'Glee' Season 2, Episode 21 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted May 18th 2011 12:00AM
['Glee' - 'Funeral']
Amazing. Despite everything that's going wrong with her character this year, Jane Lynch might have still locked up another Emmy tonight.
Sure, an episode like tonight's can be seen as "award bait" if you look at with a cynical-enough eye. And the next-to-last episode of season two had a lot to not like about it. But Lynch's performance wasn't one of them.
Lynch showed us what can happen when the manic evil of Sue Sylvester gives way to real human actions and emotions, and it might have been an attempt to bring her back to a place where she's just trying to get Will's goat and rule the Cheerios with an iron fist, rather than attempt to pull students' teeth out or send the glee club to New York via Tripoli.
I just wish they didn't have to resort to killing off Sue's sister to do it.
Near the end of this episode, my wife asked me, "Why are they doing this? Did the actor who played Jean die?" I immediately replied, "No!" in a "of course not, silly!" tone that was directed more at the screen than my wife. Robin Trocki, who played Sue's wonderful special-needs sister, is alive and well. No, Jean Sylvester was sent to heaven in order to give Sue a reason to focus her energies on being human once again.
You have to admit, Sue ran off the rails this season, especially after she lost the Cheerios and their funding went to New Directions. But just because she was depressed didn't mean she could realistically get away with what she got away with: pushing a glee coach down the stairs, punching the lieutenant governor's wife and almost yanking Artie's teeth out are just the tip of that iceberg. It's not like her behavior before she lost the Cheerios was that great; just ask Brittany if she wanted to be volunteered to be shot out of a cannon.
Sue had gotten so extreme, that Ryan Murphy (who wrote this episode) needed an extreme way to get her back. This is why Jean had to die. All of a sudden, sabotaging the glee club was no longer on her radar; now she had to deal with burying basically the only family she ever had -- at least the only family she cared anything about.
You could see the pain etched on Jane Lynch's face throughout the episode. She's supposed to be a rock, and the more she tried to keep her emotions in check, the tougher it was, and Lynch displayed that struggle well. It was especially true in her two interactions with Finn and Kurt. Sh even acknowledged, as the guys offered to help her go through Jean's stuff, that the sisters were polar opposites. "She was one of the nicest people on earth. It goes without saying that I'm one of the meanest. So why am I still the one walking around?"
Kudos to Kurt and Finn, especially Finn, for holding a lovely funeral for Jean, complete with a Willy Wonka theme. They even sang 'Pure Imagination' in a way that would even bring a tear to my eye if I weren't such an emotionless robot. Finn said it best; they weren't doing it for Sue, they were doing it for Jean, who was an outsider and underdog just like they were. And watching Will hold Sue's hand and help her with her eulogy when emotion finally overcame her was a sight to see, and one of the most emotionally powerful moments the show has ever had.
This leads Sue to her "Come to Jesus" moment, where she decides that the glee club was so nice and Will was such a good friend to her that she'll lay off the gleeksters (except the dancing Asian -- Mike Chang! -- who she hates at the moment) and concentrate on a run for Congress. Hey, if Sunny Bono can do it, why not Sue? But where does this lead Sue? It's inconceivable that this will last very long, but it's also inconceivable that, after Will and the gleesters bent over backwards to help her through her grief, that she's going to go back to trying to destroy them. She may be evil, but she's not that evil ... is she?
The rest of the episode felt like filler, as if the glee club was just marking time until they left for Nationals. Sure, Jesse St. James was there to pit the gleesters against one another, while he was there to ultimately pick Rachel and get in her pants, but the idea that there would be a "featured" singer was a lot of hogwash. First of all, most of their songs feature one or two singers, and in competition that singer is usually Rachel. Second, since when does Will change up everything they're doing based on the advice of traitor/pretty-boy Jesse St. James?
The whole thing felt like a way to wedge in Jesse so that he can stir the pot, to make nonsensical criticisms that he learned at his UCLA course on being a reality show judge, but nothing more. Mercedes needs to practice? Kurt isn't able to sing a song from 'Gypsy' as well as the superstars he's emulating do? So what? It's show choir! So what if Vocal Adrenaline gets IV fluids because they practice 24x7 in the week leading up to nationals? It was all absurd.
So, Will goes back to the way things were, and it's as if this episode never existed. Oh, except for the whole Finn and Quinn breaking up thing. To tell the truth, Finn has broken up with Quinn and Rachel so many times, that I've lost track of the whens and whys. And when Finn, feeling like he was tethered to Rachel like Sue said she was tethered to Jean, sees her canoodling with Jesse, all I could say was, "Oh, well." It's not like they won't get together -- then break up -- at least twice next season.
More fun stuff:
-- Interesting close to the episode, with Finn thanking Quinn for not quitting glee, and Quinn saying that she has a plan for New York. "You'll see," she says after he asks what it is. Do I sense a defection in our midst?
-- "Don't bother warming your vocal cords," Mercedes says to Rachel during the auditions for lead. "I'm going to wrap this up like a birthday present."
-- Kurt: "Jesse St. James totally St. Sucks."
-- Santana's rendition of Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black' seems very fitting, given her character. Santana's songs do seem to fit her character the best, don't they?
-- Mercedes sang the hell out of 'Try A Little Tenderness,' and of course Rachel belted out 'My Man' like there was no tomorrow. "She may be difficult, but boy can she sing," said a teary and impressed Kurt, who gave her a standing O. Mercedes and Santana were less impressed.
-- Why didn't Tina audition for lead? She's got a good voice.
-- Oh, almost forgot to mention Terri. With her doing something nice for the glee club -- thanks to a generous product placement by American Airlines -- she said she was moving to Florida to manage a Sheets 'N' Things store. The goodbye felt final, even if she was annoyed at seeing Will turning and talking to Emma. Jessalyn Gilsig was a trouper, but we all had to know that there was no way she was going to be around next season.
-- Will seems pretty sure that April's Broadway musical that he's helping with is going to fail and he'll be back. But Emma's not so sure. She's even wearing his vest to show him where he's been. Boy, he's got a lot of vests.
-- Figgins may love AOL Mail, but a school principal should have a better password than "1234." That Howard is one crackerjack computer hacker, isn't he?
The New York finale is finally here, after what seems like a very long season. Looking forward to seeing a big shake-up... at this point, the show needs one.
'Glee' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on FOX.
Listen to the songs from 'Funeral' at AOL Music.
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