Tuned In

Glee Watch: What the Funk Was That?

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Spoilers for last night’s Glee coming up:

Last night, we learned that New Directions were in a funk because they had been intimidated by Vocal Adrenaline. And Rachel was in a funk over her breakup. And Quinn was in a funk over her pregnancy. And Will was in a funk over the glee club’s prospects. And he put Sue into a funk over her loneliness. Finally New Directions performed a funk song that put Vocal Adrenaline in a funk because “We’ve never been able to pull off a funk number.”

In other news, the episode was titled “Funk.”

Sigh. I wish I could blame “Funk”‘s problems on the fact that it aired out of order. (It was meant to air before last week’s “Theatricality.”) But the out-of-order airing didn’t badly hurt the relatively strong “Theatricality,” whereas “Funk” was simply a mess. Arguably, in fact, part of its problem was that it was an episode that could air easily out of order. Glee is a very serial show, after all, but this episode largely consisted of moments that felt dropped in and random, in a way that undermined even the good moments.

As in some of the episodes earlier this season, too much of “Funk” seemed dedicated to “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” storylines that serviced elements of the series that are really popular among the fan base. Case in point, Will’s seduction of Sue, which seemed driven less by character than by someone deciding, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we almost got Will and Sue together?”

I’m sure it got plenty of people on Twitter writing, “OMG SUE AND SHUE! GLEE DID NOT JUST GO THERE!!!” But, I don’t know, I kind of want Glee to have ambitions greater than making the Trending Topics list. The whole device seemed out of character for Will, and falling for the ruse seemed implausible for Sue. Yes, it led to some funny lines, and the episode later gave Sue a motivation and explanation, in which she said that she was so lonely that she fell for Will simply because he was there. But Glee needs to understand that there’s a difference between simply writing an explanation for a someone’s behavior and actually having it seem a believable outgrowth of their character. (Also, at one point my notes read, “I do not want to see this much of Will’s butt!” But of course, that’s a subjective call.)

Even leaving aside the horrible egg-throwing scene, meanwhile, Jesse’s breakup with Rachel was jarringly abrupt, and dealt with hurriedly in the episode’s rush to set up and resolve storylines. (That’s probably one weakness you can attribute to the out-of-order airing.) As was pretty much everything else “Funk” dealt with: Terri’s attraction to Finn, Finn and Puck’s alliance, Quinn and Mercedes’ bonding (which also raised the uncomfortable comparison between Quinn and oppressed minorities).

Even at that, “Funk” contained some arresting moments. Quinn’s song and dance number with the “Unwed Mothership” backing her up may have been bizarre (and I assume, at that stage of pregnancy, biologically unlikely), but it was just the sort of audacious, provocative Glee number that I loveā€”the problem for me was that it essentially could have been inserted in pretty much any episode this season. And Puck’s brief fantasy of singing Beck’ “Loser,” with the staff and customers of Linens and Things (and by extension, I guess, pretty much all of Lima) joining in on the self-flagellating chorus was the kind of marriage of bleak and exhilarating that Glee has a patent on.

But as a whole, this felt more like a pile of leftover Glee episode parts than a fully constructed whole. Let’s hope they put the pieces together for the season finale.