'Glee' recap: 'Swan Song'
"Let's just enjoy this week and look forward to our big comeback next year." - Finn
I've reached a point with "Glee" where even when I enjoy a lot of things about an episode -- as I did with "Swan Song" -- it doesn't matter. The recent string of unbearable episodes has completely severed my connection to the show (a connection that survived through Season 2 and Season 3), possibly for good.
It'll take a lot more than a halfway decent episode to bring it back, and I just don't see that happening given the current state of the show.
Before we get to some of the good -- or at least better -- stuff, let's touch on a bit of the bad. Pretty much everything involving the future of New Directions and Sue Sylvester totally sucked. It was stupid. Terrible. Lame. Pick the derogatory adjective you like best. It's ridiculous to believe that disqualification at Sectionals would cause everyone to quit the club, but whatever. That's typical "Glee."
Everyone ignoring Santana's explanation for why Marley collapsed? Kitty not facing *any* repercussions or consequences for what she did? I hate all the new characters enough that I'm happy whenever their screen time is minimal, but that's just sloppy and nonsensical. Of course the eating disorder storyline has never been anything but sloppy and nonsensical, so again I say whatever.
Let's move on to the episode's biggest "controversy": pairing up Sam and Brittany. I like the two characters. I like the two actors. Their duet on "Somethin' Stupid" was sweet and endearing in a way the romantic numbers used to be on "Glee." But I wasn't really sure how I felt about them as a couple (I was sort of into the idea they'd be friends, since male-female friendships aren't explored much on the show outside of Kurt and Rachel).
As it turns out, that doesn't matter. "Glee" wants Sam and Brittany to be a couple, so they'll be a couple. Except there's one tiny problem: The Brittana fans who will never accept it. Instead of letting the audience see for ourselves why Sam and Brittany should be together, "Glee" delivers one of its strangest meta-moments yet by having Brittany address the issue head on:
"I just like you too much to put you in danger," she tells Sam. "It's not just Santana, it's like all lesbians of the nation. I don't know how they found out about Santana and I dating, but once they did they started sending me tweets and Facebook messages on Lord Tubbington's wall. I think it means a lot to them to see two super-hot popular girls in love. And I worry that if they find out about you and I dating that they'll turn on you and get really violent and hurt your beautiful face and mouth."
Now, I guess this is the show's attempt at trying to diffuse a situation but it feels a bit like pouring fuel on a fire instead. "Hey, lesbians! You don't like the idea of Brittany dating a guy again? Well, don't dare say anything about it because you'll just look dangerous and violent!"
That's an odd strategy for a show that's already bleeding fans.
And it's unfortunate, because it reminds me of this interview with Marti Noxon before she joined the show's writing staff in Season 3. Her time was short and not especially distinguished (her two writing credits were the OK "Choke" and awful "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"), but Noxon had an interesting take on where Brittany and Santana might be heading (before they officially coupled up in Season 3):
"It's so politically incorrect to make a character gay and then make them 'un-gay' again," Noxon said about Brittany. "Like once you become gay, you've crossed over, or, you're not allowed to be a person who doesn't want to be defined by a label like that. You're not allowed to be a person who says, 'I just love that person right now, and maybe I'll love something else at some point, so I don't really want to say if I'm gay or bi or straight or anything else. I just love this person.' I feel like that's where Brittany is. Without overthinking it, she's very evolved."
Noxon raised the issue by referencing "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" characters Tara and Willow, and noted the writers on that show discussed that sort of "evolved" thinking for one of them (presumably Willow), but never actually went there.
On one hand I think it's great that "Glee" is going there now, and it would be cool if we could really view Brittany in that way. But it takes more than snarky dialogue and meta references to actually pull it off. Brittany is a lovable character and I think most viewers would root for her relationship with Sam if we simply had a reason to. (And it might help ease possible complaints if Santana still had a meaningful role on the show, and maybe a new love interest of her own.)
But just like with Rachel and Brody, or any of the random romances between the new kids at McKinley, "Glee" is diving head first into the deep end, without bothering to see if there's any water in the pool.
Didn't I say I enjoyed a lot about "Swan Song"? I did. Especially Lea Michele's "O Holy Night" and Chris Colfer's "Being Alive" (he's destined to star in "Company" one day). Rachel and Finn had a sweet phone call that wasn't as moving as the discussion between Kurt and Blaine last week, but still showed us a glimmer of what once was.
And I really appreciated these words of wisdom from Rachel: "Glee is about the love of music. It's about people like Puck and Artie not just singing together but actually being friends. And Brittany and Mike dancing just for fun when no one else is around. It's even about the romances. I know they come and go, but they're just as important."
That's a pretty good description of why I really, really used to like "Glee."