Merry Christmas! Huntin’ Nazis
Sometimes "Glee" surprises the hell out of me. I suppose it shouldn't be unexpected, since the show holds no regard for consistency in themes or quality, but this episode, with a big name guest star and a wedding had all the makings of a big fat gimmick, but rather than just take the whole thing over the top (because there were some big over the top moments) the story had more heart than you could shake a bouquet at.
The big issue for the episode was not the wedding, which was completely breezed over, but Kurt's continued tormenting from Karofsky. But it's beyond tormenting, Karofsky threatened Kurt the week before and has left Kurt terrified ever since. The episode started off with a bubbly engagement announcement and then shortly after had one of the creepiest stalker moments this side of a "Law and Order: SVU" episode. Karofsky taking the cake topper was the most unsettling moment so far if only because it made it more obvious that he's exhibiting predator behavior; which puts Kurt in an even more harrowing position since Karofsky has no problem indulging in his violent tendencies. The situation is made worse by the fact that Kurt, after being shoved, asks the administration for some help. Will finally tries to help, but seems resigned when Sue tells him there's nothing that the school can do. This is where Sue proves herself to be a consistently better educator than Will, despite the fact that there is legally nothing she can do, it's clear that she cares and wishes she could do more, but like so many frustrated educators she is stuck behind red tape. However, when it's revealed that Karofsky threatened to kill Kurt, Sue takes action and kicks him out, which is later overturned. The school board's appeal then leads to Kurt transferring schools, even though Sue has left the principal position in protest of the board's decision.
Kurt leaving the school was almost a surprise since the show worked so hard to set Kurt up with a "stay strong in the face of danger" mentality. Not that I blame him for wanting to leave, or blame his parents for insisting upon it. There's a difference between standing up to a bully and knowing when to bow out from a harmful situation. I found it interesting that Sue started off more relaxed about the Karofsky situation until she knew there were serious threats being made. Teasing happens all the time and it can be considered a character building experience, but threatening, violence and harassment are beyond the normal schoolyard shenanigans, it's dangerous and completely uncalled for and Sue was right to take immediate action. The school board does not have a zero tolerance policy for harassment, though, and it's infuriating. The other side of the coin is the fact that the audience knows more about Kurt's situation than he's willing to reveal and you can't help but wonder if the school would be able to help him more if they knew what was going on. Kurt is not in an easy position because of his looming threat, one that threw a dark cloud over the whole episode. I seriously doubt that the transfer will be a permanent solution to Kurt's problem, but I do hope it's resolved well. I don't think I can take worrying about Kurt's well-being any more, it is entirely too stressful.
The stress of the Kurt subplot felt jarring against the two happy weddings for the week. There isn't much to say about the main wedding between Carole and Burt since the writers didn't feel the need to devote that much time to it, anyway. In the span of about a week the couple went from engaged to married. Everything went off without a hitch, though and the wedding was really sweet. And Finn got to learn to be a brother to Kurt, again. I know the other glee club folks were pissed off at Finn for not standing up to Karofsky, but Finn had no idea to what extent the threats had gotten and Finn is kind of justified for not wanting to brutalize someone else. Why Sam was encouraged for more violence, I'm not sure. A character like Karofsky is only emboldened by violence and abuse, so Sam and the rest of the Glee crew should probably have found another way to go at the Karofsky problem. But since everything was resolved with a dance number at the end of a wedding, I guess it's all ok.
The other wedding was way over-the-top, even for "Glee." It makes no sense for Sue to marry herself, considering how calculating her character is. I'd find it easier to believe that she'd marry a school board official to get better funding for cheerleaders than I would that she'd marry herself, but at least "Glee" got its message in: screw the people who put you down and start living for yourself. Not that it's a terrible message or that the sight of Jane Lynch in a fitted track suit wedding gown wasn't hilarious, it just felt so out of left field in order for it to actually happen. It was all worth it to see Carol Burnett, though, because she's incredible. Maybe a Nazi hunting mother is a bit shark jumpy, but she was hilarious, and explains a little bit more about Sue's character. While it would have been nice to see Burnett used in a less awkward way it's so great to see comedic talent like hers used in any capacity; she's a true performer that puts a lot of these young kids to shame.
The best song of the night was "Ohio." Could Carol Burnett have been any better? They could have done away with all the other musical numbers because she wasn't topped for the rest of the episode. Burnett rocked the hell out of that song and put so much emotion into it. Many of the cast members have Broadway backgrounds, but not every cast member has mastered the art of performance through song, so it was nice to hear a true professional really rock a song. Her duet with Jane Lynch was funny and beautifully sung. Lynch may not have the strongest voice of the cast, but her voice fits her and they don't auto-tune her too much. I'd always rather hear a technically weaker voice that sounds real than a stronger voice modulated beyond recognition.
The other numbers were put into the wedding with varying degrees of success. "Marry You" was sung well enough, but had two of my least favorite things done with wedding music. Number one, a song was chosen just because it has "marriage" in it, despite how thematically inappropriate it is. The song stated that they should get drunk and do something stupid by getting hitched in a quicky wedding ceremony. If this is a marriage about love and thoughtful consideration for the union, why, oh why, would the walk down the aisle song be about a drunken elopement? I know it's not that big of a deal, but movies and TV shows do this all the time and it's annoying. Song choice should be less about specific lyric selection and more about overall theme. Anyway, number two: don't overshadow the bride and groom on their wedding day. Thankfully, Burt and Carole's speeches were tear-jerking enough to forget about the poor YouTube rip-off choreography (at least "The Office" had the good sense to be tongue and cheek about it).
"Sway" was fine because Matthew Morrison is a decent Michael Buble impersonator (who is a decent Harry Connick Jr. impersonator, who is a decent Frank Sinatra impersonator), but the best part of the song was Burt's awkward waltz shuffle boogie. I've blathered on before about Mike O'Malley's greatness before so I won't do it again, but the show is lucky to have found him. And O'Malley's lucky to have found something a little more complex than cable provider commercials.
Finn went back to being cringe-worthy with "Just the Way You Are." Yes, it was sweet that he made his eight millionth declaration of "I'm standing beside you" to Kurt, but the song and dance number were dorkier than the "Marry Me" performance.
An episode with mostly humdrum performances and bizarrely strung together story arcs, how unusual. This episode certainly wasn't bad, but it has an air of mid-season set-up syndrome. There seems to be a strong progression with Kurt's storyline, so hopefully, the next episode will give some more exposition (or even a resolution) to the conflict. And apparently, next week is sectionals, which the group has hardly practiced for (what with musicals to practice than botch and weddings to plan). We'll see how things go from there, until then I'm going to listen to "Ohio" again.