‘Glee’ Recap (Season 2, Episode 20): Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya

'Glee' Recap (Season 2, Episode 20): Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya

Glee Season 2, Episode 20: “Prom”

Man, remember your high school prom? I do. You got to go as a junior and a senior at my high school, and neither experience was particularly good, although that had nothing to do with my dates (Emma and Callie, you guys were wonderful company and I had a lot of fun). But the first year I didn’t get invited to a post-prom so the night just kind of…ended, and senior year, when I did get to go to a post, the night turned into a first-rate shitshow, which would have been great had I not been one of the few sober-ish people who ended up taking care of the drunk ones.

Although, in one of the great moments of tactless flirting, one of my buddies did get hammered, walk up to his date and boozily ask her, point-blank, if it would be “in the cards” for them to kiss. She declined.

In any case, that’s what real proms are usually like: anticlimactic, when all is said and done. But Glee stopped resembling real life a long, long time ago, so what we get at McKinley’s prom is an awkward explosion of pubescent sexuality straight out of an ‘80s teen comedy. There’s bad tuxedos (Artie and Sam) spiked punch (Artie again), a blonde bombshell running for prom queen (Quinn), and there’s even a shitty house band: The Gleeks!

That’s right, Figgins’ plan to book Air Supply as the band for McKinley’s prom has fallen through, so he enlists Schuester and his peons to provide the night’s entertainment. In return, he’ll give the Gleeks Air Supply’s intended payment of $400 to help finance their trip to New York City. Given that the Gleeks are, hmm, what’s the word? Broke As Hell, I believe? Schuester has little choice but to concede.

The rest of the night’s plots circle around the debacle of the prom itself, and most of which have to do with who’s taking who. Mercedes is feeling down because she has no date to tell her she’s pretty, so she and Rachel strike some bizarre deal with Sam where they’ll go to prom as a threesome. Sounds fun, although that plan is interrupted by the sudden reappearance of Jesse St. James from last season and man, oh man, does Jonathan Groff look like shit. I have no idea what happened to him in the past year, but his face looks completely bloated, his chiseled jawline has gone soft, and he appears to have aged 15 years overnight. I think his hairline even receded. Groff’s voice remains, happily, unblemished, but seeing him in this state – I’m not gonna lie – nearly undoes the entire episode.

In the context of the plot, he’s been kicked out of college for not attending class, so maybe he’s supposed to look like hell? I can’t decide. In any case, there’s something approaching an explanation for his reappearance: “I was majoring in show choir.” Not a major, dude. “I just thought…they’d get some Asian kid to take English and math and scientifics for me.” Scientifics isn’t a subject, bro. Clearly this is not Groff’s night, but Jesse’s cockamamie plan to open a dance studio in Lima seems to signify that he’ll be sticking around, at least on a part-time basis, for a few episodes to come.

Meanwhile, Kurt has decided that, thanks to the lack of abuse directed towards him, that McKinley students have decided to at least be indifferent towards his fabulous gayness. As such, he makes the rather bold decision to take Blaine to prom, and he offers the olive branch to Karofsky, who’s at that point where he’s ready to come out but can’t quite process it, so he’s just kind of stewing in self-loathing and pain. Blaine, who we find out got jumped by a bunch of guys outside a Sadie Hawkins Dance (along with his date) right after he came out, is a bit hesitant. So is Burt, who’s worried his son’s tendency for showiness will make him a target. But Kurt, all decked out in his finest Alexander McQueenery, refuses to listen to reason, as is Kurt’s wont.

Finally, Artie’s plan to win Brittany back is met with nothing but failure, so he decides, being a desperate man, to up his cool factor by helping Puck spike the punch.

It all comes to a head at Prom, where every single angsty storyline from the entire year blows up in our faces like an explosion of hormones and high notes. Sue catches Artie spiking the punch and takes him to her office, ostensibly to torture him, but is forced to release Artie when he reveals he just poured lemonade into the bowl. Finn sees Jesse St. Trainwreck getting all handsy with Rachel and throws down with him in the middle of the prom, getting them both kicked out. Quinn slaps Rachel in the face for ruining her dreams of prom queen and decides to transfer in order to keep her dream of queendom alive.

Side note: What a sad, underrated character Quinn is, and how great has Dianna Agron been in the role? In terms of character growth and development, she’s really the only Gleek who’s changed throughout the course of this show so far. It’s a shame she has such crappy storylines.

ANY-way, Karofsky is crowned prom king and, in a twist that brings the evening to a dead stop, Kurt is named prom queen. He, Santana and Quinn all suffer minor breakdowns over this development for various reasons – Kurt realizes he’s still ostracized for his sexuality; Santana thinks she’s condemned to be an outsider forever, and Quinn really had nothing else going for her at this point – but after a brief sob session all three return to the auditorium. Kurt takes his coronation in stride, purrs “Eat your heart out, Kate Middleton” and is rewarded with an ovation for his good humor.

During the traditional first dance, Kurt attempts to browbeat Karofsky into koming out (heh), but the meathead flees in terror. Happily, Blaine is there to sweep Kurt off his feet. Impossibly happy? Sure. Convoluted? Oh yeah. But that’s a Hollywood prom for ya. Shut up and smile; I know I did.

The songs:

Adele; “Rolling in the Deep”: Technically, I guess this is a John Legend cover, since Rachel and Jesse do it a capella in the style of Legend’s interpretation of the song. Which is good for them considering Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff both have fantastic voices, and Adele’s version is more anchored by the arrangement than her own pipes (which ain’t nothin’ to scoff at, BTW). I mean, there’s not a lot to say here: they crush it. I wish they’d picked the original over Legend’s version, but I’ve long since given up hope for this season to make any kind of sense. A

http://youtu.be/7TbOxROSuxQ

Stevie Wonder; “Isn’t She Lovely”: Someday, Ryan Murphy and/or Kevin McHale will explain why Artie gets all the songs sung by black artists. I’m of the opinion that seeing Kevin McHale’s dorky mug belt out covers of Ludacris and Jamie Foxx actually takes away from the songs, but this cover of Stevie Wonder’s classic is a great exception to that rule. McHale’s voice is no Stevie, but this nerdy white boy has himself some soul. And the arrangement – acoustic guitar and clickity-clack percussion – gives the track a wonderful, spontaneous feel. A

http://youtu.be/0vU1y6ws0vM

Rebecca Black; “Friday”: Given that “Friday” has somehow become a legitimate hit in kind of a back-asswards way, Glee tackles it the only way the show possibly can: by throwing Salling, McHale and Overstreet on the vocals and going balls-to-the-walls with the production. Black’s sparse arrangement is replaced with synths upon synths, the drums are quadrupled in impact, and the vocals are multilayered to turn the song into, well, kind of a rafter-raiser. And, of course, Artie gets the rap. Ugh. God help me, but A-.

http://youtu.be/21uq5cadhKc

Christina Perri; “Jar of Hearts”: Rachel sings into an auditorium that might as well be empty because she and this song only have eyes for Finn. Allow me to dust off my standard praise of Lea Michele’s voice and follow it up with a new bit of critique: stop doing these numbers. We get it. She’s in pain and she can sing. Move on. B

http://youtu.be/5MCZ9odBAFw

Kate Nash: “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You”: That’s a mouthful. This, I believe, is Darren Criss’s second number without the Warblers after “Don’t You Want Me,” which begs the question: what took Murphy so long? The Mick Jagger moves he busts out onstage during the performance only add, in my opinion, to the actor’s credibility. He’s ostensibly the straight man (pardon the pun) in a show full of lunatics, and he’s become, without question, its biggest asset. Rumors are floating around he’ll be joining the Gleeks at McKinley next season (easy, Falchuk, I read it on EW or something), to which I can only say I hope it’s true. The show needs him. A

http://youtu.be/RgFRHWe_isA

ABBA; “Dancing Queen”: Nevermind the borderline poor taste of the song’s placement (during Kurt and Karofsky’s first dance), this is another song where, you know, if you’ve heard it once you know Glee ain’t gonna be messing with it too much. Santana belts out the vocals and caps off the best musical night this show’s had in eight months. A

http://youtu.be/m5lvqXnVUAs

READ: More Faster Glee recaps:
-2×19: “Rumours”: Rumour Has It
-2×18: “Born This Way”: Corny This Way
-2×17: “A Night of Neglect”: Nobody Likes You, Either.
-2×16: “Original Song”: Everyone Loses
-2×15: “Sexy”: Sexy Time, Very Nice
-2×14: “Blame It On the Alcohol”: They Be Actin’ Like They Drunk
-2×13: “Comeback”: Biebermania
-2×12: “Silly Love Songs”: A Friggin’ Ohio Lovefest
-2×11: “The Sue Syvester Shuffle”: The Championship Game

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