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'Glee' Season 2, Episode 4 Recap (VIDEO)

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 13th 2010 12:45AM

Mercedes and Santana team up in 'Glee' - 'Duets' on FOX['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.

Watch our Skype Second Opinion of 'Glee' here

'Glee' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on FOX.

(Follow @joelkeller on Twitter.)

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As her SNL appearance showed, Jane doesn't really need auto-tune. I'm pretty sure Monteith does.

October 14 2010 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Keller is way off base on this one.

It's the "special episodes" that are a comedown. They are gimmicky and appeal mostly to the marketing side of Glee.

Tonight's episode highlighted what I love most about "Glee." This was one of my top episodes so far. Full of heart. Great storyline. Great song choices for all the duets. This episode had all the best aspects of Season One, and it made me forget how popular the show has become in our world. Glee was back to being a simple show about kids with alot of heart and a dream (rather than reminding us of the marketing juggernaut that it has become).

Three standout moments:

* Kurt - Funny thing: I've always loved the movie "Victor/Victoria." Julie Andrews and Robert Preston are great in it. I was in a restaurant tonight during Glee and at the bar they had it on the TV. I couldn't hear the music, but I saw Kurt's routine from my table and the first thing I thought was "Wow! Kurt's doing 'Le Jazz Hot'!" It was just a guess, but when I got home and watched it, I saw that it actually was the song! He did a great job with it (although not as good as Julie Andrews!).

* One of the Glee's funniest moments EVER: Rachel and Finn singing "Born Again" dressed up as a priest and a Catholic school girl (and everyone else's reactions)!!!!!! No lie: I couldn't stop laughing (LOUD) for 15 minutes!!!!!

* Rachel and Kurt's duet: I really enjoyed the duet version of "Defying Gravity" last year, and they did another great job with the mashup at the end of the show!

The others did a great job with their duets too.

And, yes, they auto-tuned the crap out of Finn during "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". If it wasn't for the notorious auto-tune they did on Jane Lynch with "Physical", I'd make Finn the auto-tune poster boy of the show!

October 13 2010 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I, too, loved this episode. I much prefer it when the songs are performed in the real world (rather than inside someone's head) and in this case the song choices and performances related very much to the plot. This is the Glee I love best and want to see more of.

October 13 2010 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Couchtime With Jill

I thought this was a fantastic episode. The Britney episode was fun and silly, the religion episode was emotional and plot-heavy. This had great musical numbers (Santana and Mercedes! Tina and Mike! Rachel and Kurt!) as well as plot development. If you don't like this episode, then you just don't like Glee. Check out my full review at www.couchtimewithjill.com

October 13 2010 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry, but how is there not more insight or commentary on the whole Brittany/Santana thing? I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but her face when Santana was making statements that she was only hooking up with Brittany because Puck wasn't around was definitely one of disappointment and hurt. To me, it seems like there's some level of true feelings there for Brittany. In general, her character got A LOT of development this episode and I think that definitely needs to be noted. She's more then just an air head, she has some level of depth and there's obviously something going on inside her that she's not telling people about...for her character development alone this was one of the best eps of the season.

October 13 2010 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm really surprised that the reviewer found this to be a disappointing episode. I thought Heather Morris was amazing in B/B but the episode itself didn't do much for me and 'Grilled Cheesus' had some nice moments but I thought the forced message of religion came on a little strong. Duets is my favourite episode of the season so far. It involved actual character development, let people other than Finn and Rachel sing for a change, and provided wonderful musical moments. Also no recognition for the Brittany line of the night that stuck with me (What's a duet? A blanket")? I don't know what you were watching but after a couple of Glee episodes I wasn't entirely pleased with, Duets left me very satisfied.

October 13 2010 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For whatever my two cents are worth, in my mind I was disappointed in this episode for another reason: in my mind Glee has always kind of pushed the edge of the envelope for the 8:00 viewing hour it is set in. I have been able to let my 12 year old daughter watch it with not too much trepidation on my part. However, they have really started to push the edge of the envelope with what I consider to be appropriate viewing for 'family time'.

Yes, I understand that high school kids all face these issues and more, and a big part of the show is these kids learning to deal with these issues, both individually and as a group. That being said, my biggest problem with this show is that it is written and acted as if these kids were all in college or in New York or Los Angeles, not a small midwestern high school. High school kids are nowhere as mature and well spoken as the Glee kids. If the producers are trying to portray a typical midwestern high school and the issues the kids face, they're missing the mark. Of course, Hollywood not having any idea how the heartland works is absolutely the oldest issue in entertainment, so I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised.

October 13 2010 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Mike's comment
Joel Keller

Folks, the Sam thing has been fixed. My apologies for that one. It's what happens when you're doing late-night typing; names morph in your mind.

Like I said, there was nothing really wrong with this episode. And maybe my view is skewed because of all the event episodes we've seen lately. In fact, I'd rather see more episodes like this one than the big splashy event episodes.

October 13 2010 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joel Keller's comment

If that is the case, you're not reviewing the episode, you're reviewing your expectations and reactions to Glee as a whole.

This episode was really good, with great character movement, two *amazing* performances (River Deep and the Victor/Victoria number)and some truly epic one-liners from Brits.

October 13 2010 at 9:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm going to have to totally disagree with a lot of this review. I thought this episode was better than the ones in recent weeks.

I didn't like the Britney Spears episode. To me, all it did was showcase that Britney Spears has absolutely no talent whatsoever. Her songs are generic and can be performed by pretty much anyone.

Meanwhile, the cast on that show outdid Britney in every performance. The highlight was the character of Britney.

And last week's episode was what I call a writing copout. Anyone can write a heartwrenching injury/comfort about any character.

But this week was simply better. The music, while not the best in the show's history, was solid.

And the best part? They finally acknowledged the scene that actually made me mad from last season--when Kurt's dad yelled at Finn.

Having Kurt's dad learn and admit that Kurt had some responsibility for what Finn called him was something I had to applaud. I was angry as hell that no one took into account how uncomfortable Kurt was making Finn, and how such a retaliation was inevitable. Finn was put through a lot, and after all that happened to him with these unwanted and uncomfortable advances, a meltdown was inevitable. Was using that word right? No. But was Finn deserving of that rant by Kurt's dad? No. To have Kurt's dad acknowledge that redeemed the character in my eyes (and the writers). And to continue the storyline with the new kid also worked well.

A guy forcing himself on someone who doesn't want it is not right--no matter what the sexuality is.

It's about time the writers addressed that.

So yes, this was a good episode. I will agree that it's time to see a happier Kurt. It's time for him to snap out of it and start being funny again. That's what made the character likeable last season.

October 13 2010 at 8:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is what Glee is all about. Good musical numbers and a little bit of high school drama. This episode was better than the last two combined. If they would just get rid of Kurt's 'brave little gay soldier' storyline it would be perfect.

October 13 2010 at 7:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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