But the thing is, I can't move on from this episode because it's perfect. It was 85% perfect the first time I watched it, but the longer I ruminate on it, the more I decide that there's really only one wasted scene in the whole thing and in fact, I'm pretty sure this was the best episode of anything that aired on TV in 2013. Its title is highly indicative of my response to it.
Glee 5x01, "Love, Love, Love"
Not only did I love it, this is the first season premiere I have liked on first watch since the pilot -- and here, the highs were much higher and the lows were also higher, more like "less interesting" than "things I outright hated." It may have been a result of the music and performances being 100% awesome (a first for this series), it may have been the heavy Klaine storyline; WHO KNOWS. All I know is that after a depressingly lackluster summer of waiting on the hook, the August filming spoilers hit me like a shot of illegal uppers and my love for this show exploded like nothing I could have imagined.
Before we get started, I want to make it very clear that I'm pretty sure Sam's congratulatory ass pat was the greatest thing that happened in this episode. I cannot stop cackling at it. I feel like Chord was very proud of himself for coming up with it.
Full disclosure, part II: All of them were palatable to me on first listen, but the only song I really went head over heels for was the first one. I decided that wouldn't do, so while I was waiting to watch the episode again I started playing the whole album on repeat until the songs sank into my brain. I have now played the entire album some 35-40 times and the first song isn't even my favorite anymore, so...draw your own conclusions. Or read mine below.
++ Yesterday: I always thought this was a boring song, but what a beautiful rendition this was. The perfect way to open the season after the tragic news this summer. Even the Glee staff knew they were only pretending to make this about anything besides Cory/Finn -- I did appreciate someone pointing out how she went wandering around a bunch of places she and Finn went on their SuperDate.
+ Drive My Car: I hated this at first, because it was catchy and he sounded great, but Kitty's monotone robot voice was like splashing mud all over it. But then I was listening to "Off to the Races" by Lana del Rey, which I love a lot, and realized she does the same singing/spoken split in the chorus and I think that sounds awesome. Epiphany!
(also, even though I was really hoping they wouldn't waste the awesome carnival set on a song montage like they did the amusement park, everyone was super adorable, and Imma need someone to write me the fic(s).)
++ Got To Get You Into My Life: It's a little shouty and overblown, but still good. (edit: it gets more energetic and delightful the more you watch it; have added second plus sign in response) I particularly love the moment of Kurt skidding to a stop and backtracking in the opposite direction before the marching band mows him over. Also the end, but we'll get to that.
++ You've Got To Hide Your Love Away: the relationship was almost worth it just for the sweetness of this montage. I love how their voices blend, in ways I didn't know I could love Kitty's voice, and it's just sung at the most perfectly measured pace for you to sway along with it. It puts me in a such a calm and pleasant mood. The montage was extra cute, too.
++ Help!: I love the jaunty guitar and the sheer delight of Blaine. Ambassador of the World, uniting all peoples by batting his eyelashes. This is just the cutest thing ever. Especially when they storm Dalton (LOVE the shot of the 3 suspicious Warblers in their phone booths).
++ A Hard Day's Night: After the success of "So Emotional," I don't know why it still surprises me that these two sound good together, but they really do! So much energy - just a ton of fun here.
++ I Saw Her Standing There: My favorite of the hour. Besides the 75% ULTIMATE PERFECTION in the face and vocals department of the Early Beatles Experience, I am basically a kitten flailing at yarn over the "wooooo!s" and Blaine McCartney's perfect head-shaking. I hate when they have the girls in the club turn into screaming fangirls, but I love everything else about this recreation. (BLAINE YOUR HAIR LOOK HOW SOFT AND NICE IT IS) Even Half Black John Lennon. Jake is so great when he just stands there and looks pretty or mumbles throwaway asides, who knew?
P.S. Bwahaha, I love Marley's look of disbelief when Jake fails to immediately exclude himself from the "single Prom dates" category. IT'S FORESHADOWING, MARLEY.
++ All You Need Is Love: It was a slow grower, aurally speaking. But the more times you listen to it, the more you appreciate the royal-sounding intro, the rest of the brass instrumentation, and the fantastic snippet of "[he] loves you" threaded in at the end. And when you're actually watching the performance, I mean, I don't think you can help your expressions mirroring Kurt's, can you? Unless you're looking at Kurt or Blaine's (mostly Kurt's) blinding eyesores of outfits, in which case you'll be grimacing.
THE LESS-GOOD (a/k/a "McKinley, non-Blaine storylines")
Artie/Kitty: Wow, that sure was a lot of time we spent on something not very interesting. Also, it may not be unexpected, but I am still changry that Artie will be shipping out East instead of the west-coast land of the lost.
[DECEMBER EDIT: I still can't say I ship it, but I recently watched episodes where Artie and Brittany were dating, so...I have to say, this is a lot more pleasant and I genuinely don't mind it at all. It's even almost cute?]
New Head Bully Bree: Turns out I'm really only here for male bullies; the witchy girls are tiresome. Especially when they look 9 years old.
Principal Sue: *sigh* Blaine Warbler, you promised to ruin her. You are the worst class president. (also, that scene with her spilling meat slurry was disgusting and added nothing and should have been cut, I'm serious)
MCKINLEY: GOOD HALF
A) Blaine still comes across as a tad bit manic and short-sighted with his proposal ideas -- and that scene of everyone rightfully side-eying him is the most uncomfortable part of the episode -- but...I can't help it, I am weak when it comes to The Power of Blam. If Sam is going to go around making emphatic pleas about "my best friend," I will go along with everything. Also, I feel I should remind you I still love the congratulatory ass pat.
B) I am not actually sure what I love more right now, the idea of Blaine worrying about Tina in the middle of planning the greatest moment of his life, or the fact that he roped the younger generation in to help him. By which I mean Ryder. Tell me more about how you and Ryder are friends now after bonding via Beatles rehearsals and getting him to realize that Tina's a really cool girl and not the intimidating upperclassman he usually thinks of her as.
Actually, Jake's calm comment about how they will certainly help Blaine even though it's totally Blaine's fault = the best thing Jake has ever said.
ANYWAY. Poor Tina in the Too Young to be Bitter Club. The Beatles performance was wonderful enough when I thought it was just to cheer her up, but then Blaine stood there beaming his stupid affectionate smile down at her and offering her pick of the 75% of the band that is vocal and facial perfection as her "arm candy." I emitted squeals normally reserved for teacup pigs. That is officially the sweetest thing any boy in the club has done for a girl, and Sam has previously set the bar pretty high with his misguided promise rings and his cat adoptions. They all looked so genuinely happy and willing to do it, too. That's the best part.
But I admit, I laughed at Tina's reasoning of Sam being the "least gay and Asian" choice. (I feel like that was mildly offensive but also maybe a really clever way of providing evidence for people to say Blaine is biracial without actually stating it, so both sides can be right)
Also, I was wrong, this episode does get better than Sam's congratulatory ass pat: it happens when Sam and Blaine simultaneously hug Tina and drop kisses on her. ASKL;DFJAL;SDFJAKLSDJFAKLSJDFLAJSDKLFJAS
CUTE OVERLOAD/PRETTY PEOPLE OVERLOAD/BRAIN IMPLOSION.
C) I am so tickled pink that nobody has let Unique say more than about two words OR focused on Jake/Marley like at all so far. I will happily take a thousand Wildebrams scenes if it comes at the expense of those storylines. At least as long as Ryder's back in the choir room like he never quit -- I guess my headcanon of Marley imploring him to come back worked! -- and still being disproportionately excited about every announcement.
I think I want this to better than it...is? It's just not as much fun or interesting as Smash. Also, her would-be costar looks kind sleazy/has a very punchable face, so I ask again, why can't Rachel just have some nice straight dudes in her life. WHY IS THAT.
I'm still a little...Not Overly Fond of this new setting. It's great for Santana, but I have watched 2 Broke Girls in 2 Hideous Uniforms way too many months not to inherently cringe at the idea of a New York diner, even if it's a classy place that bigwig theater people frequent and not the trashy hole in the wall I imagined it to be from the promo pics. Cringe at Rachel working there, that is. I appreciate that she's doing it as a conscious decision to better her chances of a role, not because she actually needs the money or the experience, but at the same time I just...she's my precious little star. She is better than this.
Yes, I am going to class snob all over the place because that's just how I feel about food service. If you want a menial entry-level job, start with janitorial/housecleaning work. That's awesome, go do that and I'll cheer you on! Oddly enough, I also like YA novels where teens work in cozy family-owned restaurants and bond with their boss/coworkers, and if you've waitressed in real life, I'm actually pretty impressed by the skill required to do that and the perseverance it takes to work in a job that punishes you for any shortcomings (the practice of tipping as salary is SO STUPID). But on a theoretical level, serving food just makes me cringe. It's probably the "serving" part. If your fictional character doesn't have to do it, don't make them.
THAT SAID: I suspect that one day in the future I will grow very nostalgic for the days when it was just these two we knew here and Rachel was still a fresh-faced newbie server. I might even quietly grow proud of her ability to tackle the difficulty of being a server. I sincerely hope she appreciates the parallels between her life and the woman she was named after. Tumblr, do the thing where you make gifs comparing stuff.
Full disclosure, part III: I found most of Kurt and Blaine's scenes really uncomfortable the first time. The "fix" was idiotically nonsensical even though I'd expected it to be, they seemed awkward with each other chemistry-wise, and worse, I felt like Kurt was being completely pressured into a bigger commitment than he was ready for - a fact so not helped by the expression he wore all the way up to the front doors. All of the following, however, are coming from a place of having waited a month or more to digest my feelings, reading Tumblr during that time, and re-watching scenes several times. The bad feelings are almost completely gone now and replaced by wonder and joy.
I have a really excellent Tumblr tag for this episode, incidentally, that is mostly Klaine-based. I spent two hours collecting everything and arranging it in order in a giant queue. Appreciate it.
Picnic: Yeah still mad -- there was NO reason to drag out breakup hell for 10-11 months if you were going to have them get over it with one cheery conversation. I hear you saying they've already talked about it, but the "no cheating contract" line was just way too flippant. I don't understand how you can joke about this ever. Plus "I will never, ever cheat on you again" left such a bad taste in my mouth; he sounded like a jerk who'd been caught 50 times before and was trying to cajole one more chance out of a pushover.
But out of context, I really love these lines, which are as close as we were ever going to get once we missed out on the Christmas heart-to-heart --
Kurt: When I was in New York and you were here, you cheated on me. Unacceptable.
Blaine: I thought you were done with me. I thought it was over, I thought I was completely out of the picture in your life!
Cut those lines, paste them in a new setting, add some passionate emotion involving tears and anger, shake, and voila. Now you know how things went down behind the scenes. Canon endorsed with "we've been through this." Honestly, I am grateful we got the words from Blaine in black and white; I wanted to hear them. Again. To Kurt. I thought you were done with me. It just keeps hurting better the more I repeat it.
I'm glad things never went anywhere with Adam (I was actually OK with anywhere except below the metaphorical equator), and I'm glad that Kurt essentially put them back together but made Blaine do the asking.
ALSO: COURTYARD KISSING. Even though I've been semi-unspoiled this season, it was way better to have gotten to giggle and squeal over multiple takes of that for five weeks before the episode aired than to be surprised on the spot.
Father/Son Bonding: I still don't like that Kurt looked like he was going to his execution in the car. If I were him I would bailed with an I'm not coming. It's too much too soon or similar "I'm not ready" text and ordered my chauffeur straight to the airport. It's hard to appreciate the things Burt says about marriage, much as I want to, because it is too much, too soon. I love the idea of them getting engaged young, but I don't love it right now, not while Blaine is still in high school, even if they hadn't broken up and JUST gotten back together. I especially don't love the line "I just don't know if I'm ever going to find that again" because that is literally saying "I'm afraid I'll never find anyone else so I better take what I can get while I can." Which is a shame, because "he makes me feel so safe and loved" on its own would have gone a long way to erasing my doubts.
Epic Proposal:: On the other hand, flaming_muse made a really excellent Tumblr post about how Kurt's face changes as he sees the extent to which Blaine went all-out for him. And this is just walking through the door. By the time he actually gets to the staircase he looks so overwhelmed (in a good way) it's like he can't decide between a full scale internal meltdown and exploding into little pieces of confetti.
Part of me is still a little -.- at this fanfic cliche of Blaine proposing in the literal place they met. I will never accept this theory people have that Blaine was consciously attracted to Kurt the moment he laid eyes on him; they are reading way too much into that expression. I was there as a non-invested non-shipper from day 1; my authority is god.
But I keep watching the song, and just loving the warmth and combination self-assurance/reassurance in Blaine's eyes. He looks fit to burst with pride at everything he's created for this moment, I did all of this for you, which just keeps growing as he sees its effect working. I especially love that he's entrusted to Rachel the important task of leading Kurt through the remainder of the tour when he disappears to make his grand staircase entrance.
I nearly choked to death on the saccharine overload in this proposal speech, but, I like Blaine's statement about them being soulmates falling in love lifetime after lifetime, mostly because it took Tumblr .05 seconds to mock up a genuinely awesome assortment of AU fic tropes to prove it, and I kinda love the theory that all of these stories are real and valid and true.
And I will never tire of watching Kurt's face during that speech. This is what I needed. For him to be completely overwhelmed, all over again, by how much Blaine means to him, how much he's missed them, and how much he needs him. The way that a few months ago, he wasn't sure he would ever feel again. I've watched a whole season of Blaine being miserable apart from his soulmate; the only thing I've gotten from Kurt, outside one vulnerable moment in his imagination, is hardness and/or denial. Until this moment. I needed that last wall to come down, down it came.
AND THEN THERE WAS A KISS FOR WHICH I WAS COMPLETELY UNSPOILED AND HAD NOT IMAGINED AT ALL AND MY LIMBS BEGAN TO FLAIL WILDLY. Long kiss! Multiple angles!! It's so wonderful. I am still flush in the early stages where every rewatch and still photograph makes my heart sing, and I know eventually that feeling goes away -- I miss when I had it for 4x04 -- so I'm going to revel in it as long as I can.
I still think it's kind of weird that Blaine is not wearing a ring in subsequent episodes -- doesn't it feel like they should both be wearing rings? Dudes don't wear diamond rings so it makes sense for fiancees to be different from their fiances in that respect, but a simple silver band like this feels oddly unbalanced. But however it came about, I'm happy it was Blaine who proposed. Sometimes it's the other way around in fic, and I just never like it as well. Blaine is simply better at the grand gestures (even in private), and Kurt is better at being awed by them.
P.S. Oh man this is my favorite background moment somebody probably should have thought twice about: If you don't think Schue hates Blaine, you are wrong. #fucking Blaine #interrupting glee club to unite all of ohio #making my proposal look like shit
All I've ever wanted to do was spend my life loving you.
ACTUAL CONCLUSION: I think it would have been cooler to bookend the Beatles instead of making it a 2-parter. Beatles to close out, Beatles to welcome us back. And I'm not just saying this because I think it would have made more sense to marry the damn Schuesters in February and have the proposal last May...oh wait, that's EXACTLY what I'm saying. Regionals wouldn't really work with a Beatles theme, and that's the only reason I'm not sure how that could have been pulled off, but otherwise it would have been SO much better if we'd had an entire summer to flail about the engagement. One week wasn't enough time. Hell, five weeks wasn't enough time for me, and that's on top of the five weeks where we were 99% sure they were going to get engaged (you can thank Chris Trollfer for walking around on the lot wearing his prop ring. #isn't it like rule no. 1 to hide your ring finger on pain of death when your character's engagement status is uncertain?).
I actually haven't had a lot of time to go looking for these, so I'm sure there are many great ones I've missed, but here are your classics:
1. The Contract, where wowbright does a truly excellent job of sobering this concept up. With bonus lovey-dovey things and some honest, emotional talk about how Blaine knows he will never cheat again. You need this headcanon in your life, I promise.
2. Why Now, by stut--ter, is runner-up headcanon -- they can't quite co-exist, but this is important for answering the questions "Why now?" as well as "Why did you say yes?"
flaming_muse, meanwhile, will provide the fluffy snippets:
3. Here, There and Everywhere: Kurt’s still reeling, dazed and overwhelmed by everything that’s just happened and by the onslaught of so many people around all him, as he’s passed around from person to person to be hugged, kissed, and congratulated in a whirlwind of love.
4. Three Kisses: just what the title says. "I had some thoughts about how kisses can mean different things, and along came this fic."
(OH GOD I FINALLY FINISHED THIS POST I'M SO HAPPY)