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Bad Teeth Lead to Good Dreams in GLEE's Second Episode of Season Two

By Edited Feb 15, 2016 0 0

I was never a fan of Britney Spears. There are many musicians I'd love to see GLEE focus on for a week; I'm particularly excited about the prospect of Billy Joel. But I always found Britney's songs rather cringe-worthy, so I wasn't particularly thrilled with the thought of zeroing in on her for an entire episode. While I'll grant that the fantasy sequences in this episode, which are send-ups of Britney's music videos, deliver the razzle-dazzle, most of them are also highly sexualized, demonstrating that Will Schuester is probably right to think of her song catalog as a bit of a minefield.

I do think that Ryan Murphy introduced a rather clever device for making this barrage of Britney imitations feel like they had a plausible place in the show. John Stamos makes his debut as Emma's knock-down gorgeous dentist boyfriend Carl, who, upon Will's invitation, delivers a lecture on dental hygiene to the glee club and then sees several students for check-ups, prompting several thoughts from me.

First, he's even more of a hunk than he was back when legions of elementary schoolers knew him as Uncle Jesse on Full House. Second, I get that glee club is all about being comfortable with who you are, but it still seems a bit much to ask all those students to risk exposing the poor state of their teeth to their fellow classmates. Third, dentists' offices give me the heebie-jeebies, so I was less than enthusiastic when I realized that we would be spending a good portion of the episode in one. Finally, while Carl might be distributing that anesthesia a little too freely, he's such a charming, jovial fellow that I really can't bring myself to root against him, despite the fact that I am a definite Will and Emma shipper.

Emma seems to be getting over some of her issues; why couldn't she do that with Will? I'm still not crazy about how, once she and Will actually had a shot, she went all kooky on him. I mean, she was even more smitten than he was. I understand her being jittery about a new relationship, but if she likes him so much, she should have tried a little harder to make it work. Still, in this episode, I found myself more annoyed with Will as he reverted to pretty juvenile behavior in an attempt to win her affection. I also wondered whether he'd had a particularly negative experience with Britney Spears music to make him so vehemently opposed to the idea of performing her stuff. Granted, it did turn out to be a pretty bad idea, but I got the sense that there was something deeply personal about his refusal.

Poor Kurt; for being the one member of the club who most wanted to do a Britney tribute, he didn't get his own Britney dream sequence. The pitfalls of perfect teeth, I guess. His shouting match was startling, and I think that both of them were out of line, but Mr. Schue's behavior in this episode is so erratic that I don't entirely blame Kurt for objecting. I would have thought that Kurt would have had a larger role to play in this particular episode, but he really was more of a background player providing a constant mosquito-like hum of dissent.

You know who should have stayed more deeply buried in the background? Jacob. I'm irritated that one of my favorite characters on LOST must share a name with this skeezy pervert. Sure, he's nerdy and pathetic, but I'm not about to feel sorry for him when he brings all of his misfortune upon himself. I confess I found some of his pointed questions in the premiere pretty amusing, but this week, he provided nothing but an invitation to roll my eyes every time he appeared, wrapped in a cloak of unrequited lust (sometimes with nothing underneath). Similarly annoying were the fangirls who were on the verge of throwing themselves at Mr. Schue during the big pep rally performance.

I suppose in such an environment, with hormones out of control, it's little wonder that Rachel is letting her insecurities get the better of her. However, she seems very much on the verge of driving Finn away from her as she resorts to heights of self-absorption in her attempts to keep him to herself. "I want to be the only thing that makes you happy," she tells him. Because that's just so romantic. If you love someone, try to take away something he loves and it'll solve all your problems. Right. Has she been taking lessons from Terri? And as frustrating as I often find Quinn, it strikes me as extremely callous of Rachel to ask her to test Finn's loyalty to her by trying to tempt him away. I don't know how much more of Rachel's narcissism I can take.

One positive element of Britney / Brittany is the fact that it zeroes in a bit more on Brittany, who can be regularly relied upon as to dish out hilariously random one-liners. We got to hear more than our fair share of them this week, and Heather Morris was in her element as Brittany performed two big numbers, one as a solo and one while teamed up with Santana. My favorite moment from her, however, came before either of her sequences, when she admitted that instead of brushing her teeth, she rinses her mouth out with pop after meals because "I thought Dr Pepper was a dentist."

In all honesty, the only performance that I particularly enjoyed was Kevin McHale's, as Artie's rendition of Stronger was about overcoming adversity and obstacles and was the only one that didn't feel like it was teetering on the edge of inappropriate. Well, I suppose Rachel's last number was bearable, but it all felt so insincere that I couldn't really stomach it. I thought that Finn's struggles with his former teammates and Artie's determination to prove himself capable of playing football - though I'm still curious about how that will work - were the best parts of the episode, dovetailing with our growing understanding of what makes Coach Beiste tick. Though she barely appeared in this episode, she made a powerful impression in a few minutes, reminding me forcefully of Coach Fredericks, the gym teacher on Freaks and Geeks who looks like a mean-spirited lummox but is, in fact, an exemplary educator.

Jane Lynch again delivers patently absurd dialogue with relish, and I'm enjoying the dynamic between her and Will this season, which at times seems almost chummy, only to quickly snap back to their former antagonism. Meanwhile, Becky's pronounced presence alongside Sue makes me optimistic about the chances of an episode focusing on her. In the immediate future, however, I'm not sure what to think about the next episode, which is evidently called Grilled Cheesus, a title whose implications I find troubling, as I can only think of one reason for adding an "us" to the word "cheese", and I can only foresee the purpose being disrespectful. Still, we shall see. GLEE is one of my favorite shows, but I hope it doesn't burn too many bridges.

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