Saturday, 25 February 2012

Glee: On My Way recap/review

Glee is a bit like the nursery rhyme about the little girl with the curl in her hair - when it's bad, it's horrid, but when it's good, it's very, very good.

On My Way was one of those very, very good episodes of Glee. Granted, it had its faults (lots of them), but overall it was an episode that dealt well with some very serious issues, and was focused on regret, responsibility and redemption. I've had enough time to think about the episode since I watched it - and it's the episode of Glee that's stayed with me the longest after viewing.

The most compelling plot and the most heartbreaking of the episode, and perhaps of Glee, was Karofsky trying to take his own life. Karofsky found the tables turned - after years of tormenting Kurt for his sexuality Karofsky found the same happening to him. Unlike Kurt, he couldn't cope and tried to take his own life. Scenes of Karofsky crying, laying out a suit and preparing to hang himself were intercut with Blaine singing Cough Syrup to Kurt. The Karofsky scenes were so tough to watch - particularly his dad finding him - but I think Glee handled them really well. It may have been a speeded up version of the things some people go through, but that's the dramatic licence a television programme gets to take, and it was probably more powerful because of the speed at which it happened.

Karofsky's attempted suicide raised questions of who was responsible. The teachers, for once on Glee, behaved like teachers. Mr Schue, Sue, and even Figgins (eventually) realised that they should have been looking deeper at the reasons why Karofsky bullied Kurt when the pair were both at McKinley. They largely failed in their duty of care towards Kurt, and towards Karofsky.

Kurt also blamed himself, saying he should have answered Karofsky's calls. While that may have helped, I think Kurt has done more than anyone else to help Karofsky, even though Karofsky threatened to kill him and made his life a misery.

Surprisingly, we also saw guilt from Sebastian, who had a massive turnaround this episode. His teasing of Karofsky and the knowledge of what Karofsky tried to do have made Sebastian sit up and realise his words can hurt deeply. While I don't think Sebastian had much to do with Karofsky's attempted suicide, it was good to see him show some self-awareness. How long this new Sebastian will last is anyone's guess.

So who is to blame? A lot of characters felt responsible, but the ones really to blame were not just Karofsky's new school mates who bullied him, but also society as a whole for not being accepting of its children.

But responsibility and regret were not where it ended for Karofsky in this episode and we did see a happy ending of sorts. For him there was redemption. The scene where Kurt visits him in hospital, where the two talk about just how bad things can be but just how good they can get - and the flash forward to Karofsky's future - were beautifully done. Chris Colfer and Max Adler acted their socks off, and a large part of the reason this storyline worked so well was down to them.

The Karofsky storyline and all its various links would have been enough for one episode of Glee, but being Glee it wanted to cram in more.

First, there was regionals. One day Glee may be brave enough to not show most of regionals, and just have the action from the competition off screen. That wasn't the case this time around, so we were treated to two numbers from the Warblers, three from New Directions and some faffing around with the judges. I didn't feel, in an episode in which there was an attempted suicide and possibly a death (more on that later), that it was appropriate to balance it with some comedy about a judge dressed as a vampire, which resulted in him leaping out of a coffin to give the results. There's black humour, and then there's trying to convey dark humour in a really amateur way.

Also strange was the choice of New Directions/the Troubletones singing What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger). I'm not sure if the song choice was intentional. In a way it's an appropriate message, but in a way the word kill isn't appropriate.

While I loved the other numbers, I wasn't sure we needed to see Rachel singing yet another sappy number at Finn. Also, did these two not learn anything from Nationals and the ill-advised kiss? Displaying such overt personal emotions during a performance is not professional show choir behaviour. Jesse St James would be appalled.

This episode featured a lot of Rachel and Finn, mostly so the final scene with Quinn could be played out, I suspect. Still, there could have been some stuff cut from there as well - Finn and Rachel arguing was not necessary because we all know the argument will only last a few seconds. To be honest, Sebastian's amateur attempt at blackmailing Rachel could also have been cut. He's done enough bad things that we didn't need him to do another just so he could then have a change of heart.

On the other hand, Rachel's dads were a win, trying to work out how to stop the wedding. When Glee comes back it'll be interesting to see if Finn and Rachel are married. I think not, I think somehow the message about Quinn will have got through before they can tie the knot.

Sue's pregnancy was not needed at all in this episode, and although I like Sue, I found myself struggling to care about her storyline, because there was so much stuff going on in this episode that was more important. They could have saved this for the next part of the season, and just left in the scene where Sue lets Quinn come back to the Cheerios to help set up the Quinn storyline.

And so to Quinn and Glee's most shocking finale to an episode yet. Even though you knew it was coming from the moment Rachel said Quinn had gone home to get her bridesmaid's dress, that final moment where Quinn's car was hit by another still made jaws drop. There's a lesson here about texting and driving, which was handled in a clumsy way, but overall it was pretty powerful. It'll be interesting to see what happens to Quinn in the last section of this series. 

The music
Being the regionals episode, there were plenty of songs. I know Glee is a show about a glee club, but it's not always necessary to include masses of numbers.

The best was the only non-regionals number, Blaine singing Young the Giant's Cough Syrup. It was partially good because of what you saw on screen while he was singing it, and partially good because of the raw emotion Blaine sang the song with.

The Warblers did good with their two numbers, and despite my concerns with What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) it was still a well done song. 

Glee releases sneak peaks of its songs before the episode airs, and I rarely listen to them. This episode made me glad I don't, because when Santana and Blaine started rapping during the mash-up of Fly/I Believe I Can Fly, I was genuinely surprised and it put a smile on my face. Rapping isn't Glee's strong suit, but it's always fun. 

Here's To Us was a traditional Rachel number, vocally perfect, but I just didn't love it that much. 

What Glee did well
Teen suicide is a tough subject, and I thought Glee handled it really sensitively, sent a really powerful message and hopefully made people sit up and take notice. Despite there being plenty included in On My Way that wasn't needed, and that could have meant the core Karofsky storyline wasn't done as well, this was not the case.

Next week
Nothing, there's a really long hiatus -boo. And then we're back with an episode featuring Matt Bomer as Blaine's brother - yay.

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