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Glee Recap: Funk

June 1, 2010

Just when I was thinking it’d be nice to hear another Queen number, Glee delivers “Another One Bites the Dust,” but this time it’s performed by Vocal Adrenaline, who have descended on McKinley High to strut their stuff in front of New Directions. What’s more, it’s a Vocal Adrenaline headlined by hot-hot-hot Jesse St. James. Yes, I do heart Jonathan Groff. Damn.

It’s a spectacular performance (although it’s no “Somebody to love me”). But someone please explain to me why Jesse is apparently off Rachel and back to VA. Did something happen between them I didn’t see? I really thought they had something real between them, and by the look on Rachel’s face, so did she. The last time we saw them wasn’t Jesse, with a great deal of sensitivity, helping Rachel reunite with her birth mother Shelby?

Anyway, exactly according to VA’s evil plan, New Directions are completely demoralized by this show of strength the week before Regionals. To add insult to injury, when they head to the choir room to regroup they find it trashed and TPed. Let’s go ahead and say it: our kids are thrown into a funk. Now how are they gonna drag themselves out?

Puck and Finn momentarily put aside differences to cooperate in a spree of vandalism—slashing the tires of the new Range Rovers gifted to the members of Vocal Adrenaline after Sectionals (Shelby, in one of the best throwaway lines of the night: “”We have a very active booster club”). For this they and Will are dragged before Shelby and Principal Figgins (and, for some reason, Sue Sylvester), but, in a fine scene for  Iqbal Theba (who must be as tired of the “Glee Club will be canceled” ultimatums he is mostly limited to as we are), Principal Figgins unexpectedly comes through by smoothing things over with Shelby with some uncharacteristically smooth flattery. Thanks to him, Puck and Finn will not be suspended or thrown off Glee Club but they will have to pay for the tires.

Will holds a clandestine meeting with former Glee Club director Sandy Ryerson, who clues him in on Vocal Adrenaline’s Achilles’ heel—they can’t do funk, being soulless. Will returns to the choir room to assign the kids a funk number and Quinn surprises everyone by volunteering to go first, which Mercedes mocks because how can a little blonde girl have funk? Diana retorts that if funk = anger + soul then she has plenty of both, suffering as she is from the torment of people now thinking her fat and unpopular.

Rachel pours her heart out to Will, whining (sorry, sharing) that she’s lost the will to compete because she’s so broken-hearted by Jesse’s betrayal. Which gives Will an evil plan of his own. He comes on to Sue Sylvester like a gravy boat of hot butterscotch syrup, complimenting her “striking” looks and winning ways. Then under the guise of asking whether a selection is too sexy or not, he belts out a hot-n-heavy wa-wa-wop version of Rufus and Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good,” accompanied by lots of hilariously gratuitous grinding, butt-thrusting, and bending over.

However, it seems as though Steely Sue is impervious to his charms and Will collapses in defeat, breathless from his exertions.

Cut to Puck and Finn wearing little brown clerk aprons, learning to fold chamois cloths under Terri Schuester’s supervision at Sheets N Things to make some tire-replacement money. Sheets N Things is a pretty dismal place to work and all (including Terri and Howard) break into a rendition of Beck’s “Loser.” Puck and Finn sound great together but the video on this was hard to watch. I’m usually oblivious to bad lip syncing and I’ll cut anyone who disses Finn around me, but it must be said: Finn’s syncing is bad on this song. Really bad.

A rapacious Terri turns cougar on Finn—he’s 16 years old like Will was when they fell in love. Sheesh, she scares me with her empty eyes. She promotes Finn to Assistant Manager and he tells her she’d be a total MILF, if it weren’t for that whole “faking a baby thing.”

Meanwhile, it transpires that Sue was in fact won over by Will’s ridiculously obvious seduction. As she confides in her journal: “For the first time in years I experienced feeling below the neck.”

She lets Will know she’s interested and he comes right back at her, with flowers, appletini protein powder and the oldie but goodie line about “something between us that can’t be denied,” which translates into a Wednesday night date at Breadsticks—the week before Nationals, no less. He spreads a thick schmear of lasciviousness on the corn pone (“You know what Wednesday is, right? Hump Day.”) and Sue eats it up.

Quinn is ready to sing her funky piece and it turns out to be “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.” I’ve found Quinn’s singing (and face it, her character) pretty dull but I liked the twist of a young girl singing the James Brown classic, and she sold it. The song suited her chesty voice and she surprised me with her timbre on the fierce parts—more than I thought her capable of. McKinley must have one of those abstinence-only sex ed programs, because that’s an awful lot of pregnant girls. Big bowl of condoms on Emma’s desk, STAT!

Sue spends a miserable evening alone at Breaksticks before she realizes she has been set up and stood up by Will and storms over to his house to confront him (Will: “Right on time.”). Will tells her that cruelty was the only way to get her attention. And besides: ”You’re a bully and you’re mean to kids.” Sue’s defense: “I’m mean to everyone!”

But days later, it turns out that Will’s cruel dallying with Sue’s affections has actually crushed her. She has retreated to her bed and pulled the Cheerios from Nationals.

Speaking of crushing, Rachel receives a cell call from Jesse, asking her to meet him in the parking lot. She runs joyfully out and into his waiting arms…. only to be ambushed by costumed Vocal Adrenaline members who proceed to egg her (all the crueler because she’s a vegan). And for the coup de grace, Jesse plants one directly on her head, looking right into her eyes. He says he used to love her, but no longer. At this point I was screaming inside. Why, Jesse, why? What did I—I mean Rachel—ever do to you? Is this all because of the “Run Joey Run” thing? Because that doesn’t actually make continuity sense. We need a therapy session with the Story Editor, please!

Then it’s Puck, Finn and Mercedes’ turn to perform their funk song, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations”—an awesome choice. Puck is proving himself a fantastic singer, Finn won my love back big time with his adorableness, and Mercedes’ vocals were even better than the original.

In a moment of sisterhood Mercedes asks Quinn to move in with her and her mother, giving her a break from living with Puck and his mother.

Will enters Sue’s trophy-barnacled house where her maid Imelda is concerned for her well-being: “She’s even refusing protein shakes!”

Sue reveals her vulnerability and loneliness (“I don’t even like you and I was willing to jump at the chance to be with you.”), but Will is soon able to talk her into returning to her beloved Cheerios. “Hand me my bullhorn, William. Imelda! Make me a shake—to go. Make it two.” The Cheerios go on to take their 6th consecutive National (their performance includes Kurt’s 14-minute Celine Dion medley in French. Sue: “I’m all about finding that freakish, depressed kid and showing him what winning’s all about.”).

After what Vocal Adrenaline has done to Rachel, the New Directions guys vow to “go Braveheart” on them. As sweet Kurt says, “Rachel’s one of us. We’re the only ones that get to humiliate her.”

But Will persuades them that the best way to exact revenge on VA is to demoralize them with ND’s incredible funkiness. So he throws down the gauntlet, VA shows up at McKinley and watches New Directions perform “Give Up the Funk.” Aaaaand, um… as Randy would say on American Idol… it was a-right, Dog, but it didn’t blow me away. Don’t get me wrong. It was good. It was great. But I didn’t buy that the formerly cocky and hateful powerhouse Vocal Adrenaline would be completely floored.

Next week is the season finale. I still love Glee with all my heart and soul but they got some ‘splaining to do in that 45 minutes to keep that love burning all summer long.

Read more recaps of Glee Season 1

* * * * * * *


Sue: “Trophies are like herpes…they just keep coming… Sue Sylvester has hourly flare-ups of burning, itching, highly contagious talent.”

Sue’s gay Abraham Lincoln / Mrs. O’Leary / Great Chicago Fire mash-up revisionist history.

Priceless: Sue’s face when Will sings “Tell me something good”

Howard: “The guy who gave me Bell’s Palsy last time is here.” —Of course the guy turns out to be Mr. Ryerson.

Puck, genuinely concerned: “You’re not going to fondle us, are you Mr. Ryerson?”

Sue confessing her feelings for Will in her journal: “True love always springs from true hate.”

and “I’ve always fantasized about his head next to mine on the pillow but now I’m imagining it attached to his body.”

Terri Schuester: “Glee is like a toxic mold on my life.”

and “I have this compulsive need to crush other peoples dreams.”  Finn’s reply: “Yeah, that’s what Mr. Schu said.”

Sue coercing Will into kissing her (on the lips, with tongue), pushes him away at the last second: “Even your breath stinks of mediocrity.”



5 Responses to “ Glee Recap: Funk ”

  1. Pancake on June 2, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Nat – this write-up actually makes me want to watch the show – what have you DONE?

  2. Stuffy Daddy on June 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    It was like watching the cast of a musical sing Metallica. Or your grandma sing James Brown.

    It was my first viewing of Glee and I must say the culmination of PFunks’ “Give Up The Funk,” was the most awful and non-funky thing I had ever heard or seen. I’m not sure if this is a show where cast members of RENT sing other genres, but it sure seemed like it.

    Maybe I just came in on a bad night, or perhaps I’m not the audience for this show, but it seemed fueled by the same kind of mediocre pop sensibility that inspires American Idol. If so, I’m sure it has an audience that appreciates it.

  3. Grace on June 3, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Hi Pancake, It’s me, Grace. I’m a huge Gleek and noticed Nat was lagging on Gleecaps so I hijacked the gig. You should watch!

  4. Grace on June 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Hi Stuffy Daddy,
    Thanks so much for reading. If this was your first episode I’d say please give it another watch or two. You can see the past 5 episodes on Hulu or I agree with you that “Give Up the Funk” was a big mess. I rewatched the episode last night and simply turned it off in the middle of that last number. Ugh. There is a lot of Broadway-style belting on Glee but there are also wonderful music moments, and the characters grew on me very quickly. When the song choices suit the characters and voices the results are some of the most enjoyable moments on TV. (For instance, did you like the all-too-brief rendition of “Loser”? The same character, Puck, who starts “Loser,” recently sang a lovely version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”)

    Start with Episode 19 (“Dream On”): it features Matt Morrison and Neil Patrick Harris’s duets on Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” both of which I thought were excellent, and a duet between Lea Michele and Idina Menzel of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miz which I absolutely still can’t watch without crying. The camera allows an intimate level of performance that’s not possible onstage, and obviates some of the belting.

  5. Pancake on June 3, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Dear Grace,
    I am remiss and terribly sorry for my error! I loved your recap (come to think of it, I thought Nat had taken quite a turn as I was reading it…) I have only resisted watching the show because I tend to dislike musicals – your review seriously made me reconsider my choice!

    I hope to meet you soon!