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What's a Duet? A Blanket

By Katelyn Ann | TV | October 14, 2010 |

By Katelyn Ann | TV | October 14, 2010 |

Cheesy songs, lemon juice hair-bleaching and not a lot of plot this week should have made the episode feel all kinds of wrong. Instead, I remembered how much I used to enjoy this show and, God help me, sing along like some idiotic Disney Channel extra. Part of what helped this episode improve the show’s standing was the fact that it felt like they were trying to have fun with the show again. Serious stuff is great, it’s important and necessary for character development, but sometimes you have to throw on a habit and take a jab at yourself.

Apparently having a group member get thrown into juvy means there needs to be a duet competition. Schuester’s motivations were mostly unclear, but the kids were excited because a free dinner to Breadsticks (a restaurant that serves endless breadsticks that look more like pretzel rods) was on the line. Puck getting detained meant that Sam agreed to join Glee. It was a weird off-camera character decision that came about because Finn said that Sam would be cool if he joined. Regardless, this episode’s not really about plot, it’s about singing. Lots and lots of not cringe-inducing or yawn-inspiring singing, which is a major step up from some other musical numbers.

The great songs may have stemmed mostly from the duet pairings that the glee clubbers created. For those of you who don’t remember your high school experience or were never aware, there is always drama when high school students have to pair or group themselves off. But because the drama that stemmed from the pairings was natural to the characters, it never felt like it came from out of left field. Santana decided to ditch Brittany, despite their shared sweet lady kisses and Santana’s lizard-like existence. Her justification was that hooking up with Brittany wasn’t about a love match, rather a need to keep warm. With Mercedes, Santana knows she can win. By proclaiming that their inevitable victory would declare them the head bitches in the school, Mercedes agrees to be partners with Santana.

Brittany, spurned by Santana, decides to partner up with Artie since she believes this will give her a chance at winning. Artie likes the attention he’s now receiving after his break-up with Tina and agrees to the duet. However, practicing with Brittany isn’t as easy as it was with Tina. Since Brittany finds the vocal exercises difficult, she decides to nail Artie. In an interesting role-reversal, it’s Artie who regrets losing his virginity to an indifferent Brittany. His admission that he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to have sex after his accident causes Brittany to have a moment of reflection. The girl without a thought in her head knows what it’s like to be used for sex despite her seemingly flippant attitude to the act. It’s obvious Brittany really cares for Santana and I think Artie’s rebuke may have hit a little too close to home for her. The two end up not competing in the duet competition and decide to part ways.

Artie redeemed himself twice by telling off Tina (his desperate phase was getting sad) when she asked if they’d like to sing together. She went to Artie when Mike freaked out about having to sing, since he’s really only in glee club for his dancing. Eventually, though, Mike and Tina come back together to perform, even if their constant Asian interactions (Asian dinner, Asian couples counseling, etc.) may be a continued point of contention for Tina later.

But for all of the little moments of character development, the big moment was my favorite. Bert, on mandatory couch rest, is being spoon-fed saffron soup. Kurt is mothering him better than any hen and discussing a new issue that’s come up from the duet competition: he fears that Finn’s homophobia is keeping him away from Sam. Bert confronts him about this proclamation since he has recently discovered from Finn’s mom that Kurt was very aggressive with Finn and Finn might not be the homophobe he was painted to be. My biggest problem with how Kurt was portrayed last season was his insistence and desperation when it came to Finn. OK, so you have a crush on a guy and he’s not interested, trust me, it sucks. But when you manipulate situations over and over again to force the two of you together it’s unfair. Bert calls him out on this, but does this gently, since it’s never easy to let someone down from a crush. Kurt is upset and asks his dad why he’s being a hypocrite when his motto was that people don’t get to push them around. Bert explains that some guys don’t know how to take that kind of aggressive attitude and says that he wants Kurt to be able to go to prom with someone and hold hands with someone, but that, for the time being, he may just have to be able to go it alone.

That whole scene was heart-breaking, but fair. Kurt was chastised for being too aggressive with Finn, but he had a moment of growth as a character and as a young adult. It’s tragic that as a kid, Kurt must face such a tough situation: how can he express himself honestly and fairly as an openly gay student and yet not do so in such a way that his actions may seem too aggressive? Kurt is then burdened with the decision to either continue doing a duet with Sam and potentially threaten Sam’s reputation or let Sam off the hook in order to spare him from the teasing that will ensue. Mike O’Malley and Chris Colfer are incredible together. I could watch those two tackle any tough issue; whenever they’re on screen, I never feel like the conflicts they address are too much of an afterschool special waiting to happen, but that they’re a real father and son working together. It cannot be easy for Kurt; he goes to a school where any guy lacking in the stereotypical signs of masculinity is forced on a date with a dumpster, but he has a father who genuinely loves him and is willing to back him and be honest and support him no matter what.

Kurt, after talking with his dad and Finn, ultimately decides to let Sam off the hook, which sends Sam to Quinn. Watching Kurt wanting someone, but not being able to have him always touches me. Even in his desperate moments with Finn his crushes felt so real, even when they were a little excessive. But with Sam, Kurt is learning to rein his feelings in. He’s hurting because the feelings aren’t reciprocated, but that’s the nature of a crush.

Kudos are due to Sam, however, for not just breaking off the duet because Kurt is gay. Sam, unlike Finn, doesn’t seem to mind if people harass him for hanging out with a gay guy. Finn is fine with Kurt being gay, but he clearly has his own insecurities regarding his popularity and often times side-steps issues in the name of saving face. Sam proves to have a little bit more maturity in him. He doesn’t mind that Quinn has had a baby and he doesn’t care that people may talk about him singing with a dude, which is an obvious contrast from his initial insistence that he wanted to blend in so he wouldn’t get more crap for being the new kid. Sam may have been first painted as the transfer student who didn’t want to be teased, but now he’s coming into his own as a mature kid who doesn’t care that it’s a total nerd move to talk to the hot girl in Na’vi. And Sam, I don’t care how fictional you are, no one should ever admit to seeing Avatar 8 times in theaters.

And Sam and Quinn, bless their little bottle-blonde hearts (seriously, Alexander Skarsgard and Amanda Seyfried couldn’t make blonder babies), actually made a really cute couple. Their duet, “Lucky,” was sweet and adorable and appropriate for any Ralph Lauren ad. And both of their voices fit the adult contemporary pop song well. Even though they didn’t deserve to win, I enjoyed their song and thought that the chemistry they shared on the date was really sweet.

Sam and Quinn did win, however, thanks to Rachel and Finn. Rachel, in a mostly unselfish move, wants Sam to win so he can feel welcome, which leads to Finn and Rachel throwing the competition in Sam’s favor. I love “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart;” the original is fantastic and I don’t care how much of a dork I am for admitting it and I was surprised to find myself enjoying Finn and Rachel’s rendition. However, they know it’s incredible (an exaggerated claim, in my opinion), so they have to choose a bad song. Their bad song, “With You I’m Born Again,” was hilarious. Finn donned a priest’s collar and Rachel dressed as a nun and the reaction from everyone was priceless. It may have been inappropriate, but it was funny as hell and may have been one of my favorite comedic moments of the season.

Rachel didn’t just sing with Finn, though. In an incredibly selfless gesture, she reaches out to Kurt. She reminds him that he isn’t alone, even if he’s lonely. In that moment, despite all of the terrible things she’d done in the past few weeks, she redeemed herself. Rachel has her psychotic moments, but she does have her likable ones. And if there’s anyone else that Kurt could commiserate with in Glee club who knows the pangs of being desperately infatuated with someone, it’s Rachel. Their duet was a medley of “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Get Happy” and it was very lovely. Rachel and Finn may be the couple, but it’s Kurt and Rachel that have the chemistry.

Kurt’s song with Rachel was great, but his solo duet was even better. He decides to perform “Le Jazz Hot!” from Victor/Victoria as a victory song for being able to go at it alone. The song was great, although I’m not familiar with the original, I loved Kurt’s performance. Some of the cast members sing their songs and others perform it and Colfer is great at advancing his character’s story through music. His solo showed that he could pull himself up out of his sadness to prove to everyone else he’s fine on his own.

Mike Chang got to prove something to himself, as well. “Sing,” his duet with Tina, was really cute. He doesn’t have the best voice, but he certainly has a great attitude about it and pushed through his fears. He sang and danced and had fun with his performance with Tina, learning to relax a little bit in the process. I like when “Glee” goes light-hearted and has a good sense of humor about itself. The supporting cast is finally getting utilized more and I’m happy for it.

But the performance of the night goes to Santana and Mercedes. They rocked the house off of “River Deep Mountain High,” even with Santana’s weird dance walk. Those two have my favorite voices in the entire show and even if I love Brittany and Santana together for comedic effect, hearing Mercedes and Santana is always a treat.

Alas, the head bitches didn’t get to win. The episode lacked Sue, but fared well overall, especially since there was a lack of Schue. Wonderful episode that recalled a lot of the charm that “Glee” initially had.

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