I'd like to start off tonight's Glee review with some quotes.
"I could be looking at your boobs and you wouldn't even know it." - Finn to Emma
"Rachel was a hot Jew and the Lord wanted me to get in her pants." - Puck voiceover
"Are you questioning my badassness? Have you seen my guns?" - Puck to Rachel
"Bros before heigh-hos, dude." - large football player to Finn
"You sunk my battleship. You sunk it hard." - Sue to Lloyd(?)
"I can't be caged. That's why I got my tiger tattoo." - Lloyd(?) to Sue
"I'm a stud but I can't even hold on to a girl like you. No offense." - Puck to Rachel
"I don't think any one decision you make changes your life. Unless you invent some sorta zombie virus or something." - Finn to Will
"Like Thomas Jefferson. Or that kid from the Terminator movies." - Finn to Ken
Most of the humor is in the delivery, but the words themselves are an excellent reminder.
Anyway, let's get right into the hard stuff. After last week, pretty much anything was gonna pale in comparison. Mash-Up was not as good, straight fact. But it definitely excelled as far as developing characters and story and recovering from the mad genius of last week. The various plotlines didn't work together seamlessly (which may have been an incredibly sneaky and ingenious plan of the writers to match the story with the theme...or, maybe, it was just the fact that a lot of things had to happen and they didn't fit that well). So, as I try to collect - and form, actually - my thoughts about this episode as a whole, I guess the thing to do is to break it down into its component parts.
RACHEL & PUCK
This worked out better than I thought it would. I mean, I think part of the reasoning behind this little detour was to sex the show up a bit. Which is fair. But getting the as-yet unspoken love rectangle bits vocalized was a good move. And there was a lot of progress in terms of making Puck's character clearer. I think I probably watched the "Sweet Caroline" preview about twenty times before tonight, but it still stood up in the show, and actually worked better in context. I'd say the real highlight of this entire angle, though, was the fact that Mark Salling got an opportunity to show off his performing chops. He is damn talented.
EMMA, KEN, & WILL
Well...what can I say about this situation. It's not a comfortable thing to watch. Out of all the different things happening on Glee, this feels the most ingenuous to me. Something about it just doesn't quite work. The conflict just isn't very conflict-like when you get right down to it. Ken has a clear motivation but disappointing delivery. Emma's motivations are clearer, but her delivery is mixed. And Will is all sorts of out there. The whole thing feels forced to me, to the point where (the ridiculously adorable moments aside) it isn't even cute. Just sort of painful to watch. I definitely have no problem with the music this angle of the story inspired, though. No problem at all.
FINN (& QUINN)
Getting to see Finn in his King of the School was just as enjoyable as it was important - that part of his character hadn't really been established up until this episode. Over the past few episodes I feel like the aspects of Finn's character that I liked so much early on started to fade a little bit. But, when the rollercoaster of decision making was all over, I felt like things were not only put back in place, but moved along further. The character trait that most defines Finn as a character is his earnestness. There is never any question about what he thinks or feels or wants. I doubt anyone watching Glee had even the slightest fear that Finn wouldn't end up back at Glee. Because, well, duh. But for all the predictability, the personal struggle element was marvelously handled. Instead of trying to build suspense that no-one would really buy into, the writers made a decision to instead explore the complexity of the situation in a sensitive and complete way that explained why this fairly cliche turn of events has real world relevance and value. I'm incredibly impressed (kudos to Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck, and Ian Brennan). And I love Finn again.
As for Quinn, not too much screentime for her this episode, which makes sense after her domination of last week. But the quick moments she had definitely stood up to be counted. Sunglasses gave her an opportunity to join in the hilarity for once. And her response to Sue's ultimatum...well, it's a good thing not much of her reaction was shown. Because Dianna Agron is way too good at making me cry. Although Chris Colfer definitely almost stole her thunder this week with that slushie bit.
Honestly, the whole thing was a little bit dumb. Hilarious, because that's the only way it happens with Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester. It was filler, though, and not particularly enjoyable filler either. It did its job, though: the transition from almost-good Sue Sylvester to bad-to-the-bone Sue Sylvester went off successfully and the coming episodes are sure to be full of that special kind of goodness that you feel just a little uncomfortable about laughing at.
"Mash-Up" was the Matthew Morrison showcase episode. About. Damn. Time. He must have been completely exhausted after shooting all the dancing sequences. The reminder that he is an immensely, immensely talented triple-threat was probably my favorite part of this episode. Good to reinforce that he can (and does) in fact do more than make sadpuppy faces on the show. (Sometime, though, he should do some actual showstopping singing instead of this hip-hop R&B rapping stuff he's been doing a lot of.)
There was an excellent amount of music in the episode, which I think is important. A few earlier episodes dropped the ball, musically speaking, but I think the show has finally found its ratio and its rhythm as far as constructing episode content. "Bust A Move," highlighting the amazingness of Matthew Morrison, was thoroughly enjoyable. "The Thong Song" was a little uncomfortable to watch - I didn't approve of the situation or the song, and I definitely objected to the horribly cliched falling-on-eachother - but, again, there's not much to complain about when Will Schuester gets the spotlight. I think I've said about all I can or should about "Sweet Caroline." And as for "I Could Have Danced All Night," it was wonderful. Jayma Mays has an absolutely beautiful voice (and looks really good dolled up as a pseudo-Audrey Hepburn). Hopefully she'll get some more music time soon - she and Patrick Gallagher (Ken) could do a duet, maybe.
No new Glee next week, kiddies. Sad, I know. Just think of it as more time to get excited about things to come.
(This review also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)