'Glee' recap: Fighting back and first kisses
The characters on “Glee” have been slushied, thrown in dumpsters, tossed against lockers and ridiculed so regularly it’s come to seem routine. But on Tuesday night’s episode, “Never Been Kissed,” one character opted to fight back as the show tackled a theme that’s been much in the news of late: the bullying of gay teens, an issue so pressing and scary it has prompted a major video outreach campaign.
(Spoiler alert: Key plot points will be disclosed here, so if you haven’t watched Tuesday night’s episode yet, be warned.)
In an interview with the New York Times this week, “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy said the plot had long been in the works, but that the media attention to the subject of bullying had added a sense of importance. He also said the storyline will continue for the rest of the season. That’s good news, since the treatment of bullying played heavily on the clichéd and seemed to raise more questions than it answered.
In fact, the episode raised all sorts of questions.
1. The moment that the bully football player kissed Kurt: shocking or cliché … or (strangely) both? It’s surely a testament to the talent of the “Glee” writers and actors that the moment that the football player switched from violently manhandling Kurt to passionately kissing him startled us almost as much as it did Kurt. After all, isn’t it one of the oldest tropes in the book when the bully turns out to be hiding the very thing he’s condemning in his victim? Or maybe what we were most startled by was the bully football player’s sudden transition from a faceless tool in a letter jacket to a nuanced character with a back story and hidden motives of his own. Either way, it was good to be confronted with our own unwitting preconceptions and reminded that the characters (even that sophisticate Kurt) can still surprise one another –- and us.
2. Has anyone out there started a “Glee” drinking game in which you take a sip of your beverage (or whatever, a bite of your breadstick) every time abs are flashed or mentioned? If not, it may be an idea whose time has come.
3. How satisfying is it to see Kurt –- finally –- with a love interest?And how cute was that awkward-armed run through the halls of Dalton, the flirty banter, the “Teenage Dream” serenade? (Vanity Fair has a fun, revealing interview with the actor who plays love interest Blaine, Darren Criss, here.) Here’s looking forward to Kurt’s first real kiss.
4. Which was Sue’s best line of the night: when she referred to Sam as Quinn’s “Macaulay Culkin stunt double” or when she said to a slow-to-comprehend Will, “I believe I just said that, Annie Sullivan. You want me to sign it into your palm?”? Or maybe there’s another line you liked even better?
5. Is it us, or was that Will/Coach Beiste kiss gratuitous and odd? And was it also strange that the Beiste character is looking to her own high school students to gauge her own desirability? This storyline just got kind of hazy and creepy. I don’t know, maybe it is just us, but we like Beiste best when she’s cranking out thunkers like “Watch your tone with me, missy. You crap on my leg, I’ll cut it off.” And geez, who hasn’t Will kissed at this point?
6. Puck smokes clove cigarettes? Full of surprises, that guy. Not the least of which was that unexpected outburst in the principal’s office. But the Puck/Artie duet “People Get Ready (One Love)” was lovely to listen to.
7. When will Will stop making us cringe?Seriously, how (and why) did he go from telling the glee clubbers that Coach Beiste must never know about their insulting “cooling off” practice because she’d be deeply hurt to cruelly spilling the beans himself? He should have been in that "Stop! In the Name of Love/Free Your Mind" mash-up number with the rest of the guys asking the coach for her forgiveness. On second thought (Britney episode flashback), maybe not.
What did you think of the episode –- the songs, the subject matter, the plot points? What do you think worked? What didn’t? Is it a good or bad sign when an episode ends with a group hug? Were you left with questions of your own?
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Artie (Kevin McHale), Sam (Chord Overstreet), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Finn (Cory Monteith), Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) and Puck (Mark Salling) perform for Coach Beiste, right, in the "Never Been Kissed" episode of "Glee." Credit: Adam Rose/FOX.