your life's story.
I don't care about the kissing double standards (whatever gets them out of sight, I say go for it), except insofar as Tumblr offered me a link to this gorgeous Kurt/Blaine Christmas-themed fic that has the exact same scenario and is, naturally, much better: The Trouble With Mistletoe.
SECOND WORST: Kurt's Secret Admirer
Can we just talk about how awful Karofsky is? He is fast becoming my least favorite gay - guy! least favorite guy - just because every time he shows up, he somehow gets more pathetic and irritating. I am now officially embarrassed by his life. How the mighty have fallen, from Bully King to sniveling mess. I find your weakness...repulsive, and curl my lip at you like an alpha wolf attacking the omega.
I don't understand people who ship this, and it's not because I have any problem with the abusive past, it's completely because in addition to being pathetic**, Dave just seems like a generally gross guy - sloppy, dumb, possibly with poor hygiene, and never quite this side of attractive anyway - and I would not wish that sandbag even on season 1 Kurt.
**I have no idea why this is true when the same character trait of crying at everything is what made Kurt so appealing, or why I love it when any other guy in Glee loses it.
But on the bright side, I loved the hell out of the end of that scene. New fave jock bully! Always a fan of people being forcibly outed on this show, and all spoiler rumblings seem to indicate that good things are coming from this.
Music & Performances
[edit: did Rachel's dads sing a complete number? if so, consider that irrelevant with double minus signs]
L-O-V-E: Boring and bland opening -- this is one of the worst songs ever. Much like Mike/Tina, the number itself was not terrible, but also not interesting. I preferred the Sugar Wars montage going on.
I'm sorry. This is the only thing in my head every time I read that title.
Artie's general terribleness makes it hard for me to care when he solos, but the boy band dancing was cute (especially Kurt's parts), Artie's voice is best when used in this manner, and this was some excellent classic pop.
++Stereo Hearts: clearly, this would be much better if it was just Joe singing normal verses, maybe with Mercedes' lovely vocals, because Sam's unexpected horrifying rapping initially resulted in me flinging myself against the back wall in terror.
But then I realized we get Sam singing an entire song straight to Rachel. And stealing a random chick's flower to give to her. There is a fountain of cheery pink hearts bubbling forth from my chest right now. Not gonna lie, I'm also into Joe/Rachel a little bit. AND, AND, as if that all was not amazing enough, Quinn is (theoretically) providing backup vocals, flirtatiously hanging off Sam's shoulder a lot but also taking Rachel's hand at one point and skipping forth. It's literally the cutest performance since "Let It Snow." And it only took about five plays for me to be brainwashed into loving the whole thing, to the point where I've played the studio version about 100 times now. This means that someone eclipsed a Blaine song as my favorite of the episode and it wasn't even Rachel; signal the apocalypse.
+ Home: FINALLY, Rory sings something decent. I've always liked this song, but I was thoroughly shocked when he actually managed to make a country song work. [edit: Michael Buble what? Yeah, I don't know that version.]
-- I Will Always Love You: muted after 5 seconds. We talked about how this is cousins with "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in terms of sheer torture. Worth watching on mute for Sam's crying, though. In front of the entire club so he has to leave the room! That is the zenith of crying scenes.
+Cherish/Cherish: In which I choose to tune out Mercedes, shrug off the fact that it's a relatively boring melody/lyrics, and bask in the heavenly vocal perfection that is Sam/Joe/Quinn. It is a really good thing I fell in love with this before I knew it was being sung for Brittana, though, because I had to smokescreen this scene to avoid seeing unpleasantness and probably would have skipped it if I didn't love the music (hence only one plus sign). That would have been a terrible loss.
And the last number gets to be its own category:
a/k/a "OH DEAR GOD, GLEE CLUB KING, I HAVE MISSED YOUR FACE."
I had almost learned how to cope without his constant presence, and then the spotlight found him and I immediately melted into a useless puddle of fawning. Until last night, my headcanon was that he'd been texting Rachel nonstop for the past few days to stay up to date and help him plan his grand comeback to surprise Kurt. As for why that's changed, read on to the end.
SONG: My first reaction was that this in no way compares to the wonderful original, of which I have many fond memories dancing the electric slide to it in gym. So much so that I immediately requested a CD at the library that has that song on it. Unfortunately, I couldn't pick it up until Thursday. That left 36 hours for Blaine's voice to work its magic on me, and even though it barely sounds like him, it took exactly two plays for that to happen, so now I love this version too. Although it wasn't until today that I realized how deeply inappropriate this song is, lyrically speaking, behind the heavy layer of camp.
+ HEART EYEPATCH. Everyone loves the heart eyepatch.
+ Blaine offering the microphone to Kurt and not taking no for an answer
+ Blaine using Kurt's tie to drag him out of his seat. I am convinced this purpose is the only reason ties were invented.
+ I love when Kurt leans back on stage and bumps into him, but I also can't help eyeballing his super-pointy hair and thinking that it almost put Blaine's other eye out.
+ Blaine's face, all the time, in general. I had forgotten just how much I love his goofy, shameless performer self. Especially in a hat.
+ You know how Blaine/Catholic School Girls was one of my early ships for him? Blaine/Sorority Girls will be equally acceptable.
+ Creeper Finn's ridiculous GIF moment
+ Every single other second of this number
+ "Knock a little louder, [S]ugar!" = DEAD OF CUTE. I am always sad about how isolated all the kids are in their generally narrow friendship/frenemy bubbles within the club, so any time new pairs interact in song I get ridiculously excited. Better yet, Tumblr handed over this fantastic missing scene of a story for them.
Cupid Couture: “Rory got him for me, because he’s the best boyfriend ever, and he’s supposed to be like my lucky charm because Rory’s a little Irish cutie, but Earl can’t stay at home alone all day because he pees on the carpet, and Daddy imported those rugs from France. You’re home during the day, and Santana says you’re probably just lying around getting life advice from Dr. Phil.” Or: Sugar tries to get Blaine to dog-sit.
For those of us who are saddened by the lack of a welcome-back OTP kiss, here is a fantastic post-ep with the two of them that is probably better than anything canon could give. It also includes a post-ep scene for Silly Love Songs, and various other bonuses.
You Are the Ballon to My Grand Battement: Kurt's Valentine's Days have changed over the years.
Warning: the fic is lovely and mild, but since there was one sentence where I had to dunk my brain in bleach even as just a reference, you'll want to stop at "They stay linked like that the rest of the way to Blaine’s house, until Kurt has to make a sharp turn into the driveway." The subsequent sentence is “Ready for your surprise?” Blaine says as they step out of the car. -- and then you can imagine some off-color joke, and use the search feature to skip to "“I don’t know Blaine," and then you can read the less-dirty line right above it if you like and/or continue on your merry way.
Up Next: um, what the hell, I was not warned about hardly any of these things. How are we even going to have time for Regionals with all this other crap going on? On the other hand: more Fierce Quinn/Rachel, Blaine stage solo and Sebastian? So much yay.
P.S. Recently admitted "Marry You" to the list of Acceptable Glee Songs. Mostly because I keep fixating on Finn singing the following: We're looking for something dumb to do / Hey baby, I think I want to marry you
I would like for Tumblr to make an entire macro set from the full lyrics. Only Tumblr doesn't really do macros, so that's probably up to me.
And now I have a boatload of other TV to watch, yet am only interested in watching bits of Glee over and over again. I am not going to cope well with hiatus.