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'Glee' Season 2, Episode 21 Recap

by Joel Keller, posted May 18th 2011 12:00AM
'Glee' - 'Funeral'
['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.

'Glee' - 'Funeral'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?

'Glee' - 'Funeral'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.

Follow @joelkeller on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Jean's death and funeral were beautifully written and acted by everyone. The emotional impact was amazing. The eulogy and incorporating the Willy Wonka theme and performance of 'Pure Imagination" brought tears to my eyes. The scene with Sue and Becky at the end was perfect.

May 18 2011 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For me, the most touching moment came at the end when Becky was reinstated to the Cheerios. And the hug was a special moment. Too bad in today's world, hugging a student can get you fired some places. Jane Lynch is a consummate actress, amazing performance.

May 18 2011 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Siroky

I agree with the filler aspect. They are on the plane with no show plan? Really? I thought Kurt's performance was off-setting because it is such a lame, old song. I do not think they can build a show around Santana. Finn plays the high school, no clue character perfectly. The kick in of St. James as the replacement inner evil is just stupid. Who is paying his freight to NYC, for instance. Does the Glee Club suddenly have unlimited funding for associates?
By the way, I work in an office where a main computer signin has the password 1234567

May 18 2011 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually thought this was a bad episode with truly terrible song choices. Even for Kurt, "Some People" was a bad choice, and he sang it horribly (which might have been the point).

May 18 2011 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't care what Glee has done or hasn't done up to this point. I don't care they they've driven me crazy at times. The Funeral more than makes up for it. Sue has been cartoonish as Joel puts it this season and I completely agree. I even preferred the episode in which she was absent to get a break from it. But she erased all my frustrations with her very human response to this ordeal. I even loved that Brennan was able to keep her biting insults in tact without making it seem unnatural. Bravo, writers!

And Finn broke up with Quinn. 'Nuff said.

May 18 2011 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As much as they want to make us forget about all of Sue's antics, the unrealistic character that she has become, they just can't with this one episode. She has been brutal all season, I mean don't we all remember the Christmas episode as the Grinch, and I mean threatning to pull out a student's teeth was horrible. It was a very touching episode, the eulogy was beautiful, but it doesn't take away 90% of this season. Jane Lynch might get an Emmy but Glee fans will know that as a whole she probably didn't deserve it.

Nice point about Santana. It does seem that the majority of her performances are perfect and the selection is the most apporpriate. Last night Ian Brennon one of the creators of the show stated on a talk show that Naya(Santana) is one of the Top 4 voices on the show. The other 4 are obviously the ones that tried out for lead last night, Chris(Kurt), Amber(Mercedes) and obviously Lea(Rachel). Santana is easily one of the best characters on the show and they need to continue to give her juicy material going into next season.

May 18 2011 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show must die.

May 18 2011 at 8:40 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
T Money

Jane Lynch did a fantastic job this episode. She was completely honest and utterly heartbreaking. And though Mercedes and Rachel's solos were fantastic. The performance of the night has to go to "Pure Imagination." This song is one of my favorite songs and they did this song justice.

Check out my full recap here: http://rantsofacrazyperson.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/glee-funeral/

May 18 2011 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, Jean's sister had to die because Ryan Murphy's own dad died recently and was the cause of inspirtation for this episode, according to co-creator Ian Brennan. And co-creator Brad Falchuk was the one who wrote Sue's eulogy.

May 18 2011 at 1:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to OnlyTheLostBoys's comment

They could have done it as a tribute, but it was also a way to reel in Sue. Just because it was one thing doesn't mean it wasn't the other. Odd that Falchuk wrote the eulogy, because Ian Brennan usually writes all of Sue's dialogue.

May 18 2011 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Joel's comment

I think Brennan's really good at writing the insults. What came out of Sue at the eulogy was not typical Sue dialogue.

May 18 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Falchuk writes pretty much anything that is supposed to be a big emotional moment. He writes all of the Kurt/Burt scenes, for example, regardless of who else is writing the episode. Ian writes most of Sue's dialogue, but in an episode like this, Ryan probably wrote all of it since it wasn't particularly Sue at her top.

May 18 2011 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Joel, I always love your reviews!! They sound like their from a real fan who considers the all the shows' histories, and they always make me realize that deeper, more insightful layer, like where the writers might be heading with plot points. That's exactly what I want from a TV expert review =)

So, the episode- my immediate firs thought was also that the actress had died, but then I thought "well, they had to shoot these slow-mo montage videos..." haha. So then I thought that the episode was just Emmy fodder and took the laziest route possible (auditions) to inject music into the plot. But the way you described it as the episode/event we need to reel in Sue- you're so right!! So, in that way, it was a great episode. Plus it wraps up her character for the season so that she doesn't need to make a cursory appearance in the finale.

May 18 2011 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to EOR's comment

"They sound like their from a real fan who considers the all the shows' histories, and they always make me realize that deeper, more insightful layer, like where the writers might be heading with plot points. "

Is this a joke? The reviewer doesn't even care about the history of the romantic storylines which is what 90% of Glee is. If you want insightful, you should go read some of the actual fandom meta.

May 18 2011 at 1:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to OnlyTheLostBoys's comment

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