Glee "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" Reaction/Song Review

I was all ready to pick apart every little thing that was wrong with Sunday's special episode of "Glee" -- most of it centered around the horribly inaccurate treatment of high school football -- but then something weird happened: I found myself really enjoying the episode. I think the show has really struggled at finding a balance between comedy and drama this year, but "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" really felt like the right mix.

The episode brought the conflict between the glee club and the non-glee football players to a head, with Sue's Cheerios thrown in the mix for extra drama. Everyone was being forced to choose sides, right as everyone should have been coming together for McKinley's appearance in the championship game (and, again, I'll still get to all the football-related problems with the writing soon enough). Throughout the episode, things kept getting more and more fractured, with Quinn, Santana and Brittany choosing Cheerios over glee, Karofsky and company walking out on the football team rather than perform with the glee club at halftime and the remaining glee girls doing their best to help the football team. But, somehow, in the end, things worked out, in a way that felt like it was a bit of a closing chapter to what has been a rocky first half of a second season for "Glee" and turning the page to a new chapter.

Probably the standout performer in the episode -- in terms of script, not musical performance -- was Karofsky. It was interesting to see him forced to interact with the glee club, and even better, it was nice that they didn't just have the character have some great epiphany and totally change the way he's acting. Of all the characters on the show, he seems to be the most like someone who is actually going through the high school experience: conflicted about his identity, acting in a way that he thinks people expect him to act, and more worried about short-term perception than long-term identity.

OK, now for my two complaints about the episode:

- everything about the football. You can't lose a game and then play in the state championship the next week. No coach would spend his or her entire week before a championship game preparing for halftime and not the game itself. And even setting aside the various problems with only playing with nine players (one of whom apparently left way before halftime), there's no way a team could get into the locker room for halftime, put on elaborate zombie makeup, perform an entire halftime show, and then get back into the locker room before the second half. Unless Ohio high school football now allows for 60-minute halftime breaks in state championship games.

- there was one scene set at Dalton Academy, which came out of a commercial break and out of nowhere. It didn't really fit with the rest of the episode at all, but it least it provided a solid musical performance. Speaking of, let's get to this week's reviews...

California Gurls - B
This wasn't a singing performance, which is why it gets knocked down from an A, but the choreography was amazing. Sue SHOULD have been blown away. Instead she was way more interested in killing Brittany via cheer cannon.

Need You Now - A
More Puckleberry please! I was beyond impressed with this duet between Rachel and Puck, even though I don't particularly like the song.

Bills, Bills, Bills - A-
This is my favorite Warblers performance so far. The only reason it gets knocked down? A few episodes back, Blaine -- while giving advice to Kurt -- said something to him about the Warblers being a team and everyone getting their chance to shine. Well, so far, all their performances have really been Blaine solos with harmony and backup from the rest of the group. I wonder if that'll ever be addressed on the show as a plot point/source of conflict between Blaine and Kurt.

She's Not There - B
At first I didn't get why they were doing this song, then it hit me that the song was by "The Zombies", and it all clicked. I was kind of disappointed that the girls weren't involved at all, but otherwise it was a good performance.

Thriller/Heads Will Roll -  B+
When I first heard that Glee was doing "Thriller" I was excited. Then when I heard Glee was mashing up "Thriller" with another song, I was tempted to give it an F on principle. But then I heard the song and saw the performance, and let me just say, it worked. I would have LOVED to have see them just do "Thriller", but in the end, the mash-up wasn't nearly as bad as some of the other "Glee" mash-ups have been this season.

Is "Glee" back? It's too soon to say. But this was the first time in awhile I finished an episode and felt excited about the next one.

For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the TV Reviews home page.