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You Smell Homeless

By Katelyn Anne | TV | November 18, 2010 |

By Katelyn Anne | TV | November 18, 2010 |

Many shows when given A-list cameos slobber all over themselves to make the whole episode an “Oh hey, look who we got!” affair that just ends up being embarrassing. If the audience is interested in the show, the audience is committed to the current cast, which makes a stunt casting move feel disingenuous. Conversely, the rubbernecker viewers who may check out the show for the celebrity drop-in find the episode weird and not engaging, they won’t stick with the show to give it a chance, which is why cameos with big names always hold such a tense moment for the fans. If the move won’t draw in new viewers and doesn’t advance the story, why bother? Glee has been hit and miss with its celebrity guest stars, sometimes showcasing them just to say they can get them (see: Britney Spears) and sometimes they utilize the talent exceptionally well (see: Neil Patrick Harris). So when a big name is added to the Glee cast, there’s usually cause for some nervousness, especially when the cameo in question is a celebrity who, without any trace of irony, named her own life advice blog a synonym for slop. But despite worries to the contrary, Gwyneth Paltrow was great. Maybe it’s because her singing voice is good, maybe it’s because she went full Mary Todd Lincoln, or maybe it’s because it was nice to have a respite from Will; whatever the case may be, this episode was hilarious. Full of plot and character development? Eh, not so much. But let’s be honest: at this point in my relationship with Glee, I’ve come to terms with things like “a lack of continuity” and “absence of developing storylines.” If there are a few yuks in an episode, it’s a success.

Because the monkey flu gods are merciful, Will Schuester was sick for a chunk of this episode. Sadly, he was still present, but my schadenfreude for his plight was great. Will decides that after an adorable toddler hallucination he needs to be on bed rest until he is better, which leads to some weird exchanges between him and his ex-wife. Is Terri’s special brand of crazy (even medicated) appreciated? Yes. Was it uncomfortable as hell watching her play “Sick Baby” with Will and a Vaseline lubed thermometer? Oh, dear God, was it ever. But it became apparent after a vaporub rub down that Will and Terri actually make sense with each other. She’s psychotic, sure, but Will’s special brand of jackass deserves to be with someone that unhinged. It’s not like Will doesn’t appreciate her medicine, he likes the fact that she remembers his favorite sick day film and her weird (and gag-inducing) baby talk, but because Will’s an ass he decides to hit it and quit it. This, of course, works extremely well for Will since that means his unfinished business is done with Terri and all that matters in Will’s little world is his business. But hopefully, since Terri is so insane, she’ll need to find some sort of resolution with a big crazy scene (or maybe she’ll actually get pregnant, oh, the irony). Will still hasn’t quite been taken down enough and I think a little bit of public humiliation may do the trick. The secondhand embarrassment would be worth it to see Will finally realize what an ass he is.

Whatever may come of Will, he’s still currently the teacher in charge for Glee club, despite being ousted by Holly for as long as it took for the paint to dry on the wall of the choir room. Will was temporarily fired by Sue, who was made the temporary then actual principal. Since the show has a problem with keeping stories straight, time will only tell if Sue is actually the permanent principal or if Figgins returns with absolutely no explanation, but no matter, I’ll always enjoy Sue on a power trip. While Will was sick, Holly Holiday (Gwyneth Paltrow) took over for his class and Kurt asked her to take charge of Glee club since he remembers her rousing performance of “Conjunction Junction.” It was nice, in theory, to have a teacher who actually listened to the students instead of searching for Journey songs to perform, but unfortunately, instead of actually letting the students sing the music they wanted to sing she sang the songs and let them revel in the pleasure of her musical talents. Despite totally pulling a Schuester and making everything about her, Holiday was a great substitute and a decent break from Will’s nagging. She was fun and spontaneous and called Rachel out for being a brat so she gets a pass. There was a dichotomy in Holly’s & Will’s teaching styles that showed some of the difficulties there are to actually being a teacher. Holiday was energetic, but she couldn’t focus on anything serious and when Sue brought down the hammer on Mercedes, she spaced out. Letting the students be off-the-wall is OK, but not all the time, which is why the Glee club, for better or for worse, needs a teacher like Schuester. Yes he’s an ass, but when he lets the kids do their own thing, while still providing a safety net, he works. Of course it’s completely undetermined as to whether or not Paltrow will be an occasional pop-in, like Groban, or if she’ll just disappear after one great performance, like NPH. Hopefully, the Holiday character won’t be overused because she may not hold up well on repeat appearances. Part of the reason the Paltrow’s cameo worked was because she got a few hilarious moments that would probably end up feeling stale if the show were to just have Holiday show up semi-regularly.

There was another Kurt subplot this week, but it was mostly undeveloped. Mercedes and Kurt used to be close, but with recent things going on in Kurt’s life, the two of them have drifted. We got to see Kurt and Blaine on a date/not-a-date with Mercedes and it was a funny third-wheel situation and then there was a tots revolution and then that was it. Apparently the moral of the story was that Mercedes shouldn’t eat her feelings and that she should try to find a boyfriend since Kurt has grown so close to Blaine. Sorry Kurt, but she was your best friend and it’s wonderful that you have someone you can relate to, but there is a difference between a boyfriend and a best friend and it’s unfair of you to just brush her off so easily. Kurt did to Mercedes with Blaine what Burt did to him with Finn, which pissed off Kurt royally, but doesn’t seem to bother Mercedes too much. Again, Kurt needs the comfort he gets from fitting in with Blaine, but it’s a little disappointing to see him leave Mercedes to her own devices without any real concern about it. On the other hand, this is high school and in high school kids will drop and pick up friends for relationships as quickly as they text. I can forgive Kurt any perceived callousness, based on the fact that in an episode full of goofiness the show had one of its most screwed up moments of all time: Karofsky threatening to kill Kurt. Karofsky has some violent tendencies, which we knew, but the entire wind rushed out of the episode in that one moment. In light of the current bullying and violence against LGBT kids the threat felt almost too real, but if that’s where the show is heading, things can only get darker. Hopefully, Kurt will be ok and Karofsky can be stopped before anything drastic happens. There’s a fine line between being honest and terrifying and the show is certainly straddling it with comments like that. Despite the impact Karofsky’s comment made the rest of the episode didn’t devote much time to it, so I’m left a little unsure as to where the theme may be heading for the season.

With very little plot development, one would hope the music would be incredibly strong, but it wasn’t. “Forget You,” was actually really good considering it was censored to hell. The song is great by itself and Paltrow had the voice for it, if not the swagger. There’s a reason they cut away from her robot dancing quickly. Again, probably my biggest issue with the song was that it was a solo for Paltrow with back-up parts for the club, I would have preferred seeing Puck sing it with Paltrow on back-up, but what can you do? While good, the performance would never trump the original, no matter who performed it on the cast.

Weirdly enough, my favorite performance of the night was “Make ‘Em Laugh,” which was Schuester’s solo. Wall flips and Three Stooges-esque comedy is always funny and it doesn’t hurt that Will is infinitely more tolerable when he’s paired with Mike Chang. Since I can’t remember Mike actually singing, it’s not technically a duet, but the two of them worked great together. It’s strange how a little monkey flu and goofy dancing will persuade me to tolerate the man that was so loathsome just a week ago. The duet of the night between Rachel and Holly was bland. “All That Jazz” is a great number and maybe that’s why I feel so critical towards their performance, but the most interesting thing about the number was how vast the height difference was between the two women. They both sang it well enough, of course, but it was by no means worth using up the time it took to perform it. We get it, writers, Lea Michele sings incredibly well, unless you have some pact with the devil that requires she sing a solo in every episode, lest the world’s supply of puppies disappear, we can do without the constant reminder of how talented she is.

“Singing in the Rain/Umbrella” was a weird mash-up. I didn’t hate it, but that’s mostly because of the dance number. It also would have been better had the kids been allowed to perform it, but whatever, Schuester is going to sing in the Glee club no matter what. Would it shock anyone if he managed to swindle his way into a sectionals performance somehow this year? Dammit, Will, this is why you can never have nice things, because you just end up making it about yourself.

This episode of Glee was good, if only because it had some of the best zingers in a while. The show used to slide them in all the time, but they had lost some of the quickness that used to be my favorite part of the show. Unfortunately, pacing has never been this show’s forte, considering that the writers are always willing to stop a plot just to have a song. Whatever the show’s faults may be and despite the fact that the episode did not add much to the overall arc, at least it was funny.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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