The theme of this week's episode of "Glee" was acceptance, which I thought was a little weird since in some way every episode the show has ever aired has been about acceptance -- the club members accepting who they are and getting others to accept them for that. Still, the episode got stronger as it went on, with some interesting revelations about Quinn, the return of Kurt and plenty of screen time for Santana.
Taking that last one first, Santana turned out to be a driving force in getting Kurt to return to McKinley, though mostly it was part of her convoluted plan to be name prom queen (which itself was part of a larger plan to get Brittany to break up with Artie and start dating her exclusively). For the most part, Santana was in full-on bitch mode, threatening to out Karofsky if he didn't go along with her plan and lashing out at Brittany (who FINALLY gave it right back to Santana, in an exchange that was long overdue), but there were some softer moments for her, which Naya Rivera once again handled with aplomb. She tends not to get the publicity that Lea Michele, Dianna Agron and even Heather Morris get, but she's probably the best actress in the group.
The acceptance theme for the episode stemmed from an incident in the opening scene where Finn accidentally broke Rachel's nose, leading Rachel to investigate getting a nose job, something the rest of the glee club was against -- leading Mr. Schu to point out that they all have things about themselves that they don't like, which became the central focus in their final number (and I'll get to that in the song review). Early in the episode, I thought the theme was really forced, particularly in the way Mr. Schu kept trying to tie it in to Emma's problems with her OCD, but once the stories started flowing more naturally, they made sense. Well, except for Emma -- I really liked her last season, but as her OCD has become her ONLY character feature this season, she's become kind of annoying.
Kurt's return to McKinley was done well enough given the constraints of the show's universe. It's not like they were going to leave him at Dalton for the rest of the season, but he couldn't just show up one day and be like "yeah, I'm back." The scene between him and Karofsky in Figgins's office was very well done, with Mike O'Malley once again shining, if only for the brief time he was allowed to be in the episode.
I thought the revelation about Quinn -- that before transferring to McKinley she was an overweight, unattractive geek named "Lucy" -- was interesting, because it's a twist that makes sense with what we've already seen of the character. It goes a long way toward explaining why she's so insecure about Finn's obsession with Rachel, because Quinn's done so much to become what she thinks is the "perfect" image of beauty, and if she loses Finn to a girl like Rachel, then what was the point? Also, while I haven't always been the biggest fan of Agron's acting ability, she did quite a lot with body language in this episode, adding nuance to an already strong performance.
There was a lot happening in this episode, but I'm not sure it needed to be 90 minutes. Emma's story could have easily been handled in another episode, because even though she went to see a doctor at the end and is now taking medicine for her OCD, it didn't really seem like she's "accepting" that she has a problem. Also, trimming it down to a 60-minute episode might have forced them to cut some of the moralizing at the start.
Then again, if it weren't 90 minutes, we wouldn't have had six musical performances. My thoughts on those, after the jump.
I Feel Pretty/Unpretty - B+
I really, really, really wanna give this an A, but its like the fourth or fifth time this year I thought "Glee" did a mashup unnecessarily when a single song would have sufficed. In this case, not only was the "Unpretty" portion masterfully performed, but it got across the entire message. Adding in "I Feel Pretty" didn't entirely detract from it, but I didn't think it added anything either, and the goal of a mash-up should be to make the entire performance better.
I've Gotta Be Me - B
This had elements of this season's performance of "PYT", this time with Finn handling the singing and Mike Chang handling the dancing, though Finn did some of the latter too. I've always liked this song, and while Finn is no Sammy Davis Jr., he did a solid enough job to not make me hate the performance.
Somewhere Only We Know - B
And so we (likely) say goodbye to the Warblers. This was another good, if not transcendent, performance from the group, once again dominated by Blaine. Just one question: where the hell did the piano come from in the middle of the performance in the courtyard? OK, one more question: how the hell did the entire Warblers group get excused from school in the middle of the day?
As If We Never Said Goodbye - C
OK, I had two problems with this. First, it started directly out of a commercial break, lasted five whole minutes, then went directly to another break. I know this show loves its Kurt, but that was a little much. Secondly, I didn't think it was his strongest vocal performance, at least not until the last minute or so of the song.
Barbra Streisand - C
This was a non-vocal performance, and it kind of threw me for a loop. I get that "Glee" takes some liberties with reality, but the last mall flash mob scene they did was in a dream sequence (in "Dream On"). This appeared to be taking place in the show's reality, which really put a strain on the suspension of disbelief.
Born This Way - A
I'm still not sure how I feel about this song overall -- I don't think it quite measures up to anything that was on "The Fame Monster", which is a bit of a disappointment -- but the "Glee" performance was really well done. A few different people all got their chances to shine, including Kurt (obviously), Tina and Mercedes. Brittany's dancing was beyond spectacular, and it was a nice change of pace to see Kurt's hair styled so differently. I thought the T-Shirts were a nice added touch. As for who wore what, here's the full list:
Emma Pillsbury - "Ginger", when introducing the T-Shirt concept, then "OCD" during the performance.
Will Schuester - "Butt Chin"
Rachel - "N
Kurt - "Likes Boys"
Mercedes - "No Weave!"
Mike Chang - "Can't Sing"
Finn - "Can't Dance"
Sam - "Trouty Mouth"
Artie - "Four Eyes"
Quinn - "Lucy Caboosie"
Zises - "Bad Attitude"
Tina - "Brown Eyes"
Brittany - "I'm With Stoopid" (with an arrow pointing at her head)
Puck - "I'm With Stupid" (with an arrow pointing at his crotch... well played, Puckerman)
Santana - "Bitch", when revealing her shirt to Brittany, then "Lebanese", the shirt Brittany made for Santana.
Santana wasn't on stage for the performance, but was instead sitting in the auditorium watching with Karofsky, wearing the "Lebanese" shirt. She's not out, and now she's stuck in a situation with Karofsky where she can't really come out fully without endangering his closeted status too, and it was obvious from her expression in that final scene that she wasn't entirely happy with it. I'm very interested to see where they go with this in the next few weeks, because I'm not really sure it can end well for everyone.