'Glee' recap: No more neglect (but a lot of heckling)
After neglecting fans for five sad weeks, "Glee" returned from hiatus Tuesday with "A Night of Neglect," in which it not only presented us with songs by (sort of) neglected artists, but also with a bouquet of characters we've seen all too little of this season and performances by glee clubbers who are often overlooked.
The setup? Short on cash to go to Nationals (Sue has stashed the club's funds in offshore accounts on the Cayman Islands), the glee clubbers are looking to raise some bucks. A plan to sell saltwater taffy quickly stretches -- the Brainiacs, an academic decathlon team that includes Tina, Mike Chang, Artie and a Dots-fueled Brittany (an expert on cat diseases, as it turns out), is similarly neglected and in need of cash to compete -- and then gets swallowed up in another plan, this one proposed by perpetual sub and Will Schuester love interest Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow): a benefit show, featuring songs by neglected artists. (Aretha Franklin a neglected artist? Chew on that.)
Sue, meanwhile, gathers a quirky mix of woefully neglected supporting characters -- Vocal Adrenaline's Bluetooth-earpiece-sporting coach, Dusty Goolsby; uber-creepy former glee club director Sandy Ryerson; and Will Schuester's nutty ex-wife, Terri -- into a union she calls "The League of Doom," united in their quest to see Will and the glee clubbers undone. She gives them all silly nicknames -- most memorably Terri, whom Sue dubs "honey badger, nature's most ferocious animal," winking at this viral video:
The episode was a similarly quirky mixed bag, packed with amusing bits and pieces but very little emotional (or musical) oomph.
Mercedes goes diva: With Lauren Zizes acting as her manager, Mercedes makes a play to get more respect from her fellow glee clubbers, issuing demands for fresh puppies on which to dry her hands and arrangements that will prevent her feet from ever touching the ground. (Carried in an egg? She's considering it.) After ditching the benefit performance in a huff, Mercedes is persuaded by Rachel to go on. Looking beautiful, Mercedes takes center stage (and captures Sandy's support) by singing Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way." It's a restrained rendition -- doesn't quite leave me reaching for a perfect Pomeranian with which to mop my brow -- but is prettily sung nonetheless.
Sunshine Corazon's triumphant return: When last we saw Sunshine Corazon (Charice), the exchange student from the Philippines with the powerful pipes, she had defected to Vocal Adrenaline after Rachel sent her to a crack house. Charice returns to the McKinley High stage in this episode, delivering a version of "All by Myself" that reminds us why Rachel was so threatened by her talent in the first place. Sunshine's reappearance, which will stretch several episodes, shines bright but raises questions about her motives. Will Sunshine prove to be a dark cloud on the horizon for New Directions?
Holly Holliday saves the day (again), then skips the scene (again): After five dates -- the best one, apparently, in the janitor's closet -- Holly Holliday is off to more exotic pastures, with a job teaching French in Cleveland. But before imparting a few lessons about Wallis Simpson (a hermaphrodite? No, despite the giant hands! A Nazi sympathizer? Yes!), how the Internet has bred a "culture of insults" that has made us all "comfortable with insensitivity" ("Preach!" says Becky), and the mysteries of the heart (memo to Will, you still love Emma, and she still loves you). If you're sorry to see Holly go (does this mean the Catherine the Great history lesson is off?), take heart. She's promised to come back and visit (the next time Gwyneth has a movie -- or possibly an album -- to promote).
The return of Sandy Ryerson: Now a successful medical-marijuana dealer and (apparently somewhat less successful) "predatory gay," McKinley High's former glee club director prompts one of the best lines of the episode. No, not the line about Will Schuester having "tiny baby hands" that prevent him from picking up a Big Mac and compel him to eat it "layer by layer" -- that was Dusty Goolsby (a.k.a. Sergeant Handsome), while trying to seduce Holly. I mean this line, from Sue: "Sandy, how do you manage to walk into a building without setting off all the fire alarms?" Ouch. Sandy, you just got poked -- poked, Pink Dagger!
Santana kicks booty: When that closeted bully Karofsky comes out of wherever he is hiding to pick on Kurt and Blaine as they tour McKinley High, who steps in to make him back off? A fierce and furious Santana. You go, J.Lo!
Emma and Will enjoy a friendly grape: Emma's OCD has kicked into high gear: Will finds her cleaning the counter with an electric toothbrush. Turns out Carl has left her and asked for an annulment, to which he is legally entitled since they have not consummated their marriage. Emma is feeling sad, defeated by her OCD, which she thought she'd have a handle on by now. Will cheers her up by donning a sterile glove and scrubbing her a grape. He promises her "no judgment … just a friend you can count on." Aw.
So what did you think? Was this episode all you'd longed for these last few weeks, or were you hoping for more? (A song from Rachel? Another Kurt-Blaine kiss?) Are you sad to see Holly/Gwyneth go? (Oh, those turning tables.) Happy to see Emma and Will poised to rekindle their romance? Looking forward to more Sunshine? And what were your favorite moments/lines? Please don't neglect to share your thoughts!
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Lauren (Ashley Fink), at right, helps Mercedes (Amber Riley) demand respect in the "Night of Neglect" episode of "Glee." Credit: Adam Rose / Fox