It is five minutes after the end of "Throwdown" as I'm writing this. I am crying like a little girl (and I didn't even cry all that much back when I was a little girl).
I think most people who have been watching Glee up until now were aware that it was good, entertaining, and deeper than it first appears. I don't think anyone realized that it was that kind of great. Plenty of things make me laugh, plenty make me angry, but it takes real gravity and intensity for a television show to make me cry. And I cried twice.
My expectation going into this episode was that the showdown between Sue Sylvester and Will Schuester was going to be both the chief focus and the highlight of this episode. And it was, indeed, phenomenal. Punctuated with operatic music that screams evil, Sue Sylvester rained destruction down on the foundation of Glee club. And Will, who I was honestly not expecting to be able to match up, got down in the mud and put up a hell of a fight. Apart, the two of them are phenomenal. Together...my vocabulary just isn't enough to explain how amazing that was. During their shouting match in Figgins' office, I literally got on my knees and bowed down to the nature force that is Jane Lynch. She is nothing short of comic genius. Proof in point: a good portion of all that was ad libbed.
But monumental a force as Jane Lynch and an outraged Matthew Morrison are, they were like sprinkles on top of the gut-wrenching wedding cake of this episode. (That was a terrible metaphor and I apologize.) I've heard/read a lot of people's concerns about Glee's inclusion of so many minorities and the way they are presented on the show. After "Throwdown," I have just one question for those people: Are you satisfied now? Sue Sylvester may be an extreme measure, but I think Glee has successfully confronted the issue of preference to some types of people over others. Rachel and Finn were still the leads on the final number. But if who was singing what was what you were paying attention to during "Keep Holding On," you have some serious issues. (No, really. Like you're a sociopath, issues.)
And that serves as an excellent segue into talking about the music. Oh. My. God. The music. In this episode. Omg. Not only is Glee finally reaching what I think is the best per-episode quota of music, but the music itself is getting better and better. Message and context aside, "Hate On Me" was nothing short of magnificent. "No Air" was the weakest number - Lea Michele has a hell of a voice but she just can't carry off the R&B beat as well as she can vocal chord bursting showstoppers, but watching Dianna Agron's face through the whole thing made it all worth it. And speaking of Dianna Agron, SOLO! I have no doubt that every member of the cast is ridiculously talented and I'm hoping it won't be too long before they all get a chance in the spotlight. My favorite musical number in the entire episode was the Glee club's hush-hush jam session. Because they weren't lip syncing to a recording of their voices. They were singing. Right on camera. And there is no greater proof than that of exactly how good they all truly are.
I'll get back to the closing number, "Keep Holding On," in a moment. But first, the Schuesters. Everything is getting closer to coming to a head. And I am more than ready to see Teri Schuester get hers. Teri (and her sister Kendra, to a lesser but more hilarious extent) make me so angry I want to puke. The fake OB exam and the doctor made for one of the funniest non-Sue scenes in the entirety of Glee. But the pinnacle of this part of the episode? Will Schuester breaking down and crying with happiness. Matthew Morrison should not be allowed to cry. He is immensely convincing and had me tearing up right along with him in under thirty seconds. My hat off to you, sir. I said after the very first episode that you were a great performer. You really, really are.
And speaking of crying, that brings me back neatly to close up my thoughts with "Keep Holding On" and all related elements. One of the most masterful parts of Glee is that it manages to give a balanced view of its characters. Quinn is written as sympathetic and horrible in equal parts. Dianna Agron performs both to colossal effect. And the result is a true emotional rollercoaster. The Finn and Rachel hijinks across most of the episode were infuriating and excellent, but the best part of the entire situation was when, after Sue Sylvester really does the unthinkable, all the heart and soul of Glee plants itself firmly in support of Quinn Fabray. Rachel and Finn may have been singing lead in "Keep Holding On," but Quinn was the emotional and visual center through it all. Her face was enough to make my eyes sting, but it was the way that Finn, Rachel, and Kurt all sang directly to her that made that final number the heartwrenching finale that it was.
This may be the best Glee episode to date. It has the musical and comic brilliance I loved so much in last week's "Vitamin D." And it also fully realizes the beautiful emotional depth at the core of Glee. In the aftermath, I feel impressed in the fullest, deepest way possible. And it is a beautiful thing.
I'm saying it now so I can "I told you so" later. I'm seeing years of devotion. And I'm seeing Emmys.
(This review is also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)