8:00 - “Caged?” Oh, Puck…
8:01 - So hot for teacher…
8:01 - Okay, it took me a bit to figure out that this is a musical number (ironically with a chorus that says “hot for teacher”). A musical number in which we objectify Idina Menzel’s hot body. *sigh*
8:02 - Yeah, there was NOTHING phallic about that move with the microphone stands…
8:03 - So, the guys are really outnumbering the girls in New Directions now. Does this mean Tina will finally get a solo?
8:04 - Schuester: “Well, that depends on what Puck’s intent was when he chose the song.” Oh god, the things we need to talk about here…
8:05 - HAHAHAHA! Text at the bottom of Sue’s attack ad reads: “Paid for by angry white people who support Sue Sylvester.”
8:05 - WHAT is Kurt wearing?
8:05 - Kurt: “Obesity is a huge problem at this school.” Umm…
8:06 - Sue: “Winning is really about poo flinging.”
8:06 - Oh, but Shelby, it IS his fault!
8:07 - Is Rachel is wearing ruby slippers?
8:08 - Will is teaching you a lesson. Can’t tell? Look at his face. Subtlety, thy name is decidedly not Will Schuester.
8:09 - Anyone else think the actors get told to dance even when it makes no sense musically? A sway would suffice for this song, but we’ve got full on stomps and claps happening here…
8:10 - Oh Will, when will you learn that competition does NOT foster loving feelings? Haven’t we done this every season?
8:11 - Puck (to Shelby): “I’m in love with you.” Oh. My. God.
8:12 - Shelby! Snap out of it!!!
8:13 - Side note: Breaking Dawn trailers make me ferociously angry. 3 days, people. 3 days till I start busting out the Twilight hate (again).
8:16 - Roy: “Thanks Finn, but I don’t think I’m ready for that honour just yet.” Cause, you know, I can’t act.
8:17 - Blaine you are so nice it rocks my world! Please don’t snap one day…
8:18 - Quinn’s a-scheming.
8:18 - We’re settling things with dodgeball now?
8:19 - Did Shelby even read the recommendation letter? Good lord, I thought she was a woman of integrity when she came on the show… But the character is going down fast…
8:20 - Also, why is she inflating Rachel’s dreams again? What purpose does that serve precisely?
8:24 - My mistake - of COURSE we settle things with musical dodgeball now.
8:25 - Oh, and look, it’s a mash-up.
8:27 - And of course, the girls won. :)
8:27 - Oh, now that was brutal. Why? Why were we so brutal?
8:28 - Santana can’t resist Brittany, it’s cute.
8:29 - Santana: “Shut your potato hole I’m here to apologize.”
8:30 - Santana is the new Sue Sylvester. I’m just gonna say it.
8:30 - I hope Finn is wrong. I’m tired of the closeted gay characters being mean because they’re in the closet. Switch it up, writers.
8:34 - Sue’s campaign ad: There is no evidence that Burt Hummel is not married to a donkey.
8:35 - NO SHELBY!!! Resist, I beg of you.
8:36 - Finally, some reason from Puck on the whole “hey, Quinn and I should totally raise this baby” thing.
8:37 - Also, he’s still not always great, but generally Mark Salling’s a better actor this year.
8:38 - I cannot stop feeling embarrassed for these performers. This is so treacly sweet it’s painful. I can’t stop smiling, but yikes!
8:43 - “It is against school policy to pass gas into jars to sell in the cafeteria.” No one can say that like Principal Figgins. :)
8:44 - Hey, it’s that guy who looks really old, who also has a mullet!
8:45 - Brittany: “…I will make tornadoes illegal at McKinley… Also on Tuesdays I pledge to go topless.” Politics meets high school, with disappointing results.
8:46 - I love you, Kurt.
8:47 - And a gracious moment from Rachel. If only she was popular enough to actually make a difference in his campaign. Does this mean they can be friends again?
8:48 - He’s still going to lose. Brittany has a lock on this one. Sorry!
8:48 - I like that Rachel warns people when she’s going to hug them. :P
8:48 - This whole “5 minutes of episode” and “4 minutes of commercials” thing is really not working for me….
8:50 - “New Year’s Eve” - brought to you from the creators of “Valentine’s Day” by chance? Judging by the trailer, the cast looks just as large…
8:53 - Here comes the Quinn-Shelby face-off!
8:54 - Oh my god, she did not just say that.
8:55 - Oh god, one of Sue’s opponents is a pizza chain owner…
8:56 - I cannot believe that just happened. What is perhaps most interesting is that Santana didn’t deny it, which is what I would have expected her to do.
8:57 - Not loving the new key for this song, but these girls are FIERCE!
8:59 - Shit. That was awesome. In a totally devastating way.
So, Rachel and Kurt are friends again, Finn and Blaine are truly going head-to-head, and Brittany’s going to win the election for Student Body President. And that’s just the trivial stuff.
It’s hard to know where to start with the heavier plot lines, both of which involved some women in the cast who have gotten more screen time than last year. Santana is being pulled out of the closet by an awful candidate for Congress, and Quinn and Shelby are going head-to-head over Beth’s future.
Let’s start with Santana. We’ve watched her spend 2 and half years berating pretty much anyone who crosses her path, and it’s never been clear if her behaviour is a result of her upbringing (in Lima Heights, “natch”), her association with Coach Sylvester, or the fact that she’s in love with Brittany and can’t tell anyone. If last night’s episode is any indication, it’s seems to be the last possibility that is responsible. And I’ve gotta say, I feel really disappointed about that. Not that I think the constant references to her childhood are unproblematic (the whole “I am a product of my community” thing is used as an explanation for her behaviour in a way that does not seem to come up where the other (read: white) characters are concerned). I certainly wouldn’t want that to be the exclusive reason for her habit of tearing a strip off everyone, but I do think the “I’m mean cause I’m closeted” storyline was explored last year with Karofsky. And, to be honest, I had problems with it then.
Cause here’s the thing. Being in the closet, and feeling like you are under significant pressure from all sides to stay there, is (from what I’m told - I cannot speak from direct experience, and won’t pretend otherwise) a very difficult experience. But I think it’s problematic when it becomes the only reason characters lash out. The inability to be honest about one’s sexuality does not always equal a verbally abusive outcome, and I don’t think it does anyone any favours to suggest otherwise. We’re all really complex people, and our varying behaviours do not all stem from the same triggers. Different considerations influence us in the different interactions we have. If anything, I’d much rather see Santana reveal that her particular brand of scorn is a byproduct of being in the Cheerios. Truly, Sue is the most similar character to Santana on the show, and I would love to see us have a conversation about what happens when we let bullying and abuse by ‘role models’ go unchecked. Santana’s difficult emotional position can (and should) certainly affect her in other ways, I just wish we didn’t resort to the “you’re a bully, ergo you are in the closet” stereotype. Beyond being a narrow representation of the experience of gay teens, it also makes it difficult to have a discussion about the fact that she is essentially a character who can’t seem to carry on a conversation without being verbally abusive at least once (which is a problem in an of itself).
But that final scene, where Santana thought Finn was snickering at her (and to be honest, I was right there with her in that moment), and then slapped him across the face, was brilliant. He had absolutely no right to ‘out’ her in the middle of the hallway (and his excuse that “everyone knows and nobody cares” does not take away her right to reveal the information in her own time, thank you very much), and I was rooting for her all the way as she let him know how she felt. Which is not to say that I condone the violence, but her rage was fully believable, and I thought the whole scene built up really well (I just watched it again and it gave me chills).
Now, about Quinn and Shelby. The “I want my baby back” plot finally came out into the open, and it culminated in an interesting scene between these two women. “It’s not about whose body she comes out of” Shelby argues, mothering is instead what happens when you put yourself second, and your child first. Which is a good point to make when we look at the way Quinn has rationalized her behaviour (as a chance to have something good in her life, something no one can take away from her, even if she doesn’t accomplish anything else she’ll have Beth, etc.). And then Quinn snapped back by calling Shelby a “cash whore,” which cracked the door open to a conversation about surrogacy that will of course never be fully explored by the show.
The ultimate conclusion of the encounter was for Shelby to declare that Quinn is “lost.” Which it’s hard to argue with, given the erratic behaviour Quinn has exhibited so far this season. And it continues to be difficult to know just what Quinn is after here. She still seems to want to see Beth (if her inquiry about Puck’s visitation is any indication), but her whole discourse about getting the baby back has revolved around how good it will be for her, not her daughter. This is pretty disappointing, not only because it betrays the intelligence that Quinn was initially given as a character, but because what could be a really interesting exploration of how we define “mother”, the aftermath of having a baby as a teenager, what happens when you give your child up for adoption, and so many other interesting points that this plot development raise, are being erased by the fact that Quinn’s character is so inconsistent that we can’t actually figure out what she wants in a way that will let us form an opinion and discuss it. I think a lot of the integrity with which these scenes could be handled is lost by the fact that Quinn’s arc is, as of yet, un-followable, and so confrontations like the one we just saw, although great for shock value (as my initial response above would indicate) are difficult to really discuss in any sort of depth.
And one final note about Shelby. I’m feeling that, like so many other adults on this show (Sue and Will (and Holly Holliday, for that matter), I’m looking at you!), Shelby has descended into the strange position of being a pseudo-teenager. By which I mean, she’s joined the group of teachers who are so involved with their students that they begin acting like teenagers, and the result is a show that is feeling increasingly bereft of strong, adult characters. She is having a difficult time resisting a relationship with Puck, is almost childishly flattering Rachel in an attempt to build a relationship with her (what was up with that reference letter!?), and seems to have lost most of the perfectionism and professionalism that made her such a formidable head of Vocal Adrenaline in seasons past. And, I’ve gotta say, I’m really disappointed with that. I was so hopeful when Shelby appeared at the beginning of this season, because she had been portrayed as very competent, but a lot of what made me excited about her character is fading fast.
Well, that’s it for me gang! What did you think about this week’s episode? Are you as shocked as I am that this review is so prompt?