Friday, February 15, 2013

The RBI Report: "I Do"

Here's what you missed on Glee:

It's Valentine's Day and that usually means a miracle descends from above and Glee puts out a reasonably coherent and enjoyable episode and this year it was also Will and Emma's wedding except Emma has a panic attack and sings really fast and runs out on Will but don't worry the reception still happens so that everybody can slow dance together and eat all the food that Emma's ginger supremacist parents provided.  And Quinn and Santana bring fake IDs and get drunk and slow dance too and Ryder's giving Marley Valentine's Day gifts through Jake who thinks he might get some but he doesn't but other people do like Kurt and Blaine who aren't really agreeing on the status of their relationship right now and Artie and Betty who are both in wheelchairs but really like dancing together and Quinn and Santana who hate romance and men and decide to go for two rounds of lady sex instead.  Oh and also Finn tells Rachel they're endgame which is really weird because how could he know that??? but then they have sex and Rachel finds out she might be pregnant but it's gotta be Brody's because it literally cannot be Finn's based on the parameters of time, space, and the human reproductive system so hopefully we're all on the same page about that.  Anyways, it's super awkward because if she IS pregnant it's definitely Brody's and Rachel didn't tell him she had sex with Finn but it's about to get awkwarder anyways because Brody is a gigolo.

And that's what you missed on Glee.

"I Do," written by Ian Brennan, directed by Brad Falchuk

Can I just leave it at that?  It's really all you need to know.  Clearly Glee has decided to indulge in its own ridiculousness, picking up where we left off with last week's Emma-Finn kiss.  "I Do" featured a continuation of that storyline, plus a random Quinn and Santana hookup, a runaway bride, a pregnancy scare, and the suggestion that a new character might be a prostitute.  I can't really tell if this is Glee or a candy-coated soap opera, and I'm beginning to be okay with that?  In tonight's episode at least, we had Ian Brennan in the writer's seat, and he tends to steer his episodes with only two wheels on the track anyways.  "I Do" skidded in all directions, but much like a high-energy carnival attraction, it was pretty entertaining... and I only felt like barfing a few times!

In reality, the closing number should have been the opening: "Anything Can Happen," while super fun, had little purpose in the end, especially with Will scrolling sadly through pics of Emma on his phone and Rachel scrolling through her calendar and realizing she might be preggo.  Yawn.  "Anything Can Happen" could have been so delightful as the very first scene in the episode, to introduce this madcap hour of "what the hell is happening on my TV screen right now?"  In any other episode it may have been too on-the-nose, but in a Brennan-penned Valentine's Day extravaganza of heightened reality?  A great way to set the stage.  (Besides, a ham-fisted musical number is no foreign concept to Glee, and the show frankly has bigger fish to fry with its hamfisted storyline progressions.  But I digress.)

Regardless, there was a lot of doin' in "I Do."  The episode revolved around the romantic entanglings of six pairs: Will and Emma, Rachel and Finn, Kurt and Blaine, Jake and Marley, Artie and Emma's niece Betty, and Quinn and Santana.  Should we just go in order?

Will and Emma

Will and Emma are getting married!  Except Emma is still in full-on panic mode after last week, and despite Finn's best efforts to calm her down with love's truly inappropriate kiss, he may have just exacerbated the problem.  In a flurry of OCD relapse and bitching about the glee kids' incestuous dating, Emma tells Finn to keep a wide berth and his mouth shut.  Finn obeys, but Emma's anxiety doesn't ebb.  The resulting freakout at the church and the "(Not) Getting Married Today" performance was easily the highlight of the hour.  Manic and unhinged, it somehow managed to hit the proper dramatic beats for Emma as well.  More than that, it successfully incorporated Sue into the sequence, as a reluctant confidante for Emma but also a harsh truth-teller about Will and a comedic foil to the purpose of the scene.  It all ended abruptly with Emma breaking down and crying in the cab, and in all I was rather impressed with the execution of the whole thing.

After that, Emma and Will are summarily not the point anymore.  Emma's run off, and Will mopes about while Finn heroically tries to pull him up by his bootstraps.  I don't know; anytime anyone utters the phrase "glee club taught me that," I tend to tune out.  But as Will's best man, Finn tells him that Emma needs a husband and that together, they're going to win Nationals and track down Will's wife.  I'm not really sure about any of that, largely because I'm imagining something where Emma goes away until the Nationals episode and then she comes back so Will can sweep her off her feet and win a competition.  Frankly, it's a bit brutal to rip happily wedded bliss away from two people with such messy relationship histories with regards to marriage - so ideally, it'd be nice to honor that and let the characters feel their feelings and work through the development without cheapening the payoff.  But we'll have to see.

Rachel and Finn

Rachel and Finn are reunited for Will and Emma's wedding, and teamed up to deliver Finn's best man performance, because this is Glee and we sing our feelings.  (Sue probably has the acoustic version of "I Will Survive" already waiting for Emma.)  Their stuff was simultaneously touching... and really weird.  On the one hand, it's interesting to see these two interact again after having undergone fairly significant life changes independently.  They're different people now, and it's compelling in concept to explore the slight shifts in their dynamic as a result.  "I Do" managed to tap into that notion a few times, once when Finn bluntly informed Rachel that not everything was about her, and when he quietly explained he'd been dieting.  Rachel's whole cavalier attitude was fairly intriguing on the whole, especially in contrast to Finn not really covering up the fact that he's had a rough time of it lately.

Where their interactions went a bit south was after Rachel caught the bouquet.  What could have been a painfully genuine moment for Finn to see Rachel with the flowers and acknowledge the fact it probably won't be him by her side on her wedding day... was instead traded out for a stilted conversation designed around Finn plucking petals off a flower.  There are a few things that weren't really working for this exchange:
  • The "she loves me, she loves me not" angle might be interesting on paper, but it really interrupted the flow of the scene and made Finn seem a little bit like a serial killer trying to decide how he should off his next victim.
  • Also, no relationship metaphor should involve the words "seed," "soil," or "bud."  Besides, that "seed" allegory may have bit you in the ass, Mr. Hudson, considering the ending events of the episode.
  • The conversation's tone as a whole felt more in keeping with a feuding married couple in a spy thriller à la Mr. & Mrs. Smith than a pair of estranged high school sweethearts.
  • I just don't know how much I can express my distaste for writers scripting metatextual commentary about relationships into the mouths of the people IN the relationship.  In other words: no one should be talking about how they are endgame, ESPECIALLY when they are officially broken up.  This is not a sophisticated means of telling a story - no one within a narrative should make non-diegetic statements.  Not only does no one in life know who's "meant to be" with each other, it's also just sloppy to include that sentiment in dialogue instead of action.  If you want me to believe it, then show me.
  • Even disregarding the previous point, it's not sexy to hear your ex tell you all about how you're going to be together forever.  (I'm looking at you too, Blaine.  I'll get to you in a minute.)
  • Pretty sure attached women are allowed to catch the bouquet, as long as they're not actually married.  And what is Finn, the wedding police?
  • This is perhaps a personal diatribe of my own, but I don't think I can properly express how much I hate when male love interests smugly tell their female love interests that they're lying to themselves.  It may be the souring of many romcoms gone horribly wrong, but I cannot think of a scenario where I don't want to punch a guy in the face when he says that to a woman.  It's an overused trope that trivializes a woman's right to her own wishes and decisions by melting her into the arms of the man who "knows her better than she knows herself."  And I won't have that shit.
In the end, Rachel had sex with Finn, thanks to their dynamite musical chemistry, and snuck out without saying goodbye.  She returns home to Brody, who vomited Valentine's Day all over their apartment, and they talk more about their open relationship.  Brody, being of modern mindset and few inhibitions, informs Rachel that "open" means "honest" as well as "label-less," and yet Rachel still hid her fling with Finn.  But they're tit for tat, because apparently Brody is hiding something which can thus far only be interpreted as prostitution.  I mean, what else are we supposed to glean from Brody leaving an apartment with a wad of money during a flashback embedded in a conversation about being truthful about your sex life?  So, baby and gigolo will make three for Rachel Berry.  (Although that pregnancy test looked like it was packaged sometime in the 70s, so I wouldn't rule out a false positive.)

Kurt and Blaine

The reunion of these two was presented somewhat unceremoniously, as they made their entrance horizontally in the back of a car.  Core conflict here: Kurt wants to stay friends even despite a hookup, and Blaine wants to be together forever.  (Okay, Tina went all Miss Emily last week; this week, it's Blaine.)  Meanwhile, Tina's pissed at Kurt for toying with Blaine's emotions even though Blaine cheated on him, but it's basically out of jealousy because she's still in love with Blaine.  The silver lining of this storyline, other than an amusing back-and-forth between Kurt and Tina, was the resolution of Tina's obsession with Blaine, with hopefully no traumatizing emotional consequence in its wake.  The downside was hearing Tina gush about Kurt and Blaine's "legendary chemistry" as "two soulmates" performing.  Yikes.  Again, Glee, may I direct you to the note about including sweeping extra-narrative commentary in character dialogue.  The audience does not need to be beat over the head with third party assessments that could easily just be demonstrated.  

As for Kurt and Blaine's relationship conflict, the writers chose to script Blaine similarly to Finn - portrayed as lonely and adrift without their significant others, and insisting that they're meant to be together when in fact the other party has expressly chosen to cultivate another life.  It's trying to be sweepingly romantic, but really it's unfair to Kurt and Rachel.  Sure, they're not blameless in any scenario - these relationships get progressively messier by the episode - but at the same time, they have the right to their decisions independent of what their exes want from them.  The writers seem to be operating under the notion that it's only a matter of time before everyone is happily ever after with their true loves, and unfortunately tethering the narrative to this tentpole leaves little wiggle room for story expansion and fresh ideas.  Predestined journeys aren't always interesting.

Jake and Marley

All you need to know: Ryder still has feelings for Marley, but also bro feelings for Jake, so he Cyranoes Marley via Jake's Valentine's Day presents and then kisses her in the end.  Er, on the mouth.  In the middle of the hallway.  So that probably will go well.  Meanwhile Marley and Jake are very happy together, and apparently have good taste in music, judging by their selection of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "You're All I Need (To Get By)."  But they don't have sex, because Marley isn't ready - despite the fact that the boys have a whole conversation speculating that fact without her present.  I must say, I'm getting super tired of Jake and Ryder discussing their relationships with Marley while she's not even around to have her say.  Also tired of the show referencing Marley's eating disorder so cavalierly, without ever having made any narrative efforts to show her recovery.

Also, this storyline gave us confirmation that Puck is indeed dating Kitty, and because we didn't see her all episode, I am now concerned for her safety.  The thing on Puck's head might have eaten her.

Artie and Betty

Turns out Emma has a niece named Betty, who is in a wheelchair, and who she assigns to sit next to Artie at the wedding.  She's pretty rude to Artie at first, but I'd like to think that Artie learned a thing or two about appreciating sassy women after his encounter with the Righteous Blade of Equality, and so he pursues Betty without being weird about it.  This storyline also features a tongue-in-cheek twist where Artie tries to have a glee-style poignant moment with Betty over being in a wheelchair, and she shuts him down.  In the end, they dance, they laugh, they have sex, and Artie scores digits.  It was charming, cute, and harmless.  

Quinn and Santana

So, here's a pair that we probably never thought would make it to any kind of "couple" status, even if only in the bedroom.  But Quinn and Santana rolled into Schue's wedding with bitterness, disenchantment, and a couple of fake IDs... and before we knew it, they were getting drunk, flattering one another, and slow dancing.  Basically, their portion of the episode was spent selling the fact that they were going to have sex by evening's end, and it did a reasonably good job doing so.  Actually, even with some awkward dialogue and the whiff of "drunk experimentation" about it all, everything boils away to one overriding strong point that resonated through the entire storyline: there was no hint of gay panic!  Quinn was the one being forward with Santana, throughout the course of the reception, and even though there was the inevitable post-coital "but I'm straight!" moment! - a more kindly-phrased "it's a one-time thing" - it was immediately overturned for... a two-time thing.  Woo, so not-traumatizing they did it twice!  Which was good, because round two was definitely more sober than round one.  So in one fell swoop, Glee managed to dissipate the clichéd "drunken" and "experimentation" parts of their Quinn-Santana hookup.

Beyond that, even though it was heavily suggested that Santana getting closer with Quinn was a result of her alienation from Brittany and her relationship with Sam, it never manifested in a moment of panic for Santana either.  Basically, for two Slap Queens who subsisted on stirring up drama for most of their high school careers... this was a surprisingly chill coupling.  And, if the writers chose to develop a character-based explanation for their tryst, it's easily there - the connection between Quinn and Santana was established in their first post-graduation reunion, where they knew exactly what each other's insecurities were and attacked them.  These characters are essentially mirrored, each others' greatest ally and greatest foe.

Sure, this may rise and fall within one episode.  We may never hear about it ever again.  You may think it fan pandering or ill-conceived or a cheap hookup.  But for all the show's dramatically-delineated permutations of teens confronting their fluid sexualities with the tear factor turned on high, this was a happily drama-free addition.  It doesn't have to be a big deal!  It's a nice little piece to include on Glee's mantle of Good Things They've Done With Regards to Queer Representation, simply because it shows a common situation from a refreshingly different angle.  And best of all: V-Day has a new meaning for Quinn!  Congrats girl, you can't get pregnant!  (Rachel, take notes.)  (Does it totally undermine my point by ending this section with a series of inappropriate joke?  Oops.)

Stray appreciation: Naya Rivera's delivery of "Al Roker is disgusting, by the way" was maybe the funniest line all episode, second only to Jayma Mays' delivery of "you glee kids have dated so incestuously I'm not sure who can tolerate who anymore."  Other random bits of delight were Sue getting asked to dance by some nameless character, Becky being pissed as hell about serving as a flower girl when she's a goddamned high schooler, and Marley spastically rocking it out in the background of "Anything Can Happen."

Anyways, ahead on Glee: Rachel is pregnant with Quinn and Santana's baby, Marley and Emma form a club of Women Who Don't Appreciate Being Kissed by Non-Significant-Others Without Permission, and Will and Finn sweep the nation in search of a Mrs. Schuester, only to come up with Will's drunk mom.  

Yes, "I Do" showed off a lot of exaggerated story developments.  But it was also entertaining, and for the most part, it made good decisions for the storylines it chose to use.  Another charmingly off-kilter Ian Brennan episode goes into the books, and this makes three years running for a solid Valentine's Day offering.  

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: A
Dance Numbers: B
Dialogue: B-
Plot: B
Characterization: A
Episode MVP: Emma Pillsbury


  1. It's been a while since I've seen an actual episode. The negatives have outweighed the positives for me after all of the things "they" put Quinn thru last season. But thanks to your recaps (and the snarky ones over at AfterEllen, I feel like I have a good idea of the way things are going over in Gleeland.)

    It's too bad about Rachel. I think this pregnancy (let's hope it's not "real") could be the final stake in her character's journey/coffin.

    This whole episode just reads like a retread of Season 1 - Ambitious woman (girl) side tracked from her future by an unplanned pregnancy (Haven't the writers over at Glee ever heard about contraception? I can't believe Rachel's dads would send her off to college without even the most basic of info. OR that Rachel would forget what happened to Quinn. But then, this IS Glee. I suspect if they HAD said anything it would have been a safe-sex lecture to Rachel from Kurt.)

    And, keeping with Season 1, Santana gets a blonde into bed. Again. Sure, it's a different blonde. One who's more her equal and can hold her own ( IMO. I liked Brittana but they weren't really equals (in canon).)

    And, we once more have Emma trying to navigate the mess some guy makes of her well ordered life.

    And, Yeah for Quinn! Not stuck in Finnville any longer.

    And, as an aside, for some reason I have this image in my head of Quinn, Santana, and Emma sharing an apartment in NYC. THAT would make a better spin-off than the Rachel+Baby+Brody-FInn show that is headed for us like a train out of control.

  2. Was that... my favorite episode since s3 ? While watching it, I thought it was so great that something was bound to happen, like it was all a dream or something.

    Now that I think of it again, it was not *that* great, of course. It's still Glee. But there was only one think I hated (!) : Finn and Schue's scene at the end ("Emma needs her husband" blahblah). Other than this, some things were annoying (Marley/Jake), and some were like... ohmygoddidthisreallyjusthappen?! (Emma, Sue, Quinn/Santana) and I loved it.

    One thing that's really bothering though is, you pointed it out, the overdose of meta commentary. I love it when a show gets a bit meta (when the structure can allow it) but it's really getting too much.

    Oh and "(Sue probably has the acoustic version of "I Will Survive" already waiting for Emma.)"

  3. Personally I really disliked this episode. I can't exactly put my finger on what was wrong... Basically, I hated the way most of the characters behaved. Finn was creepy and indeed looked like a psycho (even his usual half smirk looked scary seen from the side!), Rachel was shallow and fickle, Kurt was vain and annoying, Blaine, who I was starting to like as an independent character, reverted to his bland persona the second he comes back with Kurt. Poor Will and Emma, being the center of a failed wedding, received almost zero screentime (yet everyone happily partied on - cool, realistic writing! they even sung fun songs to dance along to!). Artie and Tina were okay, and it was nice to see Mercedes and Mike (total number of lines: zero). Santana and Quinn seemed somewhat out of the blue, but it kind of worked: I wouldn't mind the writers developing their on night thing into something more. And please writers, don't have Quinn become a full-on bitch yet again...

    A few funny moments here and there, but overall a very poor chapter, in my opinion.

  4. Given all the ways that the Glee writers have botched stories with their female characters, this could've been really, really bad. Considering that it all went down over the course of a single episode, and that there are 100 other things happening in every episode, I think Quinntana was handled about as well as could be managed by the Glee team.

    The rest of the episode though? Kind of hit or miss. The big "reunion" was completely wasted with characters coming back and not hardly interacting as a group. But as Emma pointed out... they've probably been too incestuous to all really get along. That's why the first rule of team sports is "don't date your teammate!" Shit gets awkward. How cool would "anything can happen" have been as a group number for the oldies? This wedding (and the fact that the principles only have teenagers as friends) was the perfect excuse to bring the old cast all together and it kind of missed out by focusing so much on the ship!service of hooking up everybody.

    I like all of the characters in the 2 main power couples so much better when they are not together, so I am as anti!Klaine and especially anti!Finchel as they come. And while Jake is my new favorite male vocalist and I think Jarley sounds lovely together, I am more interested in seeing Jake interact with Ryder... and Marley interact with Unique, Kitty and even Brittany. I think all of those are so much more dynamic than the tired love triangle.

    I'm not especially happy with how Santana got to NYC, but I am at least pleased that she is there and should therefore find her way on screen a bit more now. Maybe we'll even get a little Pezberry duet out of it.. or even better still, perhaps she will find the real!Rachel trapped in a utility closet.


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