Tuned In

Glee Watch: Free to Be You and Me

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WARNING: Spoilers for last night’s Glee lie ahead.

Maybe it’s just that I badly needed a palate-cleanser after a long night of Lost-induced brain-twisting and sleep-denying, but “Laryngitis” was the first episode of Glee since the season break that I found myself enjoying (mostly) without reservation. Because I’m still a bit Lost-addled, I’ll give my reasons entirely hail of bullets style:

* A big part of it was simple execution. As in, I laughed out loud at this episode far more often than in the past few. “Sampson?” “Agassi,” for instance. And: “I have exactly the same vocal range as 16th century castrato Orlando Di Lasso. But you know what he didn’t have? A song by Miss Whitney Houston in his back pocket.” [Update: Oh, and! “I am like Tinkerbell, Finn. I need applause to live!”]

* The episode also executed much better on a character level, and the songs generally connected with character better than in, say, “The Power of Madonna.” That may partly be because of the assignment of the week: “Choose a song that expresses your identity” will give you performances that, well, express the characters’ identities–or their identity crises.

* Even when the conflicts seemed exaggerated, as they will on Glee, they worked for me. I didn’t necessarily buy Kurt going so far to “turn straight” suddenly, having been so sure of his identity in the past, but I did buy it as an extreme manifestation of his believable (and already established) insecurity over his relationship with his only parent. And his talk with his dad–though it reprised some issues we had in the past–was great work both by Mike O’Malley and Chris Colfer, as his dad expressed his support and his honest challenges in having a gay son without resorting to easy platitudes.

* Also, and not to be a hater: the episode kept Sue Sylvester in check. Which meant that what we got was concentrated, funny and effective. Her scene with Kurt—”Sorry, I checked out of this conversation a minute ago”—was vintage Sue, but I didn’t feel that the episode was striving to meet some Sue quota because of the breakout character’s popularity.

* Yet I still cannot get enough of Brittany: “Your hands are really soft… Kind of what it’d be like to date a baby.” And Kurt’s asking her what a boy’s lips taste like was funny (“Usually dip. Sometimes burgers”) but also poignant. Let’s hope he gets the chance to find out.