A couple funny things are happening in Glee-land. First, Brittany is getting -- not smarter, but sweeter. In fact, she’s quickly becoming my favorite character, and woe betide anyone who gives her a hard time (I’m talking to you, Artie).
Second, the show is getting gayer, and not in the expected ways. First of all, it’s incredibly gutsy -- it’s no longer enough to have a positive gay character like Kurt; now, it can be acknowledged that he’s not always saintly, that he’s fallible, and that sometimes, he can be kind of a weenie.
On to the show -- directed by Eric Stoltz!
Shue sets up a duet competition, with the winning couple getting a gift certificate to go to Breadsticks. (Anyone notice Olive Garden is a major advertiser? Does this count as product placement?) With Puck neatly tucked away in juvie for the week, Sam joins the club.
But first: Brittany and Santana are making out! See what I mean? Gayer! Brittany looks miserable -- not blankly miserable, but really miserable -- when Santana says this isn’t a love affair, and they won’t be singing a Melissa Etheridge duet. The competitive sparks fly between them.
Finn warns Kurt not to do a duet with Sam. It’ll bring too much attention to him -- the kind that’ll get him ostracized by the homophobes. He brings up last year’s unpleasantness between them, calling out that Kurt unfairly and inappropriately harassed him in a way that’d get any guy in trouble with a girl. Like I said, gutsy. He doesn’t have a problem with Kurt being gay. “I have a problem with you not understanding that no means no.” This is reinforced in an astoundingly forthcoming conversation between Kurt and his dad, who also acknowledges that Kurt’s behavior with Finn was a bit manipulative -- and warns him not to make the same mistake twice. Indeed, Sam gets a slushie almost immediately upon joining glee club.
Cut to Musical Number #1: Rachel and Finn rehearsing “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” It’s pitch perfect, glee-clubby, and a winner. But in a moment of self-awareness, Rachel declares that she’s sick of being selfish -- she wants to let Sam win this competition so he’ll be sure to stick with glee club. (Which will get her closer to winning Nationals, but she and Finn agree not to think about it too hard.)
Musical Number #2 is Santana and Mercedes doing the Ike and Tina Turner classic, “River Deep Mountain High.” Mercedes is great; Santana, frankly, is awful, but she does a great Tina Turner dance, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Kurt brings us Musical Number #3: “Le Jazz Hot,” from the movie Victor/Victoria. There’s a song in every episode that makes me sit bolt upright and realize with a shock that I still know all the words to the song, while my husband rolls his eyes (affectionately, I’m sure) -- this is that song. Kurt does a beautiful job doing a duet with himself -- his masculine and feminine sides -- and if the performance suffers because we can’t help but remember it was originally sung by Julie Andrews, well, what can you do. For pure pizazz, chutzpah, and joy, it wins big gay points.
Tina and Mike argue throughout the episode; the honeymoon phase of their twosome is so ovah. Mike’s petrified to actually sing; he’s a dancer. So for Musical Number #4, they do “Sing,” from A Chorus Line. Cute idea! But not good. But fun!
Brittany sidles up to Arnie and gives him the flirt treatment. Even though “for a while, I thought you were a robot,” she wants to sing a duet with him. They rehearse, but he backs off, admitting he’s not over Tina. Well, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else -- Brittany carries him to the bed and declares “before we duet, we’re gonna do it.”
Meanwhile, Sam and Quinn demonstrate crushy flirting at its finest -- but she also backs off, declaring she has to focus on herself this year. Rachel and Finn have to work overtime to convince Sam and Quinn that their duet is a must-do, and they agree.
But to make it work, Rachel and Finn also have to do a bad song, in an offensive manner -- it’s their only hope of losing. So for Musical Number #5, they perform the sex-as-sacrament classic “With You I’m Born Again,” wearing a priest and sexy-nun outfit. Jaws drop. Shue deems it inappropriate, insensitive, and disappointing. And they both drag out their Bad Acting Imitations to say they’re shocked -- shocked!
Which brings us to Musical Number #6: Quinn and Sam doing Jason Mraz’s “Lucky.” Despite my wanting to make vomit noises, I found myself grudgingly admiring the way their voices whirled around each other in elegant harmony. Dammit, they’re cute and good. This is duetting as it should be, and everyone recognizes it. They win the competition, though Quinn insists it’s “so not a date.”
The episode ends with an odd collection of emotions. First comes Musical Number #7: As a show of support for Kurt, who has had such a difficult time coming to terms with his loneliness, Rachel sings the Barbra version of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Gayest song ever, in the best way possible -- anyone who’s been downstairs at Rose’s Turn on Grove Street knows what I mean.
Sam and Quinn have a real moment at dinner. He admires her for coming back to school after what happened last year, and reveals his own dark secret. No! He’s not gay! But as Kurt suspected, he dyed his hair blond to seem more interesting. This charms Quinn, who finally concedes that this is, after all, a date.
But the underground heartbreak of this episode goes to Brittany. Her sluttiness has been the subject of comedy, but it’s starting to get dark. Arnie dumps her for using him for his voice, and taking his virginity, which meant so much to him, while sex means nothing to her. This is the only really false note in this whole episode. I guess this is a role reversal -- the girl as sexual predator -- but it seems unfair as Brittany realizes, stricken, that this time, her games had real consequences. “But I was going to order us a really, really long piece of spaghetti, like in Lady and the Tramp. I’ve been practicing. I can do the meatball thing with my nose,” she says, trying to talk him out of dumping her. And as the episode closes, she’s alone at her table at Breadsticks, doing the meatball thing with her nose.
It's so stupid. And it's so effective. Brittany, I love you forever.
How did you like this episode? Which was your fave musical number?
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