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'Glee' recap: Switching it up at sectionals

December 1, 2010 |  9:53 am

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To paraphrase new show choir member Lauren Zises, recruited by Puck after saving him from port-a-potty purgatory to take Kurt’s place for sectionals, and to only slightly overstate the case, last night’s “Glee” may have been the most depressing … episode … ever. Or at least within recent memory. Not in a deep, dark way like the episode in which Burt Hummel got sick or anything. This episode, titled, for some reason, “Special Education,” just felt more like a long, slow letdown after a season of gleeful highs. Mr. Schu’s face after Emma bailed on being his date for sectionals said it all.

Last night, “Glee” was glum.

How did it bum us out? Let me count the ways:

1) The music:  If “Glee” were real life and McKinley High were a real school and Will Schuester were a real teacher with real students, you’d applaud his Emma-prompted move to pull his star performers back during sectionals to give his other students a chance to take their turns in the spotlight. And in some way, we’ve probably all been secretly waiting for this moment, wondering what would happen if Quinn and Sam and Santana were pushed center stage, and Mike and Brittany’s dancing was featured more prominently. But the fact that we’ve long wanted it only made it more dispiriting when the anticipated shining moment turned out to be so dull. Quinn and Sam’s voices (and romantic interplay) seemed wan and thin as they performed “Time of My Life,” from “Dirty Dancing,” especially compared with what we’re used to getting from Rachel (the voice!) and Finn (the emotion!). Mike and Brittany’s dancing was impressively athletic, but seemed kind of tacked on, as did Santana’s solo. Finn was right, pulling him and Rachel (and Mercedes) as star performers during sectionals was like yanking your star quarterback before the big game, especially considering Kurt’s absence. New Directions’ sectionals performance wasn’t a total fumble, but it wasn’t the touchdown you might’ve hoped for either.

2) The relationships: Rachel and Finn broke up, and worse, Rachel really betrayed Finn’s trust and reached a new level of self-absorption. He called her mean. But she’d just been glowingly nice to Kurt at sectionals, after being lukewarm to him earlier in the episode. Her character is getting a little confusing. Why was she being so supportive of Kurt at sectionals? She of all people should have seen him as the competition. Also, Kurt hasn’t spoken to Finn since the wedding? What happened to all that “brother” stuff from last week’s episode? Bright spot: I’m really starting to love Artie and Brittany’s connection. Their “magic comb” interplay was cute and funny and heartwarming and magically unnauseating. Emma’s elopement with the hottest dentist ever might have also been a bright spot (not yet ready to see her back with Will), but did they have to show her looking regretful already?

3) The laughs: I know, not every episode can be a Sue Sylvester yukathon. And we did get a few good Brittany lines. But after last week’s heights of hilarity, the relative lack of humor in this episode was notable.

Here’s hoping the show, like the Warblers’ canary, is just molting and will come back better than ever next week.

And you? What did you think of the episode -- were you disappointed or perfectly pleased? Did you think the oldster Hipsters were robbed at sectionals? Are you as sick of Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” even when finger-snappily performed by the Warblers, as I am? (Related question: Should songs used in commercials that play during the show be disqualified from being performed in the show?) Should Finn forgive Rachel? Should Emma ditch the dentist and return to Will? And do you have a storyline prediction for the club’s new show-choir-scorning member, Lauren? Please share!

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: New Directions perform at sectionals in the "Special Education" episode of "Glee." Credit: Justin Lubin / Fox

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