Glee s2e13 review: "Comeback"
|REVIEWS - TV|
Aaron's getting restless among the back-desks...
Glee becomes harder to write about with every episode. The problem, surprisingly, isn’t the elements which drive me batshit or its flailing inconsistency of character, it’s that I’m not entirely clear on what made me care about the show in the first place anymore. I assume it was fun, funny, fresh and some other “f” word that means something good. I seem to remember a shrewdness to its dark humor and “did they just say that?” lines which didn’t make me roll my eyes.
The show has become a rather ungainly beast, one which appears rudderless and adrift in the middle of its sophomore season. Among those elements which have lost their focus: Will’s personality, Sue’s Sue-ness, Rachel’s likeability, thematic appropriateness of the musical numbers and any interest in developing Mercedes or Tina, who have been around since the beginning (I’ve given up on Mike; he could be replaced by a 6’2” marionette and only his fans would be the wiser). Glee rumbles forward like many shows in the mid-season slog where it can be difficult to stretch a central conflict until episode nineteen or so, but appears particularly unencumbered by concerns like development or consistency.
At this, the middle-point of season two, it seems the unstoppable force of Glee’s creativity and originality has fallen prey to the immovable object of making a television show. At a certain spot, most series become beholden to their medium; in the case of Glee, it means facing the realities of being a twenty-two episode-per-season hour-long show on a major broadcast network notorious for monkeywrenching its own programs and knowing the bottom line is keeping your massive fanbase coming back week after week. When the responsibility of being the most expensive show on a network falls on a program, it will many times descend into Filler-land and Status Quosylvania, managing to somehow keep the characters in developmental stasis while still giving some of them something to do every week.
I wondered during last night’s episode if part of the problem is how far removed from the program’s target demographic I am. As a thirty-one-year-old straight male, I fit none of the audiences this show is aimed at, but then, I never really have. Yet originally, I found the show very engaging and its characters identifiable. That said, tlast night’s entry put a really fine point on how far removed I am.
I don’t think I know how to enjoy this program anymore; I don’t understand what I’m supposed to be getting out of it. Mostly, I just feel like I’m complaining about the same things every week, more forcefully every time and it’s gotten old. I’m tired of Sue and Rachel and Will and Finn and Quinn and waiting for something to happen that makes me laugh or puts a smile on my face.
The word “comeback” infers that you have something to come back from (or to, for that matter), but if you just mercilessly enforce the status quo and don’t develop more than a character at a time, you haven’t come back or to anything, since you never left.
Brittany as a youth-style icon - Sure, why not? Though I’m assured The Sartorialist in no way works as described in the episode, it’s more than I thought they were gonna wind up doing with Brittany, it is something, which is better than the alternative.
Santana’s plotting - While not exactly character development, giving Santana something to do is always welcome. Since Sue’s become a clown the writers don’t know what to do with, having Santana around provides a direct antagonist to at least a few characters. Her monologue to Sam is a crowning moment for both characters, which I have quoted below in its entirety. What’s really great about it, though, is that it’s funny.
Lauren’s ascension from extra - I think, if looked at from a certain angle, this has been handled really well and paced at a decent clip. From another, though, it’s time taken away from getting to know someone who’s been there a while.
Rachel - She went back to her season one costuming and wasn’t quite so shrill and annoying, or at least back to her original, sympathetic level of annoyance. Giving her five subplots that went pretty much nowhere was a stretch, but if they’re serious about making Rachel likeable again, I’m on board.
The Cancer Kids Segment - Seriously? You’re serious with this afterschool special shit? I got no problem with the sick kids, but the scene was random and off. I though if it was an excuse to introduce that age-appropriate nurse as a new love interest for Will that it’d be ok, but that’s just not how it turned out. They were serious after all.
The whole Bieber thing - Aside from pandering to a demographic, what was all this about? First Sam, then Artie, Mike and Puck because all the girls are into it? And all the propaganda! There’s been enough of these episodes now to declare a pattern: every single artist tribute (or half) show will have dialogue about the object of admiration that can’t help but sound like an encyclopedia article. And this fuckin' kid, why’s he suddenly everywhere? I saw him on The Daily Show, I read he was on SNL doing something, he’s on the cover of the Rolling Stone (I think), he just had some movie or another come out...
“Hate glee? Join up!” - Why is the solution to any problem to have that problem join the club? April Rhodes, the football team, now Sue?
Will - Within one episode, Will both laid an ultimatum (“Guys, it’s not up for discussion, ok?” about Sue joining the club) and put a decision to a vote (for whether to sing an original number for Regionals). So just how does it work in Nude Erections?
The Rachel/Mercedes...thing - I don’t really buy that they would fall for a scheme like that so easily. Also, I’m not completely sold on their friendship in the first place.
“Baby” - Justin Bieber
“Somebody to Love” - Justin Bieber
“I Know What Boys Like” - The Waitresses
“This Little Light of Mine” - Raffi
“Take Me or Leave Me” - from Rent
“SING” - My Chemical Romance
Aural Intensity - Why’s everybody so freaked out? It’s not like they’re Vocal Adrenaline featuring the Wrath of Sunshine and that weird new coach they’ve got... who were only mentioned once, twelve episodes ago and now seem destined to the scrap heap of discarded plots.
Everyone in their underwear - Will is on the far left of the frame and I almost missed him wearing boxers and a vest.
Those lumberjack costumes - what the hell was going on there?
Someone on a TV show wore an outfit more than once - Sam was wearing his French Air Force t-shirt.
Mike - (while kissing Tina) Are you playing “Angry Birds”?
Tina - Sorry.
Mike - Want me to show you my abs?
Tina - (bored) If you want to.
Rachel - The only way to proceed is for you to come to school dressed exactly like me.
Brittany - (gives her the up-down) What is that look called?
Rachel - Sexy-schoolgirl-librarian-chic.
Rachel - Is there any way you can cut class for the rest of the day just so that you could walk up and down the halls?
Brittany - Totally: most teachers think by cutting class I might improve my grades.
Rachel - I’m trying to stage a comeback here.
Brittany - Ok, but what exactly are you coming back from?
Rachel - I--
Brittany - Listen, I’m gonna give you some tough love right now: you’re not a trendsetter. When people look at you, they don’t see what you’re wearing, they see a cat getting its temperature taken and then they hear it screaming.
Santana - Despite the fact that your mouth-to-face ratio is, like, way off, you somehow still manage to be cute. But make no mistake - every time you open your humungous mouth to do an impression or moisten an enormous stamp for a lazy giant, you take one step closer to everyone seeing that you are actually a dork, which is where I come in. I hereby offer my services as a mistress. I wants on them froggy lips and I wants on ‘em now.
Sam - But I’m dating Quinn.
Santana - And this just in - she cheated on you. Look, I know you’re as dumb as a bag of wet hair, but that gumball story was insane! You’re choosing to believe it so you can still be with her. But consider my offer: not only am I offering full visitation rights to the set of rambunctious twins that live on my ribcage, you get the chance to show that pastry-bag Finn that he can’t mess with Sam Evans. And not just because you can unlock your enormous jaw and swallow him whole like a python, but because you have some buzz at this school. Think about it.