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'Glee' recap: Four solos and a funeral [Video]

May 18, 2011 |  9:28 am


"Glee" brought us four solos and a funeral on Tuesday night. The funeral -– Sue's sister, Jean, died of pneumonia –- was sad indeed, despite its candy-colored Willy Wonka-theme. But the solos were especially happy-making.

The impetus? Mr. Schu had brought in Rachel's ex and Vocal Adrenaline alum Jesse St. James to help New Directions prep for the New York competition. Jesse, who favors a ruthless star system, persuaded Mr. Schu to hold auditions for a "featured singer" spot at Nationals.

First, Santana stepped onto the McKinley High stage and delivered a darkly sexy, strutting performance of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black." (Jesse sneered that she didn't touch the emotional center of the song.)

Then Kurt ripped it Broadway-style on "Some People" from "Gypsy," showing off the pure beauty of his upper register. (Jesse compared him unfavorably to Merman, LuPone and Bernadette -– ouch!)

Mercedes then took the stage to sing what may well be her best … number … ever, taking on Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" in true diva style. As she predicted, she wrapped that song up "like a Christmas present," topped with soulful growl. (On one particularly powerful note, Jesse mouthed "Wow," but then inexplicably dismissed Mercedes as "lazy.")

And when it was Rachel's turn, she didn't disappoint, singing an emotional, climactic tribute to lost love (she's thinking of Finn, natch), "My Man" from "Funny Girl." Yes, another Barbra Streisand song. (Jesse could find nothing to criticize, and Kurt summed it up: "She can be difficult, but, boy, can she sing. Bravo!") 

The musical numbers stood out like glinting gems in a somewhat muddy episode.

There was just one other song: The New Directions gang sang "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka at Sue's sister Jean's funeral.

Which brings me to the episode's main problem: Sue's character is getting increasingly hard to get a hold on. One minute she's remorselessly slamming kids into lockers and severely injuring a rival music director by repeatedly throwing him down the stairs, and the next she's willing to stand up and publicly pronounce the pure power of her love for her sister. (Well, OK, she was too overwhelmed with sadness to deliver her eulogy, so her arch-nemesis/good pal Mr. Schu stepped in to read it for her.)

Honestly, I am totally willing to suspend disbelief on a show like "Glee." I'm not sitting around snorting about how unrealistic it is to see strangers in Ohio malls spontaneously breaking into a synchronized dance or anything. (But I did find myself wondering why the glee kids were planning her sister's funeral. The show's rationale -– that Jean was a lifelong outsider just like them –- did not ring true.) But I think it's fair to expect some consistency from the characters. And consistent inconsistency of Sue's character is wearing thin. Part of the problem is that our sense of her fails to advance, wandering endlessly between pure evil and pure love for her sister. Maybe, now that Jean is dead (not that I'm happy about that), Sue's character will be able to move forward somehow.

Other key plot points? Will's ex-wife, Terri, told Will she's moving to Miami to manage a new Sheets-N-Things store. Will packed up his stuff (and, with Emma's help, his vests) with plans to make a go of it in New York. And inspired by Sue's tribute to her sister, Finn called things off with Quinn to pursue Rachel. (Oh, yay!) But he arrived to present Rachel with the wilty flower of his affections moments too late, finding her in the midst of a tender moment with Jesse. (Oh, no!) Sue says she's planning a run for U.S. Congress. Oh, and a pre-finale cliffhanger: Quinn has "big plans" for New York.

Memorable lines:

"You kind of sing and dance like a zombie that has to poop." –- Jesse to Finn

"Honey Badger, I am lactating with rage!" –- Sue to Terri

"I'm allergic to pansies, and I don't mean that as a swipe at either of you." –- Sue to Kurt and Finn, whom she at one point dubs "Eddie Munster and Herman Munster" and at another calls "Frankenteen and LadyTrousers"

"I'd like to put the 'fun' back in 'funeral' as much as the next girl." -– Santana

"William, I wouldn't dare lean on you. You have so much grease in your hair, I'd probably slide right off." -– Sue to Will

"Jesse St. James totally Jesse St. Sucks." -– Kurt

"Thank you for coming. Jean always stood up for you when I told her how evil your hair was." –- Sue to Will

"Maybe you can come on 'Fondue for Two' and judge my cat." -– Britney to Jesse

"That's sweet. You remember the masculine click of my designer boots." –- Jesse to Rachel

And you? What did you think of the episode: the solos, the funeral, the funny lines? And am I being too literal-minded about Sue?


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-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Rachel (Lea Michele) performs in the "Funeral" episode of "Glee" on Tuesday. Credit: Mike Yarish / Fox