And Glee is in the comedy category for the Emmys?
As I’ve long said, this show can’t be pigeonholed. It’s so much more than comedy, musical or “dramedy.” Rather, Glee is truly unique on TV’s littered landscape — now, and historically. And as it showed with Episode 18, Shooting Star, its fanciful fictions also can maintain a deceptively meaningful grounding in life’s everyday realities and truths.
For this show, that sad truth was the specter of school violence, notably in the form of gunplay, a hot-button issue that Glee is as entitled to address as it was teen suicide, school bullying, texting while driving and teen pregnancy. And to those who insist Glee shouldn’t try to be that kind of show — that favored “ships” and a song in its heart are all it should deliver — you can take comfort, at least, that no one was hurt by the shots which rang out at McKinley High, and galvanized so many tearful self-examinations and soulful declarations.
Well, no one was hurt — except Sue Sylvester.
The show-ending intercutting of Sue’s stonewalling to Will about her feigned guilt with the reality of Becky’s gun-carrying mistake was as good as Glee gets. As with her own now departed sister in earlier seasons, Sue showed the selflessness and love beneath her crusty if not nail-hard exterior, this time for a likewise Down Syndrome girl whom Sue took under her wing in much the same way.
But for all its meaningfulness as a revelation, why would Glee, as a series, do this to a character played by an Emmy-winning actress who’s long been central to the show? My guess is that it’s because that show is changing for its expected Season Five. I’m thinking that for all its bold and often workable balancing act between Lima and New York, Glee will be New York-centric in its fifth season, when keeping such an amazing actress as Lynch steadily employed wouldn’t really work.
Ryan Murphy and Glee are simply giving a great actress her freedom — freedom to make movies, as she’s done so well before, and to go anywhere else her now formidable career takes her. Thank you, Jane, for being so great for so long in a signature Glee role. But like the show itself, it’s time to move on — though I suspect you and Sue still will be back from time to time, anyway.
Even beyond Sue’s pivotal departure, has Glee ever had a more eventful episode?
From Beiste’s ill-timed but sweet courting of Will to Ryder’s awkward hunt for his “catfisher” to Sam bringing Lady Tubbington into Brittany’s life to the hint that Season One’s Ken could return, the story moved in so many ways, even apart from the gunfire’s sobering aftermath.
But that alone made this a remarkable if not a landmark Glee episode, in which the often-maligned new cast and old holdouts at McKinley showed their depth in a story filmed and edited with a jarring starkness and immediacy for Glee. Especially potent, of course, were the tearful messages recorded by Artie, as the glee clubbers hid in the choir room and awaited their fate (sorry, but are there not windows for escaping?)
(If I may also risk flippancy for a moment, let me say it was gratifying for a person who’s long railed against the choir room door being open to finally see the choir room door closed, as it should be every day while songs are belted out as oddly oblivious students pass by.)
Musically, only three songs graced the show, and Extreme’s More Than Words, while pretty, was a throwaway for Brittany’s (yes, Heather Morris has started “showing”) asteroid/meteor/comet imminent disaster plea for Lord Tubbington’s love. (Didn’t we already do this bit with the Mayan Apocalypse?)
Yet John Mayer’s Say was a beautiful ending to seal glee club unity (loved Kitty’s confession to Marley, btw — pivotal in itself). And Blake Jenner’s Ryder did a fine job of romantically singing Elton John’s Your Song to a girl who should have gotten more of his attention and shown more distress after they both realized she was an unwitting participant in Ryder’s Internet luring.
Who’s been doing it? My wife reasons it’s Jake, and I think she may be right. I know he isn’t “end game” for Marley, and Ryder knows her heart better, so why not? Let it happen. Let them move on.
But beyond that, move where? We won’t know until Fox finally deigns to formally announce Glee’s Fifth Season and lay it all out conceptually. Will Murphy and company still be around, or will the reins be turned over to a new crew, just as Sue’s cheerleading coach job is clearly going to Nene Leakes’ returning Roz as Season Four nears its end.
One thing I do know: Glee in Season Four’s new form has worked for me this season, even with its fractured focus.
I love the New York characters, the higher stakes and the setting — it all fits.
But I still love McKinley, too. And on this night, a topical drama set entirely in Lima felt right.
In fact, I’d say it did Glee proud.
— Bruce Westbrook