'Glee' Season 2, Episode 7 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Nov 16th 2010 11:30PM
['Glee' - 'The Substitute']
OK, it's official: Gwyneth Paltrow can do no wrong. And I'm saying that only half-ironically.
Last week, Salon had an op-ed entitled "Why do so many people hate Gwyneth Paltrow?", citing the fact that there's a backlash against the Oscar-winning star because she's rich and pretty and talented and makes no excuses for her station in life. After reading the article, I was pretty annoyed with her myself.
But it took a Little Miss Perfect to redeem what was only a half-redeemable episode of 'Glee' this week. Don't get me wrong; it was a funny episode, with many of those funny instances coming from Paltrow. But it was dragged down yet again by what seems to be 'Glee's' Achilles' heel -- inconsistent character behavior.
You want Sue to suddenly hate Will again and ascend to power at McKinley High? Done. All you need to do is give Principal Figgins some swine flu and he's history. Sick of seeing Rachel trying to be nice for a change? Fixed; she takes over the glee club when Will gets sick and pouts when Holly comes in and connects with the gang. Want to remind people that Jessalyn Gilsig is still part of the cast? No problem. Have Terri come in out of nowhere, claiming to be on a medicated even keel, but acting all twitchy and crazy again when she sees Will having a beer with Holly.
The Terri thing is what gets to me the most. Gilsig is a good actress and deserves better treatment than a couple of scenes every five episodes or so. There seemed to be a little hope that the spark between Terri and Will might have been reignited by the fact that she was on meds and learning from her mistakes, and the fact that Will was still "searching."
But then Terri instantly goes nutzoid again and says "you're going to regret this" if Will lets her leave this time around. She even claimed that she was his wife! This could have been a ripe storyline to explore -- Will getting back with a saner Terri -- but Ryan Murphy and his crew basically tore that apart within the span of 20 minutes.
Enough about that, though. Let's talk about Ms. Goop herself. Gwyneth brought a nice sense of fun to the Glee kids as Holly Holliday (not so subtle name there), the "cool" substitute everyone has had in school. Of the three numbers where she was featured, I'd probably have to go with the much-talked about rendition of Cee-Lo's 'Forget You' as my favorite. Yes, it's the bastardized radio version of 'F--k You.' And Gwyneth has about as much soul as Ryan Seacrest. But it was spirited and fun, and it looked like the cast had fun doing it.
Gwyneth looked a lot more graceful in the episode-ending mash-up of 'Singing in the Rain' and 'Umbrella' than she did with her duet with Lea Michele on 'All That Jazz.' But her voice managed to overcome the Auto-Tune and sound reasonably authentic, at least as authentic as this show can muster.
But the character of Holly is one that's little different than the characters Paltrow has played lately. She's loopy, trying to get her Spanish students to talk about Lindsay Lohan's rehab and dressing like Mary Todd Lincoln. And there was promise in her character of a person who's been floating free most of her adult life; she was unrepentant and seemed to enjoy that life. It's too bad that this is a one-shot deal for now, because, even though Holly admitted she didn't know how to defend her students against the rages of Sue Sylvester, she could teach the uptight Will a thing or three.
Not sure the angle that Sue is playing with the principal thing. She couldn't force out Beiste because "who would your Cheerios cheer for?" (She's a sharp one, that Beiste.) She couldn't force out Will because, despite her and Holly's shared love of hoarding shows, she realized that Holly couldn't stop Mercedes from stuffing her Le Car full of tater tots. So will she eventually realize that being principal is an administrative black hole and she can wield power better from her coach's office? Let's hope so; the power imbalance in the school can only work for so long before it gets tiresome.
More fun stuff:
-- Was Mercedes going on the tot crusade just because she feels like she was losing Kurt to Blaine? It felt like Kurt's speech about "finding someone" was the same condescending crap I used to get in my single days from everyone who via dumb luck happened to hook up with someone who didn't run away after a couple of dates.
-- How do you do $17,000 of damage to a Le Car? The thing was only worth $3,000 new.
-- A funny moment was when Mercedes just heard "Gay gay gay gay" coming from Blaine and Kurt. "Oh, a little pink purse fell out of my mouth while I was talking!"
-- Mike Chang! Both Harry Shum and Matthew Morrison did a bang-up job on the dancing part of 'Make 'Em Laugh.' Anyone who saw Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor do that routine in 'Singing in the Rain' knows that it ain't easy.
-- How long is the threat of the closeted Karofsky going to haunt Kurt? All season? A couple of episodes?
-- It's too bad we couldn't see Will's "Gleesters as little kids" hallucination through the entire episode. The since also gave me my favorite Brittany line of the week: "When I go to Paris I'm going to visit the Oeuvre."
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