Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The RBI Report: "Rumours"

I don't know if it was the mellow honesty in the Fleetwood Mac songbook seeping through to the events of this week, but I rather enjoyed this episode.  I love when that happens!

"Rumours," written by Ryan Murphy, directed by Tim Hunter

Firstly, I think props need to be given to the fact that this was technically a Theme Episode with a Big Name Guest Star, and Ryan Murphy successfully handled the storylines with sophistication.  It almost felt like an episode from the show's golden First 13 - granted, it's not difficult to evoke that feeling when the Finn-Quinn-Rachel triangle has been renewed in full force, but still.  Tonally, all the drama was genuine and heartfelt, and was anchored in the storylines without feeling random or contrived.  There were character moments.  There were meaningful song choices.  There was heartache, and friendship.  What more do we want?

Naturally, "Rumours" was not only sampling from the eponymous Fleetwood Mac album, but also was centered around, well, rumors.  Specifically, rumors that were circling McKinley thanks to some muckraking by none other than Sue Sylvester.  (Or was it David Bowie?)  Sue reintroduced the school's newspaper, and assembled a ragtag team of gossip-mongers (yet she somehow missed Kurt, Mercedes, and Tina) to dig up dirt and fabricate stories.  Among them were rumors about Brittany and Santana, Sam and Quinn, Sam and Kurt, Rachel and Finn, and Mr. Schue and Broadway.  Of course, most of them turned out to be untrue, but they still stirred up trouble at school, and revealed some definitely-true emotions.

Rumors about Santana's sexuality are starting to swirl, no thanks to Brittany's literal interpretation of the phrase "playing for both teams" on her hilarious-if-random internet chat show "Fondue for Two," with frequent guest appearances by Lord Tubbington, Brittany's on-and-off-smoking cat.  Artie caught on to the girls' connection, and accused Santana of trying to break them up - which, as I recall, is not quite what's happening, although it makes sense that Artie would be sensitive about his relationship with Brittany.  She is indeed the hottest girl in school, and he is indeed a boy who wears saddle shoes on legs that don't work.  I wish we were able to explore this aspect of Artie and Brittany before they broke up, but alas.  Artie called Brittany stupid in a moment of frustration, and the two were done.

In swooped Santana, and in an effort to make Brittany feel better, serenaded her lady love with a heartfelt rendition of "Songbird."  Santana's development continues to be heartbreakingly lovely.  She clearly has no problems loving Brittany and being with Brittany, but she is not ready to be public about it.  She's not ready to be open with her feelings to just anybody.  As much as it hurt to see that she backed out of her appointment on "Fondue for Two," it makes sense for the character.  But she's making progress, and I appreciate Glee taking their time on a plotline for once.  Not everything has to happen within the rise and fall of one episode.  Which also means that we're going to see April Rhodes again, right?  Right?!

Ah, April Rhodes.  I just want to take a moment to appreciate this character and her involvement in the episode.  She was there just enough, singing a divine duet with Will (seriously though, how can Matt Morrison's and Kristin Chenoweth's voices sound so great together?) getting innocently mixed up in villainy (not unlike dear Brittany) and encouraging Will to go for his dreams.  And, extra points for no April-Will-Emma love triangle.  April and Emma both have Will's best interest at heart, and it doesn't smell like a catfight is brewing.  How refreshing!  Cheno, you're darling - come back soon!

Speaking of catfight, how about that Rachel-Finn-Quinn triangle, eh?  Rumors stirred up trouble with Quinn and Finn, as everyone assumed Quinn and Sam were hooking up at a cheap motel.  Of course, this made Finn anxious about Quinn's history with cheating, and it was revealed that Quinn and Finn don't trust each other very much.  But Finn is always going to forgive his first love - as is Rachel.  It's just awkward that Finn's first love was Quinn, and Rachel's was Finn.  

I mean, this drama is somewhat recycled from the F13 - Quinn protecting her territory in rather unreasonable ways, Rachel trying to work her way back into Finn's life by singing with him, and Finn dopily stuck in the middle but showing emotional inclination to Rachel - we've seen it before.  But it works, regardless of whether or not it's doubled-back drama.  It worked the first time, and I will give credit to the writers for incorporating trust issues this time.  It's not just that "Quinn and Finn are wrong for one another," it's that they have understandable trust issues that stem from events we've seen transpire since Day One.  It makes sense.  (The one unfortunate aspect is that this triangle is also manifesting in Quinn and Rachel bitchily lashing out at one another when in fact these two characters should be past that - and last week, they seemed to be.  And hi, it's never cool when two lady characters fight vapidly over a boy.  Just saying.  Likeability suffers.)

I do, however, want to applaud the execution in that the premise of the episode basically indicated that all the rumors were just that - rumors.  No one actually believed Sam was fooling around with both Kurt and Quinn, did they?  The whole point of the episode was that rumors get blown out of proportion and cause trouble.  What's more interesting is to see what happens as a result of rumors - Sue Sylvester was almost reading out of deleted scenes from Inception, talking about the infectiousness of an idea.  All it takes is to put a thought in someone's head, and if it touches a nerve, you can step back and let the truths come out - the trust issues between Finn and Quinn, Will admitting he wants to take a shot at Broadway, and of course, the truth about Sam.

It was lovely to finally get Sam involved in Glee's message, wasn't it?  He was finally incorporated into the club this week, as individual members and the club as a whole rallied around him and supported him with a very real problem that transcends the silliness of high school love triangles.  Turns out Sam's dad lost his job and the family has been having to live in a motel - Kurt and Quinn simply found out first and decided to help.  This was a far better reveal than others the show has done - firstly because it was very clear, all episode long, that something was going with Sam.  The reveal was not a sensationalized moment; it was simply a discovery of a truth we were waiting for.

And how touching was it that the club pitched in to buy Sam's guitar back and that he cried, for the first time in his life?  Oh, dear.  That was lovely.  (Did I roll my eyes at the slightly over-the-top moment with his sister?  A little bit.  But I have no soul, and you are allowed to judge me for my iron-clad heart.)

Even with the slight schmaltz, the reveal with Sam allows for the Glee Club do to what they do best: rally around and defend their own.  Each kid in that club deserves a storyline where their friends fight for them, and it was lovely to see Sam embedded in this message.  I will no longer complain that he hasn't been effectively included in the gang - mission accomplished!  

All in all, I rather appreciated "Rumours."  It had a quick pace, which impressed me, because the episode was actually composed of a lot of characters talking about their feelings.  And usually Glee episodes feel like they're spiralling out of control!  But perhaps Ryan Murphy and Tim Hunter took cue from Fleetwood Mac's music: "Rumours" had a steady rhythm, was driven by emotion, and while it may have hurt at times, at least it was honest.  

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: A
Dance Numbers: N/A
Dialogue: A
Plot: A

Characterization: B
Episode MVP:
Sam Evans



  2. SO UNEXPECTED. I mean, yeah, but I'm tethered to this show until the bitter end, so. ;)

  3. "Naturally, "Rumours" was not only sampling from the eponymous Fleetwood Mac album, but also was centered around, well, rumors."

    You spelt it wrong.


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