We knew that Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) was going to ask Ms. Pillsbury (Jayma Mayes) to marry him on this week’s Glee, “Yes/No.” However, the show threw a curveball with Finn’s (Cory Montieth) whipsawing from joining the army one moment to asking Rachel (Lea Michele) to marry him in the next.
Whether you considered it a good twist or a bad twist is a matter of taste; many fans found “Yes/No” to be a classic whereas I found it to be classically uneven and in line with Glee at it’s scatterbrained worst.
We begin in voiceover from Becky (Lauren Potter) whose inner-voice is provided by none other than Oscar winner Helen Mirren. You’re wondering why and the answer is simply, who cares. Helen Mirren has a lovely voice that I wouldn’t mind having as my own inner-monologue. Can we please move on; there are far more egregious oddities to cover.
Becky has fallen for Artie (Kevin McHale) and, after a pep talk from Sue (Jane Lynch), she asks him out for a date. Unfortunately, Artie’s idea of a date involves Becky watching Artie and the boys from New Directions perform “Moves Like Jagger” as a motivational tool for Mr. Schue’s proposal to Ms. Pillsbury.
Becky has a different date in mind, a real date, dinner at Breadsticks. In case Artie isn’t taking this seriously enough Becky sends him a racy photo in a text message to demonstrate her intentions. If my description doesn’t make you more than a little uncomfortable then you may be among those reading this who doesn’t know that Becky has Downs Syndrome.
Sexting on its own is an awkward subject; adding a girl with downs syndrome to the sexting trend only makes matters more awkward. It’s not that such a thing should not be addressed but Glee handles this story in such a cavalier fashion that the awkwardness really stands out. I get that the show is just trying to treat Becky as if she were just like every other character and that’s laudable but it avoids a very serious subject in a bungling, childish fashion.
That’s just the beginning of the oddity of “Yes/No.” The Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Sam (Chord Overstreet) romance heated up again this week. Because Chord Overstreet began the season off the show due to a contract dispute the series wasn’t able to address the summer that Mercedes and Sam spent together until now.
The group performance of “Summer Lovin” from Grease is… energetic but beyond that it’s a really odd fit. I get the homage; Grease is a legendary High School set musical; it makes sense in that perspective. What rarely makes sense is whether this was some sort of group hallucination or if this was really meant to tell us something about Sam and Mercedes. By the episode’s end we still don’t really have a clue.
Through some convoluted logic that only the writer’s of Glee can begin to understand, Sam is convinced that he needs a varsity letter jacket to win Mercedes back from Shane (Lamarcus Tinker). Never mind that Sam is assuming that the girl he’s so in love with is shallow enough to sell out for a varsity letter; Sam is convinced and the writer’s have just the comedic sport for Sam to become a letter winner in.
What, you didn’t know that McKinley High School has a Synchronized Swimming team? What suburban Ohio High School doesn’t have a synchronized swimming team? Even better, the team is coached by Nene Leakes from The Real Housewives of Atlanta; more on Nene in the random notes section.
Only Glee could offer something as random as synchronized swimming as a competitive sport and only Glee would then try to use this random invention as the crescendo of a major plot. Inspired by his new soon to be lettered sport, Sam convinces Mr. Schue that a synchronized swimming routine is the best way to ask Emma to marry him. Does Emma have a particular affinity for the sport? Does that matter on Glee?
Emma and Will are getting married and having been asked to be Mr. Shue’s Best Man, Finn is inspired to make his own proposal. There is more to Finn’s decision than being inspired by Mr. Schue. Finn has just found out that his father, who Finn thought had died a war hero, was a drug addict who took his own life after the war.
The trauma of this revelation served two functions; keeping Finn from joining the army and offering a convenient way for Rachel to say no to his proposal without seeming like the bad guy. Rachel will undoubtedly cite Finn’s trauma as a good reason why they can’t get married though we know that the real reason involves New York City and self-centered dreams of Broadway.
Then again, Lea Michele is coming back next season, following graduation, and so is Cory Montieth. The writers need a way to keep them in the story and it would be convenient to have them stay inLima so they could continue to interact with the rest of the cast. Also, there is a rich amount of drama in Rachel giving up her dreams for a life with Finn, especially the potential for bitterness and resentment which makes great drama.
I still say that Rachel will say no but, for once and likely by accident, Glee has built a modest amount of reasonable suspense.
It was a completely random stunt but Nene Leakes as the McKinley High Synchronized Swimming coach was completely hysterical. Leakes delivered a rapid fire series of punchlines in her single scene that were funnier than anything Glee has delivered all season. I damn near fell out of my chair when Nene admonished Sam by saying “I got my 40 acres and a pool.” I did fall out my chair when she asked if Sam knew how difficult it was for her to succeed in solo Synchronized Swimming. Nene deserves Best Guest Actress consideration at the Emmys.
This week’s soundtrack:
Wedding Bell Blues – Emma, Sue and Coach Beiste
Summer Lovin’ – New Directions
Moves Like Jagger – New Directions (Boys with Mr. Schue)
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Santana, Tina, Mercedes and Rachel
Without You – Rachel
We Found Love – New Directions
We Found Love by Rihanna seems an odd choice for Will’s proposal song to Emma. The chorus, “We found love in a hopeless place,” implies that McKinley High is a hopeless place. That’s a little bleak isn’t it?
Only on Glee: Synchronized Swimming, Nene Leakes, Rihanna and a wedding proposal all in a single episode. Let’s see Modern Family try to pull off that mix. That Glee didn’t pull off that mix, each part is simply goofier than the last, only goes to show how… ambitious the show is.
There’s no arguing the ambition of Glee, see above, but is that ambition worth it? Does it add up to anything more than ambition? Is there anything more than a series of slapdash, hit and miss ideas driving this series. Does Glee have an end game or any real sense of purpose?
“Yes/No” is a particularly good example of the random shifts in plot that the show has come to unfortunately be known for. How can we root for Will and Emma when two episodes from now their wedding is randomly officiated by Puck or a blind monkey or whatever strikes the writers fancy.
Glee stories play out like the whims of children who one moment want to laugh and play and the next want to cry for reasons that can’t be explained.