'Glee' Season 2, Episode 4 Recap (VIDEO)
by Joel Keller, posted Oct 13th 2010 12:45AM
['Glee' - 'Duets']
In a 22-episode season, every show, no matter how good, is usually going to have an episode like we saw tonight on 'Glee.' After the momentous Britney Spears episode jammed back-to-back with the emotional episode about religion, it was inevitable that we were going to come down at some point.
Nothing about 'Duets' was terrible, but nothing really stood out, either. The musical numbers were OK. The weekly Kurt angst was muted and abbreviated. Even Brittany didn't say anything that was extraordinarily memorable (except for one thing, which we'll get to in a moment). It was just another day for New Directions, even though they were breaking in a new member.
But maybe that's the problem: the show has so many "special" episodes that a "normal" one feels like a comedown.
One thing that stood out to me in this episode was a lack of stories amongst the adults. There was no Sue, no Emma, no Coach Beiste. Will was only there to act as the gleesters' teacher, that's it. Nope, all the concentration was on the kids, which means we rocketed from one story to another. We basically got sketches of what each of them are going through right now, but didn't get too in depth with any of them.
Of course, this leads to some uncharacteristic behavior. Rachel is following up her recent bitchiness by becoming a sudden mensch, deciding to throw the duet competition in order for the new kid, Ben, to win and feel confident enough to help them get to nationals. Brittany decides to hook up with Artie just to make Santana jealous -- Santana's just bored because Puck is away in juvie -- and ends up wounding Artie pretty deeply. Mercedes and Santana team up to do a rendition of 'River Deep, Mountain High' that would make Ike Turner turn in his grave.
Look, I'm mostly with the people who wish the characters in 'Glee' would be written with more consistency, rather than have their personalities shift in order to service a plot. But, in the case of Rachel, her extreme shifts from good to evil make me shrug. She's such a caricature to begin with, one who's been hard to predict since day one, seeing her go good in this episode wasn't all that jarring. And it did lead to her and Finn throwing the competition in a creative manner, singing 'With You I'm Born Again' wearing a super inappropriate costume set: Finn dressed as a priest, Rachel dressed as a Catholic school girl.
I was also OK with the brief Arite / Brittany matchup, mainly because it gave us the classic Brittany line, "Before we duet, we're going to do it." And the fact that Artie really felt hurt that Brittany used him gave Brit some pause and real emotions for the first time in a long time. Does she actually like him now? Or does she just feel bad that she hurt him? Watching her do her planned 'Lady and the Tramp' routine at Breadsticks was funny and sad all at once.
Anyway, the two stories that felt the best to me intersected a bit, because they both involved the new guy, Ben. Kurt's gaydar went off, as did his sensitivity to bad dye jobs. He wanted to sing with Sam, and Sam didn't see a problem with it, but Finn warned both guys off the notion, figuring a duet with a guy would put a target on Sam's back. Why, I don't know, since no one would see it but the other gleesters. It took the recovering Burt to make Kurt see that he may have to "fly solo" during his time at McKinley, mainly because no one else could be as brave as he was.
Like I said, it led to more Kurt angst, but once he did his self-duet from 'Victor/VIctoria,' that story more or less fizzled out. Maybe we've just seen this one too many times, and it's tough for an openly gay kid like Kurt in the closed-off world of McKinley. But I'm starting to miss the happy side of Kurt, even as I see Chris Colfer nail every emotional scene he's in.
The other Sam-related pairing was the one that gave me some hope: Quinn has made the most growth of any of the gleesters in the last year, and I want to see her with a guy that may actually be worth her while. Finn's a blank slate, Puck's more trouble than he's worth. But Quinn is showing her sensitivity and intelligence, explaining to Sam that she sticks with the glee club, even though she's back on top of the school's social heap, because they had her back during her pregnancy. That's definitely much different than the Quinn we saw at the beginning of season one. Of course, if Kurt's gaydar is accurate, Quinn's in for yet another heart break.
Finally: Mike Chang! Not only did we get insight into his family life -- his parents love chicken feet salad -- but we got to hear him "sing" for the first time ever! Though I do loved to hear Tina complain about having to go to "Asian couples therapy."
Oh, and one more note: how hard up are these high schoolers when a trip to an Olive Garden-wannabe restaurant generates such competitiveness? Even if they're "legally obligated" to not give you endless breadsticks, the place sounds Italian-esque at best.
'Glee' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on FOX.
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