Was Episode 20, Lights Out, Glee’s most lightweight and inconsequential show of the season? Beyond the fleeting heaviness of childhood sexual abuse revelations by Ryder and Kitty, its plot went nowhere, and even that meaningful message was undercut by the idiocy of Ryder confessing his childhood trauma and, in the next breath, hooking up with his deceitful stalker via Internet — again.
This show also stretched the limits of Glee’s heedlessness of continuity far beyond even its own shaky standards. Yes, we know Cory Monteith went to rehab and Heather Morris is preggers. But that’s not true of their respective characters. Yet there was no Finn and no Brittany (not to mention still no Sugar or Joe) — in fact, not even an offhand mention of Finn and Brittany, and that was damn awkward.
On the New York front, Santana is told rightly that she should take her time in singling out her career dream, then suddenly opts for dance anyway. Well, OK — plunge right in. But even that wasn’t a big plot development.
Back in Lima, it’s clear (always has been) that Becky can’t and shouldn’t have to keep the secret of her guilt in the gunplay for which Sue took the fall, so at least we inched toward that a bit more. And granted, this was Kitty’s strongest show, with revelations — and hints of revelations — to deepen her character.
But wasn’t it strange that last week’s previews for this week’s show featured scenes not used in Lights Out? We’re talking Blaine and Sam interrogating Becky (not to mention a colorful “puke puddle” rant from Sue toward her fitness-class students).
Yet all was not lost. Amid this narrative inertia and sloppiness were a generous six strong songs. And not being an obsessive shipper — I only ship Glee itself, if you will — the music can be enough for me.
Yes, the power-failure plot was a thin gimmick (it takes days to restore power?), and thus going unplugged or a capella is nothing new for New Directions. But even without much basis in the story, I’ll take Sam’s stirring rework of the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (the ’60s duo’s second song on Glee this year, after Unchained Melody).
Ryder’s Everybody Hurts from REM also was fervent and hit home plotwise, while Queen’s We Will Rock You worked well with only creatively handmade percussion. And it was a kick getting a preview of Jane Lynch’s work in Annie this summer on Broadway via Little Girls (a song also sung, coincidentally, by Carol Burnett — Sue’s Glee mom — in the Annie movie).
Speaking of Broadway, how about that full-blown and ambitious rendition of A Chorus Line’s At the Ballet (Glee’s third song from that show) by Santana, Rachel, Kurt and a returning Isabelle (Sarah Jessica Parker)? And who could resist seeing the glee kids’ baby dancers?
But the closing doo wop of Billy Joel’s The Longest Time was utterly tacked-on and irrelevant, which brings us back to this story’s strengths — or rather, lack of them.
This near season’s end, I’m surprised Glee delivered such an insubstantial, holding-pattern show. But at least next week’s episode appears to be eventful.
Of course, so did this week’s show, before we saw it.
— Bruce Westbrook