If ever Glee had a season for referencing its past and coming full circle, this final stanza is it. And Episode 4, The Hurt Locker, Part 1 slung a slew of half-remembered chestnuts and touchstones at us, as Sue resumed being the hell-bent bitch troublemaker we’ve loved to hate since Day One.
Her revealed “hurt locker” (storage facility) filled with mementoes of gleeful offenses fueled her rage and drove her to inflict the kind of abuse which would get a principal fired in the real world, but here is par for Glee’s twisted course.
Her goal, of course, again is to rid McKinley of a glee club, now that it’s been partly reinstated by Rachel and Kurt. Her secondary mission to reunite Kurt and Blaine just so she can be in their wedding is unconvincing, but it plays well into fans’ desire to do the same. As I’ve said, you can count on this season to give fans what they want.
Besides, I can excuse Sue “shipping” Klaine the way I always forgive Glee: It’s a musical fantasy at heart, with the emphasis on fantasy. While such fantasies sometimes trample even artistic license into magical pixie dust, where’s the harm when it’s this much fun?
This delightfully Sue-heavy but sadly song-light episode (with just four numbers — and only two till the final three minutes) at least had ample story, from Sue’s sabotaging of Blaine dating Karofsky to her hypnotizing Sam to mess with Rachel and, later, Will. In the process, it afforded Glee some of its most weirdly edgy moments since Season 5’s luridly lunatic Christmas show.
At the top was Sue’s lengthy rant to Will — in the mode of last week’s Santana tirade — in which her unleashed fury included making a sick verb out of “Sandusky.” (Too obscure? Google that name along with “Penn State.”)
I also loved Sue’s timely spy drone, her hypnotizing Sam — evoked with trippy swirls — and the creepy Hitchcockian music playing under her scandalous schemes.
As for those references to the past, we got a fusillade, from mentions of worst song ever Run Joey Run to brief remembrance of Matt (Dijon Talton), the castoff New Directioner from Season 1 whose name Sue couldn’t recall but was labeled “Missing” in her hurt locker.
The sassy script by Glee co-creator Ian Brennan, who also directed, nicely referenced Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games while creating another character for Figgins’ Iqbal Theba to play: Figgins’ unlikely sister in charge at another school.
I say “unlikely” because the character looked like Figgins in a cheap blond wig at a drag-queen retirement home. Huh? But that’s Glee, which swings both ways, revealing that Brad the piano player (seen for the first time this season) has a female foot fetish.
Yes, this was one warped night, but also one with flashes of heart, as with Rachel falling tentatively for Sam as the first guy she’d been alone with for awhile and who made her feel “safe,” then being downcast when Sue’s hypnotic spell made Sam forget kissing her.
Their prettily harmonized duet for Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles sounded beautiful while ably re-creating its piano-on-a-trailer music video. But hey, I’m a rocker, and was most drawn to an energized trio: Sue’s fierce rip on Meredith Brooks’ Bitch (a song which should have been her theme since the pilot) and Vocal Adrenaline’s kick-butt ’80s binge for the B-52s’ Rock Lobster and Devo’s Whip It, spurring the same jaw-dropping dismay among their competition as they did in Glee’s first episode.
I’m also a spoiler junkie, yet somehow missed getting this on my Glee-dar: Harry Hamlin popping up as an aging cruiser trying to hook up with Kurt, who didn’t gather from the Internet that he was old enough to be his dad. Chalk up another “name” guest star for Glee’s long run. (Hamlin, btw, played a trailblazing gay role from a major studio, Fox, in the 1982 movie Making Love.)
So that’s it till The Hurt Locker, Part 2 shows us if the Warblers or New Directions can measure up to Vocal Adrenaline, a music machine which clearly doesn’t need — or want — Will’s help. Perhaps he’ll finally get the message and stop trying to dance with the devil. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the bent angles and twisted turns of this final season.
Speaking of which, the promo for next week didn’t need to stress that a “countdown” to Glee’s series finale has begun. Says who? This is a season, not a finale — at least until it gets down to the final few shows, and we’ve got nine to go.
Let’s not think about the end, which we’ll face when it’s almost here. For now, I’d rather be gleeful and dig in. The best of Season 6 may be yet to come.
— Bruce Westbrook