Glee 4x03 Makeover

Something funny happened to me after the admittedly terrible Britney episode. It could not have possibly been more clumsily-written from a story and a musical standpoint and while I abhorred a moment or two (believe me, there's a point to this), I still remain somewhat optimistic about the show in the short-term. Because as big of a throwaway it was, there was no heavy-handed plotlines with gay bullying, spousal abuse or suicide. There was also no clunky, "lessons learned" approached to the episode about texting while driving or religion or the military or down syndrome folk or the handicapped, you know, amongst the other hundreds of social issues Glee is so insistent are wedging into most of its episodes.

Here's what I know: despite being a musical on television - and starting a revolution at that - Glee is really a simple concept (outcasts and losers in a choir) only exacerbated by a large cast and now, two locations. For all of this talk about dropped plot lines and characters, it is pretty much inevitable when you consider the overly ambitious box they trapped themselves in. What Ryan Murphy and co. do far too often is make the mistake of conceiving STUPID plot contrivances as filler, like last week's rise-and-fall-and-comeback-in-30-seconds of a relatively minor character. Yes, I'm disappointed when a good plotline is dropped or falls from grace, but the bigger crime to me is when a relatively expendable plotline makes its way into the proceedings before bailing. Otherwise, why have it? Couple that with such predictability and Glee is capable of serving up horrible for miles. 

BUT...I can tolerate the Ryan Murphy formula with an eye roll. I can't tolerate unwarranted spousal abuse or Glee's humorless and preachiness. The fact that Glee has avoided the latter thus far in the season bodes well for the show right now.

And okay, maybe the music last night was not "stellar" - in fact, the only number I've really liked this entire season was Blaine's "It's Time" - but it wasn't horrible overall. Darren Criss' take on "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was good and delved into fan-service without being too overwhelming. The Brittany/Sam number was obnoxious with the lip-dubbing, but tolerable. The makeover mash-up number was cute (and right up Sarah Jessica Parker's vocal alley) and Rachel's duet with the Australian-looking Montana dude (seriously, who is Dean Geyer fooling?) was surprisingly competent considering she doesn't usually achieve sexy despite (1) trying way too hard and (2) vajajay box flashing.

But what I can appreciate last night, as Caroline rightfully pointed out to me, is that the story is starting to fall into place rather nicely. You know they did something right when Will Schuester - whom I could not have given any less thought about in the last 2 seasons - actually has an intriguing storyline. Because as cute Emma is (and as great as Jayma Mays portrays her), the Will/Emma thing always felt like plot padding. The two of them have not had the chemistry and cuteness (pool/marriage proposal withstanding) like they had when Will was married to a not-pregnant Terri. Of all the couples and story lines, this one, inadvertantly I am assuming, slid to the back of the show.

And now...well, Will's motivations actually make sense. Yes, he would be bored of trying to achieve the same Nationals glory that he had already achieved before. Yes, he would want to achieve something on a greater scale, beyond the walls of a high school. This doesn't just work in a Glee sense of suspension of disbelief - this works in, like, an actual real show.

Same goes for Blaine and his "late to the party" epiphany. His insertion into the plot at McKinley was more convenient then it was sensible, but Kurt was there and that was always enough. But as the show rightfully pointed out, what is his (and his character's) purpose? They could recycle the "life after high school" plot that season three devoured, but much like the strive for Nationals, there is none of the emotional push or drive for the characters in the show or for those watching it. It's a credit to the show that, so far, they are not dwelling on recurring plot points. And after two episodes of the Ohio characters being stalled, things are starting to advance forward. Nothing is a better indication of this then the fact that the New Directions and all of their auditorium and choir room scenes are insignificant to nonexistent. None of this, "We need a full roster" or "we need to defend our title at Nationals" or "Sectionals is coming up" or "life after high school" stuff that we've seen before.

In fact, it's a shame that the subsequent episode has been twittered and teased and spoiled about because Blaine's emotions this episode would not have seemed like the obvious set-up it was for a pending Klaine fight and/or break-up. Same goes for Kurt and his new implausible, but fairytale-esque journey to Vogue - the impetus for next week's drama. And yes, the same goes for Finn's arrival at Rachel and Kurt's pad - as big of a DUN-DUN-DUHHHHHH moment it was, it actually would have been more dramatic and awesome if we didn't know what was coming ahead.

I know this is hypocritical coming from a blogging public-relations practitioner, but more discretion over the now over-hyped "Break Up" episode would have been welcome and added more intrigue to the direction of the show. This episode was an improvement (story-wise and melodrama withstanding) over the last two in that everything didn't seem like genre-cliches or narrative wheel-spinning. But it didn't land the punch it could have because Glee's Advertising/Marketing/PR/Ryan Murphy can't deploy subtlety (filming in Central Park on an open set - C'MON NOW) and instead, it basically offered this episode up as the set-up for the next one. I wouldn't care as much, but we're three episodes in and at this time last year, we just finished the near-flawless story and musical numbers of the "Asian F" to cap off a wonderful three-episode season opener. On this go-around, there have been maybe one or two great musical numbers of the 17 or something offered up, and we're still in partial set-up mode. This next episode better be good Glee or you'll hear from me...

Less I'm being ambivalent, let me summarize: I love that the character arches and storylines of this season are just starting to pick-up and I love that we haven't met heavy-handed social issues like we have in the past. I even am loving some of the cast/character moments, emphasis on the word 'some' (Sam's scene with Blaine about how he hearts gays was sweet). What I am disappointed with is how the musical numbers are meh (and basically why the season has been a bust so far for me), the story line is percolating a little too slow and yet again, Glee is all hype and spoilers and ratings and willing to sacrifice quality at that. 

Such a could-be amazing show, that Glee, but constantly stepping on its own land mines. Oh well...

Photo Credits: Glee/FOX via temporadaemserie.com, BlaineIsAVegetable Tumblr

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