‘Glee’ Recap (Season 3, Episode 1): Glitterbomb

Previously on Glee: the show was really good, then it sucked. Go watch last season if you’re not caught up. Actually, don’t.

In any case, we’re back, and give the show credit where credit is due: whereas last season’s premiere was equal parts meta and snark, this year’s oeurvre was admirably straightforward and free of the kind of sappy, weepy, inconsistent bullshit that has come to define the show of late. The storylines seem interesting, at least on a first glance, they finally seem to have found storylines for Quinn, Mercedes and Santana, and the offseason, behind-the-scenes controversies were handled in a (gasp) subtle way, if they were even addressed at all.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call the episode good, it was oddly lifeless and the stakes seemed almost nonexistent at times. It has the feel of a show rediscovering itself, but, all things considered, Ryan Murphy and Co. handled the task relatively well. That being said, the song choice was too Broadway (it didn’t feature a single song written in the previous two decades) and is likely to turn off the younger viewers who aren’t show nerds and just watch it because, you know, they like to hear talented folks sing popular songs.

In any case, I digress. There was a lot going on this episode, so I’ll just sort of run down the plotlines for each character. We’ll get to the quick stuff first.

Kurt and Rachel have returned from their brief moment on a (dark) Broadway staged convinced of their showtune dominance and dead set on attending the Julliard performing arts school in good old New York. Except Julliard has no performing arts school in New York. Emma recommends the two rub elbows with some other prospects at a local mixer run by a New York arts school that is not Tisch for some reason. Kurt and Rachel arrive ready to blow away the competition, only to be met full force by Lindsay Pearce, the hurricane-voiced runner-up from The Glee Project as an artsy psycho named Harmony. Her earth-shattering theatrics send Kurt and Rachel into a tailspin of shame and humiliation; their resolve remains unbroken but seriously shaken.

Kurt does get some comfort when Blaine transfers to Dalton and joins the Gleeks; Finn, it must be mentioned, does absolutely nothing this episode except sulk around in an existential, lumbering manner and shoot some passive-aggressive Haterade towards Blaine for reasons I can’t quite comprehend.

Mike Chang is a senior. Who knew? Artie and Tina, BTW, are still juniors.

The producers denied Chord Overstreet a full-season pickup (dumb) and Trouty Mouth took his talents elsewhere (dumber), so his budding romance with Mercedes was doomed before it even began. Happily, she’s rebounded with Tinker from Friday Night Lights, so I can’t do a whole lot of complaining on that front. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Quinn has turned her back on hygiene, sanity, and the Gleeks in no particular order; she’s dyed her hair pink, thrown on some hipster Gaga glasses, put in a nose ring and smoked so many cigarettes she talks in a permanent husk that’s not unlike Batman’s voice, really. Despite pleas to rejoin the Gleeks from Santana, Brittany and Rachel, Quinn remains unmoved and committed to her new friends, a crew of bleacher-dwelling degenerates who call themselves The Skanks. Well then.

And now we come to Sue Sylvester. Happily, her jaunt into politics seems poised to crash and burn like the Hindenberg, although it certainly won’t stop the producers from beating the angle for a few more weeks until it becomes painfully clear she’s not going anywhere. Still, for the sake of continuity, I guess I’ll entertain this bullshit for the time being: Sue’s lack of a platform has her firmly ensconced in ninth place in the polls, so through various contrivances, she takes up an anti-arts platform, of all things, announcing it on an episode of Sue’s corner. You see, this gives her a reason to oppose the Gleeks and still drag out the public office storyline. She assigns Santana to sabotage the Gleeks’ audition process, and also names Santana co-captains of the Cheerios with Becky.

Last but not least, a much-emphasized plot in this episode is Schuester’s slow, painful maturation from peppy man-boy to soulless hardass; he (rightfully) takes the blame for the Gleeks’ collapse on the big stage last year at Nationals, and his Broadway dreams evidently went the way of the dodo after he was recast in April Rhodes’ musical (his replacement, we find out, won a Tony), so he’s resolved himself to a more stern, disciplinarian teaching style in order to whip his Gleeks back into shape.

He proves himself utterly incapable of the task when a self-diagnosed Asperger’s patient named Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies) tries out for the club and turns out to have a voice that’s only slightly preferable to a pine cone enema. Schuester, you see, doesn’t understand how he can call himself a teacher and still deem someone unworthy of his tutelage. Coach Beast (YES) tries to put it in sports terms for Shue by saying that as a competitor, it’s his job to help the Gleeks win and keep his program afloat, but sports metaphors are all but lost on the likes of The Vested One.

His cockamamie audition plan doesn’t do him any favors either. He plants purple pianos all around the school like landmines; whenever the Gleeks pass one they are commanded to spontaneously break out in song. Sue rips one apart with her bare hands; another is sloshed during a food fight; the third is set ablaze in the courtyard by Santana at Sue’s behest. Oy.

Ultimately, it’s Emma, now Shue’s live-in girlfriend, who nudges him to take a firmer hand in things. And so it goes. Motivated by the prospect of hot ginger booty, Schuester’s testicles descend in thunderous fashion when he “glitterbombs” Sue (that’s “douses her in an assload of glitter” for the laymen) for a YouTube video; turns Sugar away and fires Santana from the Gleeks for her duplicitous sabotage. Ladies and gentleman, the boy now stands a man.

Next week: Holy shit, didn’t Quinn have a kid a while back? Yeah, we should probably bring that up again.

The songs:

The Go-Go’s; “We Got the Beat”: Fun but almost indistinguishable from the original. Not sure how this song does anything to advance the plot; it seems like just more ‘80s lip-service, but give the show credit: last season this would have been a Lea Michele Song. This time, Heather Morris and Naya Rivera both get singing parts. Baby steps. C

http://youtu.be/1GzA2HQ0JCk

The Wizard of Oz: “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”: This is some cool shit right here. Colfer and Michele take the old Munchkinland standard and add some show-tune pizzazz to it. Again, not much significance in terms of plot besides being a throwback to their Wicked glory days, but it’s a fun, infectious number. My one complaint is they split the workload something like 70-30 in favor of Lea Michele. Give the kid a chance, will ya?! A-

http://youtu.be/1grpjQTcI84

Tom Jones; “It’s Not Unusual”: Darren Criss’s grand freaking debut as a member of the New Directions, delivered on McKinley’s prison-yard front steps. Wonderful performance by Criss, but the arrangement is kinda simple and not adventurous enough to be a true-blue classic. Also, would it kill this episode to feature a song that was written sometime this past decade? B+

http://youtu.be/4Isx683lNDo

Anything Goes; “Anything Goes”/Annie Get Your Gun: “Anything You Can Do”: The artsy-fartsy show choir group thingy that Kurt and Rachel wander into sing this and it is…wow, I mean, Lindsay Pearce’s voice has, potentially, no equal on this show. I can’t wait to see what she does with a pop song. A

http://youtu.be/4OAibBgYdeQ

Hairspray; “You Can’t Stop the Beat”: Oh yay, a Lea Michele Finale with a shattering finale from Mercedes. It’s great and all, but yeesh. Some things never change. A-

http://youtu.be/1Ae_YQC0Me8

READ: More Faster Glee recaps:

Season 2:
-2×22: “New York”: New York City Serenade
-2×21: “Funeral”: Putting the F-U in Funeral
-2×20: “Prom”: Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
-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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