WaPo TeamTV’s Emily Yahr blogs:
Ways to tell “Glee” might not be equipped to fill a special supersized, 90-minute episode:
* When one song fills an entire act between commercial breaks -- even if it’s a tune from Broadway musical “Sunset Boulevard.”
* When there is an extended scene devoted to a flash mob in a mall, dancing to disco song that just repeats the words “Barbra Streisand” in a scary techno voice over and over.
* When OCD guidance counselor Emma goes to therapy, and we get a meaningful backstory about her random therapist.
It’s a shame, too, because as New Directions glee club director Will Schuester told everyone up front, this week’s theme is about acceptance. And while we appreciate the “Glee” producers were asked to supersize this episode, we simply can not accept these lame attempts to fill time, which detracted from what started as a decent episode. Especially because, for once, there were actually some promising storylines.
Promising Storyline #1: We finally get a follow-up to the Kurt-Dave Karofsky story.
“Glee” took a twist earlier this season when Dave Karofsky, the Scary Football Player who terrorized the glee club, New Directions, and was very big on homophobic insults, suddenly kissed the openly-gay glee club member Kurt. This led to him bullying Kurt so much that Kurt dropped out of school, but this episode finally guided Kurt back to McKinley High where he belongs.
This is all thanks to mean girl Santana -- she’s a closeted lesbian, she explains, and the only way to win the love of her BFF, daffy cheerleader Brittany, is if she becomes prom queen. That way, she can trick Brittany into thinking it’s a queen-mandated law for them to be together. So, thanks to some expert gaydar, Santana realizes Karofsky is gay, and creates a convoluted plan to bring Kurt back to McKinley -- because if Kurt’s back, the glee club can win Nationals, and everyone will think she’s a hero and vote her prom queen. Oh, and she’ll act as Karofsky’s beard, so nobody will realize he’s gay. (Got it? Neither do we!)
Anyway, that involves Santana blackmailing Karofsky into forming an anti-bulling club at school, apologizing to Kurt, and asking him to come back to McKinley High. Santana threatens to tell the whole school that Karofsky is gay if he doesn’t follow through. So, terrified at being outed, Karofsky gives a stilted speech about being sorry for bullying Kurt, and then agrees to start a PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) group if Kurt comes back to school. Thrilled that he can now feel safe and return McKinley, Kurt dreamily sings “As If We Never Said Goodbye” as he walks around and the New Directions member beams happily at him. The scene takes up an entire act between commercial breaks. It’s a snoozefest.
Promising Storyline #2: We finally see Rachel be not terrible.
Usually, New Directions leader Rachel Berry is a caricature of all things annoying -- but this episode, we see her genuinely struggling with wanting to love herself the way she is, or conform, so her true love, Finn, will also love her. Finn accidentally punches Rachel in the face during glee practice and breaks her nose, and Rachel heads to a plastic surgeon, who happens to have a spot open for nose job surgery next week. Great! Rachel is hesitant, but feels that if she is as pretty as Quinn, Finn’s current girlfriend, maybe her life will change for the better.
After a creepy sequence in which Rachel brings Quinn to the plastic surgeon so he can see what Rachel aspires to look like (and Rachel and Quinn can duet a mash-up of TLC’s “Unpretty” and “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story”), Rachel ultimately sees the error of her ways. Everyone tells her she’s beautiful the way she is, and Kurt leads a flash mob dance performance to the tune of disco group Duck Sauce’s “Barbra Streisand,” whose only lyrics are the singer’s name repeated over and over. It is completely absurd, but at least Rachel doesn’t get a nose job -- because what kind of message would that send to all those impressionable kids watching “Glee”?
Promising Storyline #3: We finally get an explanation for Quinn’s crazy mood swings.
Quinn is one of the most curious characters on “Glee,” because she seems to change personality every episode. Sometimes she’s a mean girl, sometimes she’s a nice girl, and sometimes she’s a nice mean girl. It all starts to make a little more sense, because, as the uber-confident, newish glee club member Lauren digs up when researching her campaign for prom queen, Quinn Fabray wasn’t always Quinn Fabray. She was Lucy Q. Fabray, an overweight girl with acne and a much larger nose, and whose nickname was “Lucy Caboosey.” Quinn is horrified -- after all, she worked hard to lose the weight and get rid of the acne...and get a nose job.
And just when you think there’s some promising plot development, Finn tells her he likes the “Lucy Caboosey” version of Quinn, because she’s more real. And Lauren decides she’s gone too far and ends the Lauren vs. Quinn for prom queen war by apologizing. But they were such worthy enemies!
And while not exactly promising storyline #4, this episode had a delightful lack of Sue Sylvester, whose adult bully act is getting extremely old. Instead, the only adults featured are Will Schuester and Emma. Will tries to help Emma with her OCD problem, but doesn’t go about it in the most effective way -- he basically tells her that everyone only tolerates her OCD because she’s adorable, but really, she needs to get help. Hey, remember when Will was likable?
Anyway, thanks to Emma’s extended therapist scene in which she’s told to be medicated, Kurt’s extended singing of “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” and that strange flash mob performance, the episode quickly fizzled from its promising beginning. Anyway, there’s always next week -- and it’s only 60 minutes long.
Oh, and to tie the episode together, Will Schuester makes everyone write their greatest insecurity on white t-shirts, and wear them while singing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” to overcome their fears. In case you missed, here’s is what each character is most self-conscious about:
Kurt: Likes Boys
Mercedes: No Weave
Mike: Can’t Sing
Sam: Trouty Mouth
Tina: Brown Eyes
Finn: Can’t Dance
Artie: Four Eyes
Lauren: Bad Attitude
Brittany: I’m With Stoopid (arrow pointing up)
Puck: I’m With Stoopid (arrow pointing down)
Satana: Lebanese (Brittany gave it to her -- she thought she was writing “lesbian”)
Quinn: Lucy Caboosey
Will: Butt Chin (Yes, you read that right. It says “butt chin.”)
“Born This Way” — Lady Gaga
“Somewhere Only We Know” — Keane
“I Feel Pretty/Unpretty” — “West Side Story”/TLC
“I’ve Gotta Be Me” — Sammy Davis, Jr.
“As If We Never Said Goodbye” — “Sunset Boulevard”