One of the writers of Glee – I can’t remember which – has been quoted as saying this middle block of episodes in season three are all about fun.
And I definitely had fun this episode. Not just because The Spanish Teacher was funny, but also because it was one of those well-crafted episodes of Glee where so much happens while on screen not much seems to happen.
Let’s start with the fun stuff. Ricky Martin as the Spanish teacher was fun to watch, as was his interaction with Will and the glee club kids. The reactions when he walked into the room were stunning (I’ve missed you Sugar!) and his version of Sexy and I Know It had my head bopping.
Also funny were Sue’s pronouncement she wanted to have a child (but more on that later), the scene in the locker room (more on Emma later), and tons of other things. I spent much of this episode laughing, and it felt good.
But despite all the fun I had, there were lots of serious moments dotted in between the jollier stuff.
While it was initially funny to hear Sue announce she wanted a child, the whole plot soon became touching, as she revealed she knows how mean she is, that she vibrates with rage all the time, and that she would never want to subject a child to those behaviours. But it was Sue’s honesty, with Emma and with herself, that I think would make Sue a good mother. And it’s that honesty displayed in the scene between Sue and Becky – another excellent moment between the two to follow on from the one in Yes/No – that makes Becky say as much to Sue. Mean as Sue is, she has acted as a mother figure to Becky, and to an extent all the Cheerios she has taught.
Easier to see as a mother is Emma, but this week she acted as a mentor and as one of the voices of the programme’s voices of wisdom (along with Sue and Kurt). She shows that passion and determination can carry a person a long way, and that she has bucketloads of both, despite all the difficulties she faces with her OCD and her strange parents. Emma may seem like a timid mouse, but she’s actually more of a sage or a mentor, there to guide people on the path they need (with fun leaflets). It’s brilliantly shown in her words to Will (“I don’t need you to take care of me”) and her advice to Mercedes and Sam to stop talking and start listening.
Our final voice of wisdom was Kurt, who has been through more than his fair share of hardship in his life. Kurt, out of all the teenagers in Glee (and many of the adults as well) is, I think, the character who knows himself best. His confidence has grown hugely since the first series, and he’s in a good position to talk to Finn about the importance of living your life, believing in yourself and not being afraid. He’s lived it all, and is practising what he preaches.
Essentially, these three more serious moments were just that – moments. They weren’t grand proclamations, there were no signs hanging over them saying: “Major plot development here!” Glee showed a subtlety this week that’s missing from all of its worst episodes. Kurt, Emma and Sue’s words of wisdom and honesty weren’t delivered in a heavy-handed manner. Instead, they were quite moments among the larger chaos of Glee. It was chaos that really worked this week, and meant those quieter moments will stay with us for a long time.
Glee‘s playing the long game with its storylines. There’s no sudden blow-up over Rachel and Finn’s engagement, it’s a storyline that I’m actually coming to enjoy because of the slow development. Also notable this week was the Mercedes and Sam storyline, the slow burn of which just makes me anticipate what is going to happen there more. I hope Glee continues in this vein.
This might be controversial, but I felt the music wasn’t that great this week. That’s no bad thing, since Glee, while a programme about a glee club, is first and foremost a programme about people, and I would rather the music be a by-product of the storyline than have the storyline revolve around getting a certain song in.
That said, I did enjoy Sexy and I Know It, and I thought Mercedes sang Don’t Wanna Lose You beautifully. The boys doing Bamboleo and Hero was fun, although the constant need Glee has for mash-ups annoys me.
Ricky Martin’s teacher doing La Isla Bonita with Santana was hot, and Mr Schue’s A Little Less Conversation made me laugh in horror. Santana had a real point when she berated Mr Schue.
What Glee did well
The mix of laugh-out-loud moments and quieter conversations was really well done.
Valentine’s Day, and we get to meet Rachel’s dads.