Here’s the thing: I love Glee. And I want to love every episode. Really, I do. But, geez Louise, they are not making that an easy task so far this season — and, unfortunately, “The Substitute” did nothing to turn the tide for me. Though, I must admit, I was unjustly hard on Gwyneth Paltrow as Holly Holiday in the previews. As Tina put it, “She was just kind of a nice break.”

Well, let’s dive right in, shall we?

OMG, swine flu is so 2009. Now it’s all about monkey flu! And thanks to a little Sue scheming, Figgins is taken out by a giant monkey flu-flying sneeze.

Glee1.JPGWhich means, Sue’s path to more power has just gotten a little more clear, as she somehow steps into Figgins role as principal. Our flu-y phlegmster also falls into Mr. Schue’s path, infecting him as well, which leads to the unfortunate re-entrance of Terri into Will’s life and a super-uncomfortable sneak peek inside what their (shudder) sex life must have been like — something involving playing a sick baby role-playing game (which makes Will seem all the more creepy).

Will’s at-death’s-door appearance also opens the floor for one Ms. Holly Holiday (Gwyneth Paltrow) to step in as substitute for Will’s Spanish class (yes, the Spanish class we never see him teach, nor do we ever hear him speak Spanish — props to Gwyneth, as we actually got to witness her doing both) and, thanks to Kurt, for the glee club.

And here’s where the Glee writing staff’s thought process sort of unravels for me. Holly obviously cares about being a great teacher — she uses examples the kids can relate to (even if it is a played Lindsay Lohan mention), she tweets praise to them, she sings “Conjunction Junction” in an English class and dresses up as Mary Todd Lincoln for a history class. Yet the writers also want us to think that she’s irresponsible (e.g., being totally OK with Mercedes plugging Sue’s tailpipe with tots, telling Rachel, “You suck. You’re a total drag,” and giving Puck the answers to a pop quiz). It just doesn’t add up for me.

It’s also as if the writers are trying to show us, See? Will has the moral fiber these kids need!


So sleeping with your ex-wife and then telling her to never come back to your house again the next day is way more responsible?

And speaking of responsible and moral, where did Sue’s war on junk food come from? Sue’s underhanded, shady, deceptive, corrupt and power-hungry, yet she’s tackling an issue like nutrition in the form of banning tater tots (i.e., deep-fried deer poop) from the school? Am I having a fever-induced hallucination? Granted, the tactic does garner her Figgins position, officially (and BTW, there’s no way they’re not bringing Figgins back as principal, right?).

After last week’s episode, I just needed a little respite from the intensity — and even with all the story weirdness, I thought we might get it … until Kurt’s bully Karofsky emerged with a wink and a gay slur. Admittedly, that would be the real world of high school — a bullied kid would not get a break from his bully — but I don’t watch Glee for a picture of the real world. And then came the rotten apple moment that spoiled an already-mediocre apple of an episode: Karofsky’s very real, very scary threat to Kurt after asking him if he had told anyone about their kiss:

“You keep it that way. ‘Cuz if you do, I’m gonna kill you.”

WTF! This just got a little too real for me. Too real to even enjoy the kids getting their teacher back and prancing around in the rain with Schue and Holly.

I mean, is this how Kurt ends up transferring schools? Because he legitimately fears for his life? Dios mio. Methinks no amount of mashups can distract from that scarring storyline. Here’s hoping Kurt’s pop’s and Finn’s mom’s pending nuptials next week — as well as a visit from the amazing Carol Burnett — can get things back on track.

And now for the shiny, happy part of the evening …

The Music

3465121_05005cd2-c72a-4a89-9497-d6ceca55cb9a-eglee-ep207-sc44-027-1.jpgSchoolhouse Rock’s “Conjunction Junction” sung by Holly Holiday
Super-cute and super-brief, which I think totally worked in this case.

Cee Lo’s “Forget You” sung by Holly
I definitely hated it less once I got to know her character and give the performance bonus points for Brittany’s robot. I still think they should have made it “Eff You” rather than “Forget You,” and was the pronoun change really necessary? 

Singin’ in the Rain
‘s “Make ‘Em Laugh” sung by Mr. Schue
The choreography in tonight’s episode was totally spot on and really creative, especially during this song with Mike Chang on dance backup.

Chicago‘s “Nowadays” sung by Rachel and Holly
Loved the choreography and the flapper dresses, and yes, Gwyneth looked goofy but she also looked like she was having fun and not taking herself seriously — which I totally appreciate. Plus, Holly totally held her own up there with Rachel.

Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain”/Rihanna‘s “Umbrella” mashup sung by the glee club, Will and Holly
Best song of the night, hands down. Loved the choreography, yet again, and Holly and Schue actually make beautiful music together (though their dancing together sort of skeeved me out). But really, shouldn’t the kids be getting the solos, since they’re considering this number for sectionals?

What did you guys think of tonight’s episode? Favorite song? Craving tater tots now? Think the bully death threat was too serious for Glee?

(Images courtesy of FOX)


Jen Harper

Editor, BuddyTV