Aw, you guys! It's Sectionals! Y'know, the time of year when dirty secrets are revealed, relationships are destroyed, and the whole club comes together at the last minute to scrappily claim the title. I'm not gonna lie, it was heartwarming as hell. Except for the destroyed relationships part, but whatever.
"Special Education," written by Brad Falchuk, directed by Paris Barclay
You guys know that Brad Falchuk owns my heart, right? Episodes like this are exactly why. "Special Education" was filled with all the pitch-perfect moments that make us love this show. Or me, at least. I didn't roll my eyes once tonight, and I didn't feel the urge to throw any large objects at the television. Success! I honestly have very little to nitpick, and am rather just going to talk about the things I loved, and found interesting, about the whole endeavor.
So, how much do I love the Kurt/Rachel friendship? I've been sitting firmly in the Rachel-needs-a-friend camp since Day 1, and it's so nice to see Kurt being so nice to her, and vice-versa. They are both very intense personalities, and I like the opportunity for them to focus their energy on a friendship instead of a singing project or a significant other, where it sometimes backfires on them. And seriously, could they be any cuter? (No. The answer is no.) As long as Kurt/Mercedes doesn't get chucked aside, I will be happy with this.
I must address the musical numbers too, even though I tend to let those be. But seriously, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" was amazing. I know that everybody has made a big deal recently about "Teenage Dream," and "Baby It's Cold Outside," but for my money, I choose DCFMA. Lea and Chris' performances were spectactular, and it's moments like this that I marvel the show that allows a young woman and a young man to duet Andrew Lloyd Webber on my television. I know I bitch a lot about Glee, but scenes like this are worth all the frustration.
Puck and Santana were rather big players in this episode, weren't they? Puck redeemed himself almost completely for me. Nearly everything that came out of his mouth made me laugh hysterically, and he also stood up for Glee Club like a champ. It's like we finally got the Puckerman we've wanted all along. Such an am-badass-ador! And, it was nice that he was being nice to Rachel, even though it's only because she's Jewish. As for Santana, the reveal about having sex with Finn emerged naturally, and although I don't quite get her kissy-face to the doofy quarterback, I'm going to chalk it up to her kind of being the subject of some strange Glee character development lately. I'm gonna wait and see how Santana plays out in future episodes. And don't think I didn't see that little Brittany butt-slap during "Valerie." I'M ONTO YOU, BRITTANA.
Artie and Brittany were finally somewhat interesting again! Brittany just breaks my heart with adorable every week, and her being paralyzed with fear over performing was seriously the cutest thing ever. I'm glad Artie encouraged her, and the story of the Magic Comb was pretty awesome. It was all very sweet. I'm not sure why the weird suspicion of a Mike/Brittany affair was necessary in the episode, but I am monumentally glad it turned out to be untrue. I love Brittany and Mike too much to believe they'd cheat. Asian kiss!
I don't care what anyone says, Emma Pillsbury is a good guidance counselor. Everytime she's on the show, she grounds the insanity so much more effectively than any other adult character. Her observations about New Directions were spot-on, and she really does bring forth the right idea when it comes to fostering a healthy Glee environment. Her counseling of Finn and Rachel was nice to see, in that she gets some scenes outside of her relationship with Will. Speaking of, the quickie marriage to Carl doesn't really anger me, and I'm curious to see where it goes. At least Will is behaving somewhat maturely about the situation, and that's all I want.
The episode was particuarly interesting to me in its comparison and contrast of New Directions with The Warblers. I was afraid this would be too heavy-handed, with the caged bird metaphor and the emphasis on Dalton's uniforms and orderly manner of conduct. I thought for sure the message would be, "LOOK HOW MUCH MORE AWESOME NEW DIRECTIONS IS," and I wasn't sure I wanted such an absolute. Things are always more interesting in the grey area, and I think Kurt's transfer and culture shock at Dalton presents an interesting discourse. Clearly, New Directions is insanely dysfunctional in comparison to The Warblers, but they are both talented show choirs. Obviously, allowing the kids to be different and outspoken is what results in much of ND's conflict, but watching them emerge from the fracas a stronger team is always rewarding. If only the stretches between competitions could be so compelling and gratifying.
Oh, Finn and Rachel. I won't lie, I have very little invested in their relationship, so seeing it splinter didn't really faze me. I think it's important for Rachel to exist without a boy to fixate on, and Finn should probably have some space as well. Their breakup felt real, deserved, and paves the way for interesting future interactions. I'm on board. I will say, Rachel's characterization in this episode has preoccupied much of my brain since watching it, and if I had to choose one thing to fuss at, I think it would be this. I love Rachel's overbearing ambition and talent, but I also loved that she could be so vulnerable and genuinely caring at the same time. I do not like seeing the Glee Club treating her like dirt. I also did not like it when Mr. Schuester yelled at her, even though she was kind of out of control. I understand that Rachel's character is a delicate balance of annoying and endearing, but it frustrates me when the audience can see endearing and the characters don't. Here's hoping the scales tip back in Rachel's direction, the writers showcase her selfless side, and she can finally have a functional relationship with her teammates. We've seen it happen in brief glimpses before, and I want to see it again. It was lovely that she gave "Dog Days Are Over" to Tina and Mercedes. Which, by the by, was awesomesauce, in my opinion. I don't care if it's difficult living up to Florence Welch vocally, they just killed the entire thing with an abundant amount of energy and I loved it.
All in all, this episode encapsulated much of what I love about the show. The characters sort of chaotically tear at each other, and then emerge from the conflicts with a renewed sense of friendship. I like it when these guys are friends. I don't expect them to be all happy and sunshiney at all times, but I want the writers to value and honor their friendships. It always makes things more interesting when shit goes down between friends than between vague acquaintances who just perform next to one another.
Finally, I want to take a moment to applaud Paris Barclay for his direction. This is his third turn at Glee - he directed "Wheels," and "Home" last season - and I hope he keeps coming back. Everything was shot with such infectious emotion, whether it be the overwhelming joy of watching the performances, or the subtleties of the more dramatic scenes. I really don't have anything bad to say about it.
Well, that's it, gang! I hope you enjoyed "Special Education" just as much as I did. It feels so refreshing not to complain! And are you as excited for the Christmas episode as I am?
The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: A+
Dance Numbers: A+
Episode MVP: Noah Puckerman, ladies and gentlemen.