As it nears the end of the first half of the season, “Glee” keeps churning out some fairly solid episodes. This one, “Mattress,” (which, last time I checked, was called “Once, Upon a Mattress,” but oh well) was no different. In fact, it may be one of the most solid episodes so far.
I think that sticking to a theme – the yearbook – gave them a nice structure to revolve around, and it really anchored the episode. This is something that a lot of the previous episodes have lacked, even though, at times, they desperately needed it. Even though this structure was in place, most of the huge plot points deviated greatly from it. Will finding out about Terri’s terrible lie (that sounds like a children’s book title) had almost nothing to do with the yearbook. However, it all remained connected, and it had a focus, and I hope that’s something we’ll see more of in the back nine episodes.
While this episode was light on the music, it more than made up for it in the emotional punch that it delivered. There was some crazy good acting here, as well as a few hilarious moments (of course), mostly from Sue, my favorite background character, Brittany, and even Rachel, whose intensity in this episode was about as high as the peak of Mount Kiliminjaro. Two of the funniest moments in the first half of the hour came from Ms. Berry:
1.) The yearbook photos with her various clubs (perhaps she used the power of the ACLU to maintain her status as a member of both Muslim Students and the Black Students Union)
2.) Rachel proposing to Kurt that they start a GayLesbAll (it should be noted that his reaction was also priceless).
Sue getting her tear ducts removed was wonderful as well (although, I’m surprised she even waited that long to get the useless suckers ripped out).
My only real complaint about this episode was that Finn was once again being wishy washy about being in glee. I thought we already established in “Mash-Up” that he was going to stop letting that get to him. But, even now, there’s just a little teasing and he goes running. Who really gives a flying rat’s behind if your yearbook photo gets defaced? I mean, it’s probably Brittany who did it anyway, according to her.
And, yet again, Rachel is the one who gets hurt by his being a big baby (“Wah! A Slurpie in the face! Wah! A Sharpie mustache!”). As annoying as Rachel can be, I feel like she deserves or would be more compatible with someone who has a backbone. Finn would completely deserve it if, for once, Rachel didn’t just forgive him. He (well, the writers) need to decide if he’s going to be committed to glee, or if he’s not. Or, at the very least, they need to test his commitment in different ways, instead of just teasing. Even Quinn had the balls to stand by the glee kids, so I don’t know what Finn’s excuse is.
As for the stronger character portrayals (although I’m not necessarily implying that Finn’s flip-flopping tendencies can be blamed on Cory Monteith’s performance), I think that Matthew Morrison really knocked it out of the park tonight. Even though his acting has been pretty strong so far, I could not believe the intensity of his performance in this episode, particularly that pivotal scene where Mr. Schuester finally – finally! - discovers the truth about Terri’s pregnancy. If he keeps delivering moments like those (and I suspect there will be many opportunities in the coming episodes) and they tone down the “Dollar Store Justin Timberlake” performances, then I think he could maybe have a shot at an Emmy nom, or a Golden Globe. In fact, I’ve already heard a bit of buzz, from Variety, I think, that the show and actors might get a couple of Golden Globe noms because the GGs are often willing to award newer shows and breakout stars (or something like that).
Jessalyn Gilsig wasn’t awful in this episode, either; it was the first time that Terri actually seemed human (although the ease with which she made up an excuse for that fake pregnancy belly was chilling). All I know is that I looked like Large Marge from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” throughout that entire scene between Terri and Will in the kitchen.
The last thing I have to say is that I like Quinn more and more each episode. She has flaws, and is being incredibly deceitful, but she’s still one of the most realistic characters on the show, in my opinion. I really think that they’re headed in an interesting direction with her. She learns more and grows more every week, and it’s just another reason why I think that the writers understand the female characters and their personalities more than they do the male characters.
The guys, particularly Finn and Puck (although Mr. Schue has been guilty of this as well, particularly in earlier episodes like “A Cafellas”), are often wishy washy and have malleable traits that the writers fiddle with to fit a certain storyline or episode. I don’t see that as much with many of the female characters. I couldn’t tell you what Finn or Puck’s real intentions are, or the direction their characters are headed, nor could I really, accurately describe their personalities or plot their growth over the series thus far.
But I could easily, easily do that with Rachel and Quinn. I don’t know why that’s something I’ve been picking up on lately, in these last few episodes, but it’s one of the main reasons why I think that the claims that “Glee” is anti-feminist are mostly misguided (I say mostly because it’s undeniable that having two – TWO! – “deceitful pregnant woman” storylines is at least slightly unflattering to women everywhere).
I have astronomically high hopes for the next episode. It better not disappoint because it has to tide us over until April of 2010. As if January and February could be any worse…
-Sue-centric things that I love: Her insistence on insulting Will’s hair, and the increasingly creative ways in which she does it; Sue’s journal with accompanying voice-overs. I can always count on those moments to bring the funny.
-I loved – LOVED! – the “Jump” number on the mattresses (although Cory “Mr. Auto-Tune” Monteith once again had Finn sounding like Cher, circa “Believe”). The Lily Allen “Smile” cover? Not so much. It was almost completely pointless and the song just doesn’t have the same kick without Lily Allen’s sassy British twang. I want to say that at least the vocals were good, but, for some strange reason, they Auto-Tuned the whole thing, even Rachel’s part. This is particularly puzzling considering that they’ve never Auto-Tuned Lea Michele’s voice before, and I highly doubt that she will ever need it. Why do they constantly insist on making every glee club member sound like a flipping T-Pain robot?!
-We haven’t had much Emma/Will/Ken love triangle action in the past few episodes, so it was interesting to see the status of those relationships. The honesty with which Emma and Will talked about their situation in the beginning of the episode (when they talk about Emma missing sectionals for her wedding) was really surprising. In fact, it was almost refreshing, especially considering how these sorts of relationships (the “Will they or won’t they?” couple) are usually handled on TV shows, where the characters will wait a few seasons before even becoming aware of or acknowledging a mutual attraction. But I’m just really interested to see what choice Emma makes regarding her huge scheduling conflict (get married? Or attend sectionals? Hmm).
-Again, I’m loving Brittany. She is to “Glee” what Creed is to “The Office,” or what Ken Cosgrove is to “Mad Men.” The character who is incredibly awesome, despite having so few lines or so little screen time. I particularly loved it when she refused Rachel’s offer to be co-captain because her picture would get defaced. Rachel: ”That won’t happen.” Brittany: ”Yes it will. I’ll be the one doing it.” The delivery there is key. She said it like it was an unavoidable fact of life; she is naturally obligated to deface yearbook pictures, and there’s simply no way around it.
-Love that Emma counts Ken’s flaws. ”He has 74 as of yesterday.” Hmm… I’d say make it 75, seeing as how Ken probably knew that he was scheduling their wedding to coincide with glee club sectionals.
-Again, Rachel’s intensity and determination were at an all-time high here. For once, the other glee kid’s wishes matched up with hers. ”Everyone voted for Rachel – including Rachel.” And she totally owned on that commercial. In fact, I’m almost upset that we didn’t get to see more of the commercial that they originally had planned. Puck was displaying some serious acting chops there as the recently fired factory worker.
One more episode until our 4+ month long “Glee” drought. At least I can keep the crushing depression at bay for one more week.