Glee had its second new episode of the week (which was much better than the post-Super Bowl “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle“), and I have a review of it after the jump.
After stuffing in a lot of everything — including human cannons, elaborately staged football halftime shows, and broad moralizing from Will — on Sunday night, and ending up with a largely disjointed episode that felt less than the sum of its parts, Glee delivered a much stronger episode last night. “Silly Love Songs” didn’t necessarily feel like a typical episode of Glee, since a typical episode now means all over the place and incoherent, but it did feel like one that captured what the show can and should be: a smartly plotted, entertaining comedy-drama, with emotional beats coming out of logical character actions.
What is perhaps most surprising is that Ryan Murphy took the writing credit on this one. Todd VanDerWerff’s recent interview with co-creator Ian Brennan suggests that the “3 Glees“are perhaps not as concretely distinguished as Todd and other critics believed, but it is clear that the three writers/co-creators have competing visions of the series, and it is Murphy’s that I most often dislike. (Sure, he’s responsible for season one’s “Wheels,” but he also is the one to most embrace the show’s overblown theatricality, evident in this season’s “Britney/Brittany” and “The Rocky Horror Glee Show.”) Last night, though, Murphy proved that he is indeed capable of writing a (relatively) more subtle episode, where the songs and the characters’ motivations come out of the themes, and not the other way around.
The big theme this week was love and what it means to this group of kids who are pretty much only surviving thanks to their glee club bond. I know a lot of Internet talk revolves around the different relationships on the show (Finchel, Puckleberry, etc.), and while I don’t really care about any one pairing, I was glad to see the relationships being taken seriously. Lauren made Puck work for her affection, Rachel and Finn had a moment of real honesty about where they stand, Tina broke down in tears singing about her love for Mike, Kurt and Blaine opened up to each other, and Quinn made it clear that she’s stuck between two guys whom she both loves a lot. While a few of the notes felt flat to me (especially Finn being so hypocritical in making Quinn cheat on Sam), overall I thought the relationships were dealt with in a way that stayed true to the characters and to the show’s universe (having everyone meet up at Breadstix at the end was a nice touch). Now, I just hope the writers can stick to what they’ve established and not reset or change everything next week because one of them got bored.
I also liked Blaine getting taken down a notch. He and the Warblers have been much ridiculed for being so perfect and accepting (Dalton Academy has been termed by some as “Tolerance Narnia”) that it was good to see he’s not as perfect as he seems. I don’t think his failed attempt at asking out the Gap guy makes up for all the past characterization, but it definitely helped in humanizing him. The Kurt/Blaine plots as of late have often felt shoehorned in, just so Chris Colfer and Darren Criss can have some scenes, but last night’s felt like a justified inclusion in the episode’s broader story line and did a good job at fully developing their plot.
Similarly, Lauren was well used last night, especially in confronting Puck about his offensive song choice (“Fat Bottomed Girls”), however well-intentioned it was. She has usually been used as a joke, and that didn’t stop completely in “Silly Love Songs,” but we got a much better idea of who she is as a person and Puck’s attraction to her actually made sense by episode’s end.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the episode is not what it included, but what was absent: namely, the adult characters (save a brief appearance by Will to set up the theme-of-the-week). As I wrote in my review of Sunday’s episode, Sue is becoming an increasingly problematic character, and her one-note villainy is often too out of synch with the rest of the show to have a logical place. With other characters (especially Brittany) taking on a lot of the comic relief, I almost hope we see less of Sue, despite how great Jane Lynch is. The continued absence of Emma and Teri did nothing to hinder the episode, either, and really just helped put a tighter focus on the glee kids.
All in all, this was a very good episode of Glee, and I can only hope future episodes will follow its lead, even if my gut says “Silly Love Songs” will be more of an anomaly than a standard-bearer.
Bits & Pieces
- Nice meta reference in the opening recap: “Now we get to see what they look like in street clothes!”
- “Is it too much to sing to someone on Valentine’s Day?” Of course not, it’s Glee!
- “You’re addicted to vests!”
- If the Gap manager had that much of a problem with the Warblers number, why wouldn’t he tell them to stop, instead of firing Jeremiah, who didn’t seem to stop working during the whole thing?
- “Can I be honest? Just with the hair, I think they do.”
- Glee doesn’t seem to really have any consistency to the way they present songs — sometimes they’re straight performances taken at face-value, sometime they’re completely fantasy sequences, sometimes they’re a mix of both — but I liked the way they did “P.Y.T.” and “Firework.”
Share your thoughts on “Silly Love Songs” in the comments section below!