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'Glee' recap: Two weddings and a Carol Burnett

November 24, 2010 |  9:54 am


Only two days before that annual holiday when we all gather to eat turkey and express our gratitude, Tuesday night's "Glee" episode, "Furt," was stuffed with things to be thankful for: not one but two weddings, characters coming to one another's aid in unexpected ways, moving speeches, status shifts, and plot and character developments of both the subtle and broad variety.

It also gave us the wonderful, inimitable, fantabulous, ultra-funny Carol Burnett. As Sue's wayward, narcissistic, Nazi-hunting mother. Singing a duet. With Sue. Trading barbs. With Sue. And Jane Lynch as Sue. Reacting to Carol Burnett.

"It's kind of otherworldly singing with her, because it's something I imagined myself doing all my life," Lynch said of her duet with Burnett -– "Ohio" from the musical "Wonderful Town" -- in an online promo for the episode, "and it's actually happening."

Turns out a Jane Lynch/Carol Burnett matchup was the stuff of our dreams too. I just didn't realize it until last night.

Bottom line: Although the episode wasn't perfect (not a single note was sung until more than 20 minutes in, and some of the story lines strained credibility even a little more than usual), it was ultimately as satisfying as my mother-in-law's marvelous mashed yams, and as unwaveringly sweet, in a good way (she melts marshmallows on top), too.

Here are a few elements of the episode crowding our plate o' thanks:

Sue Sylvester’s new dimensions: This episode, in which we saw Sue responding to a mother who essentially abandoned her (though at what point in her life is unclear) and from whom she clearly learned her way with an insult, also gives us a sympathetic Sue, a Sue with a conscience, a Sue willing to take a stand for what's right. When Mr. Schu brings Kurt to the principal's office after Karofsky shakes him up and swipes his bride-and-groom cake topper, Sue reveals that she understands bullying from long personal experience -– even as she performs the impressive feat of simultaneously bullying Kurt by calling him "Lady" throughout, in a way that (are we going straight to hell?) never fails to make us laugh. When Kurt calls her on the nastiness of the "Lady" label, her response is pure Sue: "I'm sorry," she says soothingly. "I thought that was your name. As an apology, I'll allow you to choose from the following nicknames: Gelfling, Porcelain or Tickle-Me-Doughface." I don’t know how Jane Lynch manages to marry her broad story lines with such subtle emotion (she can add shading and nuance with the slightest adjustment in her voice and facial expression), but I'm grateful she does.

Laugh lines, sight gags and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them throwaways: Just to name the first five that pop into my head:

1. Kurt telling Finn that releasing 300 doves indoors won't be messy because the birds will be fed only glitter.
2. Sue in her track-suit wedding dress.
3. The way Carol Burnett mutters "What in the G-D hell?" under her breath when Sue walks in in her track-suit wedding dress. In fact, Burnett is so consistently funny in that wedding scene, I could point to almost every one of her utterances as an episode highlight.
4. The interests listed in Sue's profile on the online dating site eDesperate: "Extreme Taxidermy, Tantric Yelling, Poking the Elderly with Hidden Pins."
5. The little Sue and Sue wedding cake topper.

Bonus: Sue telling Kurt, "Lady, this kid lays a finger on you, you come straight to me and I will expel him faster than a Thai take-out place can read back your delivery order."

Double bonus: Sue on her decision to step down as principal: "Besides, I miss my office. This room smells weird. I can't shake the feeling that I'm inhaling a lot of dead skin."

The new Burt-and-Carole-and-Kurt-and-Finn family: The dance down the aisle at Burt's and Carole's wedding was deliriously fun (especially Burt's enthusiastic boogie). The speeches at the altar made us tear up (even if they were a little unweddingy). And watching Finn dance with Kurt, after toasting him and embracing him as a brother, filled us with relief and gratitude. Every character in that family rings emotionally true. Love them.

And you? Did this episode leave you feeling grateful for "Glee," and if so, what made you most thankful? Or did you think the episode was a turkey?

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Doris (guest star Carol Burnett, left) and Sue (Jane Lynch) perform a duet in the "Furt" episode of "Glee." Credit: Mike Yarish / Fox