Review/Recap Glee Episode 15 Season 3 ‘Big Brother’: On with the show

Glee hasn’t always fared well out of the gate after pauses. Take the post-Super Bowl episode — please. But “Big Brother” marked a rousing return for a show sorely missed. It was involving in terms of characters, revealing in terms of plot, engaging for showing the warm spirit under Glee’s snarky hide and musically rich for three of its five numbers.

One exception, for me, was Up Up Up, a trifle which nonetheless ably scored the frivolous fun of “Senior Ditch Day,” as in ditching class to cavort at Six Flags amusement park — or, in the case of Artie and a now wheelchair-bound Quinn (who both sang), an extreme sports arena for physically-challenged — though they rarely looked that way — kids.

Their Up Up Up was just OK OK OK. But damn if the same two didn’t make Elton John’s I’m Still Standing a joyously defiant and inspirational anthem to self-sufficiency and survival. My only question is: Is Quinn dreaming about walking again after the driving-while-texting crash she miraculously and thankfully survived, and for which she rightly takes accountability?

Artie may opine that she is, but I prefer to think she’s not, and that the girl who began as a mean cheerleader will finally stay put in a character arc that’s never taken hold: as a genuinely good person, with generosity and caring not clouded by bitterness, whether it’s over an unwanted pregnancy, a failed relationship or a life-changing car crash which shouldn’t have happened.

That said, I’m proud of Glee for addressing important teen topics such as texting accidents (including texting while walking, btw–people die stepping off street corners) and suicide. Yes, it’s a fun musical fantasy at heart, but great songs need grounding in real situations and real feelings, and Glee gets that. It also gets that it has a duty to its demographic, just as Mr. Schue used to scrawl weekly themes used as mantras.

As for Blaine’s reunion with older brother Cooper (Matt Bomer), the latter’s delusional self-absorption as a struggling L.A. actor felt like Jesse St. James overcompensating all over again, and I was grateful when the two finally worked it out after Cooper played just another Glee bully — and after they’d performed two knockout duets.

Finally, we hear Duran Duran on a show which shouldn’t have waited so long. I felt Hungry Like the Wolf would have been great on its own, but its mashup with Rio added wafts of fresh air, and the sustained sing-along ending kicked it into another gear.

But it’s Somebody That I Used to Know that stole this show, as Bomer and especially Darren Criss turned the quietly quirky Gotye song into a deliciously edgy feuding-brother diatribe.

Sorry, but Christina Aguilera’s Fighter was just a generic bone-cruncher for me, though Criss gave another welcomely intense solo performance after all his bouncy group warbling before transferring to McKinley.

As for story, I’m glad to see Sue doing some real good, both as future mother of a girl who may be much like Becky (or her own late sister) and as supporting coach with a bent for discipline for New Directions’ push to Nationals. It’s also a relief that not only is Quinn alive, but Finn is rightly asking fiancee Rachel for his share of a dream, and NYC may not be it.

Puck has a point — LA could be good, too. But what can I say? Though a Texan, I live in what’s sort of LA’s sister city — Houston — so the urban sprawl, palm trees and freeways feel like home to me. And as a longtime entertainment writer I know the show-biz company town well enough to know that it, too, can be where it’s at, while Broadway isn’t America’s sole notable performance street.

How’s this: There’s also Melrose Avenue, where Glee’s magic is made on Paramount’s classy-for-a-factory lot. So there.

In all, “Big Brother” was a solid, satisfying comeback for a show which seems poised to hit full climatic stride for Season 3’s march to graduation — and transitions.

Next week, I hear Alex Newell of The Glee Project finally gets his shot (though too bad he won’t get to sing I Will Always Love You, since it’s been done), and as with Criss, Chord Overstreet, Samuel Larsen and others, I welcome adding new blood. Turnover is what would happen in a high school after three years — and also, in a sense, Glee concerns giving nobodies a shot.

Besides, much as I love Glee’s original core cast, I know we’ll still be seeing much of them in the Season 4 that Fox just formally decreed.

So bring it on, Glee. You’ve got us for seven more weeks, then have a fourth season to fill (longtime Gleeks, can you believe it?). Now do something special — something magical — and blow us away, as we know you can do.

I know I’m ready — and so is Sue. As she challenged our little glee clubbers in an echo of their early days, “From the top!”

And boy, did that sound good.

— Bruce Westbrook



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