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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.

MY EYES!

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?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
  • 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+.

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For people who have been fans of Mercedes since season 1, day 1, this moment was completely earned and a very long time in coming. Mercedes sat on the sidelines for 2 years, getting nothing but the big number at the end of the song. She didn't get a boyfriend, she got tots, she didn't get sweet kisses, she got a crush on her gay best friend, she barely got recognition within the club, and when she demanded it, people called her fat and lazy. And not only that, she lost her BFF,one Kurt Hummel to Rachel Berry. So I will take my Samcedes with a cup of sugar since most likely Mercedes isn't returning next season. Looks like Ryan Murphy is only taking his favorite four. Kurt, Rachel, Finn and Santana. But maybe he'll pay Tina some attention before her senior year.

Matt-richenthal

@MizJulie: What sense did Scream make in the context of the episode?
And Quinn's advice was: DUMP FINN NOW OR YOU'RE DOOMED TO MISERY! Yes, I disliked it.

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Yes kids from 1995 could be obsessed with MJ. I teach and I have 5th graders obsessed with him.

Miranda-wicker

The intro song of "Gotta be Startin' Somethin'"? THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE, GLEE. Not like last episode's "Summer Lovin'." This opening number made sense in the context of the show and the conversation the students were having at the time. I agree with you that Sam and Mercedes haven't been given proper development and that irks me, too. I want to want them to be together, but I'm unsure about why I'm supposed to care. And I have a million different ways the writers could've done it better, but, alas, they didn't ask me. Overall, I loved last night's episode. I thought most of it was well done and advanced the plot of this season while also creating stories to be covered in upcoming episodes, like, Finchel, for instance. The kids are making plans for after graduation, but what's Rachel to do now that she's got more options to think about?

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In "Hold on to 16" Sebastian told Kurt he would have Blaine by the end of the class year. How does throwing a rock salting slushee is going to help him get Blaine? Does Blaine likes Sadomasoquism? Did I miss the episode where Kurt hits Blaine with a pink whip to win his love? Or is Blaine the Rubber man from American Horror Story? So many questions and not many people care to respond, not even me. (The Rubber man was Tate by the way)

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Wow. You hated Scream and Quinn's advice to Rachel about high school vs the rest of your life? I must be on the wrong website.

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I really liked this episode of Glee. I thought all the song covers were good but I must admit my favorite was Smooth Crinimal and Black and White. @Kimmie I agree with you 150%. The chemistry between Sebastian and Santana was just crazy. I know he is gay but if Blain can have a straight moment in in season 2 why can't Sebastian have one this season, if for just 1 episode.

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Also I wish Invincible album was cover that is possibly one of the most unappreciated albums ever and like Off The Wall it covers Michael's range.

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My little 5 year old cousin loves MJ and I happen to introduce him to it prior to MJ's death as he was crying and I wanted him to shut up and for some strange factor Thriller is very soothing to children or intrigues them (His favorite song s bad).
Also Rachel not knowing what he was for... um his songs are quite clear... is was always about love and yes as someone who likes Barbara and Liza, people from that era...it weird she doesn't like Michael who performances are drawn from that era with great twist of James Brown.

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Actually as performers it would be weird if they weren't crazy over Michael.
As Michael fan (born in 91 and my mother is not a big Michael fan, when I was four I happen to catch MJ's performance of MITM and flew off the stage in a jet pack right now). I will point out MJ fans are possibly the most crazy fans. And to say none of these kids wouldn't be so crazy over him is a complete lie. No celebrity until this day has ever reached that popularity to the point they literally can not go out or go shopping (MJ never went shopping himself or if he did it had to be incognito).

Glee Season 3 Episode 11 Quotes

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

Santana

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

Mercedes
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