Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The RBI Report: "Funeral"

Dearest readers,

Today is the day you discover that I have no soul.  Because while I cried at all the important parts of "Funeral," ("Pure Imagination!"  Sue's speech!  Howard Bamboo's return!) I'm fairly certain that the emotions I was supposed to feel for most of the hour were actually drowned out by the ringing alarm of my Bullshit Storytelling Detector.  I'm slightly ashamed to admit that DR SHE BLOGGO, Professional Eye Roller, was in full force.  So let's get through it, shall we?

"Funeral," written by Ryan Murphy, directed by Bradley Buecker

The main issue I take with "Funeral" is that it reeked of emotional manipulation, and I spent most of the episode choking on the overwhelming perfume that attempted to cover up some unpleasantly-odored storytelling.  This Eau de Pretense mainly came in the form of Jean's death, as Sue Sylvester tragically struggled to deal with the pain and was supported by the Glee Club in her time of trouble.  I think that if Jean's death were not in the penultimate episode of the season, it wouldn't feel like a pointed attempt to empty the Kleenex containers in my house.  Because was the story about how Sue Sylvester came to deal with her grief?  No.  The story was about how Will Schuester, Finn Hudson, and Kurt Hummel saved the day, and nobly reached out to help Sue cope.

I'm all for Sue Sylvester having more than one dimension, and Jean Sylvester's existence was a lovely way for that depth to actualize onscreen in a meaningful way.  Jean made Sue more than a villain, and in doing so, allied her with the Glee Club in that she championed at least one underdog in the narrative, and that goes a long way.  I loved that about Jean's existence, and was truly upset that this character had passed away.  But Jean's death didn't do anything but completely cripple Sue in the narrative - and she had her Big Moment taken away from her.  

Why, oh why, was the decision made for Will Schuester to read Sue's eulogy for Jean Sylvester?  Sue's character was repressing so much pain, and it ripped my heart into little pieces to see Jane Lynch start to read her honest words.  That was the emotional reward for her character.  But Sue Sylvester is a Villain.  Jean was nice, Sue is mean.  Jean had a pure heart, Sue does not.  So who has a pure heart?  Oh, Will Schuester!  Yeah, that guy!  The man who was yelling at Sue ten seconds before he found out her sister died!  The man who treated his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend like crap!  The man who yells at his students, and doesn't recognize when he's pitting his students against each other for a solo!

But Will is a Good Guy.  He has a pure heart.  So he got to save the day, and in doing so, hijacked Sue Sylvester's Character Moment.  Because Sue Sylvester is a Villain.  Eyeroll count: 1.

The other Good Guys this episode were Kurt and Finn, who came to Sue in an effort to support her through her hard time.  The decision for these two to be the ones to reach out to Sue is valid; both of them have suffered the tragedy of losing a parent at an early age.  Continuity success!  And, bless her, Sue actually opens up to them a bit, even though she's allergic to pansies.  This aspect of "Funeral" was solid.  Kurt and Finn got some screentime together, with a real reason, and were allowed to be lovely and understanding and helpful.  Kurt himself avoided the Good Guy Mask completely, delivering a solid solo effort, and applauding the crap out of Rachel like the darling little showman he is.

Finn, however, was not so lucky.  Finn's first actions in "Funeral" were completely pissy, as he lashed out at Jesse calling attention to his insecurities.  But he was justified, because he stood up for the club!  He acted like a leader!  He defended the whole club's identity, because the writers chose for no one else to.  Finn's right, guys!  This isn't what the Glee Club is all about!  Eyeroll count: 2.  

(On a sidenote: I would like to get off the Finn Hudson No-Confidence Carousel, please.  I'm going to throw up.)

Finn was allowed to be the Hero in Sue's storyline, Glee's storyline, and Rachel's storyline, as he snagged the lead role in the Rachel Berry Solo Daydream Sequence!  Oh yes, "My Man," in all its Lea-Michele-performance-expression glory, was mostly just about Finn.  I'm sorry; didn't Rachel sing something about being a firework?  Didn't she sing something about going her own way?  Didn't she sing some metaphor about not wanting to be in love with someone who collects hearts in a jar?  Or did I black out and supplant my actual memories with fabricated fever dreams?  Because baby, I remember fireworks, and a Rachel Berry who was not hopelessly devoted to a doofus.  (I'm sorry, but Finn is a doofus.  He shouldn't be, but he is.  I would like to not be argued on this.)  Eyeroll count: 3.

And it keeps going!  Finn was rewarded for breaking up with Quinn - never mind that he encouraged her to cheat on her boyfriend with him and tried to knock out Rachel's prom date last week.  He tried to fix everything, but he just couldn't!  And god, why doesn't Quinn feel anything?  She still just wants to date him for next year's prom

I'm sorry, what?  Prom was last week, writers!  You cannot still use it as a character motivation a year in advance, and especially not when Quinn finally became more than a pretty face in that exact episode!  But Finn is a Good Guy.  And Quinn is a Villain.  Sorry, Quinn.  Better luck next haircut.  (And don't worry.  Finn's totally glad you're handling this well, and he totally still loves you.  Lucky you!  He's such a Good Guy.)  Eyeroll count: 4.

Let's charge ahead on the Finn Hudson Champion Express, right through the justification of his animosity towards Jesse.  Jesse is just trying to get Rachel back!  Jesse was such a jerk to Mercedes, Santana, and Kurt because he's a Bad Guy.  But Finn's a Good Guy!  He wants Rachel back!  (For whatever reason.  I guess they're just still in love?  Never mind any actual plot-related reasons or character motivations.  Nah.  They're just in love.  It's easier that way.)  Look, Finn had a flower!  But... but... Rachel was kissing Jesse, the Villain!  Our Hero's heartbroken!  Oh, that's so terrible, because he's such a Good Guy.  Let's punch that Jesse kid.  Eyeroll count: 5.

So, let me just double-check.  Finn's our Hero, right?  That explains why Rachel must love him so much.  Who doesn't love a Hero, when he plans funerals and buys flowers and can correctly identify what the main purpose of the Glee Club is?  Rachel's the Girl!  Finn's the Hero!  It all makes sense.  Please, writers, reunite them!

In similarly-constructed romances, Will is packing for his trip to NYC and his star turn in April Rhodes' Broadway spectacle (so... he's doing that, then?) and Emma's really great at folding vests.  I assume this means we'll get some progress with these two, since Will can correctly identify the hot mess of wool he was wearing when he met Emma (eyeroll count: 6) and also because Emma kept it and then wore it (eyeroll count: 7).  I guess Will's our Hero too, and he deserves the Girl, even though he's mostly overstepped his bounds with her all season long.  But he's the Hero!  And she's the Girl.  So clearly, she's head-over-heels in love with him and therefore he deserves to win her back.  Please, writers, reunite them!

So, by my count we have The Good Guys: Will, Finn, Kurt, and the Blanket Expression of the Glee Club in general; The Villains: Sue, Jesse, Quinn, and Terri (hi gurl... bye gurl!); Those Caught in the Middle: Rachel and Emma; and Everyone Else: Artie, Sam, Brittany, Santana, Puck, Lauren, Tina, Mercedes, and the Dancing Asian that Sue hates this week.  It should be noted that 90% of these characters, from all categories, are being two-dimensionally represented.

I'm sorry; I can't hear you over the sound of my Bullshit Storytelling Detector.

What did work for "Funeral" was the utter heartbreaking devastation in Sue Sylvester, and that divine performance of "Pure Imagination" amongst a service outfitted with the childlike whimsy of a chocolate factory.  There was no eyerolling there, my friends.  And may I please ask, for a moment, why Jenna Ushkowitz is not being bestowed with more solos to bestow upon us?  Because her part in "Pure Imagination" was beautiful.  As was all the singing in this episode - from Santana's growling "Back to Black" to Kurt's exultant "Some People" to Mercedes' floor-wiping "Try a Little Tenderness" to Rachel's overwhelmingly powerful "My Man."

Points also go to Kurt's majestic hair (how is it so perfect?) and Rachel's entire look for "My Man."  Cute dress, baby!  Remember something about a Firework?  No?  Huh.  I must have dreamt it.  

Oh, and I can't forget Terri!  She returns!  She's a Villain, right?  Well, no.  Because Terri's moving to Miami and she doesn't want the Glee kids rerouted to Libya, so she gets the proper plane tickets for those singing nerds that ruined her life and is packing up for a Sheets N Things promotion.  Bye, Terri!  It's nice they redeemed you long before your exit so we could really appreciate you in all your three-dimensional glory!  Oh wait.

So, next week is Nationals and Quinn Fabray has a trick up her sleeve!  It must be something dastardly, because Quinn is a Villain.  Maybe there's a citywide prom going on in Manhattan, and Quinn will scale the Empire State Building like Queen Kong, with a tiny Rachel kicking and screaming in one fist and a gleaming tiara in the other, as airplanes try and shoot her down, her fists shaking to the heavens and her satin sash getting caught on the 86th-floor observatory.  (Don't worry, though.  Finn will save her.)

So, dearest readers, you can see now that I have no soul, and a heavy arsenal of sarcasm at my beck and call.  There were parts of "Funeral" that were indeed touching, and I definitely shed several well-earned tears for the death of Jean and the devastating impact it had on Sue.  I cheered when the soloists sang, and I cheered when they supported one another.  But the bulk of the episode's events were bogged down in emotional manipulation  and tired relationship drama that is clearly gearing us up for recycled Big Moments in the finale next week.  It didn't sit well with me, and I apologize for the snarkiness of this recap.  Can I just blame it on a womb rage?

With as much love as my charcoal heart can muster,

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: Finn Hudson!
Dance Numbers: Finn Hudson!
Dialogue: Finn Hudson!
Plot: Finn Hudson!

Characterization: Finn Hudson!
Episode MVP: Finn Hudson!


  1. Ooh you are pissed. I have never seen (well read) anything where you lost your objectivity...damn. I mean I hated the episode except for a few moments, but...not even going to finish that thought. Hopefully the next episode will be better (two hours... it better be) and you won't lose your cool like that.

  2. I actually thing we'll see Terri back -- see story below saying Jessalyn Gilsig might return for almost all of next season. Which would be lovely--awesomeness ensues when Terri is around. (Although she doesn't look pregnant, with the number of maternity phrases worked into Sue's insults these last few episodes, such as placenta in the margaritas, lactating with rage, and then the menopause/womb rage line near the end, it sounds like some sort of pregnancy theme on the show is once more going to rear its head, and when I think of that, I think of Terri.)


  3. Is there not any connection between Quinn's obsession with prom and her conversation with Rachel in "Original Song?" Doesn't Quinn's life as a real estate agent married to an auto mechanic start, at least in her mind, with winning prom queen? She believes that she's destined for a life in Lima, but her destiny keeps running off with the girl who is supposed to be taken to Nationals and then just left there to become a star. Am I wrong in that?

  4. This:

    "So, next week is Nationals and Quinn Fabray has a trick up her sleeve! It must be something dastardly, because Quinn is a Villain. Maybe there's a citywide prom going on in Manhattan, and Quinn will scale the Empire State Building like Queen Kong, with a tiny Rachel kicking and screaming in one fist and a gleaming tiara in the other, as airplanes try and shoot her down, her fists shaking to the heavens and her satin sash getting caught on the 86th-floor observatory. (Don't worry, though. Finn will save her.)"

    Is THE best thing I've read in... days. You are wonderful. Thank you for making me laugh when the episode totally didn't. Your ranting is cathartic for me. Thanks.

  5. I must agree with the Anon above me. I cried when I read that paragraph, then called my sister in to read it and she cried as well. Thank you.

  6. Succinctly and sarcastically well put. I have to admit "emotional manipulation" of it all really seems highlight the sketchiest bits of Glee.There's something weird about show that highlights a team spirit message at the end, while casting various members in opposing black&white roles.Sometimes it feels like the entire show(music,plot, characterization,thematically)is slipping into 2D territory.

  7. Doctor, you exploded my sarcasm detector.

  8. God dang this recap was perfect.

  9. Brava. So based on your hero/villain dynamic I will now be expecting that when the moment comes, be it next week or next season that when our poor closeted and fragile Santana is ready to come out - that a momentary pause in her delivery will be seen as a great opportunity for Finn/Kurt/Will to swoop in and do it for her. Heroes all, indeed. I would really love some lady heroes on Glee....

  10. Someone who hates Finn as much as I do! LOL The obvious attempt to use Jesse to prop up Finn pissed me off more than anything else. Poor woobie Finn, did Jesse hurt your feelings?

    And your fever dreams about the songs that Rachel has sung especially last week's song that basically was a big kiss-off to Finn must have been contagious b/c I had those same dreams yet somehow tonight she's singing about her "man". Just ridiculous. Where's the continuity RIB??

    I'm honestly not looking forward to the season finale b/c once again we're going to get a Finchel reunion and probably a Wemma kiss or something. Is it possible for Ryan Murphy & Co. to NOT recycle storylines when they're only in season 2 of the show? I'm sure we'll get the same stupid repeat of an ending next year that we'll get this year and that we got last year.

  11. You give yourself too little credit--You DO have a soul (or at least a heart), because you thought the funeral scene worked. I, on the other hand, am a heartless, soulless monster who found the funeral scene to be more affected than affecting. Rolled my eyes so hard I probably sprained a muscle.

    What's most astonishing about this episode was that the writers so obviously meant to redeem the "heroes" (Will and Finn), but they only managed to make the both of them more narcissistic, hypocritical, and self-righteous. Seriously, RIB, you can't have Will turn down Becky's request to join glee club because Nationals is just weeks away and THEN have him decide that the kids will perform original songs *that haven't even been written yet,* all while dropping anvils about what a "pure heart" he has. (And I'm saying this as a Will fan!)

  12. I think this episode is majorly fail in some areas too.. There are touching moments, but those moments are swept away by many draining and recycle stuff all over again. Maybe they are trying to make next week episode as a bang, we don't know. But this episode is major disappointment. Stop with Will and Finn "rescue the day" all over again. Stop with that. We have enough.

  13. Oh god, this is PERFECT. I lol'd so hard at the last part and I love your hatred for Finn right now. How is Cory Monteith so lovable and his character soooo frustrating?

    This episode was such a disappointment, given the awesome episodes (Born This Way, Rumours, and Prom Queen) that preceded it. Ryan Murphy should just stop writing for this show entirely, the episodes I disliked were mostly penned by him. I can't.

  14. agreed agreed agreed! I was rolling my eyes with ya sistah! I hope Will does stay in NY (yeah, like that will happen.. so much suspension in that storyline - eyeroll) and I hope Rachel will turn Finn down hard and form a "we're-so-over-Finn-club" with Quinn.

    You can do better Glee! Last week's episode was so much win, whiy did you have to follow that up with this mess??

  15. Ooooh, love your sarcasm. It's a punch punch here and a slap punch there. Well placed they are too. Thank you for actually watching it in full. I fast forwarded most of the episode so as to lessen my suffering.

  16. And the lack of Brittana is making me hate this episode. The only episode redemptions are: Santana's solo. Santana's smoking cigars. And Brittany's like to Will that yes, she knows how to turn off the camera. Will, stop thinking that your students are stupid! You tell him, Britt Britt.

  17. Drats. I was looking for a good venue where I can probably read Sue's speech and read at least a meaningful insight about a well-told story about how a villain becomes less of its one-sided character and more as a human, and instead, I find this @*!&@!!@ full of eyerolls. TLDR, thanks anyway.

  18. As much as Lea Michele has an awesome voice, I am getting tired of the whole Streisand channeling thing. When I was Rachel's age, I, too, loved "Funny Girl." Last night, I saw Rachel sing "My Man" exactly the way Streisand sang it, with every nuance, every facial gesture, intact. It was tedious to behold.

    What also bothered me was that Kurt loved it! Sure, Rachel and Kurt have the best voices, by far, in the New Directions. However, they are not even remotely as original performers as Tina, Mercedes, or Santana. For these characters to become the stars they long to be, they really have to start becoming who they really are, not imitators. Doesn't anyone see how annoying Sam's imitations really are? And how childish? These characters are one year away from entering the real world, yet they are acting like they are still in middle school

    As for Quinn, well, I am tired of the whole villain schtick. She is the most undiscovered piece in the whole cast. It is alluded that she is intelligent, yet she is written as the vapid cheerleader with designs only for popularity. Anyone with half a brain would realize the first time you lost the Prom Queen title would also be your last. Quinn, supposedly, has the brains to understand that there is a whole lot of world out there. She was, essentially, homeless during her pregnancy, living from couch to couch. She probably had to tiptoe around Dad, because of his own emotional demands. Mom didn't care enough to know that she was even in Glee. All of these things would make a girl become taciturn, as Quinn is. But, Quinn has the smarts, and I only hope that those brain cells of hers start firing enough for her to make her own stand, her own future, and get away from the stereotypes that she has been shoved into these last two seasons. A girl can hope!

  19. Oh god you have no idea how far my eyes rolled when Rachel started picturing Finn during My Man. FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

    You know, I wouldn't be as horrified by the pure heart shit if Sue had said something like "you keep trying to be nice to people" because Will DOES do that. He FAILS. But he tries more than she does and that would be a bit better than PURE HEART.

    And speaking of Will. He's an idiot who should not go anywhere near Broadway if he thinks April Rhodes' hot mess of a show is going to get him anything other than a show that closes after the first night in a rented warehouse in Queens and an expensive airline fee for moving his flight up three months. Come on, Will. Come on.

  20. Okay, I guess I have even less of a soul:

    Jean wasn't on the show enough for me to care about her. She wasn't a character, just a plot device.
    I guess we were supposed to be sad because it made Sue sad(ergo humanizing her)? Sorry, this is someone who was literally scheming to get New Directions "kidnapped & killed"? If she cared about Jean, she wouldn't consider anything so cruel.

    I posted last week(a comment that got eaten by blogger's crash)that 'Prom' was the best episode in a while, but that it would be hard to judge it until further episodes have aired. Because those episodes could undermine the progress of 'Prom' or ignore it. For all we know, Karofsky killed himself after he ran out of the prom.

    Dr. She Bloggo wrote:
    "Will is packing for his trip to NYC and his star turn in April Rhodes' Broadway spectacle (so... he's doing that, then?)"
    Yeah, I thought the same thing. Did I miss the scene where Will says "yes, I'm going to New York" before this "packing" scene?

  21. Oh I didn't roll my eyes when Rachel visualized Finn during My Man, I legit started gagging. The Finndependence Fireworks segment was a delusion and broken immediately an episode later by Rachel's return to desperation. All the other songs aimed at Finn weren't kiss offs, they were lyrically mistaken attempts to get him back.

    How much do I not care that Jesse (accurately) mocked Finn at the beginning? I'd count the ways Roger Rabbit style but I'm too lazy.

    The only thing wrong with your fabulously sarcastic preview of Quinn's plan is the fact that King Kong was the heart broken hero of the story, even in 1933. RIB is messed up sometimes when a 30s movie is less sterotypical then their modern show. I did love your report card though, Finn for everything even though he didn't sing! or Dance! And he hasn't grown up at all, he breaks up with women the same heartless way he did back in Hell-o. Someday, like a Tree House of Horror sketch, I'd like for a girl to dump Finn like all the girls have dumped Puck over the course of the series, see how he likes it. He'd probably whine some more.

    Will is just so awful I can't even... Pure of heart? Really? Of course Sue has been wrong in her definitions before so maybe pure of heart means to her emotionally stunted. I don't care if Jane Lynch played the speech to where she was a sobbing mass of Tina, I still would have preferred her reading over Will's dry, emotionless interpretation. Jean deserved more.

    You have a soul, apparently you didn't laugh like I did during Pure Imagination, especially at the end when the song was still being sung but half the choir was obviously not singing.

  22. you missed the point of my man. and rachel wasn't singing to finn. she was thinking about finn whilst singing because that's what she does & it was a damn good performance because of that.

  23. To reiterate the comment above--Rachel was not singing TO Finn, unlike she was in Rumours. I love how 10 seconds (I just counted) of thinking of the "doofus" undermines Rachel's entire being and life and her place as a role model to all teenagers/girls/women/feminists EVERYWHERE (used hyperbole there). She thought about Finn while singing a song--I guess that is now a crime. She should be over him (come on it's been MONTHS), she shouldn't think about him at all, she shouldn't still want to spend time with the "doofus," etc...(sarcasm is my favorite language really). Rachel and Quinn are not literary heroes and should not be treated as such.

    This review reads like really bad, feminist, hate to all men prose (except wubby the Villian! Jesse and Kurt who applauded Rachel like the star she is!!). I'm glad that next week is the finale so that you'll hopefully get the vacation you need and the time to relax, relate and release your suffocating grip over the characters of this TV SHOW (sarcasm and bitterness intended).

  24. That was... kind of a load of garbage. I think I rolled my eyes more times reading this review than I did actually watching the episode.

    "Womb rage" indeed.

  25. LOL: Queen Kong had me in tears, I'm pissing.


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