14
Oct
2009
Glee: Season 1, Episode 7
Throwdown
Jordan
Last week I discussed pretty extensively the areas where I think Glee is going wrong, but I was still won over by the laughter levels. This week marks the first time I have ended an episode angrier than I was endeared. "Throwdown" did not leave a smile on my face, but it did leave me with graver doubts about the future of this show. It's early yet, and I still have high hopes that everything will get worked out, but tonight's Glee was the first flat out miss the show has had.

The episode centered on the conflict between Sue and Will in the wake of her being chosen to coach Glee alongside him. I addressed the ridiculousness of that decision last week, but I was strapped in to enjoy a whole lot more Sue as a result. And we got a whole lot more Sue, to mixed effect. She immediately set to tear the club apart, using Quinn as a continued mole and breaking the team in half to form "an elite Glee Club called Sue's kids." To stick the knife in deeply, she took with her all of the "minorities" who felt they were being underrepresented by the show tunes and Rachel-Finn centric songs of late. I thought this was a decently clever way to address the show's underuse of the diverse cast they have assembled, but am also slightly offended by the sensibility that Mercedes only likes R&B, even if it was chosen by Sue because of her own subtle racism.

Will strikes back at Sue by failing all of her cheerleaders who studies have shown to be functionally illiterate. This allowed the Principal to have at least one moment where he acts like a responsible individual in authority"”he refused to cave to Sue's intimidation and stuck by Will's decision to rightfully fail the cheerleaders (one of whom misspelled her own name and wrote only sombrero's on the test). I also liked how Sue's blackmail backfired when he put the video she held over him on Youtube, to a fanfare of two hits.

Speaking of blackmail, the stupid-subplot-that-just-won't-die that is Terri's attempt to hide her non-pregnancy just kept on kicking tonight as she and her half-wit sister blackmailed an OBGYN into faking an ultrasound for Will's benefit. The idea that these figures of authority submit so easily to ridiculous threats of blackmail makes me flat out angry. Sure if Terri and her sister had some actual dirt on the doctor it would mke some sense, but threatening a bogus lawsuit that no one would buy into is not going to convince a doctor to break his oath and fake an ultrasound (just as threatening to embarrass a principal with a clip of him as an actor would not put him under Sue's thumb at all, but at least the show got wise to that this week). It seems the show is determined to keep Terri's pregnancy charade going as a long term arc, which is truly disappointing. The show has multitudes of potential storylines, and even if it sticks to the largely stand-alone pattern it has so far adopted, it can be a rich and enjoyable show for seasons to come. Yet when they choose their worst, least workable stories (a fake pregnancy that is exponentially more ridiculous by the week, or romances that clearly need to be put on the backburner lest everyone end up together and resolve all conflict in the next few episodes) as ongoing arcs to tie things together, they start digging a quality whole that could get hard to climb out of.

In terms of the music tonight, I thought that most of the performances fell a little flat. I'm pretty sure Rachel doesn't have the ability to auto-tune herself during a rehearsal for one thing. Additionally, the Club's jam session was badly choreographed and felt incredibly staged (and I mean this in a bad way. In a musical, it's ok for dance numbers to be highly choreographed"”in fact, it's necessary. This number just felt like it was choreographed by a middle school drama teacher). Quinn's performance of "Keep Me Hangin' On" stood out as the solid number tonight, and also stood in counterpoint to the "jam session" by showing how a clearly choreographed segment can still flow and feel confidently put together.

On the whole, this episode showed the dark side of Glee, and it didn't provide nearly enough laughs to hide its shortcomings. I'm hoping this is just a misstep for the show, but if they continue to stick to profoundly stupid plotlines and avoid the talented and interesting characters at the show's center, they will have a tough road ahead before they actually reach their potential, if they ever do.

Grade: C

Notes:

-"Look at us. We're even fighting in our voice overs."

-"Your delusions of persecution are the telltale signs of early paranoid schizophrenia."

-"You are so dedicated to that dying language!" Sue thinks Spanish is on the way out.

-Finn's suggested name for his daughter: Drizzle.

-"Bye white people." An excellent exit by the "minority group."

-"I know the Dutch are a famously cold people, but that's no reason for him to treat you like a half-priced hooker in Amsterdam's red light district." I enjoyed how Sue was continuously more racist than anyone else, yet attracted all of the "minorities" (which apparently includes the Dutch) by exploiting their actual inequalities and force feeding them what amounted to stereotypes that were far more demeaning and ridiculous.

-"I know I'm not like the rest of you hippies caring about [the students feelings as if they're real"¦"
Tags: Glee
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