Review: Glee - Wheels
by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 12th 2009 12:29AM
(S01E09) If you're a Glee fan already -- a Gleek -- this episode is going to hit you in the sweet spot. If you're not a Glee fan, do yourself a favor and go online and watch this one (when it's available). It's just that good.
It may be coincidental, but the focus was on the school and the music. And plenty of character development with Puck, Kurt, and especially Sue. There was no football, no Slushees, no Emma and definitely no Teri. It's looking like Glee is best when Mr. Schu's personal life is off camera. I haven't missed the Mrs. one bit. More after the jump.
With the sectionals coming, Will had a few ideas about what the judges were looking for ... a little less hip-hop, a little more Broadway. With that in mind, he pulled out "Defying Gravity," the big ballad from Wicked. Rachel was perfect for it, but Kurt stepped up and asked for a chance to compete. From that kernel came an entire show dealing with diversity.
Actually, it was more than that. There was also Artie. Mr. Schu's lesson for the kids, making them spend three hours a day in a wheelchair, was a bit obvious. But they got the message. The solo featuring Kevin McHale singing "Dancing With Myself" was inspired. He really pulled it off. He has a very good voice, and the wheelchair choreography was excellent. (How interesting that Ugly Betty used the same song in last week's episode. It worked well in both shows.)
Kurt's father doesn't get his son's homosexuality, but he loves him and wants to help him. He stood up for Kurt, and in turn, Kurt gave back to his Dad. Their relationship has become one of the most healthy parent-child connections on TV. Neither character has it all together, but together they represent familial love at its best.
The "Defying Gravity" diva-off was done in an interesting way, intercutting Rachael and Kurt. Kurt claimed that he blew the high F on purpose, but I thought Rachel was better at the number. She just has the big Broadway belt in her voice, like a Barbra Streisand or a Patti Lupone or Idina Menzel (who won the Tony for singing it in Wicked on Broadway).
The diversity theme bled into open auditions for the Cheerios. Will suspected that Sue's selection of Becky, a young girl with Down's Syndrome, was part of some scheme. Sue responded to Will's suspicions with the line, "You don't know me at all," setting up the most poignant scene in the show. Sue visited her older sister, Jean, at a nursing home. When Sue read Little Red Riding Hood to her, I welled up with tears and had a lump in my throat. There is much more to Sue Sylvester than the hyper-competitive coach with delusions of grandeur.
It's hard to feel sympathetic about Quinn because she's so hard and deceitful. But she's not wrong to expect the father of her baby to take responsibility for the medical expenses; she's just wrong to continue to lie to Finn about him being the dad. Clearly, Noah wants to step up and be the "man."
In the end, Becky became a Cheerio -- and was glad to be treated like any other cheerleader being pushed by Coach Sylvester -- Rachel got the solo, Kurt got a little closer to his Dad, and New Directions pulled off a great rendition of "Proud Mary" with the entire group dancing in wheelchairs. And they even got the bus to go to sectionals as a team. Woo-hoo!
Superb episode; the kind that wins awards.
Other points of interest
-- Artie wound up in the wheelchair after a car accident. His penis, unlike his legs, works just fine.
-- Tina has been faking her stutter. The truth may set you free, but Artie lost all interest in dating her. He couldn't accept that she lied about a handicap so glibly. He thought they had a connection because they were both impaired.
-- On the other hand, it was pretty twisted that Finn had to pretend to be in a wheelchair to get a job.
-- You think anyone will figure out what Noah's secret ingredient was for the baked goods? Probably not.
-- So many great lines; I challenge you readers to share some of your favorites in the comments! Here's mine from tonight:
Sue explaining to Jacob why Quinn had to be removed from the Cheerios: "If I have a pregnant girl doing a handspring into a double layout, the judges aren't going to be admiring her impeccable form, they're going to be wondering if the centrifugal force is going to make the baby's head start crowning ... Oh, and by the way, all this is off the record. Probably should have told you that earlier."
[Check out clips and episodes of Glee at SlashControl.]