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'Glee' Super Bowl Episode Recap

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 6th 2011 10:30PM
The glee club does 'Thriller' on the Super Bowl episode of 'Glee'['Glee' - 'The Sue Sylvester Shuffle']

Were you waiting for that annoying football game to be over so you could get your first dose of 'Glee' in two months? I'm sure that's what was running through many Gleeks minds as they watched the Packers, Steelers and a whole bunch of commercials while they pounded their way through some seven-layer dip.

What you thought of this episode likely depends on what kind of 'Glee' fan you are. If you're one of those who are entertained by the musical numbers and see silly plotting as just a part of what's pretty much a fantasy world to begin with, then you were probably delighted by tonight's Super Bowl spectacular.

But if you're like me, and still hold out hope that this show hasn't gone off the rails as far as plots and characters are concerned, tonight probably left you worried for the show's future. At the very least, it probably elicited so many eye-rolls that you'll wake up with sore peepers tomorrow.

Look, I know the post-Supe episode needed to be a spectacle. We had 'Thriller' in the mix and the writers somehow needed to figure out how to squeeze Katie Couric into the festivities. And it was admirable that the entire glee club-football team merger was mostly done to help Karofsky to get over his bullying tendencies by showing him that the Gleesters are a good group doing fun things, after all. But "leaps of faith" doesn't even come close to describing some of what we were asked to make in order to buy this story.

'Glee' - The Sue Sylvester ShuffleFirst, after barely seeing the football team in action, we have to believe that they've really gotten their act together under Coach Beiste and are on their way to the conference championship. The we have to believe that the football team-glee club tensions are so high that the the guys on the team are turning on each other. If that's the case, how did they get to the championship to begin with?

The merger was OK; in fact, it was a great way to have the football team walk in their slushie victims' shoes for a week. But to then say to them that they'll need to do the halftime show, too? That was one step too far in the believability department. But then to make us swallow that the girls were going to join the football team after the guys quit? I pretty much threw up my hands at that point.

Sure, Lauren is big enough and skilled enough to be a pretty good lineman. But Rachel, Tina and Mercedes looked so tiny out there, ready to lay down just so the guys didn't have to forefit, it just made me wonder all the more on what planet McKinley High School was on. Maybe they showed Tina getting crushed after picking up and running with a fumble to show how silly this notion is. And it gave us a good "Mike Chang!" moment as he showed his concern. But, jeez, all I could do was cringe while watching it.

And why did we get into this convoluted situation? Because Sue wanted to shoot a Cheerio out of a cannon. Yep, that's the gist of Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Jane Lynch's entire plot on the episode. All of a sudden, Sue can't get excited about any routine the Cheerios do to get ready for regionals, so she decides to buy a huge carnival cannon and tries to persuade poor, sweet, dumb Brittany to get in. "I don't want to die yet... at least until 'One Tree Hill' gets canceled," Brit said.

At that point I made like Will Arnett on 'Arrested Development' and went: "Come ON!" Is Sue really that uncaring that she'll risk getting a Cherrio killed? Is Brittany that stupid to buy Sue's line about the cannon's wife with fibromyalgia and the his baby cannons at home?

And was the scene where Will once again was screaming "Sue, this time you've gone too far!" and Figgins actually telling Sue that she can't shoot someone out of a cannon without consent supposed to be a parody of all the other similar scenes we've seen in the past year and a half? It's the only way I can explain why the plot even exited: Brennan, Murphy and Falchuk wanted to make fun of all the other Sue plots that came before this one by having Sue completely lose it. I'd rather find out why Sue wasn't feeling anything anymore, as she told Couric in that "Loser of the year" interview.

I could criticize the Couric scene for seemingly being tacked on, by the way, but it did advance the plot a bit -- Sue's antics cost her regionals caused Figgins to give her entire budget to the glee club -- and it was also the funniest part of the episode, with Sue ranking in loserdom along with Dina Lohan, Sparky Lohan, Mel Gibson, the Dallas Cowboy and Brett Favre's cell phone.

This was an episode where I wished there was more music and less "plot," though, especially if the "plot" was going to be so ridiculous. Most of the musical numbers were fun to watch. Puck and Rachel did a more sincere job with "Need You Now" than Lady Antebellum does. The guys did a fun interpretation of The Zombies' classic 'She's Not There.' And even seeing the Dalton Warblers doing Destiny's Child's 'Bills, Bills, Bills' was an odd pleasure. By the way, didn't that numnber have a "Let's not forget about Kurt!" feeling to it?

The only number I had an issue with was the 'Thriller'/'Off With Your Head' mash-up. Sure, as Mercedes mentioned, 'Thriller' has been done to death. But why dilute a classic with a song that's not nearly as interesting or dynamic? You got the Jackson estate's permission to use the song... why not take advantage of it?

Let's get back to Karofsky. We know that deep down, he wants to be in the glee club. He's good at dancing. When she saw everyone do the halftime show, he smiled and ran in to join them. During the zombified second half (don't get me started on that winning play. Those "zombies" were about as scary as The Great Pumpkin). But are high school popularity pressures that bad that he right away wants to go back to the bullying and homophobia?

We all know that the softening of Karofsky is the way that Kurt can return from his Dalton exile. Not sure how many more episodes we can handle of this before this gets maddening.

So, not a good start to the season's second half. But I'm hoping that this is just a product of needing to match the hype of following the Super Bowl. If not, then the show is going to start losing fans who remember when it had a story to tell rather than just a bunch of musical numbers strung together with silliness.

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

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Anyone find the choice for the opening plotline of the post-Super Bowl episode to be odd? Playing the "football guys are dumb and homophobic" card when you're following the biggest football game of the year? Way to welcome your new audience Glee! You've successfully painted with the stereotype brush you claim to fight against.

PS - I like the show, just feel they wasted an opportunity to welcome a whole new segment of America.

February 07 2011 at 10:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Still a Glee fan. That's the power season one has over me. I can watch this episode and STILL be a fan. I think the writers need a story arc. The first season had some good ones: Sue wants to destroy the glee club, Will's wife was faking a pregnancy, the Quinn/Finn baby drama, and superceding it all, the struggle to win Regional’s even though everything was against them. This season has no story arcs. There's a weak one with Will, Emma, and the dentist, and the depressing bully one (which was good, but I miss happy Kurt and would very much like to see him leave the monotone Warblers), but everything else including Rachel/Finn are all over the place and the story changes from one episode to the next. Nothing is leading up to anything. Even the run to the Regional’s is watered down. Forget center stage, it's not on stage. No one seems to care about it because it's not talked about, it's not a driving force, and without these guys working together for something, it's all bickering.

It can be saved. I still like the characters. They just need more stability.

Awesome Dina Lohan zing. Loved it!

Also, I'll swallow a lot unbelievable plot because, c'mon, it's Glee. But if Finn and Quinn hook back up, that's taking it too far. Dump Rachel because she kissed someone else but take back your ex-girlfriend who lied about cheating and a pregnancy (I was LIVID when she ragged him about paying the bills knowing it was Puck's). That will cross the line for me. Even more than Sue Sylvester dressing up in green paint as the Grinch.

February 07 2011 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yeah, the episode last night was terrible, save for Katie Couric. and i wanted to kick a puppy while hearing the Warblers do "Bills, Bills, Bills". i don't even like hearing the Destiny's Child version. and... it made no sense to choose that song. unless "terrible" was the theme for the episode.

February 07 2011 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BJ Wanlund

Actually, this was the first episode of "Glee" I ever saw. I really loved it. And I did like the Thriller/Heads Will Roll mashup, so I appreciated that, at least. But then again, I totally loved the Black Eyed Peas's Super Bowl show, so you can call me weird if you like.

To be honest, I think Sue Sylvester is a juicy character, and there were two Sue scenes that made me cackle: The first being the tattoo parlor misspelling flashback scene, which made me laugh quite hard, and the 2nd (I think it was in the same scene) was the "inspiration" for Sue's cannon-firing number, which involved Felix the Cat, surprisingly enough.


February 07 2011 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Keller

It wasn't the plot of the episode that got me -- which was convoluted, but okay -- it was the continuity of the episode. Halfway through the show I thought 'Wouldn't a championship game happen in November? Yet we already had a Christmas episode.' That threw me for a loop for some reason.

The other thing that got to me was Kurt's cameo appearance. The man won a Golden Globe...time for him to come back into the fold of New Directions.

February 07 2011 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Debbie Bitz

Ummmm.... Nope.... Out of the hundreds of songs in Michael Jacksons "playlist", they had to choose Thriller to ruin??? This is an iconic song and to hear it in a "mash-up" was truly upsetting. I do believe they tried to take advantage of the new Zombie craze. Truly sad.

February 07 2011 at 8:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show is *already* unbelievable. It's the show that has the football team break out into "Single Ladies" in the middle of a game. It's the show that has a wheelchair-bound football player. It's the show where a high school "jazz ensemble" is always around with professionally arranged music when someone wants to break into song. It's been unbelievable since the pilot episode. I saw absolutely nothing in this episode that was any less unbelievable than any of that. If you're going to watch this show, you've gotta expect utter over the top ridiculousness.

Regarding the football team, they've been making mention of the new success of the football team throughout the season under Beiste. When the character of Beiste was introduced, it was mentioned that she was brought in specifically because she had done the same at other previous schools. No, the show hasn't shown them much until now, but that's because the show isn't a football show, it's about a glee club. You want a football show, go watch old episodes of Friday Night Lights.

I also thought the Thriller/Off With Your Head mashup was quite enjoyable. I think they were right when in dialog they noted that Thriller had been done to death and beyond, and there is very little original or interesting that can be done with it anymore. Had they done just "Thriller" straight, there would have undoubtedly been complaints that they didn't do anything interesting with it. This at least freshened up the song and was something different from what everyone has done before.

February 07 2011 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would probably more concerned with the plot contrivances if the episode hadn't been so much fun. Seriously, I was laughing and giggling throughout it, and I really like the message that Puck gave to the Football team right before the half-time show, if you're afraid of what you might become, you'll end up being nothing. And I really admire Coach Beastie for sticking to her guns and making the rest of the team do the Half-Time Show if the wanted to play. I'm also fascinated with Quinn, and I want to see were thy ake her storyline with Finn, or if they even will. It was great seeing them together, and I felt the chemistry between Quinn and Finn this time around. And, I know the girls joining the team was absurd, but come on. This club has done stuff that is way more absurd. That's just the universe they live in. And, by the way, just because we haven't seen the Football team getting better doesn't mean it hasn't happened. We only saw about 7 and a half hours of what maybewas an entire semester out of the lives of these characters, so just because we don't see something doesn't mean it isn't happening. Those are just my two cents (well, maybe more like five cents, but I do feel you were unfair to a particularly enjoyable episode, which is more than I can say for many in the first half of this season).

February 07 2011 at 6:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope Tuesday's episode will make up for this episode. It was lack-luster, and a little sad. Maybe it was just built up too much. They defintely did not do Michael Jackson justice. Check out my review here: http://rantsofacrazyperson.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/glee-%E2%80%9Cthe-sue-sylvester-shuffle%E2%80%9D-recap/

February 07 2011 at 2:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Yeah. I rolled my eyes. At this article.

Do we have to do this every episode? "The show better do x or the show will go down." "The show needs to improve on x, or it'll start losing viewers." Etc. These articles have been saying that since early on in the first season, and the show's only increased viewers, ratings, accolades, interest, etc. I mean, an opinion's one thing, but seriously.

February 07 2011 at 2:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mchl105394065's comment

That's why I mentioned that the way you take the episode depends on what you want to get out of the show. I almost think I should do two mini-reviews in each recap, one for the fans who just enjoy the music and absurdity and one for fans who like the plot and characters. Because those two camps seem to be developing in the Glee fan universe.

February 07 2011 at 2:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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