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Glee Review: Night of Nothing New

As Glee returned from a 5-week hiatus, the glee club prepared for a benefit concert to raise travel money for Nationals, Sue attempted to thwart their every effort, Mercedes went diva and Holly made her final appearance of the season.

This week’s “A Night of Neglect” was the first instance in a long time that I didn’t jump for joy once the credits started rolling. I can’t blame it on the funny because the writers threw in zinger after zinger, sharing the wealth evenly among the bulging cast. It could have been the lack of a plot with any forward momentum or depth, but that’s sort of a typical day in the Glee-verse. I think the music, my constant draw, just failed to rouse me into singing or dancing or connect in any inherent way to the story or lack thereof. Almost 24 hours after my initial viewing, I have yet to download any of the songs. Even so, I was thoroughly happy to find New Directions and all of their friends back on my television screen, especially more of those “neglected” Glee characters.

When we jumped back into the story, Will was scrawling inanities on the blackboard for the umpteenth time. This time it was calculations, determining that they’d have to raise $5,000 to fund their trip to Nationals. Sue hid the Cheerios money that was given to the club in unreachable, offshore accounts. Will figured he’d pull another ridiculous idea out of the early ‘90s and suggest the club sell 20,000 saltwater taffies to reach their goal. It was about this time that the Braniacs, consisting of Artie, Mike, Tina and (surprise!) Brittany, stood up in indignation. They also needed $250 to pay their way to an academic decathlon and were tired of listening to everyone complain and whine. Luckily, Holly was back with her insane yet awesome ideas.

She suggested to her new, quasi-beau that they should hold a benefit concert where the club only sang songs by neglected artists. This got the typical “what?” faces from the kids, but there’s always Schu’s “pretty much a stretch” definitions. A neglected artist is “someone whose brilliance isn’t always appreciated,” he said. Alright, that kind of makes sense for this shunned group. Not so much logic went into bringing back Sunshine Corazon for an obligatory song before they confront Vocal Adrenaline in competition at the end of the season. Most were concerned that she only wanted to sing as a form of sabotage, especially Rachel, but everyone but Rachel were convinced after she sang about how “making love was just for fun.” Sunshine morphed from saboteur to savior, even promising to bring her 600 Twitter followers along, and everything might have worked out if not for Sue and her League of Doom.

Sue put together a crackpot team of glee club haters. Sandy, a.k.a. Pink Dagger, Terri, a.k.a. Honey Badger, and Dustin, the Vocal Adrenaline coach and a.k.a. Sgt. Handsome, comprised the team of henchmen, with Sue, a.k.a. General Zod, as their leader. Not sure what Terri actually did, if anything at all, but Dustin was tasked with breaking up Holly and Will’s already fragile and fleeting relationship, and Sandy was charged with leading a band of hecklers during the concert. Earlier, Will had learned that Emma and Carl annulled their marriage, and he comforted her as Holly sadly looked on, so Dustin didn’t have to do much besides hit on Holly, sparking some jealously in Will, for the dominos to fall. Everyone knows it’s about Wemma. Holly was never meant to be tamed anyway, and Gwyneth Paltrow has a real career to get back to. (Is that singing or acting now because I can’t tell anymore?) Plus, it’s never a good sign in a relationship when a couple is ready to bite each other’s heads off after five dates.

Sandy has never succeeded at anything besides dealing dope and stalking Groban, but supported by Jacob, Azimio and Becky, the concert commenced with a certain reek of failure. Dustin had ordered Sunshine to bail, and besides Blaine and Kurt, no one else turned up to cheer them on. Sandy wanted showtunes, Jacob wanted Rachel, and Becky even screamed “kiss my ass”! (Where were any of their parents?! Dad of the Year Burt would have definitely been there if Kurt still attended McKinley.) Poor, Tina. She finally got a song, a real song, a good song, and she ended up crying, but Will told his kids that derision is something they will have to experience in show business and to power through it, a lesson Mercedes learned the hard way…again.

Amber Riley deserves more storylines, but not the same recycled “am I too fat” or “I want the solo” storylines. Why can’t she get a boyfriend? Maybe the audience could gain more perspective by bringing in her family. Rachel planned to bring down the house, until everyone chose Sunshine to close the show. Mercedes was never a thought, and the fact clearly made her sad and caused her to question her talent. Though we’ve seen her stand up for herself a million times, this week she was back to letting Rachel walk all over her, and Lauren wanted none of it. She urged Mercedes to stand up for herself and appointed herself Mercedes’ manager. Believe in yourself, make demands and earn R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But Rachel, of all people, brought the mini-diva back to reality, relating the story of Aretha Franklin’s crowning. She didn’t demand her title as the Queen of Soul. It was graciously bestowed upon her when she was least expecting it.

Kudos to Rachel for admitting they both have equally fantastic voices, but the difference between them is that Rachel lets nothing get in her way, while Mercedes is clearly more liked for a reason, very evidently because she’s not as pushy or bossy (usually) as Rachel. Her friend advised, “If you want that closing slot, then go in there and take it from me.” But Mercedes didn’t because she learned her lesson in humility. After her fantastic performance, Rachel doesn’t even take the stage, telling Mercedes that the crowd loved her and that she shut the door on anything else that would come afterwards. A nice sentiment, right?

Santana also took out her fangs to stand up for Kurt and Blaine, offering to crack a nut or use one of the many razor blades hidden in her hair. Another nice sentiment, right? Kurt was giving Blaine a tour of the school when they ran into Karofsky who can’t help but throw his own homosexuality back in their faces with insults and threats. Blaine displayed some fire by shoving the bully, while Kurt told him that they all know what the real problem is even though Karofsky can’t face it. Wow, there was a tiny sense of continuity!

Like I stated earlier, I’m happy to have the show back, and I’m eager to see how they bring Kurt and Blaine to New Directions, how Karofsky deals with his self-hatred by turning it into something empowering, and then there’s always our first trip to Nationals. But if it hadn’t been for the stellar, witty quips, I would have erased the episode from my DVR almost immediately. Hopefully, next week’s super-sized episode fares better in my eyes.

What did you think of the comeback? Did Sue take too much of a backburner role this week, leaving all of her handiwork to amateurs? Did any of the songs inspire you to show some attention to the things or people we often neglect? And can there really be another “biggest episode ever” coming once again?

THE SONGS

“All By Myself” by Celine Dion
Sung by Sunshine Corazon (Charice)
Grade: A-

“Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin
Sung by Mercedes Jones
Grade: A

“I Follow Rivers” by Lykke Li
Sung by Tina Cohen-Chang
Grade: B+

“Turning Tables” by Adele
Sung by Holly Holliday
Grade: B

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

  • Brittany and Artie using their respective knowledge of cat disease and white rappers to clinch the decathlon win that sent their team on their way to the finals.
  • “I’m still trying to remember his name right now.” – Lauren about Mike
  • “Is it because two of them are Asian and Artie wears glasses?” – Puck
  • “I bet you’re all wondering why I called you here in the dead of the night when I’m normally out bow hunting for hobos.” – Sue
  • “I don’t care. You’re hunky, and I’m what they call predatory gay.” – Sandy
  • “Wow, it would be hard to be married to you.” – Sue to Terri
  • “We’re only gonna do songs by neglected artists because it’s a night of neglect.” – Will / “Oh, so you mean like me?” – Rachel
  • “She’s looser than a thrift store turtleneck and probably just as diseased.” – Sue about Holly
  • “Sandy, how do you manage to enter a building without setting off all the fire alarms.” – Sue
  • “Seriously, with your size, you easily could have stayed in the air ducts for days.” – Artie to Sunshine
  • During Sunshine’s exile, she morphed into a mini Rachel clone. I see a true Battle of the Divas on the horizon.
  • “Also, I’m really short. So even when I’m in a group of people, it feels like I’m wandering alone through a forest.” – Sunshine
  • “Mercedes, you’re okay with being bumped to the decidedly less glamorous, middle spot?” – Rachel
  • “A, I need a bowl of green M&Ms, and by bowl, I mean large bowl, well really, a small barrel. Two, I need humidifiers, lots of humidifiers, a team of humidifiers, whose only job is to make the air that Mercedes breathes more humid. Shhh…I’m not finished. Before every performance, I like to wash my hands. And after doing so, I like to dry them…on a fresh puppy.” – Mercedes
  • “Let me tell you something about Will Schuester. That guy has tiny, baby hands. Seriously, it’s weird. Once I saw him trying to pick up a Big Mac; he couldn’t do it. He had to eat it layer by layer.” – Dustin
  • I had to rewind for the shocked look of horror on Will’s face when Holly turns down his offer to duet. That will never get old.
  • Mercedes’ request that during the day of the benefit her feet never touch the ground. She wanted to be carried in like Celine in her wedding, Cher for her comeback tour and Gaga at the Grammy’s.
  • Mike Chang dancing to “Bubbly Toes” by Jack Johnson. Best. Performance. Of. The. Night.
  • Realizing that Holly is a better guidance counselor than Emma and a better teacher than Will. The horror of our education system.

Season 2, Episode 17: A Night of Neglect (originally aired April 19, 2011)

Tuesdays at 8pm on Fox

Photographs courtesy of Adam Rose and Fox.

Read more Glee here.

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