19
Nov
2009
Glee: Season 1, Episode 10
Ballad
Jordan
Glee established itself from before its existence as a musical. Which means many things, one of which is that when I'm feeling magnanimous, I tend to write off its cheesier moments and more unlikely dialogue as par for the course. I have seen a decent amount of musicals in my day, and many of them are filled to the brim with cheese and overwrought encounters. "Ballad" was an episode that used its musical numbers, as musicals often do and as this show has done more sparingly, to look deeper into its characters and explore what is driving them currently. It also advanced the little master-plot that we have at this point, and even had some laughs along the way.

The show seemed to comment on the intent of this episode as Kurt repeatedly reminded Finn, and with him the audience, that characters in a musical often sing when their emotions get too big to be said regularly. That was the case for most of our major characters tonight. From the outset, Rachel discovered feelings for Mr. Shue as they did a duet to "Endless Love." At first I thought this storyline would be another example of a plotline that angered me to no end and came out of nowhere, but it was handled very believably. Rachel has low self confidence and doesn't believe in her own worth, so she develops feelings for someone that is sure to reject her which will reaffirm her own self-loathing. This was pointed out by Suzie Pepper, who used to have a crush on Will herself, and then went into a tailspin after his rejection, eating one of the hottest peppers in the world and being put into a medically induced coma for three days. Fortunately her two years of intensive psychotherapy and an esophagus transplant taught her the error of her incredibly creepy ways.

While Rachel deals with her newfound love and what it means for her, Will grapples with her feelings in his own way: by mashing up two songs, including the Police classic "Don't stand so close to me. Unfortunately, Rachel understands this as, "I'm very young, and it's hard for you to stand close to me." Emma, who was there to back Will up, is so swept up by his performance she forgets her role in the whole thing. And, because I would be remiss if I didn't curse this plotline whenever it reared its ugly, stupid head, Will's wife showed up and refused to show her husband her not-pregnant stomach. Terri actually got a few great one liners in, but I am hoping Will discovers her deception and drops her sooner rather than later.

The other big plotline tonight centered around Finn deciding to tell Quinn's parents she is pregnant, through an on the nose song called "You're having my baby." Quinn's parents, being Glenn Beck watching monstrosity's of conservative repression, kicked Quinn out and she was forced to move in with Finn. This whole plotline was a little rote, but it was handled well by the actors, and at least moved a storyline forward in a more permanent way. The far more interesting portion of this story went (as storylines often do) to Kurt, whose secret love for Finn hit home more realistically and emotionally than anything else in the episode. Perhaps it is Chris Colfer's softly expressive face, but he gets all of Kurt's triumphs and defeats across as we watch him suffer silently through a love that cannot possibly happen. Maybe it was just me, but I would have greatly preferred watching Kurt sing to Finn than watching the whole club sing the incredibly predictable "Lean on Me." This episode left me wishing Finn would suddenly discover he was gay, just so he and Kurt could be together.

All in all, the episode used its music well to explore the goings on beneath the surface of characters who to this point have often been far too shallow. I wish the show had used this opportunity to give us ballads from some of the under seen or under used characters as a means of deepening them, but what we got came across quite well.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-Music Round up: I thought "Endless Love" came across well, and I especially liked the touch of having the club wave their cell phones around during it. Finn's version of "I'll Stand By You" was awesome, even if he was singing to a fetus. Matthew Morrison rocked his mash up. I wish the show would choose slightly less on-the-nose music sometimes, but I am in the camp believing that "Lean on Me" is a cliché largely because it's so effective.

-"You knew it was me just by the sound of my breathing. How romantic!" God I hope Suzie Pepper comes back.

-"Listen, this is Will's wife. If I don't get enough sleep my antidepressants won't work and I'll go crazy and kill you."

-"You can't threaten me Pepper! I'm not afraid of you!"

-Good God, how many songs are these kids expected to perform at sectionals? They're preparing a new one every week, and it's always just a few weeks away. Unless the back half of this season is taken up by sectionals, I think they may have a few too many numbers prepared.
Tags: Glee
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