Glee Review: Rock Salt with You

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I liked Glee's Michael Jackson tribute episode a lot more than I thought I would. A backward compliment? Sure. But, hey, it's still a compliment.

Unlike past tribute episodes - to Britney Spears, to Christmas - this one managed to weave in a few key developments, mostly basing its MJ covers around ongoing storylines and legitimate character realizations...

... with the exception of Artie's totally random moment of anger, which resulted in an imagined "Scream" performance and an imagined few minutes of Artie walking around that served as an example of everything Glee can do so wrong: ignoring all logic and continuity for the sake of a song it can sell on iTunes.


But I'll ignore that - and also ignore the fact that these kids are 16-18 years old, and Jackson last released an album in 2001, and, as harsh as it sounds, until he died, his music was NOT what most people talked about any time the icon came up, making it hard to believe today's high school kids would really worship the guy and constantly talk about "WWMJD?" - in order to focus on the positive aspects of the episode. They include:

Sebastian. Give it up for a true villain! We all love Sue Sylvester, but she's really just a quote machine at this point. Viewers can't take her seriously. Certainly not when compared to a guy that fills a slushee with rock salt.

There's been talk of making Grant Gustin a series regular on season four and I'd be all for it. Just don't even try to soften him up, Glee. There's nothing wrong with having a sincere antagonist for the group to rally against, especially when it leads to Santana threatening to go "all Danny LaRusso" on his ass. That was awesome.

Finchel. They clearly should not get married, not when each of them is essentially saying they need the other person in their life because, well, they don't have much else in their life. That's not a healthy outlook on love.

But I definitely appreciated the extra attention given to the proposal here; the duet they sang; Finn's commitment to making the most important question he'll ever ask more memorable than a quick, unexpected speech in the auditorium; and what can only be described as a hesitant yes from Rachel, at least once she realized how she shared the huge NYADA news with someone else prior to her fiance. Heck, what she even thinking of Finn at the time?

Quinn's negative advice to Rachel - you don't want an anchor from the past holding you back from the bright lights of the future - is pretty much magazine-spewing nonsense. If you love someone, you love someone. Period. But is this true love? Or is it high school love? Would Finn complete her, or hold her back?

The performances. They were great. That's never my issue with Glee. We all know how talented the cast is; I just often take exception when Glee comes across more like a concert (or, even worse, a PDA-inspired concert) than a television show and I vehemently disagree with those who somehow claim we shouldn't expect strong storytelling just because the characters sing.

(Watch Smash on Monday. Trust me, you can have both.)

So I'm happy to give props to my favorite covers here, which were led by Santana and Sebastian's simple, cello-accompanied "Smooth Criminal" and which concluded with the whole group nailing "Black or White," including a version of the face morphing MJ made famous in that video.

What didn't work for me? Anything involving Quinn. Sorry, the show ruined her forever in my book when she went all nutso in an attempt to get her daughter back.

Similarly, I feel no emotional attachment to Sam and Mercedes. As I said in my last review, we saw these two holding hands once, and we've barely seen more of Mercedes and Shane. It's times like these when my irritation grows because it wouldn't have been challenging to have built up an actual love triangle, or to actually have given Mercedes something to do outside of New Directions. That way, a duet such as the one here would have felt earned, not contrived.

Also: Did the group really choose to perform a number instead of go to the police with evidence of the rock salting? (And wouldn't remnants of the slushee also be pretty good evidence? Wouldn't doctors have picked up on the substance in Blaine's eyes?) That might be the most Glee-ish storyline ever. I don't mean that as a compliment.

But there I go being negative again. So I'll turn this over to the readers. What was your favorite cover? Is it believable that kids born in 1995 would be this into Michael Jackson? Will Rachel eventually turn Finn down? Should she?


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (281 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


No Sue + great covers + lots of performances = great Glee episode. I'm not a fan of Quin either. I don't like her voice, her singing or her character, so meh on all counts. I don't think Rachel should marry Finn, especially if she feels like it's all she has left! We'll see how that turns out.


I'm torn for this tribute episode. Part of me hates it for too much performances rather than dialogue? (Ben is a waste of time) But I also love how there are so many plot developments.
I have teary eyes at the scene Rachel thought she got rejected from NYADA and how sweet when she said Yes to Finn? So amahzing.
And Matt, thank you for starting to review the performances rather than the lack of development.
My favorite ones are "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and "Smooth Criminal".


I loved every minute of it. The music was great. Mj is timeless as someone said-Glee did the music justice. I loved all the story lines including Finchel.


I think Rory was under utilized in the episode as one thing for sure he certainly made those across the pond go nuts over him. I really wanted a reaction from him.
Also to say he was shot back into popularity until his death was lie because if that was so the man wouldn't has highest fastest sold out concert O2 ever had (and I recall of alot of those ticket were under the age of 25) and had he ever returned to the US to perform (as MJ had not officially tour in the US since the 80's) trust me places would be sold.
The man is timeless. Long Live the King!


I really liked Quinn in this episode and i totslly agreed with her speech! You have no idea how many people I have seen throw away their lives just so they could be with somebody, which I find ridiculous! Why do they have to marry now? Couldn't they go to NY and live together for a while and once she's doing her thing and (hopefully) he's doing his thing, then they can get together!!


I know that the episode wasn't perfect but after I expected less from the show they pumped and prooved me wrong we all do know that the episode was better than the previous once ( Yes/No, An extraordianary merry christmas)... between I like Sebastien + I'm 17 and I'm all over MJ and I'm from Morocco. + His music is POP culture I like his songs from when he was a J5 till he died I worship that man meanwhile my favorit performance is Starting somethig and Black and white did like Smooth Criminal but i wasn't all Yeah and I think the worse Performance (not song) is SCREAM I mean what the fuck (even If I Liked how Mike looked he looked like a memeber from a J-ROCK band)


I teach third grade, and my kids ADORE Michael Jackson. That is all. :)


I don't think there is any limit to Michael's music ! I mean even in FRANCE we talk about him and say how great he was ! Ask anyone in every country they will always know who is Michael Jackson ! Anyway, about Glee I freaking LOVED the performances ! Especially the Smooth Criminal and Scream ones !


I LOVED Artie and Mike's rendition of Scream. I really thought they did a great job and it showed just how angry Artie was about being pushed around and bullied. I thought Quinn's advice was spot-on, as well. Seems the things you liked about this episode are the things I could've done without. I felt that Heather Morris was severely under-utilized in an episode that really could've shown off her dance skills. On another note, my daughter is only 14, but she's a HUGE MJ fan. She even asked for a poster of him for Christmas. I think musical taste really hinges on what you're exposed to throughout your life and she knows his music better than I do at this point.


I liked art's bit. Santana was flawless. Blaine was great. I liked the development in between. It all worked and was one of their better tributes. See, I like Samcedes. So much so that I appreciate any of their moments because I know they will never get a fleshed out storyline. Mercedes never really does, so I wasn't surprised over the lack of a love triangle. In some ones the fact that we were teased with handholding and then left to imagine things for ourselves, made their ship more appealing because the writers couldn't screw it up. But it is lazy writing and unfortunate that they have the chance to explore an arguably unorthodox couple and give two underused and possibly neglected characters a decent storyline and they don't. Unless being understated is deliberate.They sounded fantastic together.

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Glee Season 3 Episode 11 Quotes

I'd throw this mocha in your face, but it's not nearly scalding enough.


I don't want to see the spectacle that is Michael. I want to be the spectacle that is Michael.