Glee Review: A Very Special Episode
There's no way to properly review this as an episode of television. "On My Way," the final new Glee episode until April 10, was really nothing more than a Public Service Announcement.
I don't even mean that term in the derogatory sense with which I've often used it. It was, truly, literally - okay, almost - a Public Service Announcement, replete with mentions of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation and The Trevor Project.
And, look, if Glee in general, and this episode in particular, helps a single teen see his or her life in a more positive manner, then that's clearly more important than its value as a piece of entertainment. Bullying is a serious issue, so is depression, so is suicide and there's a part of me that's glad there's a show out there tackling the topics in a serious manner.
Moreover - while I remain the type of viewer who wants to be entertained, not educated - I appreciate how the hour really did focus on that one topic and actually did take it seriously.
Any regular reader of my reviews knows that my biggest problem with Glee is how it jumps around from one storyline to another, scarcely touching on serious subject matters - such as last week's insulting way it burned through religion vs. homosexuality - before it churns out a new song to wrap everything up in a tidy, iTunes-ready bow.
I applaud the series for not doing that here, for giving such a prolonged platform to such a heady problem in society.
Was it emotionally manipulative up the wazoo? Of course. The show just drops Karofsky back into our lives last Tuesday, conjures up this entire struggle he's apparently had way, way, way off screen and then yanks as hard as possible at our heart strings by having him attempt suicide.
There's no consistent, thought-out structure or plan at work here by the writers. There's merely the goal of making a societal point and making fans cry.
But, again, for an episode that clearly wanted to send a message about the struggles many teenagers face with identity and acceptance, it was very well done. It's simply up to viewers to decide if that's what they want from a television show.
And no matter what your answer is to that question, we can all stop and give props to Max Adler as Karofsky. Terrific work by the actor here.
Meanwhile, it was hard to tell if New Directions actually earned its victory because we saw so many more of its performances than any other group. I did enjoy Rachel's "Here's to Us," though the reaction by her dads was a tad over the top. Had they never seen their daughter perform before?
I also must wonder: why does the third place team always act so happy when announced as finishing in third place? There are only three teams! (And why are there only three teams in Regionals?)
Elsewhere: Sue is somehow pregnant? Ridiculous. But whatever.
And Quinn is involved in a seemingly life-threatening car accident? This clearly works as a cliffhanger, in terms of making viewers anxious for the next episode, but it's the epitome of poor writing. A good television shows builds to its cliffhangers. You want to be able to go back and see how a story came together, how it led from point A to point B and then to - whoa! - the suspense or emotion-filled point C that leaves you dying for more.
You don't want to think the show just stuck a character inside a car, had her send a text message and then rammed her with a truck because, hey, that will get fans talking! It's just very lazy, and is also likely leading to a Don't Text While Driving episode this spring. And maybe you'll look forward to it, that's fine.
As I said above, it all comes down to what you expect or want from a show such as Glee. In tonight's case, I can't say I expected Karofsky to try and hang himself inside his closet. But once the message of the episode sunk in, and I accepted the PSA theme as it was intended, I could at least appreciate the effort.
What did everyone else think of the special episode? Sound off in the comments and in this poll:
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