Monday, 30 April 2012

Game of Thrones: The Ghost of Harrenhal recap/review

Garden of Bones recap/review

A slightly unusual episode of Game of Thrones this week, but more on that later. In The Ghost of Harrenhal enemies started to come out of the woodwork, and all our characters began moving ever closer, bringing with them the inevitable start of a war that is going to see thousands of casualties. 

The Lannisters
As if the Lannisters don't have enough enemies outside the walls of King's Landing, they're determined to keep each other as enemies.

Cersei, her grip on power getting ever weaker, is lashing out even more than she usually does at Tyrion. Attempting to get one over on him, she tells him that Joffrey has a secret weapon and a plan, but that the King reserves the right to keep things from his close advisers. It's a dig at Tyrion, definitely, but is Cersei also speaking about herself? After all, Joffrey failed to tell her about his plan to have all Robert's bastards murdered. Perhaps Cersei doesn't know as much as she is pretending to about her son's intentions.

What she does know about is the wildfire being brewed under King's Landing, because she has issued the command to the alchemist's guild to make it. Unfortunately, Tyrion - his curiosity peaked by Cersei's crowing - also knows (and it's the first time we see him truly lost for words), as he now has Cersei's latest conquest as an informant. I found the scene where Lancel crawls out of Tyrion's chariot hilarious, and it was the little lighter moments in the episode that really made the rest of the episode - as dark as we've ever seen from Game of Thrones - seem even more horrific.

Having found out about the wildfire Tyrion wastes no time in taking Cersei out of the equation and making sure the wildfire - a deadly liquid which turns into vicious flame as soon as it hits something - is now being produced under his command. There has been a lot of talk of what power is in Game of Thrones, but this episode the words "fire is power" ring true, even if I can't remember who said them. 

The Starks
Catelyn Stark finds herself on the run following Renly's death - Brienne at her side. These two are the epitome of the strong woman in Game of Thrones. What makes them stronger is not that they're heartless bitches, both are keeping strong because of love - Catelyn for her family, Brienne for Renly.

Brienne is not only physically strong - she slays a few guards without even breaking a sweat - but also mentally. Her mind is concentrated on one thing: vengeance. It's a theme we see throughout tonight's episode, nearly everyone is out to avenge someone else. Brienne draws strength from Catelyn, who points out: "You can't avenge him [Renly] if you're dead." So Brienne chooses vengeance by remaining loyal to Catelyn who, understanding the need for revenge, promises she will let Brienne kill Stannis Baratheon.

Both Catelyn and Brienne are a great contrast to Cersei - as they get ever stronger Cersei seems to really be losing her grip on power.

Meanwhile Arya is busy serving Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal. There, she bumps into Jaqen H'gar - one of the men she helped free when Lannister's men came calling. He promises her vengeance (there it is again) and says he will kill three people to make up for the three lives she saved by freeing him and his two companions.

Arya, probably still muttering the names of those on her Kill List every day, decides to test Jaqen by asking him to kill the torturer at Harrenhal, something he does. By episode's end the torturer is lying on the floor at Harrenhal, while Jaqen watches from above and Arya looks up at him - seeing the ghost of Harrenhal perhaps?

Bran is still ruling on his own at Winterfell. It's been a couple of weeks since we've seen him, and in that time he really seems to have grown into the role, despite still being a child. When news comes in that a nearby ally's home has been attacked, Bran is quick to send out fighters to help, realising that he cannot expect help if he does not aid others. He's wise for so young.

His being wise may have something to do with the dreams he has been having. This week he tells Osha he has dreamt that the sea came in and flooded Winterfell, killing a number of people including the head guard who he has just sent away to fight. As yet we haven't seen any of Bran's dreams come true, but this one sounds truly ominous, and coupled with what we see this week of Theon Greyjoy, it doesn't take a genius to work out this won't end well.

The Baratheons
And so the battle between the brothers Baratheon comes to an end, and we find out what the black smoke baby was for - to sneak into Renly's tent and kill him.

Before the smoke baby did, we were treated to a glimpse of Renly acting kingly, and he was actually doing a pretty good job. He negotiated successfully with Catelyn, agreeing he would leave Robb Stark as King in the North if he swore fealty to Renly. It's a deal Robb would have taken, had Catelyn had the chance to present it to him.

Unfortunately Renly got stabbed by the smoke baby, which had grown into a smoke man by the time it got to him. This is a scene I had difficulty imagining when I read the book, but Game of Thrones successfully showed how it worked. And Brienne's scream of terror at seeing Renly dead was heartbreaking.

With Renly dead his bannermen have joined Stannis. All bar Ser Loras, who seems determined to stay and fight Stannis and his army until his sister Margaery and Littlefinger - swapping sides once again - tell him he can't. In an echo of Catelyn's words to Brienne, Margaery tells her brother: "You can't avenge him from the grave."

It's Margaery who's the true star here. Having persuaded Ser Loras they need to run, she is left alone with Littlefinger, and tells him she doesn't want to be a queen, she wants to be THE queen. He's more than a little impressed with that, and Margaery joins the long list of powerful and strong women in Game of Thrones.

Having had Renly killed, Stannis, showing no remorse over murdering his brother (even if he was only indirectly involved), makes plans to invade King's Landing. He has been under the thumb of a strong woman - Melisandre - pretty much since we met him, and it takes a talking to by the diplomatic Ser Davos Seaworth to make Stannis see he needs to assert his authority by himself, and not with Melisandre at his side. Having seen Melisandre kill a maester by poison, survive that poison with no effects herself, and birth a smoke baby which murdered Renly, I predict Melisandre's not going to be happy at being left behind. 

The Targaryens
In complete contrast to the air of doom and gloom pervading the Seven Kingdoms, Danaerys Targaryen and her khalesar find themselves in Qarth, full of colour and good food and gold and riches and nature.

Not only is Dany flourishing (she's found a hairbrush, clearly) her dragons are also doing pretty well. They may still be tiny but they're at the stage where they can now breathe out smoke. It's only a matter of time before they start breathing actual fire.

While in Qarth Dany finds herself being courted by one of the Thirteen (I can't remember his name), who wants to marry her, promising she can have ships and weapons to conquer the Seven Kingdoms with in exchange for marriage. The temptation is there, but it looks like Dany won't go ahead with it, following a heated discussion with Jorah Marmont.

Let's face it, it was only a matter of time before Jorah revealed to Dany that he loved her - especially as we've all known since we first saw the two of them. Dany isn't happy about this and we see the first cracks begin to appear between the two. Ironically they've managed to keep it together throughout the tough times, now that they're in comfortable surroundings they're falling apart. Too much of a good thing...

Still, Dany's not quite ready to give up on Jorah, and she seems to take on board his advice to find her own way to conquer the Seven Kingdoms, instead of relying on the help of a husband. Still, she only agrees with underlying anger at Jorah. 

Jon Snow
Gosh, it looks cold Beyond the Wall. Having left the horrid Craster after being chucked out of his house, the Night's Watch are moving further away from the wall in search of a ranger named Halfhand.

Instead they come cross a band of fighters belonging to Mance Ryder, a ranger turned bad who is now king (sort of) Beyond the Wall. Knowing they can't win on open ground in Ryder's territory they make the decision that all but a handful of the Night's Watch will fall back to the Wall.

The handful will try to kill Ryder and his men. And of course, ever noble, Jon Snow puts himself forward to be in the handful. Don't do it, Jon! 

The Greyjoys 
Theon Greyjoy is still struggling to fit in on the Iron Islands, and now finds himself in command of a ship full of men who think he's a joke. Added to that, they clearly respect and love his younger sister, who points out that her men would wait on deck for her for a year if they had to.

Theon's situation is almost a microcosm of the wider battle raging across the Seven Kingdoms. In the Iron Islands he represents the old way - the son who would take after his father. But he is battling against the new way - the strong young woman who has a new way of doing things. It's a bit like the battle for the Iron Throne - old versus new, everyone trying to find their place and hoping that place is on the Iron Throne.

Still, Theon manages to find an ally in his first mate, and it only takes a few minutes for him to come up with a plan. His men will attack a holdfast in the north, knowing the Starks will come to the rescue. At first Theon thinks this is a bad thing, but the implication that the Starks attacking means Winterfell will be left unprotected strikes pretty quickly. And so Bran's dream of the sea (Greyjoy) attacking Winterfell looks like it might come true. 

Violence and (gratuitous) nudity tally 
So look, this episode was weird, as I said right at the beginning. Why was it weird? Because there were no naked people. None. Zero. Nada.

And as if that wasn't strange enough, there was hardly any violence. There was plenty of talk of vengeance, but all we actually saw on screen was Renly being killed by the smoke baby.

Off screen the torturer was killed by Jaqen H'ghar. The most gruesome thing we saw in this episode was the torturer's dislocated neck as we saw his body on the ground.

There was so much going on that the violence wasn't needed (and the nudity isn't needed nine times out of ten in Game of Thrones) but I definitely noticed the absence, although somehow the episode seemed darker than those which have been filled with killings. 

When you play the Game of Thrones... 
Enemies started to come out of the woodwork this episode - Theon towards Winterfell, Stannis towards King's Landing, Mance Ryder towards the Night's Watch.

It seems people have stopped hiding and started making the move to their (final?) destinations. And really, with all the talk of vengeance this episode they were clearly getting restless. As Tywin Lannister said to his war council: "This is war, no one's content." 

Game of Thrones recap/review masterlist

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Glee: Dance With Somebody recap/review

This was Glee's Whitney tribute episode, and for an episode which was built around the songs, it worked really well. It's a contrast to the Michael Jackson episode, which was fabulous, but where the songs didn't really do much for the plot. In Dance With Somebody the songs really matched the emotions the glee club was going through.

Letting go is difficult, and that's what this episode was really about. What it wasn't about was leaving. There is a difference between letting go and leaving. The former involves knowing you have to move on, coming to terms with that, reconciling your present and your future and taking the best bits of one and bringing it to the other. Leaving is just that, going and not looking back. The kids in New Directions had to learn to let go, and learn that's what they were doing, not leaving.

Let's talk about Kurt and Blaine, who were the heart of this episode for me. Kurt is looking to his future in New York, while all Blaine can feel is a feeling of abandonment, and like typical teenagers neither of them decide to talk about the problem before it gets to a stage of everything blowing up in their faces.

Instead Blaine bottles it all up, while Kurt feels affronted and doesn't consider why Blaine might be acting the way he is.

The trigger for finally bringing the issue to the fore is Blaine discovering text messages on Kurt's phone - flirty text messages between Kurt and another guy (Chandler).

So are these text messages, as Blaine says, cheating? There's definitely an argument that they're not, but to be honest, I feel Kurt was cheating. No, not physically, and no, he wouldn't even consider doing anything with Chandler. But emotionally Kurt was definitely cheating. He even admitted it himself, even though he doesn't draw a line between cheating and what he's doing: "I like the way he makes me feel."

It's easy to see why Blaine's hurt. The boy he loves is flirting with another guy, and then almost blames Blaine for it, saying he isn't giving Kurt enough attention, implying that a guy Kurt has just met makes him feel more than Blaine does. And it takes Blaine reminding Kurt of his sacrifices ("I transferred schools to be with you. I changed my whole life. That doesn't make you feel loved?") for Kurt to realise something is wrong.

So, Kurt does what he knows is the best way to reach Blaine - he sings to him. Goodness, Chris Colfer's voice was just pure magic during I Have Nothing. I wasn't sure whether to melt in a puddle or just weep. It seems Blaine felt exactly the same. The song did reach him but it wasn't quite enough, because Kurt still didn't know what was wrong with Blaine.

So, like a grown-up couple, Kurt and Blaine decide to talk about it. Despite Blaine being really upset at Kurt, he still goes with him to couples therapy with Kurt, because he loves him. And after some humourous accusations from Blaine to Kurt ("he clicks at the wait staff", "stop putting bronzer in my moisturiser") we finally get to the crux of it - New York.

Blaine is scared about Kurt leaving him. He has been so supportive of Kurt's desire to go to New York, but it's all become too much. It's all they ever talk about, and Blaine is feeling abandoned, so he's been pulling away to try and learn how to live without Kurt. Oh, the heartbreak here is just so painful.

And finally, Kurt gets it. You can see the realisation wash over his face, and then the steely determination to make sure that Blaine knows how much Kurt loves him, and that he will not leave him. These boys, they make my heart hurt.

One thing though, this scene ended a bit awkwardly. It looked like Blaine and Kurt would make up with a kiss, but after a few seconds it transitioned into a hug, which was sweet but didn't really seem to fit. If this had been Rachel and Finn, there would have been a kiss. Hmm.

The Kurt and Blaine plot this episode did end with a sweet exchange in the hallway, with the two showing they had listened to each other, and with Kurt pointing out that with so little time left he wanted to make sure he spent the time doing the things that would soon be ending, namely glee club.

Can I just take a few sentences to talk about what brilliant actors Colfer and Darren Criss are? Yes, I'm slightly biased because I'm a huge fan of them both, but seriously, these guys blew me away this episode, particularly Criss. You could see everyone emotion run across his face, and it was like he was feeling everything that Blaine was feeling. Right down to his eyes, you could see the pain and uncertainty.

Before I leave Kurt, let's talk about the lovely scene between him and his dad. Kurt and Burt scenes have always been incredible, and this was no exception. Just like Blaine, Burt had been pulling away slightly from his son in the hopes of getting used to being without him. It didn't work, but rather than let things stew they talked it out. Burt acknowledged that he didn't want Kurt to go, but that it was the best thing to do, and he was proud of him. And by cataloguing his belongings, Kurt started to let go, but learnt that you don't have to box everything away when you move on - it's okay to take some of your past with you. And there were some great lines here, including: "We made each other men."

Elsewhere Mr Schue moved his wedding to Emma forward. To be honest, I'd forgotten these two were engaged. Anyway, turns out the reason he wanted it in May was so the glee clubbers would attend. It seems Mr Schue is feeling like things are slipping away from him too, and it takes Emma to talk some sense into him. She may have OCD and seem ditzy, but she's actually the most sensible adult at McKinley.

Quinn is still in her wheelchair, and feeling the frustration. It takes the sweet Joe to help her realise she's still beautiful. They didn't get together straight away, which was good to see. Instead there was an acknowledgement of feelings, and Joe talked about what he was feeling with not just Quinn.

Puck provided a moment of sweetness by giving his "bros" goodie bags to remind them of each other. He is the one who really seems to understand letting go: "The clock's ticking. The time's coming when we're all going to have to say adios, some of us forever. Make sure you guys remember all the broments we had together, the great things we accomplished forever. I know I haven't always been the perfect friend or teammate, but you stuck by me, forgiven me for sleeping with your women. Not everyone in my life has done that...I'm only going to say this once, but I'm going to miss all of you. I love you guys." 

The music
I loved the music this episode. Whitney was brilliant, and I thought Glee picked just the right songs for New Directions.

The opening number, an acoustic version of How Will I Know, was just beautiful. It's Not Right, But It's Okay was a good fit for Blaine's emotions, despite the really awkward transition to the song - I really don't think Blaine needed to tell Kurt: "It's not right. But it's okay." We would have understood the song's context without that sentence. 

Dance With Somebody and So Emotional were fun, and Saving All My Love for You, despite the true meaning behind the lyrics, was sweet (and funny because of glee clubbers' faces). 

My Love Is Your Love (a song I'd forgotten) was a gorgeous ending, and one that really brought everyone together. It reminded me of the brilliant scene in season one where the New Directions do an impromptu rendition of Ride Wit' Me. Although more polished, just like that song the feel of My Love is Your Love was just pure joy (so much so that I've been watching that scene over and over), and My Love Is Your Love vocalised the realisation that letting go is okay. And the best lesson the glee club has learned is contained in the song: "It would take an eternity to break us." 

What Glee did well
So much in this episode, this was definitely one of the good ones. I've already spoken about a lot of the stuff I loved, so I'm going to pick something small for this section.

What I loved this episode was all the little looks and interactions between the New Directions - including the looks between them when Blaine sang It's Not Right, the look Mike gave to Blaine during I Have Nothing, the glances exchanged during Saving All My Love for You - they all pointed to a group of people so close they can share entire sentences in just one look. The friendships have always been my favourite part of Glee, and they really shone through in just those few moments. 

Glee recap/review masterpost

Monday, 23 April 2012

Game of Thrones: Garden of Bones recap/review

A birth, numerous deaths, and more deceit than you can shake a sword at - this week's episode of Game of Thrones, named Garden of Bones (after the land around the city of Qarth), was full to the brim with important developments, and we learnt a lot about our characters.

The Lannisters
It's been a couple of weeks since we've seen Joffrey and in that time he's gone from being the Meanest Character on Television™to just plain evil. 

Following the slaughter of a bunch of Lannister men at the hands of Robb Stark, Joffrey - sitting comfortably on the Iron Throne while everyone else fights his battles - decides to punish Sansa in lieu of punishing Robb. His whipping of her is cut short by Tyrion, who stops his nephew, shaming him in front of his court.

It may be a kind move on Tyrion's part, but it only backfires on the two prostitutes he sends to his nephew's bedchamber, in the hopes they may loosen Joffrey up. Proving himself slightly more clever than we thought, Joffrey decides the best way to inflict a punishment on Tyrion is to punish the two women he has sent. Or rather, get them to punish each other by forcing one to hit the other until she is bruised, bloody and beaten. At least, I imagine she's bruised, bloody and beaten, because the weapon Joffrey arms one of the prostitutes with looks vile.

Despite only being in a few scenes in this episode, we learn a lot about the kind of king Joffrey is. He enjoys wielding power by punishing those weaker than himself, rather than serving those whose king he is. He is quick to lose his temper, a bad quality in a king who should actually be calm and collected. He is sulky, proving he is still a child. 

And most importantly, he is a coward, always commanding others to carry out physical punishments on his behalf. This is in opposition to everything Ned Stark taught his children (and us) in the first season - a decent leader always inflicts punishment himself and doesn't get someone else to do it for him.

While the sadistic Joffrey spirals ever closer to madness - a hint at his mental state is given when Tyrion asks if Joffrey knows the story of the Mad King, who did whatever he pleased - Tyrion is still scheming away. This time he persuades his cousin - who Cersei has taken to her bed now Jaime is being held captive - to defect to his side. And he decides to throw Cersei a bone by releasing Pycelle at her request. Tyrion knows how to make sure his friends are close and his enemies are even closer.

And we caught our first glimpse this season of the head of the family, Tywin Lannister, who at last did something good and saved both Gendry and Arya from being killed.

The Starks
The Starks have been physically distant from each other for a while, and some of the cracks are now starting to show.

Catelyn is still with Renly, trying to persuade him to join with Robb to fight the Lannisters. She is joined there by Littlefinger, and we are treated to the first confrontation between the two since Littlefinger betrayed Ned, leading to the latter's death. Littlefinger, cunning as he is, falls back onto the most simple of persuasion techniques, talking about how much he loves Catelyn, and always has. Luckily, she's too clever to fall for that.

Unluckily, for the first time we see Catelyn ruled by her emotions. When Littlefinger says he can exchange Sansa and Arya for Jaime, Catelyn considers this, even knowing that Robb will not be happy. And when Littlefinger brings in Ned's body, it's the first time we really see Catelyn break down and mourn over everything that has happened to her family.

Sansa is still with the Lannisters, and seems determined to do all she can to stay alive. Even after being beaten on Joffrey's orders, she still tells Tyrion she is loyal to and loves her king. And she impresses Tyrion by doing so. And she impressed me. As Tyrion says: "Lady Stark, you may survive us yet." While many people in Game of Thrones seem intent on killing, Sansa seems intent on surviving.

Arya, meanwhile, is back in the control of the Lannisters, although they don't know this, and her mother certainly doesn't realise Littlefinger knows nothing of Arya's whereabouts. Having last week heard from Yoren about his desire to kill his brother's murderer, Arya has taken on board his words - and now falls asleep every night murmuring the names of those on her Kill List. And it's growing every night.

She may have spent weeks on the road pretending to be a boy and hiding from Cersei's guards, but Arya is now under more danger, as Tywin Lannister takes her on to be his servant, not knowing who she is and her true value.

While the Stark women are doing their thing, Robb is busy battling the Lannisters. He's clearly grown and is now using all weapons he has to his advantage, sending his direwolf in to battle and then following with his men to slaughter thousands (leaving a field of dead - a Garden of Bones, perhaps?). It seems as though the boy we saw in the first season, and the teenager who needed his mum's advice just a few episodes ago, is slowly disappearing, leaving Robb the man (and king).

It's not all blood and battles for Robb though. At last, there's a bit of romance for a Stark. And it seems all it takes to impress the King in the North is a woman who's not squeamish and who tells it like it is. I like seeing this different, slightly flirty side to Robb, and it's good for him to have someone who challenges him and forces him to try and justify his actions, and to think of what happens after the war is won (he doesn't know yet). I hope we'll see a lot more of Talisa and that she continues to question Robb, and that they're all cute and flirty together.

The Baratheons
And so the Baratheon brothers (the still alive ones) are together at last. Finally getting to see Stannis and Renly opposite each other really brings out both their best and worst qualities. We've always known Renly loves beauty, but seeing him decked out in an elaborate crown while meeting Stannis makes him seem frivolous. And we know Stannis is now under the command of Melisandre, but seeing her have her say during the meeting makes us realise just how pathetic he is under his hard exterior.

And seeing Renly and Stannis together made me realise the departed Robert was the best of both Baratheons. He had the power, command and focus of Stannis, and the charisma and people skills of Renly all rolled into one. The scene with Renly and Stannis showed that even when Robert was drunk, he was a better king than either of these two will be.

Despite being grown-ups Renly and Stannis acted like they were children during a meeting to try and negotiate a truce, a fact Catelyn Stark was all too quick to point out. And they resolved absolutely nothing, each heading back to their camp to sulk.

Well, Stannis probably wasn't sulking. Instead he sent Ser Davos Seaworth out to row Melisandre to near Renly's camp. In a disturbing final scene Melisandre "gave birth" to a horrifying creature made of black smoke (if you're thinking Lost, think again), which seemed to travel in the direction of Renly's camp. Uh oh, this won't be good for Renly.

The Targaryens
There is at last some small salvation for Daenerys and her khalesar, who have been wandering the desert for what seems like years, but is probably only weeks. One of her outriders comes back, telling of a town where they have been guaranteed shelter.

It's not that easy though, and the Thirteen, who look after the town of Qarth, demand Daenerys show them her dragons before they let her and the khalesar in. After weeks of looking tired and weak, it's good to see Daenerys back to being kick ass. She doesn't give in, and the risk pays off, as one of the Thirteen steps forward to stand up for her and let her into Qarth.

And the quick glimpse we catch of Qarth - gorgeous blue water, masses of colour in the midst of the desert, glinting sunshine - makes it look beautiful. Too much of a good thing...

Jon Snow
No Jon Snow this week. My heart is broken and as cold as the winter that is coming.

The Greyjoys
Nothing from House Greyjoy. Ah well, it's raining enough outside, no need to see miserable skies on screen as well.

Violence and (gratuitous) nudity tally
The gore this week doesn't really come from fight scenes, although one is linked to a battle.

First up is the scene where Talisa amputates a Lannister fighter's foot to save his life. Although we don't see it, we can see the panic and pain on the fighter's face, his struggle as Robb Stark holds him down and forces a bit between his teeth, and we can most definitely see the movement of the saw as Talisa cuts his foot from his body.

The most horrifying violence this episode, for me anyway, was the scene where Joffrey forced one prostitute to hit another. The whores' flirty, silly ways quickly disappear as they realise just how sadistic he is. And the looks on their faces show that they know there's no way out of this situation, that they must do as Joffrey says. It's the sound of metal hitting flesh, and the sound of what I think is flesh breaking, that ends this tough to watch scene.

The final violent scene featured a rat, a bucket, a fire and a poor boy captured by the Lannisters. It wasn't pleasant, but Joffrey's punishment of the prostitutes overshadows all the other violence this time around.

There wasn't a huge amount of gratuitous nudity this week - one of the prostitutes was naked, but that's her job, and being unclothed made her seem even more vulnerable as Joffrey's temper was turned on her.

I say there wasn't a huge amount of gratuitous nudity, but I'm wrong. Right at the end Melisandre took her clothes off for her "giving birth" scene, which was just horrifying in all kinds of ways.

When you play the Game of Thrones...
Whew, a busy episode this week. The story was moved rapidly along for Arya, Renly, Stannis and Daenerys, and our other characters showed us a lot about themselves. We got to see Littlefinger and Renly's wife Margaery battling with their wits - more of this clever pair's verbal sparring and mind games please. As we head into episode five, Game of Thrones shows no sign of slowing down.

Game of Thrones recap/review masterlist

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Glee: Saturday Night Glee-ver recap/review

Big Brother recap

Sometimes I feel like Glee should be renamed The Rachel Berry Show, and this was one of those weeks.

I'm afraid this post starts with a bit of a rant, and I hope it's not too incoherent.

While Rachel wasn't actually the focus of Saturday Night Glee-ver, I did find myself wincing irrationally every time she was in a scene, and pretty much every comment from her, about her or to her annoyed me. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, or maybe I've really had enough of Rachel Berry.

Here's what I got from this week's episode:

-Rachel didn't want to talk to Finn because she felt he was being selfish by thinking about his own future and not giving enough thought to his future with RACHEL, and she was ticked off that he'd called her self-centred.

-Then Rachel decided she did want to talk to Finn, and that they would try to find his dream so they could work out how it could come true and fit with RACHEL'S dream.

-Rachel wanted Finn to be sure he wanted to go to New York for himself and not for her, because that would be too much pressure on RACHEL.

Goodness, can everything please stop being about Rachel? I like her as a character on her own, but I do find her unbearable when she becomes part of Rachel and Finn (Finchel), because I feel theirs is a relationship heavily balanced against Finn.

So let's talk about Finn. He's now going to act in New York, at what he calls In The Actor's Studio. I'm not American, but I'm pretty sure that's the name of the programme and not necessarily the school. Anyone care to tell me if I'm wrong or right?

He arrived at his conclusion after watching Saturday Night Fever, which was enough to persuade him to stop being scared of the future and realise he could be whatever he wanted to be. Really, if only it was that easy to discover exactly what you wanted in life when you were aged 18.

There was other Finchel stuff, but I can't even, otherwise I may end up doing myself damage by rolling my eyes too much.

The strongest of the main storylines this episode, in my opinion, belonged to Mercedes, because I felt hers was the most realistic transition from lost to found.

I liked that Mercedes knew what she wanted to do, but just didn't know how to do it. And when Mr Schuester proved completely useless at helping her, it was Sam who came to the rescue.

I liked that there was no miracle answer for Mercedes, that Sam didn't just turn up and say: "Look, I put your video on YouTube and now seven million people have watched it and 10 record producers have called me." Instead he showed her how talented she is and told her to just keep being herself, to go to LA and try to make her dreams come true.

I liked that Sam's answer was to go out and make it happen, and to believe in her talent. It was to keep being good, and to take the leap and try. Life is about trying, very few people get discovered on YouTube or appear on American Idol and just become famous. Believing was the best piece of advice for Sam to give Mercedes, and the best piece for Glee to give its viewers.

Unlike Mercedes, Santana's storyline proved a little unrealistic. Yes, I know Glee is fiction, but this week it seemed to be asking viewers to suspend all sense of reality quite a bit.

Santana's goal was fame, and Brittany decided to help her achieve that by releasing a sex tape of the two of them, interspersed with scenes of Lord Tubbington cleaning.

What happened to Glee? Last season Miss Holliday warned Puck and Lauren against the dangers of making a sex tape while they were talking about it. This season, not one teacher finds out or bats an eyelid. Here are my other questions about the Santana storyline:

-Where are the consequences for Santana and Brittany? 
-For a high school that's supposedly so horrible, why are there no adverse reactions from the kids at McKinley? 
-Why are there no outraged parents (hers or Britney's or other kids)? 
-Did the sex video get taken down?
-How is it that you can get into university in America without actually applying yourself? Can cheerleading coaches really apply for you?

And most importantly of all:

There were too many questions for me with the Santana storyline, and while I'm glad she's happy, and while Brittany's final idea of getting Santana into college was sweet, I'm a little dissatisfied with Santana's narrative this week.

Of course, this episode's three major narrative threads were held together with disco, and also surrounded by some smaller, but no less important, storylines.

First, let's discuss Wade/Unique. I applaud Glee for bringing up gender identity, but this seemed like almost a throwaway mention, and I feel something like this deserves more prominence. Sure, Unique got to strut her stuff, but after Wade/Unique's initial talk with Mercedes and Kurt, the whole thing seemed too easily resolved - one chat with Mercedes and Kurt and Wade is comfortable showing off Unique, despite admitting to them that he's been nervous about showing Unique off for a long time. 

It's such a big thing - partly because it's rarely been discussed in popular culture - that I felt a little more time and effort needed to be devoted to it. But then again, perhaps Glee is being really clever by just introducing the subject in this episode - easing viewers in to something they may not have seen addressed before - and will hopefully come back to it in the future.

While all the disco numbers were fun - it's disco, how can it not be fun - I felt some of them were a little lackluster. Perhaps this was because the concentration wasn't really on the meanings of the songs, but just about them being disco.

Overall, I didn't think this was one of Glee's best episodes. It certainly wasn't one of its worst, but I didn't find myself wanting to watch it immediately again as I do with the episodes of Glee I really enjoy. Perhaps time will change that, but for now Saturday Night Glee-ver was missing a little of the glitter that made disco fabulous.

The music
Some great songs here, and I will acknowledge (because Glee didn't) that the Bee Gees are brilliant.

While I bopped along to most, I wasn't overly impressed with most of the numbers done by New Directions. They were just...nice.

The dance off during Saturday Night Fever was tame - I can't dance and I do better moves in my bedroom (apart from the flipping).

More Than A Woman made me smile, more for the spinning round than anything else.

Mercedes, being Mercedes, gave Disco Inferno just the right kind of attitude.

There was one standout though - Boogie Shoes. Unique really rocked it, and as usual Vocal Adrenaline were perfect. Boogie Shoes was sassy, superb and superior to what the New Directions managed to produce this week.

What Glee did well
Er, do I even need to say? Jesse St James is back. That's always a cause for celebration. I love him. 

But seriously, I didn't love this episode, but I thought Glee hinted well at some upcoming issues - the impending graduation of its seniors first and foremost, and the problems and opportunities that will bring. 

Next week
The Whitney tribute.

Glee recap/review masterpost

Monday, 16 April 2012

Game of Thrones: What Is Dead May Never Die recap/review

The Night Lands recap/review

How far do you go to keep your family safe? Is blood thicker than water? What is loyalty? And do the dead ever truly die if they can't be forgotten? Those were just some of the questions in What Is Dead May Never Die, and the answers proved rather complicated.

The Lannisters
Tyrion was determined to wield his power this week, and successfully roots out yet another person disloyal to him by engaging in a clever little deception. Telling each of Varys, Littlefinger and Pycelle a different plan for marrying off his neice, he discovers that Pycelle has been betraying him to Cersei. Luckily for Pycelle, Tyrion decides not to go ahead with his threat to cut the maester's manhood off, and instead just imprisons him.

However horrid Cersei can be, one thing you have to give her is that she truly loves her children. Her heartbreak over Myrcella being married into the Martell clan is clear to see, but it's also a little hypocritical, since she is doing the exact same thing to Sansa.

The Starks
It's the Stark women who are putting on a tough show this week. In fact, the Stark women have always been exceptionally strong. Where the Stark men are ruled by their hearts - Ned wanted to do the right thing, Robb always turns to his mother for advice, Bran is too young and emotional - the Stark women have always been a little more clever.

Sansa is still suffering with the Lannisters, and fully aware that her whole life now is a lie. Every move she makes has to be carefully considered and present the right image, a fact beautifully illustrated in the way Sansa eats her meal when sitting with Cersei - slowly and with great deliberation. It's a wonderful little moment, and says so much even though no words are spoken in those seconds.

Cleverly Sansa pledges her loyalty to Joffrey once again during dinner, even though no one is around to listen apart from her future mother-in-law. Young as she is, and as flighty as she was in season one, Sansa realises just how important a power broker Cersei is. And when Cersei points out that even if the Lannisters kill Robb, Sansa will still do her duty, we are treated to Sansa steeling herself to show no emotion. Yes, she's definitely changed from season one, when something like this would have led to her throwing a fit like a typical teenage girl.

Still, she can't keep herself stoic forever, and her frustrations are taken out on Shae, Tyrion's girlfriend who has been made Sansa's handmaiden in order to keep her relationship with Tyrion secret from Cersei. Although Sansa and Shae initially clash, their final interaction - Shae brushing Sansa's hair - possibly signals that Sansa has found a confidant.

Sansa is not the only Stark concentrating on doing all she can to stay alive. Arya, still on the road to the Wall, is consumed with thoughts of those who killed her father. She may not say she wants to kill Joffrey, but while Yoren tells her about the time he took revenge on the man who killed his brother, Arya doesn't stop sharpening her sword - the weapon that her father had made for her. It's easy to see she hopes it will be the weapon that she avenges her father with as well.

With one daughter trapped by the Lannisters and the whereabouts of the other unknown, it's a wonder Catelyn Stark can function at all. But function she does, going to see Renly and telling him off almost as soon as she gets there. Her stoicism may seem like she doesn't care about her daughters and never thinks about them, but I interpret it as Catelyn putting her emotions to one side to ensure she does all she can to protect her children. She may seem heartless, but actually Catelyn is displaying the most motherly of qualities - a single minded devotion to keeping her children alive. And note how Sansa's behaviour seems to mirror her mother's.

Meanwhile Bran is still having strange dreams - closing his eyes to sleep seems to lead him into the mind of his direwolf. This is a slowly unravelling storyline, and we'll probably have to wait a bit longer until we find out exactly what it means. 

The Baratheons
It's the return of Renly this week, who despite his frivolous ways has managed to gather quite an army, partly through his own charm, and partly through his strategic marriage to Margaery, sister of his lover Loras Tyrell, Knight of the Flowers.

When we are reintroduced to Renly he is enjoying watching Loras being bested in a fight by a female, and his joy doesn't slip even when Catelyn Stark - newly arrived to persuade Renly to ally himself with Robb - points out that he is just playing at battle while Robb fights real ones.

Renly's smile does disappear, however, when Loras, smarting over losing a fight to a girl and then her being made a member of Renly's Kings Guards, rejects Renly's sexual advances. Instead he taunts him with the fact that people in Renly's retinue are muttering about the fact that his wife is still a virgin two weeks after they married.

And as silly as she seems, Margaery is no fool. When she fails to seduce to Renly she asks him instead if he wants Loras to come and help turn him on. Renly's shock is clear to see, and while he may be putting himself forward as king, Margaery is clearly the one with a cunning and ruthless side, pointing out that they should do whatever it takes to produce an heir. And that he needs to save his lies for court, where he'll need them a lot more.

Margaery is yet another woman in Game of Thrones who seems to be cleverer and more capable of ruling than a man. Cersei used to be in this position, but as she becomes ever weaker we are introduced to other women who could easily take her place, and Margaery is one of them (see also Catelyn, Melisandre, Theon Greyjoy's sister Yara, and even Sansa, with a bit of work).

The Targaryens
Nothing at all from Danaerys this week. I presume she and her khalesar are still suffering in the Red Waste.

Jon Snow
A dilemma faced Jon this week, as he realised that sometimes men are forced to do things they don't like for the greater good.

Dragged back to camp by Craster after being knocked out by him last week, Jon succeeds in getting the Night's Watch kicked out of Craster's house.

His discovery that the Lord Commander Jeor Marmont knows Craster takes his baby sons out to die leaves him momentarily speechless, but Marmont's speech shocks him more. As Marmont points out: "We have other wars to fight out there. Like it or not we need men like Craster." Jon is slowly, week by week, discovering that sometimes you need to align yourself with bad people in order to beat worse people.

Craster's anger doesn't, however, stop Sam from reaching out to one his daughter-wives and giving her a gift for safekeeping. Whether he's putting her in more harm will be something we'll find out much, much later, if the Night's Watch come back from where they're going. 

The Greyjoys
A new category this week, as Theon Greyjoy and his family become ever more important in Game of Thrones.

Out of all the characters this week, Theon faced the biggest difficulty. He was not only torn between his need for glory and his need to do what is right, but he was also torn between his blood family and his foster family, the Starks.

In the end, Theon picked his father and sister out of necessity. With Robb Stark hundreds of miles away, and knowing he could only go back to Robb having failed in his mission to get the Greyjoys on the King of the North's side, Theon decided to stay with his blood family.

Still, it's not the easy path. Theon has major abandonment issues, and rightly so. He finally loses it with his father, who has been putting him down since he arrived back at the Iron Islands, and points out that Theon never made the choice to go. Instead, Theon points out: "You gave me away. Your last boy." In the moment he yells that, the guilt that flashes over Balon Greyjoy's face is clear to see, but having lived a lifetime determined to not show his emotions, Balon leaves, and leaves his son to betray his friend, and brother in all but blood, Robb, for the approval of a father who gave him away. 

Violence and (gratuitous) nudity tally
Just a few instances of gratuitous nudity this week. One very brief glimpse of a prostitute when Tyrion's guard go in to capture Pycelle, and a slightly longer scene involving Margaery's failed attempt to seduce Renyl. Put a top on girl, he's not interested.

But while the nudity was dialed down this week, the violence was stepped up. Two particularly gruesome scenes centred on Arya's companions in the march to the Wall.

First up was poor Yoren. Uncouth as he may be, he saved Arya's life and has protected her even though there is nothing for him in it. His final scene lets him die a hero, taking on half a dozen or so of Cersei's fighters, and he finally dies when a guard buries a sword slowly through the top of his head.

The second death is a little more undignified, as Lommy, a selfish little boy who has been travelling with Arya, demands that one of Cersei's guards carry him because of his injured legs. True to form, the guard decides instead he'll stick a sword through Lommy's neck, leaving him to spit out a pint of blood and die. 

When you play the Game of Thrones...
The title of this week's episode is a saying in the faith of the Drowned God on the Iron Islands. When it is said to Theon, he recites back: "But rises harder and stronger." We've seen the dead literally rising already - in season one someone that was supposed to be dead attacked the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch - but this week I feel "what is dead may never die" and its return phrase are a little more metaphorical.

Death is an interesting concept in Game of Thrones. No one truly dies until all their family are dead and there is no one left to avenge them if they were wronged. And since all our wronged dead have family left, it seems the dead may rise again harder and stronger in their heirs. 

Game of Thrones recap/review masterpost

Saturday, 14 April 2012

In pictures: Tour of the Olympic Park

So this summer will be filled with sport in London as the Olympics and Paralympics come to town. I've seen the Olympic Park in Stratford many times as I've driven or got the DLR past, but I've now been inside for a look round. Much of it is still a building site, as contractors work on landscaping, temporary venues and screens and a lot of other things, but with the main venues built it's pretty impressive.

Tours are done by bus, because there's still so much going on around the site that it's not safe to walk around unless you're wearing a hard hat, steel toe capped boots and a fluorescent jacket. I don't look good in any of those, so I stuck with the bus and our tour guide Layla, who works for the London Legacy Development Corportation, which will be in charge of the future of the Park (to be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) once all the athletes have gone home and the strains of the national anthems have stopped sounding.

To enter the Olympic Park on the tours the bus goes through a small tunnel, and on coming out the other side there's a partial view of the Olympic Stadium, the most easy to recognise building in the park. When the park opens for the Games all the road signs you can see will be gone, as will the concrete slabs, and the grit on the floor will actually be landscaped - I'm not sure if it will be a hard surface or grass.

This is the ArcelorMittal Orbit, which will become a tourist attraction. What you see in this picture is pretty much what you'll get. For a long time I thought it was scaffolding, but this is the actual Orbit. Designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, the Orbit is the UK's tallest sculpture. Visitors will go up in a lift to the observation deck, which is the spaceship-like thing you can see. You should be able to see across much of London from the deck. Most visitors to the Orbit will have to walk down the 400 and something steps back to the bottom. I used to think the Orbit was pretty ugly, but the more I see it, I find myself warming to it.

A view of the Orbit, which stands at the entrance to the Park, and the Stadium together.

Past the Stadium is the Aquatic Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid. After the Stadium, it's probably going to the venue of the most watched events. If Michael Phelps reproduces his Beijing performance in London, the pool will be filled will the echoes of thousands of people's cheers. Hadid was inspired in her design by water, so the centre has lots of curved lines and the roof is shaped like a wave. It's difficult to see from the side but aerial views show the shape properly. Since I wasn't in a helicopter though, you'll have to use your imagination or search for professional pictures to see what I'm talking about.

Here's the Copper Box, which will be used for Olympic handball, goalball and for the fencing part of the modern pentathlon. It's surrounded by metal fencing at the moment as work is done on the surrounding area, but you can see the really cool public artwork just in front of it, spelling out the word run in huge letters which glint in the sun.

The Velodrome (above) is where Team GB is likely to win many of its medals, as our cyclists battle it out in a variety of disciplines. It's one of my favourite buildings on the site, I like the shape and look of it, with the bronze/gold cladding that goes around the edge, which you can see a close-up picture of above and to the left.
The Olympic Park, before becoming the Olympic Park, was largely home to factories and workshops, and much of the water was apparently contaminated. It's been cleaned up and lots of landscaping put in. This area will be among a number in the Park where people can relax between events, and will be expanded once the Games are over and before the Park reopens.

This white building is the basketball arena and is one of the largest-ever temporary venues built for any Olympic Games. It will be used for Olympic basketball and handball, and for wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby during the Paralympics. Rio de Janeiro, holding the next Olympics, is looking at the way London is using temporary venues with a view to doing something similar in 2016 with a number of their venues. There is a slight possibility they could transport some of London's temporary venues to Rio, but I highly doubt a country holding the Games would want someone else's cast off seconds - surely you'd want to build your own structures to impress?!

Whatever happens on the field or in the arena, this is where the action will be afterwards - the athlete's village. Competitors for the Games will stay here, in specially built flats. It's where they will prepare themselves for the Games, commiserate and celebrate. The flats currently don't have any kitchens, since the athletes will be fully catered for, so when the Games are over the flats will have to be made new and one room in each converted to a kitchen before they can be sold.

This is the press and broadcast centre (I think), which will house 20,000 media personnel from across the world who are covering the Games. It's an absolutely gigantic building, and later this year the London Legacy Development Corporation will announce who has won the contract for what will be done with it after the Games. The contenders are for it to become a fashion hub, a leisure hub or something to do with technology.

The below photo shows one of the numerous signs hanging around the Park, and is for the workers on site. In case you can't see it, it tells everyone on site to be considerate, be healthy, be safe and be proud while working.

There's lots on the Olympic site that I didn't get to see because of all the work being done still, so just before the tour finishes it goes round to the other side of the Stadium, which is across the water from Hackney Wick.

And so that's it, my tour of the Park complete. I should be going round again in a month or so, and I'm hoping there'll have been lots of changes, so keep an eye out for another photo post. In the meantime, here's a view of the Stadium and the Orbit from Pudding Mill Lane DLR station.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Album review: Interstellar by Frankie Rose

'80s influences are clear on Frankie Rose's Interstellar

I didn’t know what to expect when I popped Frankie Rose’s Interstellar into the CD player in the car, but what I got was a great melding of ‘80s electronica and pop with smooth vocals and a modern twist.

Interstellar has a dream-like sound, and if it was played over a scene in a film the scene would be the one where the hero or heroine sees their loved one in a new light, literally - it would involve a flower-filled meadow and dappled sunlight.

The album is a mix of all-out loud tracks and some quieter moments.

The highlight for me was Pair of Wings, which is essentially just a chorus and a verse repeated over a slow, sultry backing track. Its simplicity is what made me fall in love with it, and have it on repeat for journeys to and from work.

Had We Had It is supercharged, and after a quiet few seconds bursts into life. Surprisingly the vocals on the bridge reminded me a little of Enya's Orinoco Flow, which luckily I love.

It would have been easy for this album to sound dated. Everyone loves a bit of ‘80s electronica, but I doubt there are many people who would want to listen to a modern artist whose album sounds like it should have been released in the ‘80s.

Luckily, while this album is heavily influenced by the ‘80s (lots of synth), the lyrics, vocals and even the instrumentals have an undeniably fresh twist.

Speaking about the album Frankie says: 

                      “I always have a big picture in mind.
                      “I knew I wanted a huge sounding record. Big highs, big lows and clean.
                       There is no fuzz on this record.
                      “I knew I wanted to make a streamlined, spacious record with big choruses
                       that sometimes referenced ‘80s pop.”

This is a clean album with big highs and big lows, so Frankie has clearly succeeded in her mission.

Interstellar follows an album released in 2010 by Frankie Rose and the Outs. If her earlier stuff is anywhere near as good as Interstellar, then I need to invest in her back catalogue.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Glee: Big Brother recap/review

Hello Glee. It's been a while, so I feel like we need to greet each other once again. Luckily there are now no more hiatuses planned, so there will only be goodbyes. But let's not dwell on that quite yet.

Instead let's say hello to a few more things. 

Hello Blaine's backstory. As a Blaine fan I've been waiting a while for him to get a storyline, and it arrived with a vengeance in this week's episode.

So hello too to Cooper Anderson, the dashing older Anderson sibling. Matt Bomer was hilarious as Blaine's brother, complete with really bad acting tips (pointing shows drama, shouting equals intensity).

Hilarious as he was, Cooper's arrival was a source of much angst for Blaine. So far, despite his former difficult relationship with Finn and a brief skirmish with Sam, Blaine has always been the popular, talented, good looking kid. Cooper's arrival sends him into insecure mode - everyone loves Anderson the elder. Even Sue. Even Kurt, Blaine's boyfriend.

The angst grows through the episode, but it's clear from the very start, when Blaine responds unenthusiastically to Kurt's mention of his brother, that something is the matter between the two, and has been for a while. Turns out Cooper has always pointed out what Blaine does wrong (as seen in flashback) as opposed to praising what he does right, and just generally not been a good brother.

An amusing mash up of Duran Duran's Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf provide an opportunity for the Anderbros to show their charisma, but Cooper clearly wins with his cheesy grin and his endless optimism, while Blaine goes off to lick his wounds in the corner, unnoticed by anyone else. It's a common theme for someone who is hurting in Glee to have their pain ignored, and Blaine was no different.

Licking his wounds gave Blaine the chance to sing Christina Aguilera's Fighter, complete with endless clips of Cooper in his credit rating advert (really annoying ad) playing in the background. The song was sort of apt, as Blaine is fighting back against Cooper's shadow, but sort of not, because he's just singing to himself and no one else knows he's fighting back. Instead, I think it was just a chance for Glee to show the lovely Darren Criss as Blaine boxing and then in the shower. I'm not complaining.

Blaine and Cooper clearly have some issues, as their rendition of Somebody That I Used To Know reveals. This is a love song, so when the lyrics are translated between two brothers, are we to assume that Cooper abandoned Blaine after the latter came out instead of sticking by him and helping Blaine through the tough times (being beaten up, his dad not quite being accepting of his sexuality)? Or did Blaine shut Cooper out completely instead of turning to his older brother for advice? We're not likely to find out anytime soon unfortunately, as one angsty song was all it took for the Anderbros to put their differences aside. Seriously, a whole episode of angsting, nay, a lifetime of angsting, and it took one song.

I would have liked to see this storyline given a little more depth instead of crammed into one episode, which meant its conclusion felt rushed and incomplete. I don't think the sudden Anderbros lovefest seemed realistic. Yes, I get that they're brothers and love each other, but wouldn't it take a little more to completely rid themselves of years of uncertainty? Still, why give Blaine a storyline when he can just look pretty and sing every episode?

So to the other goings on in this episode.

Hello to Quinn, who we briefly thought we would be saying goodbye to when she crashed her car at the end of the last episode. Luckily, although she's in a wheelchair she's made a miraculous recovery (not a scratch to be seen) and is determined to be out of her wheelchair by nationals. Admirable sentiments from Quinn, who comforted Rachel this episode assuaging the latter of her guilt, told numerous people about the dangers of texting while driving (and walking) and hung out with Artie, but it was only a matter of time before the optimistic mask cracked. Sure enough, she lashed out at Artie before episode's end.

Poor Artie. He's very sweet for helping Quinn, but he seems to unconsciously be doing it for selfish reasons as well. For the first time Artie has someone who can truly relate to him, and throughout the episode we had plenty of hints that Artie is not looking forward to going back to being the only disabled teen in glee club. His and Quinn's interactions were lovely to see, although I'm not sure I want to see this heading towards romance because that's boring, but Artie was perhaps a little cruel to rain so much on Quinn's optimism, and assume that she wouldn't get better.

And Quinn was wrong to tell Artie she wasn't like him and that she was getting out of Lima, implying that he couldn't because he was in a wheelchair. Quinn realises her meanness when she calls herself a "self-obsessed bitch" after having a go at Joe. This storyline was left unresolved, which is actually good, since Glee will hopefully flesh this out fully instead of rushing it through.

And finally, hello to Sue's baby girl, her newfound love for New Directions and the return of a Sue with a mission.

Armed with a new enemy - Ros Washington - and pregnant, Sue seems to have found a purpose again. Her plan is to whip the glee club into shape to get sole control of the Cheerios again, but she's way too impatient, and it takes Becky Jackson to make her see what it is she needs to do.

Accompanied by Will and Emma, Sue goes to her scan to discover her baby is a girl, and that some irregularities have shown up, meaning her baby could have Down's Syndrome. Of all our characters Sue knows what it's like to love and lose someone with Down's, but Becky know what it's like to live with Down's. She offers Sue good advice for raising a child - try to work on your patience. And it's advice Sue takes to heart and starts using with the glee kids.

The final thing to say hello to was Rachel and Finn and their endless drama that no one really cares about. They didn't get married at the end of last episode because of Quinn's accident, and now seem even more unsure about tying the knot. Added to that Rachel is still set on going to New York, and Finn is now thinking about California, which ticks Rachel off, because goodness me, far be it for Finn to have a mind of his own and think about his own future.

Oh, and there was senior ditch day, which didn't look very exciting.

The music
Lots of songs this week. I liked Somebody That I Used To Know (who doesn't), Fighter and the Duran Duran mash up.

I'm Still Standing, sung by Artie and Quinn, was one of those songs that Glee uses and I'm never sure are meant to be clever or are wildly inappropriate. Think back to Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) sung in the episode where Karofsky tries to commit suicide.

I didn't know Up Up Up sung by Quinn and Artie, and it didn't really stick in the mind.

What Glee did well
There were some cute little scenes in this episode, which I enjoyed. First up was Blaine and Kurt, the stuffed dog and a joke involving Margaret Thatcher and the Queen. These boys are strange, but funny.

Second was the scene between Blaine and Cooper, which for being rushed was sweet, and involved a funny moment with Blaine reciting Cooper's acting tips back at him.

Overall this was typical Glee, rushed, lots crammed in and nothing given the true prominence it deserved, but I'm so happy to see Glee back and was so excited about Darren Criss and Matt Bomer as the Anderbros that I overlooked it all and really enjoyed this episode.

Next week


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