Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"The Comeback," Part Two

I admit, I spent much of last night spitting fire over the sloppy execution in "The Comeback" and so my recap was not particularly well-thought-out.  But it's a new day, and I'm trying to temper my rage issues - so I come bearing more clear-minded thoughts on Glee's latest.

Honestly, the emotional manipulation and destruction of characterization would be bad enough, except the mud icing on this crap cake was that the whole thing was just poorly written.  The episode was supposed to center around the theme of various characters experiencing a "comeback" - among them Sue, Rachel, Will, and Sam.  But were there any actual valid comebacks on our screens last night?  I think not.  And therein lies the problem.  That fact invalidates nearly everything about "The Comeback" and renders it basically the most pointless episode ever.  

Let's break it down:


Okay, so Sue was depressed over losing Nationals and wanted to find a way to rebound to her old self.  This would be valid if we had seen her in a slump for more than oh, thirty seconds.  She wasn’t in “Silly Love Songs” at all, and so we’re just meant to assume she’s been in a rough spot - why?  Because she told us.  Hey writers!  SHOW, DON’T TELL.  I believe I learned that in the eighth grade.

Sue’s “comeback” was pretty much an illusion.  And do we even want her to be bouncing back to her old ways?  She’s out to destroy Glee Club again, which was barely enough conflict to get us through the first thirteen episodes of the show.  Sue scheming to ruin the Glee Club is old hat - and no duck is going to come out of it and surprise us with something new.  Wake me up when the writers come up with fresh conflict and a better use for Sue Sylvester, whose role as villain is becoming more and more threadbare.

Furthermore, the manner in which Sue achieved her “comeback” made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Emma suggested Will help her by letting her participate in Glee club activities, then Will took her to a children’s hospital to in effect let Jane Lynch take over for Sue Sylvester for a few minutes, and then Sue decided to coach Aural Intensity because she “[has] the music in [her].”  Uh, no.  Sue wants to destroy Glee club.  And, if she wanted to coach Aural Intensity, that should have just been her initial action.  You know how often these character make decisions like that without any reasoning whatsoever?  All too often - we’ve come to expect it.  There was absolutely no need for Sue to spend the whole episode “finding the music” when her true objective was just to find another way to take down McKinley’s Glee club.  Logical progression - where are you?

And, while we’re on the topic, why on earth wouldn’t Sue have some choice words for her three former Cheerios whose last-minute lack of participation cost her the Nationals trophy?  Why wouldn’t there be any fallout from that?  And hey, maybe that’s actually a real reason to have a vendetta against the Glee club this time!  You know, that would have been interesting!   But it wouldn’t have involved a trip to the pediatric ward, so never mind then.


Our poor dear Rachel has been dangled in and out of “coming back” for what feels like weeks now.  But she sang “Firework” last week, and now she’s raring to go!  So she devises a plan for her comeback - paying Brittany to set a Rachel Berry Style trend.  Naturally, this backfires disastrously, and it was almost sad to see it happen.  Rachel is quickly turning into a sad clown - admittedly, an adorably fierce sad clown with amazing vocals - but a sad clown nonetheless.  It’d be one thing if the leg warmers and animal sweaters didn’t catch on, but they did, because of Brittany.  So it’s indicated that it’s not the woolly sweaters and knee socks that are the problem - it’s Rachel herself. 

I’m sorry, was this character supposed to be experiencing a comeback this week?  No, she just got torn down instead, and the only thing that would make us believe she’s having a comeback is because Finn told us so, in a deus ex machina moment of epic proportions.  SHOW.  SHOW, DON’T TELL.  And what the episode showed us was that even though Rachel does appear to have some semblance of friendship in the Glee club, at the end of the day, no one looks at her and sees a firework.  She’s still invisible.  How sad.

It’s nice to see Rachel behaving more or less like her old self, but I’m tired of the character being abused by the writers to make her the butt of the other characters’ random discontent.  Having a character “comeback” does not mean undoing any sort of progress and returning the arc to where it was in the very first episode. 


So, Will set up the episode’s premise, and, while simultaneously reminding us that he teaches Spanish at McKinley High, delivered a voiceover in which he declared himself back to his usual self.

And then nothing else happened with him the entire episode.  He just yelled at Sue, took her to the children’s hospital, and watched Glee club performances.  Sounds about average to me.  Nice comeback, Will. 


I’m not even sure we were meant to count Sam in the theme of this episode, but for the sake of being thorough, I’ll give it a shot.  I’m assuming that Sam would need to be bouncing back from the humiliation of being cheated on in last week’s episode.  Remember, in “Silly Love Songs,” he told Quinn he’s pretty but he ain’t dumb and we all loved him a little bit for that?

Well, this week, it turns out he’s both pretty and dumb.  Because all those founded suspicions he had last week flew right out the window and he is now running a close race with Finn Hudson for the championship title of Most Gullible Boy Ever.

It’d be a comeback for Sam if he broke up with Quinn in the first five minutes, and then proceeded to rub it in her face with Santana for the majority of the episode.  But instead, the writers just dragged him through Sad-and-Desperate-ville and we just felt bad for the poor sorry bastard.  Sam’s delusions all fell through at episode’s end, thanks to some deus ex machina truth-telling by Santana, and any semblance of him having a comeback went straight out the window.

I just have no idea how you could try to build an episode around the theme of a comeback and then not make it pertain to any of the characters in any meaningful way.  It just reeks of bad writing and characterization.  I’m dead serious when I say that Glee is more puppet show than television show these days.  And it’s bumming me out.


  1. I fully admit to being delighted at Sue telling Will she'll hate him forever or never forgive him for this during the anvilicious littlest cancer patients scene, but that's mostly because of Jane Lynch being adorable.

    I have no idea why this episode didn't annoy me that much, but I think it was just that mythical episode of Glee that I just kind of ...let happen. All the Bieber stuff I just kind of ignored and marked down as a bout of temporary insanity and then I was like oh shiny things Rachel and Mercedes are singing one of the tolerable songs from Rent now, that's nice, oh, Lauren is being amazing, how fun, and then my eyes unfocused and the carousel horse sweaters blinded me.

  2. Seriously, I wish this had happened to me. I thought all those same things but they got layered under an overwhelming urge to throw something at my TV. Alas. Stay in your happy place! It's no fun out here.

  3. I think the true comeback was just Will (in some poorly written sense), and Sue (in a better but still poorly written sense. I think the writers Ryan Murphy for this episode was trying to establish that Will was back to his old ways...pre season 2. He was once again the kind teacher who tried his best to show the positives and light in the world to people, today's character Sue. Sue on the other hand, is put back in the role of the villain, however with a purpose. The whole Nationals fiasco, with the fact that her three best Cheerios deserted her because of disturbingly cruel intent, was a big blow to her. This episode, obviously was meant for her (HOWEVER DONE INCREDIBLY POORLY), was to give Sue a purpose again. However for continuity sakes...she still has to hate McKinley High's New Direction. So what is the best way to keep the...character development that they tried to establish for her...while also keeping her viscous rivalry and hate for the the show's main Glee club.? Send her to another Glee club that is rivaling them. That in a sense is her comeback. She has a reason to hate again.
    The whole Rachel-plot...that was a fail. Both in the show and in reality. I think what would have made that is if Brittany would have given her wise words at the end. Something on the lines of "You are not a trendsetter here, but you got something that not many have and instead of trying to be number one in this school you should go for number one in the world". Something like that.
    Sam's plot was simply there not to be a comeback, but for the reason of the storyline (which while non existent at now becoming the focal point at the minute) The whole Sam-Finn-Quinn-Santana (Should I add Rachel for the sake of it?) will most likely come to a climax and wreck like two trains on the same tracks.
    I hope this isn't too long or anything...but yeah...

  4. Dumdum - don't worry about writing long comments! Most everything I write ends up about twice as long as it needs to be, so I can't ever hate on lengthy musings.

    I see what you're saying, definitely. I agree particularly on the letdown of the Brittany-Rachel interaction. When Brit said, "I'm going to give you some tough love," I thought, "Yes! She's going to maybe be nice, if a bit harsh, with Rachel and then they'll be friends and I'll love it!" But then Brittany just insulted her and walked away - what the hell? So disappointing.

  5. Hello- love your posts on Glee! This is one of my favorite places to find refreshing analysis of this show.

    This is late, but I just want to point out that I don't think Sam was dumb in this episode. I thought it was implied that Sam knew Quinn was lying - he just didn't want to let go of the relationship. Santana said as much in their library scene. It's ignorance, but willful ignorance instead of Finn's flat-out gullibility in Season One.

    I also think that the whole Beiber-thing was his comeback (albeit a weak one) to everything that happened in Silly Love Songs, and was supposed to be funny (as was Rachel's would-be fashion comeback, hence Brittany's insult at the end). Nothing to be taken seriously.

  6. Anonymous - Thanks so much! I get what you're saying, and I think I could have been more succinct in what I was trying to get across.

    It's not that I don't understand Sam's actions or why he was doing them - I just disagree with the writers' choice for him to enact them, if that makes sense. Even if Sam knew Quinn was lying, he didn't stand up for himself in a way that is relatable to the viewers: he just sang like Justin Bieber, which paved the way for Quinn to make her decision to stay with him based on: Sam singing like Justin Bieber. I think that's what irks me - the manner in which Sam "stood up for himself" was kind of misguided and didn't make him empathetic, and it perpetrated a truly awful reason to make an Important Character Choice. Sam came off looking kind of spineless and sad, and Quinn came off looking fickle and shallow.

    So I suppose I'm not fussing over whether or not Sam actually had a comeback, but more so about the way in which his "comeback" played out onscreen. I don't think I was specific enough in my arguments because I was still trying to wrap my head around this mess of an episode. It may have been fluff, but it was poorly-executed fluff. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's episode - hopefully it can mend my bitter heart, haha.


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