Well, I guess there was no way that could last.
It’s been a while, but when the first three episodes of Glee’s third season aired nine months ago, it was somewhat staggering that all of them were pretty solid, with the last aired episode “Asian F” being one of my favorites in a very long time. Nevertheless, I wasn’t ready to proclaim that Glee was back because let’s be honest, it was always inconsistent and evaluating a whole season based on three episodes would only make me look like a fool.
I am really happy I did not make any proclamations. “Pot O’ Gold” is dreadful. If the two season episodes were solid callbacks to the emotionally-charged first 13 episodes of the series, “Gold” is a terrifying callback to the nadirs of the scatterbrained, ridiculous and tonally inconsistent second season. There is no way that the high-quality version of Glee could last forever, but this episode is Glee at its worst: a half-dozen plot threads that are undercooked and illogical, totally random music numbers and mindless conflict for mindless conflict’s sake.
Some of the issues with “Gold” are things we’ve seen from the series before, so I won’t belabor the point on them too much. Brittany assuming that new exchange student Rory (Glee Project winner Damian McGinty) is a leprechaun isn’t too far away from her believing that Santa Claus existed or her assuming that unicorns were real. We get it, she’s a child at heart. I love Brittany and think she’s a really compelling and interesting character, but the series is starting to push it too with her in a way that only Glee can. The series wants us to think that she’s super-cute while obviously acknowledging that she’s a bit dim (you know, except when she’s being randomly lucid and intelligent), but hey man, if you mention that she might want to grow up and start thinking like a normal human being like Finn did in this episode, THEN YOU ARE A BULLY. Ryan Murphy and his team don’t quite understand how bullying works. Ryan, if you television series sucks, and I simply tell you that it sucks, that doesn’t necessarily make me a bully.
In any event, this story was more disappointing because of what it forced McGinty to do. I watched most of The Glee Project and he was clearly the most loveable contestant in the competition and it was sure easy to root for him. However, part of the reason it was easy to root for him is because he had various obstacles to overcome that not only made him more endearing, but kind of showed that he’s not really a good fit for the real Glee world. “Pot O’Gold” confirms that, as he’s forced to be a walking Irish stereotype, sneak into girl’s bedrooms and get pushed into a wall. I really want to root for McGinty, but here, the Rory character sucks most of the underdog charm out of him.
Rory and Brittany’s ridiculous interactions were partially involved in the episode’s attempts to further the “second glee club story,” which was as successful as you might have imagined. I actually like the idea of Santana and Mercedes trying to find an outlet for their talent, especially because so many of their classmates are seniors and trying to take as many performances as possible, but I feel like we already know where this is headed. Will already stupidly acknowledged that he made a mistake with letting the ladies move over to Shelby’s group, which of course only further underscores that Will Schuester is terrible at his job. In any event, we know that the ladies will either come to their senses or give in to Will (or Finn) and re-join the club just in time for Regionals or Nationals.* I guess I’d say that I was happy Cory Monteith and Finn were actually given something to do, but playing the bumbling, failed hero is basically all the series knows (or wants) to do with him at this point.
*Just a side-note: This season was supposed to be about removing distractions and now various members of the glee club are A.) running for school office, B.) working on a full-length musical, C.) leaving the club. Way to go, Will.
We knew that someone was going to run against Sue and her crusade to cut the few thousands of dollars dedicated to arts programs in local schools and thank the good lord that person is not going to be Will. This episode was so problematic in other areas that I didn’t mind this storyline, even if I hate it in macro sense. Burt Hummel is still the series’ best adult character (and maybe just best character period) and while I don’t entirely buy that he’d just jump in the race at the last minute (his name has to be written in, just in case you didn’t realize he was an underdog, though), I do buy that he cares about the things that his two boys do and I do buy that he’s a good enough man to stand up for those things. It will be utterly preposterous when he wins the election in a few weeks, but Mike O’Malley is so good that I’m willing to forgive the awfulness of the story whenever he’s on screen. He and Jane Lynch make good sparring partners.
As mediocre as all those things were, nothing, and I mean nothing, tops what “Pot O’Gold” did with Quinn. At the end of “I Am Unicorn,” she suggested that she and Puck somehow sabotage Shelby so that she would lose custody of Beth and magically come back to Quinn’s open arms and unfortunately, this is not one of those stories that the series hints at one week and then completely forgets about.* Quinn decides the best way to carry out this plan is to plant horrible literature and hot sauce around Shelby’s apartment and then call child services. You guys, this is legitimately the worst thing any person has done on Glee and this is a series where people do deplorable things under the guise of naivety on a weekly basis.
*Artie, where is your cyborg walking machine?!
Worst of all is that Glee is sort of asking the audience to be sympathetic towards Quinn and her horrible decision making. A few episodes ago, it seemed like the series was open to pointing out how awful and stupid she is being (most notably when Will chewed her out and told her to grow up), but not now. There’s an underlying sense here that we are supposed to see Quinn’s crusade as somewhat understandable and there’s just no way I can get there. The series can tell me that she’s messed up her life and thinks this is the only way to make it right all it wants, I will never, ever believe them. And even if I did, sabotaging a clearly stable, well-adjusted adult mother is not the answer. I fully expect that Glee will allow Shelby to loser her baby – likely once child services arrives when she’s in bed with Puck – and I fully expect that Quinn will somehow be the one to take care of little Beth in the aftermath. Glee logic is the damn worst.
Ugh. This episode.
- It’s unfortunate that Quinn’s insanity is present, because Mark Salling is doing great work as Puck this season. His desire to keep the pool-cleaning business going and become a responsible adult is admirable, which means the series will somehow mess it up in future episodes. Salling was really good in this episode and I actually kind of like he and Idina Menzel’s Shelby together. It’s ridiculous, but it makes some sense. I’m okay with that.
- I love Darren Criss and Blaine, but his “I’mma let you guys finish with that sadness over losing members stuff but I need to bust out this Katy Perry solo” moment was hilariously tone-deaf. I’d like to think that the series is building to something since they keep mentioning how he steals the show so often, but I don’t trust them.
- Apparently the series hasn’t forgotten about Santana and Brittany’s romantic relationship. That’s nice.