Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Glee: Yes/No recap/review

Let me just say it, the star of this episode was Helen Mirren. What's that I hear you say? Helen Mirren in Glee? Why yes, Mirren stars as Becky's inner voice - a genius concept.

Mirren gets to say lines like: "I, Becky Faye Jackson, am the hottest bitch at McKinley High School." Um, surely we can just call the whole episode great because of that intro.

Okay, so perhaps we have to judge the whole episode, not just Mirren's lines ("You may be wondering why I sound like the Queen of England, it's simple, in my mind I can sound like whomever I want, so lay off, haters" - brilliant).

Having tied up most of the big storylines of the first half of the season in the episode before the Christmas special (Quinn's baby drama, Mike's daddy drama, New Directions/Troubletones drama drama) there's not much left to sort out (apart from college stuff). So it was time for Glee to introduce some new storylines.

The highlight of this episode, for me, was Becky and Artie. I loved seeing Artie actually doing something, and it was good to see him in a few different lights. Befriending Becky and telling the glee club that they can be judgemental were plus points for Artie in this episode. A minus was him leading Becky on because he couldn't tell her he didn't want to be with her, acting the same way as the glee club act towards her, and then eventually giving her an excuse for why they wouldn't be dating. But his reactions were, I feel, realistic.

Despite how forward and well-adjusted and open and accepting we think we are as a society, there is still sometimes a stigma around people with Down's Syndrome, like Becky. Her closing inner monologue reveals her heartbreak, and is really moving (another plus for Mirren who puts such feeling into everything even when we can't see her) - "I didn't ask him what I wanted to ask him. I didn't ask if the reason he didn't want to be my boyfriend was because I have Down's. I didn't ask him because I know the answer was yes. Some days it sucks being me. This is one of those days. Focus Becky. Don't let them see you cry."

Artie didn't want to be with Becky because she has Down's, but the advice Sue gives him is to have the courtesy to treat her normally and tell her he doesn't want to be her boyfriend. Sue shows Becky the same courtesy when it comes to comforting her after break up (tissues, ice cream, sad film) - yes, this time Becky's heartache is because a boy didn't want her because of her Down's, but Sue shows Becky that rejection is part and parcel of life for everyone, however horrid it is, and that she is not alone, and empathises with her. It's a touching moment between Sue and Becky, and the latter's storyline in this episode is some of the best stuff Glee's done. Plus, Lauren Potter, who plays Becky, is brilliant in this episode, her facial expressions during that last inner monologue broke my heart.

Sue is the perfect balance of friendly and mean in this episode, and it makes a nice change. She dispenses good advice to Emma, graciously admits defeat to Bieste and is, as already discussed, supportive to Becky. Okay, she's always supportive to Becky, but the other two things are a bit of a surprise. I love all-the-time-mean Sue, but it was getting a bit tired. Balanced Sue is a refreshing change. Although she was still mean to Artie, he wasn't totally blameless and it was funny.

This episode was partly about origin stories of a sort - how various couples got together or the first time both parties saw each other, and, in Finn's case, how he came to be the person he is, or thinks he is.

In a way, the origin stories are sort of old ground, because we're heading back to the past, but overall it's well done - particularly when Rachel, Tina, Santana and Mercedes sing The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face and flash back to the beginnings of their various relationships (or, in the case of Mercedes, her first relationship and not the one she's currently in).

At the end of season two Sam and Mercedes were together (sort of secretly) but come season three Sam had moved away. Now he's back, we get to hear the story of how they got together (sort of, and there are no beaches or people from Australia involved) when they do Summer Nights from Grease (the only thing they have in common with Danny and Sandy are that they were together over a summer). 

Still, it's cute, and Santana makes a good Rizzo (shove off the bench included), although I can't help but see Rachel as more of a Sandy - dull fashion sense, slightly whiny, bit annoying, ouch, was that harsh? - than Mercedes.

But this episode isn't just about Sam and Mercedes, the latter of whom realises she still has feelings for Sam during The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face. It's good that the Sam/Mercedes storyline hasn't been resolved in one episode. I'll be interested to see how Mercedes copes between having her heart divided between her boyfriend and her first love.

Another couple of focus was Will and Emma, who the episode seemed to be named for until we got to Rachel and Finn (more on that later). It's been so long since we've seen Will properly I almost forgot he existed. The greatest thing about the Wemma storyline in this episode is that we get to see inside Emma's head, where she dances in a bridal gown with her back up singers. And it's the back up singers who steal the show - Coach Bieste and Sue, dressed in ugly, shiny blue bridesmaid dresses, sporting ugly headwear. In a nod to last year's most famous hat, Sue gets to wear a replica of the thing Princess Beatrice wore to the wedding of Wills and Kate - hilarious.

Other hilarious moments in this episode include Becky's inner voice asking Puck whether he's got a mohawk or a squirrel on his head. Glee fans have been talking about this for ages, and seeing it turn up in the show is virtually solid proof that the creators haunt Tumblr.

While Sue was perfectly balanced, we got Sue light in the form of synchronised swimming coach Ros Washington, played by NeNe Leaks, who's on Real Housewives of somewhere or other (I think). I don't watch that, and had never heard of her before, so am missing that layer of fun when it comes to this role. Her quips about Sam's lips are old, and I don't really get her purpose in the show. Will we see her again? Or was that one speech it?

There were lots of great things in this episode, but lots of stuff that made me go: "WHAT?"

Unrealistically, Will asks the glee club to help him with proposing to Emma. This is wrong in so many ways, I can't imagine a teacher ever doing this, but this is Glee and normal rules don't apply. Still, I cringed when he said: "This is news you share with your family, and you guys are my family." Last I recall, Will's parents were pretty pleasant, why not share it with them?

Talking of parents, why did Will ask Emma's crazy parents for permission to marry her? Yes, it's polite, but last time we saw them resulted in Emma's OCD getting much, much worse. Plus, they're mean.

My biggest WHAT? moment was when Will asks Finn to be his best man. This is crazy. Apparently Finn stands up for his friends and has taught Will about being a man. WHAT? Have we forgotten all the stupid stuff Finn's done, all the times he's been unnecessarily cruel to people (Blaine) and the time he outed Santana? Also, does Will not have any friends his own age? This is preposterous, and I actually shouted "WHAT?" out loud when it happened. Unfortunately, in a few short seconds, this almost spoilt the episode for me. Luckily, the interaction between Becky and Artie and Becky and Sue was good enough for me to try and erase this Finn/Will incident from my mind.

Another WHAT? was when I first realised Finn was going to propose to Rachel. Goodness, I hope she says no. She'd better say no. And sine the episode is called Yes/No and Emma's said yes to Will, Rachel had better say no to Finn.

Finn finding out about his dad was tough, and it was good to see him uncertain about who he was after finding out his dad was not the war hero he thought. But to then go and propose to Rachel? That's not grown up, that's completely stupid. Is Finn ready for marriage? Not at all. In a way, it's a perfect Finn reaction, jumping into something without thinking about it because he's trying to do the right thing. But, in a perfect Finn way, he did the wrong thing trying to do the right thing. Proposing marriage to try and feel adult is not the way to be an adult. I have confidence that Rachel has her head screwed on enough to say no.

I occasionally think the line between characters and actors gets blurred in Glee. First, we had Kurt using sai swords in a routine (actor Chris Colfer cites sai swords as a hobby) and being told he should write his own parts (Colfer has written a film which he stars in), now Sam is mentioning his impressions (actor Chord Overstreet does impressions in real life). Why are these lines being blurred? It's strange, stop it Glee writers!

The music 
Some solid musical numbers - Without You and We Found Love, although the cheesy proposal at the end of the latter let it down a bit, but the synchronised swimming brought it back up.

The mash-up of Moves Like Jagger and Jumping Jack Flash was okay. I'm not a fan of the former song, so it's not my favourite thing. 

Summer Nights was the most fun song of the episode, but the best song overall was the beautiful rendition of First Time I Ever Saw Your Face. Bravo, ladies.

What Glee did well
Overall I thought this was a solid episode, mainly because Becky's storyline was so compelling. I was pleasantly surprised, thinking Yes/No would just be a filler until we get to the next highly-anticipated episode. 

One of the best bits I didn't get the chance to mention above was Emma's moving speech to Will - "This is what you get. This incomplete person." It's such a truth - no one is perfect, no one is complete. It's a lesson Will learnt well, and one that Becky should bear in mind when she's trying to get over her heartache - everyone is incomplete, it's nothing to do with whether you've OCD or Down's or anything else, it's just human nature.

Pluses this week also for Santana and Sue, who were both far more balanced characters.

Next week
The Michael Jackson episode. Okay, it's the week after next.

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