Top positive review
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Back to Brilliance.
on 9 July 2011
After the rather inconsistent first half of the season (the characters changed personalities faster than Sue can come up with an insult for Will's hair, and storylines were seemingly picked up and dropped at random), the second half gets back to the brilliance witnessed in season one. One major qualm I had with the first ten episodes was that each one was rather self-contained, with little continuation. Whereas in season one we had the two pregnancy storylines and the arc which highlighted Rachel's quest to find her birth mother (among others), the only major arc in season two part one was that of the Kurt/Karofsky bullying situation.
This all changes in season two part two however (well...after the "Sue Sylvester Shuffle", which was one of the weaker episodes of the season and one which I consider to be "non-canon" due to the major character inconsistencies). For me, the highlight of the half season was the Santana/Brittany storyline. Finally, after a year and a half, the writers stopped pretending that the two former Cheerios were straight and had Santana confess her love for her best friend, which subsequently led her on a journey towards accepting her lesbian identity. This arc was handled with such care, and the two actresses in question, Naya Rivera and Heather Morris (Emmy panel, take note) prove that they were more than worthy of being upgraded to series regulars at the beginning of the season.
Key episodes for this arc include:
2.18 "Born This Way"
2.20 "Prom Queen"
2.22 "New York"
Another key feature of the half season was the continuing Rachel/Finn/Quinn love triangle. Personally, I'm tired of this storyline. If you think you know how it works out, you're probably right.
2.12 "Silly Love Songs"
2.16 "Original Song"
2.20 "Prom Queen"
2.22 "New York"
The blossoming relationship between Kurt and Blaine is also heavily addressed, the first four episodes building up to the climax in 2.16 "Original Song". Without divulging any spoilers, I'll just say that if you're a "Klaine" fan, you'll be happy with the progression. Although you may note the reduced screen time given to the pair towards the end of the season.
2.12 "Silly Love Songs"
2.14 "Blame It On The Alcohol"
2.16 "Original Song"
2.20 "Prom Queen
2.22 "New York"
Many former guest stars (some almost forgotten) make an appearance in this half season, especially nearing the finale. Gwyneth Paltrow returns in two (2.15 "Sexy" and 2.17 "A Night of Neglect"), and I found her character preferable to her first appearance during the first half of the season. Again, I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who have yet to watch the episodes, but I won't be surprised if Gwyneth pops up again sometime next season. We also see the return of Kristen Chenoweth (in 2.19 "Rumours"), who was just as hilarious as in her previous two appearances. Again, I doubt we've seen the last of her. John Stamos shows up (probably for the last time) in 2.15 "Sexy" (I'll just say this marks good news for "Wemma" fans). Jonathan Groff reprises his role as Jesse St. James for the final three episodes of the season, adding another side to the ongoing Rachel/Finn/Quinn love mess. Charice pops up a few times as Sunshine Corazon, the transfer student Rachel sends to the crackhouse during the season premiere, as well as her Vocal Adrenaline coach Dustin Goolsby (played by Cheyenne Jackson). Other characters to make an appearance are Howard Bamboo and Sandy Ryerson (remember them from season one?), as well as Jessalyn Gilsig as Terri Schuester (who despite retaining her regular star billing, was mostly absent from this season).
2.11 "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" (6/10)
This post-Superbowl special raked in more than 30 million viewers, and it is clear throughout the episode that no expense was spared (the opening scene is especially insane). Sue wishes to top herself for this year's National cheerleading competition, prompting Brittany, Santana and Quinn to make a hard decision. Will and Coach Beiste conspire to ease the tensions between Glee club and the football team. Despite a few good performances and one-liners from Sue and Brittany throughout, the episode is, as I have said before, rife with inconsistencies.
Best performance: The epic zombiefied "Thriller"/"Heads Will Roll" mash-up.
2.12 "Silly Love Songs" (9/10)
The spotlight is on Santana in this episode as she wreaks havoc with the more prominent Glee couples after being turned on by the club. As New Directions prepare for Valentine's Day, Kurt is left disappointed by Blaine's proposition to the Warblers. Hilarious stuff.
Best performance: It's a tie between Artie and Mike's rendition of Michael Jackson's "PYT" and the Warblers' cover of Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone".
2.13 "Comeback" (7/10)
Sam gets long overdue attention in this episode when he forms a Justin Bieber tribute band. After a sue-icide attempt, Emma urges Sue to join Glee club. Also, Rachel attempts to become a school fashion icon with the help of Brittany. Not one of the season's best, but decent enough.
Best performance: A tie between Mercedes and Rachel's cover of Rent's "Take Me Or Leave Me" during an epic diva-off, and (I can't believe I'm saying this) the boys' (led by Sam) take on Bieber's "Somebody To Love".
2.14 "Blame It On The Alcohol" (8/10)
Rachel realises that she needs more life experience in order to be able to write decent songs. Cue the "Rachel Berry House Party Train Wreck Extravaganza", despite it being the school's Alcohol Awareness Week. Also, Will and Coach Beiste enjoy a night out. Despite a rather bland attempt at highlighting teen bisexuality, this remains one of the season's best and most honest episodes. Plus, drunk Rachel is hilarious.
Best performance: A highly intoxicated Blaine and Rachel's rendition of Human League's "Don't You Want Me". Also, a Brittany led school performance of Kesha's "Tik Tok" is not to be missed.
2.15 "Sexy" (9/10)
Holly Holliday returns to give the Glee club much needed sex-ed lessons. Brittany pushes Santana into talking about their complicated relationship, prompting Santana to come to a hard realisation. Also, both Emma and Kurt are having difficulty embracing their sexy sides. Probably the most emotional hour Glee has to offer due to Santana's heart breaking locker confession. But it's not lacking on the funny stuff either.
Best performance: Brittany and Santana's tear-filled take on Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide", with help from Holly Holliday. Also, the celibacy club's rendition of "Afternoon Delight" is both cringeworthy and hilarious.
2.16 "Original Song" (8/10)
Both the New Directions and the Warblers prepare for Regionals, with the former trying their hand at original songwriting in order to gain an advantage. Kurt suffers a personal tragedy. Solid episode, but probably the least suspenseful competition in Glee history.
Best performance: Santana's failed attempt to faux-serenade Sam with her own "Trouty Mouth" is beyond funny. New Direction's original "Loser Like Me" is also good.
2.17 "Night of Neglect" (7/10)
In order to raise money for Nationals and another neglected school club, the Glee club decides to hold a benefit, which Sue and her "League of Doom" attempt to sabotage. Sue's "League of Doom" along with Brittany's turn as a "Brainiac" are both comedic gold. Otherwise quite a boring episode with forgettable performances.
Best performance: I'd have to go with Holly Holliday's cover of Adele's "Turning Tables".
2.18 "Born This Way" (8/10)
An extended episode which deals with the Glee club's self-image issues. Rachel considers getting a nose job and Santana plots to be elected Prom Queen and subsequently win Brittany back with the help of a blackmailed Karofsky. Also, Will forces Emma to come to terms with her OCD and Lauren discovers a secret about Quinn's past. Extra time means more opportunities for Naya Rivera to show how much she deserves an Emmy nod for "Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy" this year. An admirable effort at promoting positive self-image.
Best performance: Quinn and Rachel's mash-up of TLC's "Unpretty" and West Side Story's "I Feel Pretty", followed by the group's rendition of Gaga's "Born This Way".
2.19 "Rumours" (9/10)
After Sue relaunches the school newspaper with the sole aim of reporting slander about the Glee club, and Brittany inadvertently outs Santana on her internet talk show, conflict is caused between the club's members. To deal with the situation, Will assigns the kids to perform songs from Fleetwood Mac's infamous "Rumours" album while dealing with the return of April Rhodes. Probably the best tribute episode so far.
Best performance: Rachel's "feminine take" on "Go Your Own Way" and Santana's serenade to Brittany with "Songbird" are both excellent. Will and April's duet of "Dreams" is also note worthy.
2.20 "Prom Queen" (9/10)
The competition between Prom King and Queen candidates heats up as the Glee club prepares to perform at their Junior Prom. Jesse St. James returns with a proposition for Rachel. Artie attempts to win Brittany back. Despite Sue's brief foray into cartoon territory, this is definitely one of the best episodes Glee has to offer.
Best performance: Rachel and Jesse's acapella version of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep". Also, Puck, Sam and Artie's cover of Rebecca Black's "Friday" is surprisingly good.
2.21 "Funeral" (8/10)
There is competition between the club's resident divas (Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt and Santana) as Will and Jesse hold auditions for the featured soloist at Nationals. One of McKinley's own suffers a terrible loss. Jane Lynch is sure to bring her second Emmy home with this episode. Both heart-breaking and heart-warming.
Best performance: Santana's rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Back To Black", followed by the group's (led by Kurt and Tina) cover of "Pure Imagination" from the film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".
2.22 "New York" (7/10)
The Glee club prepare for Nationals while seeing the sights New York City has to offer. Will has a major decision to make regarding his career. A decent end to the season, but there's a sense that something crucial is missing. Too much time spent on Finn and Rachel and too little on...well everybody and everything else.
Best performance: The "I Love New York"/"New York New York" mash-up makes good use of all your favourite characters and offers a great insight into the city. Rachel and Kurt's version of Wicked's "For Good" rivals their season one rendition of "Defying Gravity". Their original Nationals number "Light Up The World" and Brittany's "My Cup" are also up there.