'Glee' Season 2, Episode 15 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Mar 9th 2011 12:30AM
['Glee' - 'Sexy']
If show business were fair, Gwyneth Paltrow would be a regular cast member of 'Glee' instead of one of those pesky A-list movie stars.
She really does fit very well within the fabric of the series, and her second appearance tonight as Holly Holliday enforced what was so enjoyable about Paltrow's first guest spot: She went for broke with her singing and dancing, and was more than capable of keeping up with the rapid and quirky goings-on. In fact, Holly would be my favorite character on the show if she was on more often.
Tonight's episode had a bit of a split personality. The first half felt like what 'Glee' has become: music piled on top of goofiness piled on top of more music. But the second half felt like what 'Glee' used to be: a story about a bunch of outcast kids -- and their almost-as-outcast teacher -- struggling to figure things out at McKinley High.
A lot of times, when a big-name star returns to a series to reprise her well-regarded role, the second time around isn't as good as the first. But from the minute Holly barged in on Emma's celibacy discussion with Will and got into a heated discussion with Emma about the need for sex ed in high school, it was pretty apparent that Gwenyth would do a great job again.
Of course, the premise that Holly needed to teach the already-promiscuous members of the glee club about sex was a a big whopper to buy. Sure, you can believe that Brittany thinks that a stork nest outside her window means that a baby is on the way... but it's Brittany. Does Mercedes really think that cucumbers give people AIDS? It almost feels like the person at McKinley who needs Holly's help the most is Emma.
By the way, can I tell you how much of a hoot it was to see the brief interactions between Paltrow and John Stamos as Carl begs Holly to help him with his new, uptight, celibate wife? That's an acting combo you could never imagine you'd see in a million years, but it seemed to work great, as the horrified look on Carl's face as Emma and the rest of the "celibacy club" sang "Afternoon Delight" told you all you needed to know about life with Emma Pillsbury.
"It's about eating dessert in the afternoon!" Emma says after Holly tells her it's about "coming home for a nooner." Heck, even the gleesters knew what the song was about. Who said they needed sex education?
Paltrow's rendition of Joan Jett's 'Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah!)' didn't quite come up to the inspired level of her cover of Cee Lo's 'Forget You,' but at least it had more oomph than many of the cast's recent covers. Granted, not as much oomph as Jett herself may have given it, but you have to realize we're still on 'Glee' here.
The better performance was later, and more in Gwenyth's wheelhouse, when she "got her Stevie Nicks on" to help Santana communicate her feelings to Brittany via the Fleetwood Mac classic 'Landslide.' In fact, there was a lot in that performance to like; for one, it happened to be one of the more touching performances I've seen in the history of the series. There was something at stake there -- Santana finally coming to terms with how she really feels -- and it showed on the faces of both Naya Rivera and Heather Morris. In fact, my wife made a really good observation about Rivera: the hard edge she usually has to her facial expressions melted away from that scene forward.
But the second half of the episode was full of really satisfying emotional pay-offs, set up by the strands of plot that fit between the musical numbers of the first half. We had Finn and Quinn getting together, Puck telling Lauren that he really wants to do right by her (though a sex tape rocking the school would have been interesting to see), Emma realizing that some lingering feelings for Will were getting in the way of her marriage to Carl, and Holly telling Will that she might want to try a relationship, after all.
I'll get to that last bit in a second. I purposely left out "the talk" Burt had with Kurt because it was so surprisingly mature. But, then again, so is Kurt. He's the only one who didn't have cartoonish notions of what sex is; he watches porn and gets depressed. Where's the romance? Good for Blaine, who heard all of that -- and saw Kurt's painful version of 'sexy' -- for getting Burt involved. But also good for Burt to be very realistic about the nature of a relationship between two guys -- guys of every stripe are all basically pigs, after all -- and to tell Kurt to make sure he's aware of his and his partner's emotions. That Burt keeps surprising us, doesn't he?
Speaking of kudos, it was great to see Santana tell Brit -- and herself -- the truth for once. It was one of the more emotionally-resonant non-Kurt scenes the show has ever had. And even though Santana isn't Kurt, and guys think hot lesbians are cool, her fear of being mocked behind her back is real. But why won't Brit Brit break up with Artie? "It's not right; I can't break up with him," she tells Santana. Is it because he's in a wheelchair? Or does she really love him? Another question: What is the meaning of this line by Santana: "Whoever thought that being fluid meant that you could be so stuck?"
As for Holly wanting to give a relationship with Will a try, well, at least it gives the writers every excuse in the world to bring Paltrow back. At this rate, she'll be on more than Jessalyn Gilsig, who is still considered a cast member. This Emma thing is going to be a problem, though, and Holly's clue to Will is going to bite the both of them in the butt soon. But, any excuse to bring Gwenyth back is a good one for me.
More fun stuff:
-- Will and Holly's tango to 'Kiss' was... interesting. It shows the chemistry Paltrow and Matthew Morrison have together.
-- Why bother having Jane Lynch around if you're only going to have Sue in one scene, where she pumps Blaine and Kurt for information? All it really did was set up the plot where Kurt wonders about sex.
-- Not sure how the Warblers did it, but they made the Neon Trees song 'Animal' more passionless than it already was.
-- Holly: "Remember. When you sleep with someone, you're with everyone they've been with. And everyone's got a random." That line can stand on its own, without comment.
'Glee' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on FOX.
Read AOL Music's recap of 'Sexy.'
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Watch the full episode here: