Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The RBI Report: "On My Way"

Ladies and gents, I must begin this review with a disclaimer.  Last night's Glee tackled a hugely sensitive issue that is very real and very haunting for many people, and in no way do I intend to demean or trivialize those difficult experiences.  I am approaching this episode review in critique of how the showrunners handled the issue and how they chose to manifest their message onscreen, through the writing, for maximum storytelling effect.  There are not easy answers when dealing with teen suicide, especially when it happens as a direct result of homophobia-derived bullying, and I do not assume any position of criticism and judgment when addressing that issue independent of how the show frames it.  

"On My Way," written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, directed by Brad Buecker 

You have to wonder what Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's reactions were when he was doled out his Glee episodes this season.  His first charge was "The First Time," which dealt with the delicate issue of teen sex.  For his second go-round, he got "On My Way," which focuses heavily on a discussion of teen suicide.  Goodness gracious.  I hope they got this guy a couple sessions of sensitivity training before he put pen to paper, but he has easily had the most difficult topics to maneuver through gracefully this season.

On a larger level, "On My Way" handled Karofsky's situation delicately and compassionately - and ultimately, realistically.  There are not words to describe how heartbreaking it was to witness Max Adler's face fall when he realized his entire world was shifting and breaking apart.  There are not words to describe how stomach-twisting it was to see him dress up in a suit, check his belt for weight-resistance, and then look up at the beam in his closet with tears in his eyes.  But in that vein, I felt it was too much.  Subtlety threaded through the earlier decision: the directorial restraint through showing Dave's face, and holding there, knowing that the audience could read the emotional all over it gave us everything we needed to know.  We didn't need to see "fag" spray-painted across his locker.  We didn't need to see people's Facebook comments.  We didn't need to see the beam in the closet.  It felt like the episode was trying too hard to legitimize to the audience why Karofsky would want to kill himself, in a logical tally, when in reality: all we really needed to see was his face, when he realizes that his world has shattered.  Max Adler is a shockingly talented actor for having such limited exposure on this show, and I wish that more faith had been put in his ability to carry this storyline using simply his acting talent.

In that sense, "Cough Syrup" didn't really work for me.  I wish that we had just had a cut to black, scene end, after seeing Dave's heartbreak.  Less is more, and I don't think the audience would have a diminished emotional reaction hearing about Karofsky's actions without seeing his process.  Especially when the process is set to a backdrop of a Blaine solo that has no narrative connection to provide any authentic meaning to the real storyline going on.  

It'd be one thing if we started with Dave and then stuck with Dave for the episode.  But we barely started with Dave, then we lost him completely for the middle of the episode, as all the other characters had profound thoughts about his condition, then forgot about him so we could be overloaded with five songs in a row that meant absolutely nothing except for the fact that they're at a competition, and then finally, we got to see Dave again when Kurt visited him in the hospital.  It reminded me too much of Santana's role in "I Kissed a Girl" - Glee touts themselves an episode that will handle directly the sensitive issues of these characters, but in reality turns them into a project for the show and its ensemble to interact with.  It feels exploitative, and false.

For example, in "On My Way," we just don't see Karofsky at all for the middle of the episode, and instead we get really strange declarations of empathy.  Quinn says she's had dark days but never considered hurting herself.  Sebastian's villainy evaporates faster than a teardrop in the desert, and Finn feels compelled to inform Rachel that he'll never be so insecure about his reputation that he'd try to kill himself.  Even Mr. Schuester sits down with everybody to tell them about the time he thought about stepping off the roof to avoid disappointing his parents.  I see what the writers are trying to do: they're trying to open a discussion on suicide, treating it as something that a lot of people struggle with, and saying that while it's not something to hide away and be ashamed of, it's also not the answer.  But by having Karofsky's singular experience reverberate through the other characters in this way, it automatically opens up a can of "is that really the same thing?" worms.  Kurt himself chastised Quinn for comparing her teenage pregnancy and "bad dye job" to being bullied as a gay teenager.  It's such a difficult topic to broach, because the reality is that people's problems are exactly as real and harrowing as they feel them to be.  And frankly, good storytelling allows the audience to understand every character's struggles as deeply personal and impacting, regardless of "how bad they are" objectively.   It's why I frowned when Kurt trivialized Quinn's previous experiences.  We saw Quinn get thrown out of her house and how much pain it caused to have everything in her life ripped away from her.  Marginalizing her experience when we actually bore witness to it felt condescending, from a storytelling perspective.  It would have been stronger to keep the over-identifying and "who has it worse" comparisons to a minimum. 

I wager to say this wouldn't have been as much of an issue if Karofsky was present and had a voice throughout the bogged-down middle where everyone was awkwardly trying to put themselves in his shoes.  And of course, the one person in the narrative who could legitimately put himself in Karofsky's shoes based on actual experience was Kurt, who was scripted to feel responsible for Karofsky's actions.  So much so that he went to the God Squad to pray for him, even though he doesn't believe in God.  This is another iffy thing for me.  Kurt wouldn't pray for his dad when his life hung in the balance.  And the idea that we found out, retroactively, that Kurt was ignoring Karofsky's calls and now feels guilty is upsetting to me.  Kurt and Karofsky's relationship is a very thin wire for the writers to walk, and it has historically been handled with a surprising amount of sophistication.  I appreciate that we don't go unreminded that Karofsky made Kurt's life miserable, and I love that Kurt is compassionate and decent, and forgives him, through empathy.  The elements that "Heart" and now "On My Way" have presented add another dimension to the Kurt/Karofsky dynamic that frustrates me.  They saddled Kurt with guilt over turning down Karofsky's romantic pursuit and didn't point out that, forgive the religious allusion, that's not his cross to bear.

Of course, if you have an overly sensitive bullshit detector with Glee, as I am cursed with, you'll notice that Karofsky's suicide attempt comes on the heels of one single scene where he's reintroduced to the audience.  He's had one other scene previously this season, in "The First Time" - but other than that, he's long been absent from our radars.  If you compare and contrast the two characters in danger in "On My Way," you'll notice that Quinn's peril comes on the heels of a complete 180 in character treatment.  Since "Hold On To Sixteen," we've had six episodes where Quinn is present in the narrative, with a reason for the audience to care about her again.  This was done to progress her arc with Rachel leading up to the car crash, where we can properly freak out about what's going on.  With Karofsky, we're not given that same opportunity.  This only fuels the argument that Karofsky was treated less like a real character and more like a plot device from the showrunners, to have their Very Special Episode where they attempt to deal with very real social issues.

And it's here where I will reiterate my disclaimer: this series of nitpicks is really addressing the show's handling of the topic, and by no means do I claim this to be beyond argument or discussion.  Ultimately, I think the right message was delivered, with the right questions asked along the way - particularly the exchange between Figgins and Emma.  "It wasn't our job to know." / "Then whose job was it?"  Heartbreaking.  I also appreciated Schue's advice to find things to look forward to, and how we got to hear what those things are for the glee kids.  And it paid off wonderfully with Kurt's scene with Karofsky at the hospital, where he asks him to imagine a happy future - and Karofsky does.  That sequence was fantastically done, with Kurt's relief that Karofsky feels enough investment to correct "lawyer" to "sports agent," capped by mutual understanding, and a commitment of support and frienship.  This was the true gem in a storyline that felt a bit overworked in all the wrong places, and I wish that the other parts of the hour fell more into alignment with this.  (Could we have gotten a little something with Karofsky and Santana?  After all, she's the only other one who knew his secret at McKinley.  And my heart panged painfully when Santana said she was looking forward to her grandmother loving her again.  If we're not going to resolve that loose thread right away, it'd be nice to remember that it existed, and this episode was a good setting for some exploration.) 

Now, to everything else.  Regionals was this episode, and frankly I couldn't bring myself to care that much about it.  The writers tried to inject some conflict into the storyline through their trusty standby - blackmail! - but it deflated quickly.  Sebastian photoshopped some n00dz (is it unprofessional to call them that?) of Finn and threatened to spill them onto the internet unless the New Directions threw the competition.  Finn and Rachel argued about what to do, because Rachel was like, "Hey, people used to tell me to get sterilized on my MySpace page, so I don't see what the big deal is," and Finn fell back on his multi-purpose, "How could you do this to me?!" argument.  (Note to writers: can we have a scenario where Finn is not the victim?  Or the hero?  Something in between, maybe, like for normal human characters who have strengths and weaknesses and agency in their own storylines without spilling it over into others'?  Just something to consider.)

But the conflict fizzled out completely because Sebastian had a change of heart upon hearing about Karofsky's attempted suicide.  Turns out Mr. Slimeball also wreaked havoc on Karofsky's self-esteem, and felt guilty.  So, n00dz begone, which was a good thing, because if nobody could get Sebastian in trouble for causing physical harm to a student in "Michael," then they sure as hell couldn't do anything about a silly 'shop job.  Even though Artie had the rulebook recited down to the letter.  (Sigh.)

The Regionals storyline continued with five songs about nothing in particular, that I think were supposed to be a little break from the episode's dark subject matter, but that really felt so tonally dissonant that I wanted them to wrap up as quickly as possible.  The Regionals numbers were treated like they were paying off some big setup, but there was nothing connected to them that would make me feel any sense of triumph at the kids' performances.  Although, I will admit that I have an involuntary contempt for the song "I Believe I Can Fly" because my sixth grade music teacher made our class learn all the words and sing it together multiple times a class period for weeks on end, and I am forever scarred by so many repetitions of a song I don't even think I cared for in the first place.  On a serious note, I do actually question the decision to include Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" in this episode, not because I don't like the song or the Troubletones (extremely false on both counts) but because it has the repeated lyrics "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," which seemed in poor taste given Karofsky's storyline.  But maybe that's just me.

Finally, let's talk about Quinn.  Ms. Fabray goes to Sue early in the episode to ask if she can have her spot back on the Cheerios.  Not really sure why the writers did this, from a character perspective.  Sure, Quinn wants to make the most of what's left of her high school career, but honestly it seemed like Cheerio Quinn was laid to rest.  But apparently Quinn wants to help the team get a Nationals Trophy, and I appreciate the idea that Glee might devote some time to putting Sue and Co. back on top without making them the nefarious villains that came with that success in the first season.  Although I confess that I'm bewildered by Sue's conversations with Quinn and Schue about her pregnancy.  Apparently the Glee writers think that pregnancy hormones really do declaw erstwhile meanies like Quinn and Sue, because Sue let Quinn back on the squad and then offered to help the glee club win Nationals.  I'm excited by this prospect, I guess?  De-villainizing the Cheerios and creating a neutral alliance between them and the glee club could be really great - especially if it means that Kurt and Mercedes rejoin the squad.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  This all kind of depends on whether or not Quinn Fabray makes it out of this episode alive.  Oh, yes.  You heard me.  CLIFFHANGER ALERT.  I'm not sure why Glee felt the need to go all hour-long drama on our asses by suspending a character's life in the balance over a seven-week hiatus, but in any case, it was of course Quinn Fabray who drew the short straw.  And if that weren't enough for a satisfying TV cliffhanger, toss in a wedding!  Yes, Rachel and Finn's wedding pushed itself up the calendar so quickly that I'm half-surprised we didn't hear that it already happened yesterday and Finn and Rachel flashbacked to it for us.  Most everybody still seems to oppose, but the lovebirds are bulldozing ahead, with a ceremony at City Hall right after Regionals.  Hiram Berry couldn't fake an epileptic seizure fast enough!

But the lynchpin turns out to be Quinn, who goes to Rachel after the competition and tells her she wants her to be happy, and that she wants to come to the wedding in support.  But she checks one thing first: she asks Rachel if she sang her solo "Here's To Us" to Finn Hudson, and to Finn Hudson only.  Hold the phone, shut everything down.  What is happening here?  What is that look on Dianna Agron's face as she hugs a Rachel who just said "yes" to her question?  What do you mean Finn and Rachel's wedding all boils down to Quinn Fabray?  Because in the end, Quinn ran home to get her bridesmaid's dress, and was holding up the entire wedding.  And the choice for Rachel literally boiled down to a) marry Finn now, or b) wait for Quinn, and potentially not marry Finn.  It looks like she's leaning towards waiting, as she furiously texts Quinn that she needs to hurry.  Quinn texts back "on my way," the episode's title, and immediately gets T-boned, on the driver's side, by a speeding truck.

Look, I know that there's Quinn/Rachel subtext.  And I know that historically, it's been just that: subtext.  But homies, this kind of construction is wandering out of subtext territory.  We're bubbling up into text now.  Even if Rachel and Quinn's proud smiles at hearing what each other is looking forward to in the future weren't enough, we have the maddeningly unexpected double-check that Rachel was singing to Finn and Finn alone.  What else are we supposed to think with that question, other than that Quinn might be hoping that Rachel was singing to her?  But at the same time, while this relationship has developed deliberately and meaningfully, especially recently, the writers have not ever suggested directly that Quinn Fabray would even want Rachel Berry to sing something to her.  So I'm left completely bewildered.  If the show is going to go there, it needs to commit.  Maybe they're hedging their bets because of the claim that this show already has "too many gay characters," and are working to slip it in under the radar of the broader public.

But frankly, they already committed themselves with the way the wedding arc was constructed.  Every step of the way, Quinn has firmly opposed the union, and told Rachel she had a bright future before her.  This of course is pay-off to the idea that Rachel supported Quinn when she was doubtful about her future prospects, and helped get her out of her self-destructive streak.  (Y'know, that "bad dye job.")  Then, Quinn finally commits to supporting her friend, only to get held up in actually attending the wedding.  This could all be potentially negligible, if it stopped there.  But the drama in the cliffhanger came from the construction that Rachel has to choose.  She rather harriedly refuses to get married without Quinn there, but is being pressured to go through with it - and only now is she starting to bend to the pressure.  She is literally told, "It's now or never."  Rachel Berry got ultimatum-ed with a choice between Finn and Quinn, on her wedding day, and she hesitates. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is text.  And I don't mean the "on my way" message Quinn sent to Rachel as she was hit by an oncoming truck.  This love triangle has shifted and re-positioned itself, and we are suddenly at a place where Quinn double-checks who Rachel's singing to, and Rachel is forced to make a choice between Quinn and Finn.  So there's two choices.  There's Rachel's not going through with the wedding, and then feeling even more miserable knowing that Quinn got into a car wreck trying to come and support her when she was right all along.  Then there's Rachel going through with the wedding without Quinn, and feeling guilty when she realizes that the reason Quinn couldn't be there was because she got into a car wreck.  Either way, subtext is rising to the surface, and I think I need to start stocking up on tissues.

But, I have seven weeks to wait.  "On My Way" did its damnedest to cram in a lot of sensationalized material, and while there was certainly a multitude of emotion mined from the events, I still take issue with how some of it was handled, and how the episode was structured around its characters.  In terms of Karofsky's storyline, the best takeaway is this: if you feel like there's no hope in your existence, to the point where you'd consider taking your own life, please, step back and ask for help.  Contact The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  You're not alone, and there will always be someone to help you through your difficult times, no matter how dark your days seem. 

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: B
Dance Numbers: B
Dialogue: A
Plot: C
Characterization: A-
Episode MVP: Dave Karofsky and Quinn Fabray


  1. I am really evaluating Glee and wonder if the purpose all along was to get Quinn and Rachel together. I harken back to the Season 1 scene where we see Quinn's doodles in her notebook of a caricatured Rachel with hearts all around it. What was that about? This is nothing new. I think the secret is out! Glee IS Faberry from day 1!

  2. I honestly believe the best relationship on this show IS between Quinn and Rachel. If anyone looked deeper into their interactions, you can tell that there has always been SOMETHING between them. They always had to be SOMETHING to each other. Enemies, kinda friends, to the kind of friend that stops you from making life altering mistakes (like marrying Finn). However no matter what they were to each other, they are the only characters on glee that has always been there for each other. Think about it. Personally I think Rachel needs Quinn, and Quinn definitely needs Rachel. Whether it be romantic or just as friends, well, thats up to Glee. BUT I would love to see them as endgame.

  3. I must say I really appreciate this review over any others I've read online regarding this episode, which in other reviews it is met with too much cynicism while you point out what the motif behind this episode was yet constructively point out why you believe it didn't work. I feel like I'm the only one who liked this episode because of how sensitive and realistic they handled gay teen suicide which I found struck close to home for me due to my circumstances as a gay teen in high school considering suicide many times. The scene I thought was perfect INCLUDING the Blaine solo, probably the only Blaine solo I've appreciated this season, due to the mood and lyrics of the song which was also sung by someone who faced the same circumstances as Karofsky when coming out, remember he was bashed before the ball for wanting to attend it the with a guy. I also loved the "It get's better" sentiment in the Kurt and Karofsky scene as I've never seen something that powerfully effective towards this matter. It was also the first time in a long time where I actually liked Mr Schue as a teacher, which although seemed clunky, actually worked well with pointing out how many teens feel that helpless. I also believed that the Kurt and Quinn argument was supposed to point out flaws in both of their arguments, Quinn's being shallow and Kurt's being overdramatic, which resulted in reaching to the ultimate lesson of "it gets better" by the end of the episode. I also felt that Quinn's involvement in this also foreshadowed her events to come, as someone who has got everything going for them and then lose it (I however don't approve of this due to Quinn's past problems, it's like RIB wants her to suffer). I don't know, maybe I'm being far too easy on the writers who do constantly get it wrong, but I think people forget that this show is more of a social commentary with valid lessons learnt, not the other way round. Also, my theory towards the Rachel-Finn-Quinn development in these past few episodes is kind of a symbolic use of Rachel's future, as Quinn represents the future Rachel set out for herself in Season 1 where it was all about her, while Finn represents the future where Rachel still goes for the same goals but also being apart of other people's lives instead of hers. I believe this made sense to Quinn's question to Rachel, as Quinn finally realised that Rachel now cares for others besides herself and a future where she can share the spotlight with others and thus steps back and approves of Rachel's decision. I would of liked this however not to be brought up through teen marriage, as the whole thing is ludicrous for having seen first hand a marriage crumble due to the bad decision of marrying when you're a child not knowing what's in stall for adult life, but alas this is Glee.

  4. "But, I have seven months to wait." Don't you mean 7 weeks? I sure hope so ;) great recap by the way!!! I truly enjoyed your detailed and sharp reviewing of the episode! Thx for sharing!

  5. I dunno, I think this episode had good intentions and tried hard, but was ultimately pretty terrible. There were way too many plot threads that were only tenuously related, and the pacing was such that it was just... all over the place. "Suicide! Regionals! Oh, we won! Wedding! Truck!" I realize that at this point in the show's life, dedicating a whole episode to regionals is pointless (you can now predict the result of the contest with 100% confidence - New Directions win, the rivals we've heard of come second, and We Exist Only For The Purposes of This Episode High come last). But two additional plotlines, plus the introduction of a third... just felt like too much. The Karofsky story was the best part of the episode, but was rushed to the extent that the character reactions often seemed forced. This needed to be its own episode; sharing top billing with regionals just detracted from an important story and meant the tone felt really off.

    On that Quinn/Kurt scene, I don't think either party went up in my estimations from it, but when I heard Quinn voice the "suicide is selfish" opinion, I swore out loud. So she's never felt the urge to kill herself. Good for her. But "I've never experienced X, therefore people who experience X are weak and selfish" argument is such bullshit. You can apply it to anything: Depression, addiction... hell, it's a commonly-used anti-gay argument. And it's equally stupid for all of them.

    That said, I don't hold it against Quinn, because this was definitely a case where the writers wanted to express two extremes of an argument, and Quinn had the misfortune to be the mouthpiece for the stupider side. Kurt didn't do himself any favors either - the logical rebuttal is that everyone responds to emotional pain differently, but instead he launched into this "our pain is greater than your pain" crap.

    Just when the last episode's surprisingly sensitive handling of the conflict between religion and sexuality came close to vanquishing the horror that was Grilled Cheesus, this one felt uncomfortably similar in places.

  6. I agree, this episode is stuffed with too much, things are brought up without having been properly developed and other are resolved randomly. Kurt and Karofsky bullying/redemption storyline needed several episodes and that's why it worked and felt real. Like in "New York" of last season, we are missing at least one episode here. They can't resolve conflicts, present new ones, put a wedding and a competition in the middle of them and addressing an HUGE issue like teen suicide in an hour!

    Evil Sebastian turns into compassionate gay bro in about half a second, Quinn changes her mind about the wedding...why? Because Rachel sang a song to her fiancé? Hello? Continuity please?
    I am curious about where they are going with the Rachel-Quinn-Finn love triangle... I don't dislike it at all, especially because now is Rachel, not Finn, in the middle of it. And, although the writers are teasing us a lot, I don't think that there is any intentional sexual attraction between the new BFF. I agree that Quinn is being used as a symbolic choice for Rachel and their relationship will set her struggle for the rest of the season. Is kind of symbolic too that Quinn's accident is the reason that presumably stops the wedding.
    Although I would have loved to see Hiram faking an epileptic attack!

    For me, the best parts of this episode are as usual the Mr Berries! (And finally we see the parents showing up at a competition!). Max Adler is really great and Kurt and Karofsky moment is true and touching, but the suicide storyline wasn't fluent in the narration. Why did they have to stuff Regionals in it? The songs and the performance were weak and even weaker when you see the same scenes over and over again: overproud Schuester dancing backstage, the main rival choirs supporting each other at the last minute, slowmotion victory enthusiasm...
    Was someone annoyed as I was? Are the writers copy and paste script from past competition episodes?
    And was it necessary to say "Life is too short!" twice? Once is unnecessary enough (WE GOT THE MESSAGE) twice was unsuffarable!

    And ahahaha, I love how you always hate the hero-victim-man-leader-Finn, I do too! Maybe because my boyfriend has apparently the same syndrom :-)...

  7. I think we watched differents episodes because, as far as I know, Rachel didn't bring out the cyberbulling that she was the victim in the past made by Quinn (who went from a nuts to sane person in a few episodes and now thinks that knows that is the best for people). It was more like "I love and I don't care what people would think about you. And I'm going to perform at Regionals because it will help my application for NYADA". For me Rachel was right and Finn was angry and kind of selfish but understandable. If he was painted as the victim, he wouldn't go to her locker, apologize her and say that he doesn't care what people say about him except for her. I think that this time Finn was the one who learned the lesson.

  8. No, I don't think the writers are suggesting Quinn & Rachel (Quinchel?) are attracted to each other romantically.

    Other than that, I agree with She Bloggo's take on the episode. Too much going on.

    One big problem I have with the "serious" side of Glee is that I don't trust the writers to do a job with serious subject matter. And this episode tells me they don't really trust themselves either, which is why the "suicide attempt" plot was dropped mid-episode.

    And let's look at Sebastian's blackmail threat, and how it's dealt with. Artie gets the rule book. Will says "I talked to Dalton's headmaster..." and we don't get to hear what happened because someone interrupts him. That's "idiot plot" material right there. Because if Will talked to the headmaster, that gets Sebastian out of the picture(am I the only one who remembers that Dalton has a "zero tolerance" policy on bullying? I'm guessing blackmail is considered "bullying") But no, we've got to have another "this will ruin my life" moment from Finn.

    Speaking of Sebastian (his turn from good to bad wasn't believable, what we've seen of him he would've been sending "better luck" e-mails to Dave), I hope this is the last we see of him and the Warblers and Dalton. That arc is finished and there is no concrete reason to keep them on the show.

  9. Ah... Faberry. Wishful thinking that any of that text/subtext is intentional.

    So, someone explain to me how Rachel, who I believe is underage, is getting married without her fathers permission ( required in Ohio) ? I'm assuming they didn't give permission if they are trying to break them up/ stop the wedding. Or did I miss that somewhere?

    Here's hoping this most recent Quinn-cident puts a damper on the marriage plans. And maybe Quinn will spend the rest of the season in a coma, preventing the marriage from happening, and preventing the further mangling of her character.

  10. Like you, I was a little disappointed by the focus on Karofsky... but I was watching the Kurt-Blaine subtext. I found myself wishing that they had moved that from subtext to text, that Blaine had talked with Kurt about why he would sing Cough Syrup. That Kurt (or either of them) might add their own "I did" on that stage.

    I think they didn't go there because so many young fans were already crying over Karofsky. He may only have appeared in three episodes this season, but he has quite a following of people who identify with him. I think if they'd moved the Kurt-Blaine subtext into text, it would probably have been too much for the audience.

    I found Kurt's blaming himself to be VERY believable, because I watched a friend go through much of the same story. Personally, I even believe Sebastian. I think if Sebastian were straight, he would have laughed it off the way you suggest. But because Sebastian is gay too... and we don't actually know what brought him to Dalton... I believe it made him re-think things.

    I liked the performances, generally. I think it showed both the Warblers and New Directions processing all the history they had from the past several weeks. It reminds me of speed skater Dan Jansen.

    I've bought several of the songs from this episode off of iTunes. Because I'm always looking for inspiring music to help me get through life.

    I will agree with you that Finn's line, "It's now or never." was inappropriate. I hope somewhere, he gets called on it. Because they certainly could re-schedule the wedding for another week, another month, another year.

    I don't have a lot to say about Quinn's car accident. I know the cliffhanger was to keep us interested over the 7-week hiatus. OTOH, car accidents are not uncommon among young people. I've known of several teens and twenty-something who died in car accidents. My brother-in-law had a near miss, he got caught trying to skip school. The friends he was trying to meet got badly hurt.

  11. Suprisingly, after re-watching the episode a few times, I feel like Stronger really does fit in with Karofsky's storyline. It makes his suicide attempt seem like, "Look at all the things you would be missing if you had succeeded. And now take this and go be awesome!" From my point of view, he is going to look back on his decision and use it to give himself strength in the future, hence Stronger.

  12. What I was disappointed in is how the New Directions turned Karfosky's suicide attempt which was the result of bullying into YOLO. Most of all of the New Directions had been bullied in the past with slushies and being tossed in dumpsters. Any one of them could have decided to end their lives. I think the episode could have been a lot better if the team visited Karfosky and he asked them how they dealt with it and they articulated how they never let bullying get them down.

  13. Thank you for calling out this episode so objectively. Like you, I appreciate in a very loose sense what Glee tried to do - but ultimately lost and failed to achieve with teen/gay suicide. The victim-shaming, personal hardship point-scoring of Kurt and Quinn, and completely transparent random reintroduction of a tertiary character for the purposes of a 'shocking' storyline were completely unacceptable. The rest of the episode was a complete fan-service muddle, and the usually fun and rousing competition performances fell flat when placed so awkwardly next to a teenager trying to end his life.

    Simple solution: they should have made this Very Special Episode focus on the one topic, and use it to explore Blaine's backstory better and place the teen suicide lesson in his character's past. In him, they've already got a leading gay role who has yet to be given satisfactory development, and who we know has experienced a severe hate crime. Max Adler was only brought on again because his fans are actually more rabid than Chord Overstreet fans; but for anyone who isn't a teenage fangirl of Max's, it was a bizarre turn to have this character most of us haven't seen in months suddenly get the most serious and dramatic storyline of the season. Blaine on the other hand is directly and consistently attached to the show's biggest gay lead, Kurt - so the 'lesson' fell flat by giving it to a character who has mostly been seen either abusing Kurt, or stalking him in a gorilla suit. If it was an attempt at redeeming Karofsky's character, then forcing Kurt into a friendship he has never wanted and has actively avoided, by shaming him with a suicide threat, was the wrong way to do it.

  14. @Katie, or they could have given the gay suicide storyline to Santana since they already did the self-hating closet gay is outed before they're ready. Blaine's a little too gary-stu to have a believable suicide storyline.


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