Friday, 28 September 2012

Glee recap/review: Makeover

Britney recap/review

Makeover. It's an interesting concept. We make ourselves over every morning when we put on make up or do our hair or select an outfit. We make ourselves over when we meet new people, hoping to offer them the best impression of us. And we sometimes make ourselves over when we start somewhere new, hoping to be what we want to be instead of what we are.

Four characters were made over physically this episode. Sam and Brittany were both made to look more serious with the addition of suits, glasses and slicked back hair, Blaine was made into someone more approachable with the loss of the bow tie, and Rachel was made sexier with lashings of make-up.

But the idea that changing who you are on the outside to change who you are inside doesn't work for any of our characters this episode. Brittany still "says something stupid" when it comes to the debate, Sam is still a guy who stripped to feed his family, Rachel is still that girl haunted by her first love, Blaine is still the boy who's lost without Kurt and needs to find himself.

Rather, our four characters discover that what they need is to makeover what's inside, whether that's by letting go of someone, holding on to something or opening up to something new. 

Sam opened himself up to a new friendship (who doesn't love Blam?) and the new experiences that bromance will bring, while similarly starting to come to terms with his feelings for Brittany (and when did he break up with Mercedes?).

Brittany is still trying to fill the void left by Santana, and discovers that she needs more motivation to do something that just needing to fill that void (Blaine also realises this in relation to the void left by Kurt). She's still oblivious to Sam's feelings for her, which I like, as Brittany needs to sort herself out before getting involved with someone else.

Rachel discovered that changing the way you look might make you feel good, but it's not so easy to change yourself inside or the way you feel - her first instinct when telling Brody a story was to tell him that she'd never told Finn. And when Finn turned up at the door, Rachel morphed straight back to that girl she was when she arrived in New York, unsure, afraid and still holding on to/mourning her first love.

While we're on the subject of Rachel, I'm not sure I loved the idea of changing her into some sort of sex kitten. However annoying she is, Rachel has always been true to herself even when she's uncomfortable with her looks. In earlier seasons her unease with her nose or her decision to dress sexily to impress Finn always led her to realise that it was her own skin she felt most comfortable in, and that made her special. This time it seems putting on high heels, incredibly long false eyelashes and showing cleavage makes Rachel think she's more likeable, even though, I'd like to point out, Brody liked her just fine before. The feminist inside me is screaming at this. And also, when did Rachel decide to give up her vegan principles to cook duck for a boy? Plus, she now looks like Lea Michele and not Rachel Berry.

Finally Blaine. Poor Blaine. He doesn't really know who he is, as evidenced by numerous things this episode. First, there was his inability to commit to just a few clubs, instead joining everything (note Blaine in the Superhero Sidekick Appreciation Club, as he feels like the sidekick to Kurt). Then his inability to choose a tie himself. Then taking advice from Sam, instead of just making a decision himself. And then, oh, and then, he made the biggest realisation of all - that he came to McKinley for Kurt and built his life round Kurt, and now Kurt's not there any more. So where does that leave Blaine? Who is Blaine without KurtandBlaine? 

With KurtandBlaine there were some interesting, and realistic, developments this episode. Klaine has always been the most mature couple on Glee, but in some ways the most unrealistic as well, with their promises of never saying goodbye and of always being there. Both characters are idealists when it comes to each other, and this week they realised it's hard to live up to those ideals when real life gets in the way.

Kurt is doing exactly what he promised Blaine he wouldn't do way back when in Dance With Somebody - leave him behind when he went to New York. Sure, they're Skyping and texting and calling, but they're losing that emotional connection, or at least Kurt is. Caught up in his new life in New York, he assumes that he can regale Blaine with his stories and that Blaine will treat him the same way while he changes, and Blaine remains static. Separated physically, Kurt stops reading the signs that tell him Blaine is upset or annoyed or lonely, and instead focuses on himself. The Skype conversation we see is completely one-sided - Kurt does all the telling, and Blaine all the listening, and that's no way to have a successful relationship.

The final decision by Kurt in this episode, to not answer the phone, is a poignant once. We've seen bad things happen before when Kurt has decided not to do something - his dad had a heart attack when Kurt decided not to go to Friday night dinner, Karofsky tried to ring Kurt and then attempted to commit suicide. Of course, those things weren't a consequence of Kurt not being there, and I'm not saying anything like that will happen in this instance, but Glee does like to use the tool of someone ignoring someone else as a set up for something bad. We shall see next week what happens.

I enjoyed the focus on old glee clubbers this episode, as the first two episodes of this season have included vast amounts of screen time for the new members of New Directions. The Mr Schue storyline was by the by, clearly a set up for next week, so I won't dwell on that.

Instead of new people in New Directions, we got introduced to Isabelle Wright, designer extraordinaire and Kurt's new mentor. As with nearly all the adults we've seen in Glee, she was in desperate need of some guidance, and somehow turned to Kurt, an 18-year-old with no professional experience, to inspire her career. It's far from realistic, but in the world of Glee all adults (apart from Burt Hummel) seem to be more immature than the teenagers they're supposed to inspire. Still, she was a fun character (more than a little Carrie Bradshaw), and Sarah Jessica Parker doesn't have a bad singing voice either.

Our characters all showed changes this episode, and so the songs in Makeover were a reflection of that.

Blaine's opening number, Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears, was a power ballad of sorts, but it was also a love song to Kurt, an absent Kurt. While there were lyrics about being right behind you, there were also plenty of other lyrics foreshadowing what may be coming, including those about almost making it. One lyric stuck with me and really summed up Blaine: "Even while we sleep, we will find you acting on your best behaviour." Isn't that Blaine all over? Always on his best behaviour? He needs to loosen the mask and start being who he really wants to be.

I didn't really enjoy Celebrity Skin, mostly because I think Brittany's voice is quite weak. It's difficult to get enthused about the music when you have amazing singers like Artie and Tina being sidelined. Plus, Hole's music around that period was quite dark (that album also contained Northern Star, which was about Kurt Cobain) and I just didn't think this song really fit Brittany and Sam. 

The Way You Look Tonight/You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile was a fun number, and a bit of light relief in a heavy episode.

A Change Will Do You Good was okay, but didn't really impress me. Plus, it went on for too long and included montages of people skipping through New York, which are very annoying.

Best scene
Not really one scene, but I enjoyed Blaine and Kurt's voiceovers. We so rarely hear from these two, so it was nice to get a little insight into their minds, particularly Blaine's. It's interesting to hear his thoughts at the beginning, and then watching as he realises he's built his life around Kurt, which he doesn't at the beginning, even though he's talking about filling his time now that Kurt has gone.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Glee recap/review: Britney 2.0

The New Rachel recap/review

Oh Glee, you really are back aren't you? After an excellent start last week, this episode was really up and down in the quality stakes.

Let's take the central storyline first - Britney 2.0. Britney, missing Santana and feeling slightly out of place and sorts, decides to orchestrate a breakdown like the real Britney Spears, all so that she can come back in spectacular fashion. Fun it might have been, but it took Sam to explain the plot towards the end of the episode for me to click as to what was happening. The breakdown was spectacular, the comeback was barely visible in the episode.

I felt attributing Britney's crazy behaviour to just her wanting to have a spectacular comeback really lessened the impact of the other things going on with the character. She's clearly been affected by not having graduated, and by being left behind by Santana, but apart from some halfhearted attempts to help, the latter issue was ignored. The glee club saw Britney was hurting, but beyond trying to sing to her, didn't really do anything about it. In the end, she was still alone, lying on her bed, feeling depressed, with no one around.

On the plus side, Will Schuester acted like a teacher, and he and Emma did their bit to help Britney out. Sue Sylvester, on the other hand, acted pretty appallingly, even for her. Her conversation with Britney at the end did very little to redeem her behaviour earlier, when she completely abandoned a pupil so clearly in need.

The other McKinley storyline - Jake and Marley - was a much more compelling one for me. I really like Marley as a character. She's got a great voice, and there's something about her that just makes me think she'd be fun to hang around with, but you could also really talk to her. And Jake is a compelling character. I'm not quite sure I understand all his anger yet, but he's complex - a womaniser and a sweet soul all at once, a tough guy who stands up for what is right when it comes down to it. Throwing Kitty in the mix harks back to the Quinn/Finn/Rachel days, but just seems like it's going to be so much more interesting than that love triangle.

One thing about the Jake storyline I didn't like so much was the whole Puck encounter. I loved seeing Puck back at McKinley, but the scene felt rushed - like all the worst examples of why Glee goes bad. Puck and Jake either needed more time together, or the writers needed to find another way to make Jake come to his senses.

Meanwhile in New York Rachel was still doing battle with Cassandra July, who this week said Rachel wasn't sexy enough. In a bid to prove her wrong Rachel dressed up like she was going for a shift at a strip club and proceeded to do a raunchy dance to an actually quite good version of Oops, I Did It Again, before proceeding to tell Cassie that she was jealous of Rachel. After a strange scene where Cassandra provocatively stretched in front of Rachel, the two forgave each other and are now in that cheesy student/teacher respecting each other phase.

Meanwhile, Kurt spent his time painting his and Rachel's new flat, offering sage advice and running out to get cheesecake. Can he get a storyline please? I'm tired of him just being the gay best friend.

Last week I spoke about excellent song selection, and how each number really enhanced the story. This week, not so much. As Artie said: "We scraped the bottom of that Britney barrel." Some of the songs were well picked, but there were a few choices that were, excuse my language here, piss-poor.

For a start, Three? Why on earth, out of the whole Britney pantheon, did Tina, Sam and Joe sing Three? It's a song about threesomes. It's completely inappropriate to sing in your glee club, a completely inappropriate song to sing to try to cheer up a friend, and also, I doubt Joe would have sung a song about threesomes due to what we've previously seen about his religious beliefs.

Hold It Against Me, while a great song, just didn't really fit right for me, and also took up way too much time. It, like Oops, I Did It Again, was just an excuse for Glee to get its characters thrusting and dancing provocatively. For some reason, this week Glee seems to have mixed up being grown up with being slutty and I didn't really like it.

Boys/Boyfriend and Womanizer were good fun. Womanizer was a good fit, but Boys/Boyfriend wasn't, since Britney was missing her girlfriend Santana, so the sentiment of the song didn't really work. It was only rescued by the cuteness of Artie and Blaine singing together.

The best numbers were easily those sung by Marley - both the You Drive Me Crazy/Crazy mash-up and Everytime worked really well, showcased Marley's voice and fit in the storyline.

Best scene
The sexiest moment of this week's Glee wasn't all the writhing around the various characters did while singing Britney songs, or not singing, as in Cassandra July's case. No, the sexiest was Brody, looking at Rachel and telling her that everytime they interacted in the future, he'd be thinking about kissing her. Guh. And it led to Rachel realising that she perhaps needed to let go of Finn, which I thoroughly approve of. Now that, Glee, is growing up.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Reading challenge book 15: Dancing with Mr Darcy

Book 15 in my challenge to read one book (I haven't read before) a fortnight in 2012 is Dancing with Mr Darcy.

Dancing with Mr Darcy is a collection of short stories inspired by the novels and characters of Jane Austen, or by Chawton House, the place where she once lived.

All the stories are original and by authors who simply put themselves forward for this particular competition, so there are no well-known faces apart from Sarah Waters, who wrote the introduction.

Yet for amateurs, the quality of writing is deliciously high.

My favourite story in the collection was Cleverclogs by Hilary Spiers. The story of a girl whose grandmother falls ill, Cleverclogs has a slightly melancholy edge, and the central character reminded me so much of me. While I've never counted how many words I've read in a day, I was that girl who read anything and everything she could get her hands on when she was younger, and I'm still the same way. I read at the dinner table, I read on the Tube, I read on planes, I read newspapers and magazines and leaflets and recipe books and fiction and non-fiction. I felt a real connection with the protagonist of Cleverclogs, who so often finds escape in reading, but discovers that in bad situations fiction can be a healer and can help bring someone back to reality.

Many of the tales in Dancing with Mr Darcy are set in Jane Austen's world, but for me the best ones are those which take the spirit of Austen and infuse that into something completely different. Snowmelt is a wonderful almost end-of-the-world story, about a librarian who finds the world changing around her. Its central character is all Austen characters in one, and perhaps also a bit of Austen herself. And yes, a slight pattern is emerging for me here - the stories I love the best are the ones about reading.

When it comes to romance, Eight Years Later is a gorgeous love story about a man who wants to reconnect with the young, vivacious teacher he met while he was her pupil. It could be a tawdry story, but it's not. One of Austen's favourite tools was unrequited love (eventually requited) and this takes that and puts it in a modern context, with the actual setting Chawton House. The two characters, never anything but appropriate during all their previous dealings, finally let Austen bring them together.

For Austen lovers, Dancing with Mr Darcy is a lovely collection of stories to remind them why they love Austen so. And for those who haven't read anything by the author, this book is a starting point, showing readers the feelings and tales the great author can inspire, and will hopefully lead to many more people picking up a book by Austen.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

DVD review: Marvel Avengers Assemble

a (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Avengers Assemble. Picture: Zade Rosenthal

"Phil Coulson died believing in that idea, in heroes. Well, it's an old fashioned notion."

Old fashioned it may be, but there's a reason we love superheroes so much, and it's all here in Marvel Avengers Assemble.

Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and Thor, they may not be a conventional view of heroes but that's the reason they work so well. Each has as many flaws as the average human being, but their actions elevate them to the status of superheroes.

I haven't seen the previous films leading up to Avengers Assemble, and while I think I would have benefitted from viewing them, this was still a brilliant watch.

The Avengers are brought together to fight Loki, an egotistical almost-god who wants to wreak havoc on earth as some twisted form of revenge for his own shortcomings. He harnesses the power of the Tesseract to open a portal that brings an army of mutant things and giant flying centipede types flowing into New York.

The film gets off to an action-packed start, with the blowing up of a research facility and the escape of Loki with the Tesseract. Having no other option Nick Fury, director of international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D, calls together the Avengers.

What follows is two and a bit hours of spectacle and amazing fight scenes, all held together with a simple but effective plot - the good guys must win.

The numerous fight scenes, which are essential to the story, never seem gratuitous. Instead, they show us more and more about the characters, about their motivations and emotional states and their struggles to be who they want to be, and who society expects them to be.

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Picture: Zade Rosenthal
The effects are amazing. So much of what we see on screen is actually green screen, yet the actors never look out of place or awkward.

Directed by Joss Whedon, who has a history of just being brilliant (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, etc) Avengers Assemble was never going to be a film afraid to gear itself towards sci-fi geeks - there are so many little details that would make the geekiest of fanboys and girls (like me) happy. Among the bits geared towards geeks is the launch of the giant S.H.I.E.L.D ship into the air, which is all the more jaw-dropping as you see it through the eyes of some of the characters unused to S.H.I.E.L.D. Yet at the same time, the film is mainstream enough that the average viewer wouldn't feel confused watching what's going on.

For all its high tech scenes, the best moments are those which show the heroes at their most human, or that involve those who have no super powers - Captain America and Iron Man constantly arguing, the Black Widow having to recall her past, even Loki's egotistical, sometimes childish attitude is an all-too-familiar human reaction, although magnified.

The most emotional moment for me came during a very human scene of loss and hope featuring one of the only non-superhero characters we get to know - the aforementioned Phil Coulson. It's Agent Coulson who inspires the superheroes the most, showing the real power belongs to those who seemingly have no power.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Picture: Zade Rosenthal
On the opposite end of the scale to the kind, principled Agent Coulson is Loki, the maniacal baddie of the film. Yet, I still loved him. Tom Hiddleston created a bad guy who really drew you in, and however heinous his behaviour there was always something compelling about him - the mark of a truly successful bad guy. Ultimately though, like the best bad guys, it was his need to be more that led to his downfall.

Unconventionally the end of the film wasn't the usual bad guys die, good guys prevail and are heroes kind of thing. It was much more complicated than that, and all the better for not adhering to cliche.

Avengers Assemble is two and a bit hours of pure adrenaline, a real rush to watch, and I can't wait for the sequel.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Glee recap/review: The Role You Were Born to Play

The Break Up recap/review

It's been five weeks since Glee was last on our screens, and I've missed it. Even though The Role You Were Born to Play felt a little like a placeholder of an episode, I was glad to have Glee back on my screen in any form, and the episode was a fun placeholder, featuring some development and good set ups for future plot lines.

Let's get the sad stuff out of the way first. When we last saw them, some of our Glee couples weren't doing too well. Finn and Rachel broke up, but I don't much care about them together, and so did Santana and Brittany, who I like but who didn't feature in this episode.

And then there were Kurt and Blaine. The latter cheated on the former and at the end of the last episode they were in a state of limbo, with Blaine unsure they'd broken up. The small flame of hope inside me died this week when Blaine confirmed the couple had parted ways (at least for now). So Blaine was feeling sad.

If Blaine was a painting this week he'd be the sad clown with a tear running down his face. He was tragically funny this week, and that works because, remember, Glee is actually a comedy, and not a full-on drama. While I love a bit of Blangst, that mostly exists in fandom and not so much in canon, at least not continuously. Sure, Blaine's heartbroken, but the way we see it on screen is the Glee way, not the Glee fandom way.

He did turn rather dramatic after singing Hopelessly Devoted (a not entirely appropriate song lyrically for the situation, since he cheated), but I'd have liked to see a bit more guilt for what he did alongside the sadness (since he cheated), although he does take responsibility for the break up. I'm sure he's feeling guilty, but I don't think that was portrayed through the writing. Still, the way it was handled fit well into the episode. 

I liked that Blaine was confiding in Sam, showing he's making real friends outside of Kurt. I liked that he realised he couldn't handle playing a big part in the musical, showing he's realising he can't be full on and who everyone wants him to be all the time, and that the role he was born to play is himself. Now I'm hoping we'll see this development continue around Blaine becoming his own person, instead of the Blaine in KurtandBlaine.

I'm also hoping next week we'll get to see some of Kurt's reaction to The Break Up (yes, it takes capital letters).

So now on to happier stuff, which was mainly the rest of the episode, aside from a blip or two.

It was lovely to see Mike and Mercedes back, even though I don't understand how these kids have the money to be flying back and forth. Their rendition of Born to Hand Jive with the McKinley gang was full of energy and had that old New Directions fizz that used to come out in the upbeat group numbers.

I thought the competition for roles in Grease was fierce, and it was good to see the right people winning out for once. Unique and Marley both deserved their roles after their rendition of Blow Me (One Last Kiss), and I liked new guy Ryder (but more on him later).

Finn as the head of New Directions isn't something I'm entirely on board with, since I don't really see the Finn that is constantly referred to by other characters as inspirational and brave and so on. He might have displayed it this episode by casting Unique as Rizzo, but he also displayed his insensitive, idiotic side when he called Sue's baby something he really shouldn't have. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but using that word shows Finn hasn't quite grown up yet. Perhaps, though, this opportunity to be a leader will actually be the making of him, and finally show me what the other characters are talking about when they talk about admiring Finn.

As I said before, I liked new character Ryder - he's already displaying all the qualities Finn supposedly had and he's only been in the show five minutes. I liked that he called Kitty out on her behaviour straight away, would Finn have done that when we first met him? No. I liked that he was throwing shapes by the side of the football field, unselfconscious about who he is. I liked that he knows he's not academically strong, and he's really, really trying to change that. And while Jake may have been jealous to see Ryder and Marley talking, I liked that for the moment he's just a guy that's a friend to everyone, and not immediately being made into one of a pair.

I even, and this is unusual for me, liked the scenes with Will and Emma. I love Emma, but I'm lukewarm when it comes to Will, and have been heading towards cooler temperatures for a while. This week he was frustrating as usual for a while, trying to force Emma to go to Washington with him even though she told him didn't want to go. But then he finally noticed something was wrong, sat down, and listened. And the two of them worked out what they're going to do.

As a comparison, Will and Emma's discussion of staying together despite the distance sort of mirrored Kurt and Blaine's discussions on the same topic. But note that Will and Emma created practical solutions about switching who visited who every weekend, meaning they'd still see each other, while Kurt and Blaine decided to rely on text and phone and Skype, all methods that link people on the surface but actually remind you that you're apart at the same time (and Blaine's cheating was largely down to his feelings about being physically apart from Kurt, since Blaine shows affection in a physical way).

And finally for this episode, Sue was back. Yes, she's been in Glee all along, but Sue was back to some of her season one glory - all quips and meanness and comments about Will's hair. But there was also some of the sensitive Sue we've come to love, who revealed briefly that her objection to casting Unique as Rizzo was because she didn't want the teenager subjected to a hard time. I like this Sue, and I'm hoping she stays.

This episode, as I said right at the beginning, felt like a bit of a placeholder for me. Its purpose was to introduce a new character, change a few things around and set up for next week's Grease episode. That's when we'll get the real action, but in the meantime The Role You Were Born to Play was a good homecoming for Glee after a long break.

Best scene
A difficult one this week since just one scene didn't really stand out for me, so I've picked some of the cute moments I liked throughout the episode. I loved the little pieces about why certain characters were going for certain roles or not. I loved Shannon giving advice to Emma, and that the writers hadn't forgotten about her past with Cooter. I liked the interaction between Mike and Tina, although I'd have to see more of that. As a general note, I'd like to see more Tina, but I'm almost resigned to the fact that she's just a side role now.

Glee recap/review: The New Rachel

Forget the new Rachel, this is the new Glee - more grown up, more sophisticated, but still knows how to have fun.

With its season four premiere, Glee went back to somewhere close to its best, piling in a raft of stuff and giving us a lot to think about, but never crossing that line into too much or just plain ridiculous.

Season three of Glee was really hit and miss (more of the latter than the former), with just a few stand out episodes and then a lot of crap that made fans want to tear their hair out and never watch again. I know the only reason I stayed watching were out of loyalty, and having seen the first episode of season four, The New Rachel, I'm glad I did.

My reservations about the Rachel in New York/everyone else in Ohio split were allayed somewhat. There was a good balance between the two worlds, and with Kurt now finally in New York, that balance will hopefully continue throughout the series.

It seemed like Rachel's story of growing up and moving on influenced all of Glee - the writers realised the show needed to grow up a bit too.

And of course growing up doesn't happen overnight, so the New Directions in Ohio still had to show us their childish side. But they, after an initial show of immaturity, showed strength and wisdom, yet it was all done in a realistic teenage way. Sure, there will be difficult times ahead and more fights over solos, but for now the glee clubbers have realised what's important to them - each other.

But what the battle to be the new Rachel showed was that actually everyone possesses Rachel's qualities, that they all have that same star quality she does, it just manifests itself in different ways.

While New Directions were fighting over who got to be the new Rachel, Rachel was trying to figure out who the new Rachel was. Still talented, but now a small fish in a very big pond. I thought she was miles less irritating than she was in season three, and perhaps taking her away from the other characters and putting her in an unfamiliar world means we get to see the real Rachel, and not just a carefully constructed star.

That real Rachel was trying to break through all episode, but she finally got through in a tear-filled phone call with Kurt, confessing her insecurities and fears. It's the first time I think we've seen the real Rachel, and I liked it.

Talking of Kurt, oh darling, I'm so glad you're in New York. Making the best of things has always been Kurt's strength, but he couldn't fool those closest to him. In a very sweet scene (the most adorable of the episode) Blaine told Kurt he needed to go to New York, that staying in Ohio was hurting him, And he topped it all off by singing to Kurt in the school courtyard. That's Kurt and Blaine's thing - Blaine sings to Kurt in the courtyard and the two come to a realisation that's good for everyone. Especially cute was the way the couple slightly mocked the tradition, with rolled eyes and sly smiles.

While Blaine was cheering up Kurt, he was also competing with the New Directions. He was rightfully named the new Rachel - he has the qualities needed in leadership and that charm to lead everyone through. And he's just so, so adorable.

Marley is a good addition to New Directions, and once everyone got over their egos, they really all pulled together as a group. I loved the scene where Marley and Unique (woo) were "welcomed" to New Directions with slushees - they may be winners but they're still the same old New Directions, and that's really not a bad thing. I'd rather be in glee club surrounded by friends who'll clean me up after I've had a face full of red ice than a cheerleader with hair tied back so tight I've got a permanent headache and have to take it out on others.

In addition, Marley and her mum's relationship was cute, and could be this season's Kurt and Burt (although the latter can never be replaced). The two taught the glee club a lesson, but it wasn't done in a heavy-handed manner. And talking of Marlie and relationships, I can't wait to see what happens between her and Jake.

The introduction of new characters was done well. I got enough of a glimpse of Jake, Marley and Brody to want more, but I felt like the old characters weren't sacrificed for the shiny new ones. And hello Wade/Unique, I'm glad you've come to New Directions.

This episode wasn't crammed with musical numbers, which worked really well. I felt the plot took priority over the music, which is how it should be. Yes, Glee is a musical show, but the music should always enhance and never overshadow. That's exactly what it did this week.

Call Me Maybe showed the glee clubbers at their most playful and competitive.

Americano/Dance Again told us more about Cassandra July's character than she could have done in a 40 minute monologue - talented, gorgeous, but so, so lost and lonely and ever so slightly bitter.

Blaine's rendition of It's Time was a song about letting go, telling Kurt exactly what he needed to hear and showing us how much these two kids understand each other.

Never Say Never showed us just how smooth Jake's voice was, and just how smooth he can be, while the aftermath of his number showed us he's most definitely related to Puck.

New York State of Mind showed us both Rachel and Marley finding themselves in their voices even when everything surrounding them is unfamiliar.

And Chasing Pavements was a perfect New Directions song to bring everyone together, because they should never give up, they should just keep chasing pavements.

Glee is about acceptance and love, and I liked that this episode went back to the roots of the show to reiterate that. New Directions has always tried to stay true to itself, and even when Artie and Sugar and Brittany were making fun of Marley's mum, underneath and not buried too far down, you could see that there was that feeling of being different, but of knowing there was one place in the world you belong. And that came to the fore when the group came together at the end.

Best scene

Look, let's face it, the thing we're all going to miss most now that Kurt's in New York? No, it's not the interactions between him and Blaine. It's the interactions between Kurt and his father. These two have, from the first moment we saw them on screen together, been the heart of this show. Whenever they are on screen together everything else has to stop. Their relationship is beautiful and compelling to watch, and you don't know you're missing it until you see it again. Watching Burt break down in the car as Kurt turned to get on a plane brought tears springing to my eyes. Thank you Glee for giving us something so wonderful to watch, and please let Kurt go home for every holiday so I can watch him and Burt together.

Glee season four recap/review masterpost

All Glee season four recap/reviews in one handy place.
Episode one - The New Rachel
Forget the new Rachel, this is the new Glee - more grown up, more sophisticated, but still knows how to have fun.

Episode two - Britney 2.0
Oh Glee, you really are back aren't you? After an excellent start last week, this episode was really up and down in the quality stakes.
Episode three - Makeover
Makeover. It's an interesting concept. We make ourselves over every morning when we put on make up or do our hair or select an outfit. We make ourselves over when we meet new people, hoping to offer them the best impression of us. And we sometimes make ourselves over when we start somewhere new, hoping to be what we want to be instead of what we are.

Episode four - The Break Up 
Oh Glee, why do you stomp on my heart? And why do you do it in such a messy, disorganised, frustrating way?
Episode five - The Role You Were Born to Play
It's been five weeks since Glee was last on our screens, and I've missed it.
Episode six - Glease
"This is just another one of your ill-conceived, bizarrely sentimental schemes and displays absolutely no forethought and appears immediately ridiculous to everyone in America except you."
Episode seven - Dynamic Duets
I loved, loved, loved (most of) this episode of Glee - Dynamic Duets.
Episode eight - Thanksgiving
Hello old New Directioners, this Thanksgiving (yes, I know it was last week) I'm thankful that you've come back to Glee.
Episode nine - Swan Song
This episode of Glee may have been called Swan Song, but perhaps a more appropriate title would have Crossroads, because that's where we found ourselves.
Episode 10 - Glee, Actually
Glee, Actually was a combination of completely bonkers moments alongside stunningly touching ones, and it totally worked for me.


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