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Glee Review: A Very Special Episode

by at . Comments

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.

Rachel Out Front

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:

 

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (475 Votes)

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

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As a mom of a teen daughter who identifies as a lesbian and as a mom of a teen daughter whose best friend attempted suicide last summer due to her own sexual identity issues I have to applaud the attempt to deal with this subject. It was very close to home and made for uncomfortable viewing for all the right reasons. I think they handled the different-issues-for-different-kids angle really well and if it makes one student stop and think instead of insulting my daughter for who she chooses to kiss then Bravo!!

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I didn't have much of a problem with the portrayal of the suicide attempt itself and its direct handling though I do agree with Nina that Karofsky and family should have been shown getting professional help. My problem was that I felt this plot was relegated to a B plot while Regionals and the team were the A plot. I think if you do something as shocking and emotional as showing a gay teen attempting suicide, the whole episode should revolve around that and its aftermath. This should have been treated the same way Burt's heart attack was, as a life-changing moment in someone's life, even if it only affected Kurt. Having the episode as a character study or even a situation study would have been much more effective, musical or not. Like the reviewer said, if this episode led to one person getting help, it was worth it. I hope that anyone reading this knows that if you are in that kind of dark place, you should reach out for help.

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Matt;
I'm glad an episode finally pleased you. I thought it was a bit preachy, but at least in a positive way. I still enjoyed the banter and the music, I thought the Warblers were fantastic I even wanted to hear more form the Golden Goblets, or whatever the kids from "Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows" were called.
My real problem is an ongoing one. The one liners, specifically Rory and Brittany. They talk too fast, or perhaps are edited too tight. Rarely do I catch what they are saying without backing up the DVR and running it by a couple more times.
As for the Q-crash, yeah we saw that one coming down the street. But since they rarely do cliffhangers on this show, doing one now and again is not so bad.

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Dude, I do not want a build up to a cliffhanger. That is so Ryan Seacrest on Ameican Idol. It doesn't build suspense, just boredom. I liked the Shock Value of what they did. The Karovsky suicide attempt was pretty obvious, but very sad. I'm glad he didn't actually die. What agitated me was that most of the things that happened in the trailer for this week's episode didn't actually happen ON yesterday's episode. But I liked the musical numbers, and the story line. I really enjoyed it and cannot wait until April 10th!

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I feel that they just glossed over everything that Kurt went through these past seasons. I feel bad that Karofsky felt like suicide was his only option but the way they handled it made me hate Glee. Given the past history that they share Kurt should not be the one to deal with Karofsky. I'm sure there are kids like Karofsky out there in need of help but so there are kids like Kurt. Good kids who get bullied while not succumbing to becoming bullies themselves. Is Glee's message that they should just endure and forgive their bullies because they are the ones really in need of help? The absolute worst about this episode was how they didn't even show Karofsky getting professional help. It's sad that the only things that I liked about this episode were Sugar (loved Sugar's and Blaine's love for the vampire judge), Rachel's dads, Cough Syrup, Stronger (not the random dancers though) and few background moments.

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I think it's really offensive to call Karofsky's suicide attempt 'pathetic' or the writing of it etc. Some people are stronger than others, Kurt's father accepted his sexuality, David's mother thinks it's a 'disease' - he was a 'jock' and had different 'expectations' thrust on him than Kurt did (who's pretty much always been openly gay..?). You can't judge someone's actions based on your view of them, you don't know how (if he was a real person and not a fictional character) he was feeling. Kurt was stronger and had things to pull him through (dreams and support from the glee club/his father).
Some people will think Will's 'almost-suicide' is ridiculous, but it's not a contest of who is the most depressed and most 'deserving' of that title - human emotion is complex and like Will says, everyone has that something that could lead them to that ledge.

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I disagree, I think they did build up to the car accident, with the episode almost centered around Quinn in a way. Her reaction to Karofsky's suicide attempt, her wanting back in the Cheerio's, her finally deciding to go to the wedding etc. I almost feel like it's been building since the beginning of this series/season. In response to her having the bridesmaid dress at home, I assumed that Rachel & Finn had got them all for the girls and had given them to them 'just in case' and she kept it because she was still deciding.

Blu

My issues aside, Max gave the performance of a lifetime last night. Truly remarkable. He should be proud of himself for that. I also thought it provided us with some great scenes. Mr.Shue having a real,honest,pure sitdown with his students reminded me of how great of a teacher he used to be before he became that guy who writes the theme down on the board every week. I loved how authentic that scene was. Also Dave and Kurt chatting in the hospital...fantastic scene.

Blu

Concur w/ review. It is difficult to speak negatively about an episode that tackled such a serious topic. I did feel emotionally manipulated.I was literally watching in horror and saying "no "repeatedly during that scene. Because it's an intense topic to cover with a character whom we've hardly seen since last year. It left too much to the imagination too much offscreen. It was impactful but it probably should have been more so if we seen more of the build up or some of the more personal stuff for David's character specifically afterward. So in regards to actually storytellig it was a bit lazy and they sacrificed the journey for the gutwrenching result and overall message. Same goes for Quinn. It was predictable for starters so I was waiting for it to happen rather than wondering if it would. It was again emotionally exploitive and a cheap trick to give a cliffhanger. Can't say that I hated the episode given the subject matter.it gave us great scenes and was relatively solid.

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(cont. from below)
Artie who will probably help her through the fact that she isn't going to be able to end her time in high school on the Cheerios and encourage her to be optimistic, even though he himself is constantly depressed about not being able to walk or dance. Then in the end, she'll somehow get to end the year in a Cheerios routine, possibly still in the wheelchair, because Sue has suddenly become sympathetic to Quinn (because Karofsky attempted suicide? why did that event make all of the villains nice?). And THAT is my guess for Quinn's story arc the rest of this season.

Glee Season 3 Episode 14 Quotes

In the last week, you either enjoyed a delicious curry or a hug from Principal Figgins.

Sue

You give the gay community cutting edge fashion that's usually only seen on Puerto Rican pride floats.

Sebastian