The most controversial Glee episode yet - even more than the teen sex one. Bloody interesting, but Glee has opened up a massive new set of issues. And I'm sorry but this is going to be a bloody long review.
I couldn't start this review by talking about anything but Karofsky. Now I heard a spoiler about the plotline, and I was fearful. Whether he lived or died, or whether he actually attempted to kill himself was irrelevant - the idea of teen suicide is so brutal and topical that Glee would have to treat it perfectly to be able to do it - and we know how they normally behave in these situations. But I've watched the episode, and I think they've done a bloody good job.
The topic was dark, and Glee did not shy away from showing this side of teenage life. The 'Cough Syrup' song was beautiful, and the entire scene was lyrically and visually, stunning, with an amazing performance by Maz Adler. Now, Glee has become DARK, there is no denying, but thats where its strength lies - in showing the darkness of humanity, it stresses and demonstrates the importance of good.
What I thought was stunning and quite upsetting in the episode was the way in which it came across as a love letter to the fans. It was essentially an hour of everyone involved in Glee pleading that the audience, as well as the characters, look to a better time - they mentioned Lady GaGa's Born This Way Foundation, and in America, a new commercial for the Trevor Project debuted during the episode. Now, criticisms of the plot point have read that 'Glee is acting as social services, as a public service announcement' but if noone else is going to do anything for the kids of today, why shouldn't Glee? The idea that the producers of Glee are now going out of their way to put an end to bullying and prejudice is phenomenal - the episode, and let's face it, the series, is moving in so many ways.
The scene between Kurt and Karofsky needs constant praise, for at least a couple of years - it was the best, and most moving, emotional scene, in Glee history. Max Adler and Chris Colfer urgently deserve some awards for the scene, because I'm not exaggerating when I say it was a phenomenal and incredible piece of television. The idea of looking forward to the future, that one day, the shitstorm will pass, is the basis for the Trevor Project's 'It Gets Better' campaign. But Glee took this one step further, and said that the future can, and will, be incredible. Karofsky's future scene was a heart-wrenching dream sequence, and again I cannot praise Adler's performance highly enough. The strength of the scene rests on the relationship between the two young actors, and the stress they put upon how amazing everyone's future can be. What I also think works well in Glee is that Colfer is in a position to be an intensely inspirational figure to youth. He is a fantastic actor, has a children's book coming out, and has starred in and written the new feature film 'Struck by Lightning' - he is a success story. What I would appreciate, which is missing in the 'On The Way: Behind the Scenes' clip is Colfer speaking candidly about success, and teen suicide - it would be massively interesting to have some candid, inspirational words.
What remains to be seen is how the story is taken from here - Kurt said 'I'm glad you're alive David' and he said 'So am I' - so hopefully there will be no further suicide attempts. However, his mother said he has a disease, and I don't know whether he should or will return to his home. What is important is that Glee does not skirt past the issue, or ship Karofsky off and forget about him - to retain the integrity and importance of this plot, aftercare is essential. The episode was intensely moving, and I hope will make some people a little more thoughtful - but even so, if it saves one person from attempting suicide because of bullying, then that's amazing.
The music in the episode was strong - despite the new trend to squeeze competition numbers into quick segments to allow for other plot points, Regionals still managed to be a tense and fraught affair. The Warblers pulled out some of their best songs since Blaine defected, and the New Directions numbers, despite not particularly 'inspirational' like the brief, or original, I still enjoyed them. But Regionals did seem to come as a secondary plot to the rest of the episode. Not least was this because 'Cough Syrup', song-wise, performance- and meaning-wise, blew most of this season's songs out of the water. The song suited Criss' voice perfectly, and it's one of the few Glee tracks I've listened to countless times. Indeed, I'm listening to it now.
The 'Peanut Butter Sharing Circle of Forced Positivity' made it debut on the show this week, and despite its initial cringiness (either Schuester is lying, or he's bloody mental - we met his dad in series one, and he's pretty chilled), this scene was brilliant. The idea that everyone should look forward to something was strong, and put into place more clearly than ever before this season (should really have happened around episode one) where each character is heading and where they want to go. Their ideas were undermined somewhat by the notion that 'everybody has something that would take them to that edge', because surely what would make you end it all could be inextricably linked to what we want to happen in the future? It's the idea of these hopes 'not happening' which can be the killer. What was strong though was the difference in ambition, and I felt that every viewer should be able to relate to one of the hopes.
Little Bits of Thought:
-Sugar said that if someone photoshopped pictures of her like they did to Finn, she'd kill herself - insensitive, no? Possibly a comment on people's casual attitudes to suicide, but this is Glee, so no it was just thoughtless.
-The teacher's meeting over the suicide attempt showed the bureaucracy and fear of teachers, but Emma hit the nail on the head - 'then whose job was it [to know]'.
-the Karofsky plot was a good way to humanise Sebastian
-finally the Rachel/Finn marriage has some impetus to actually happen now - before, they could have put it back years, but now there's a reason for a wedding scene
-Sue's pregnancy is interesting - I genuinely have no idea who the father is
-Going to ignore Quinns comments over Karofsky's suicide - don't know what message they're trying to give.
-The trailer tricked us by thinking that Quinn would turn up to the wedding. Now, this is NOT a deleted scene - they're in the marriage location, dressed in bridesmaids/wedding dresses, and Quinn is telling Rachel not to marry Finn, even though in the school scene, she said she'd support it. Would like some clarification as to whether this was filmed as a decoy, or whether this fitted into the script in some bizarro fashion.
Now to the biggest heartbreak of the episode - Quinn. She is one of my favourite characters - she has turned her life around, she is immensely talented and her scenes about getting into Yale and 'graduating... at the top of my class' are the most touching future-based scenes yet. The idea that we should seize the day - live every day as if it were our last - was delivered by the Karofsky plot; now, does Quinn's crash undermine this idea, driving it into overkill, or just emphasise the point? I think it depends on the happiness of the outcome. I'm not OK with the idea that this is a preachy 'don't text and drive' message (though I am driving ten times safer since the episode) or the message that bad things happen to good people who are going somewhere.
The crash itself and its visuals were intensely dramatic - but as a 'shocking winter finale cliffhanger' - is there any actual need for this as part of the story? In terms of characters, I want her to be OK - even if she is in a wheelchair as set reports suggest, the idea of her overcoming adversity which is set upon her later in life, and still succeeding, is interesting. But for the integrity of the plot, she really should die. The crash was into her side of the car, just as she passed, it hit her window, side-on. And she was going fairly fast. Whatever the outcome, I want a big emotional payoff about the future and her ambition - considering the lead-up in the episode, to her being a great person, and having a special future, it seems like the antithesis of Glee's message to then kill her off.
I hope these thoughts aren't as incoherent as they seem - please comment or tweet me @Jakeshaker with any opinions, would love to hear them.