The lack of developing story lines in “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” provided an open plot field for last night’s episode entitled “Never Been Kissed,” which found the New Directions crew pitted against each other in a ‘guys versus girls’ sing-off. This episode of “Glee” definitely offered up more drama and conflict than the last one- but at a cost.

The Players

  • Director: Bradley Buecker
  • Written by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan
  • Cast: Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Jayma Mays, Chris Colfer, Dianna Agron, Kevin McHale, Heather Morris, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Mark Salling, Jenna Ushkowitz

The Plot

Mr. Schuester announced the second-annual “Boys vs. Girls” mash-up competition, but this year the boys must use traditionally feminine songs while the girls perform typically masculine music. Meanwhile, Kurt tries to combat homophobia at school, Puck gets back from juvie, and Finn’s advice to Sam has an unfortunate consequence.

The Good:

  • Poignant subject matter: The bullying story lines, especially Kurt’s, delivered some of the show’s best moments.
  1. Kurt’s has been bullied for being gay since the pilot. This week, the problem is finally addressed, not just by Kurt but by the show. The conflict is certainly relevant and timely, given all the publicity over homophobia-related bullying happening at schools across the country. A new friend, Blaine (Darren Criss), encourages Kurt to face his attacker instead of resigning himself to a lifetime of harassment. The resulting confrontation was intensely dramatic and quite surprising.
  2. On Finn’s advice, Sam starts to visualize Coach Beiste (Dot Jones) as a “buzz-kill” to snap him back to reality during hot make-out sessions with Quinn; it isn’t long before most of the glee club knows, along with Mr. Schue and Sue. When Mr. Schue inexplicably tells Beiste about the situation, she is so mortified and hurt that she tries to quit. This story line was really uncomfortable in the best way, because it made an excellent, though rather depressing, point about our society—high school never ends for most people. Bullying, whether direct or unintentional or seemingly harmless, happens at any age.
  • Acting performances: Chris Colfer earned himself another Emmy nomination this week- the scenes in which Kurt confronts his bully, first in the locker room and then on the stairs, were simultaneously heart-breaking and inspiring. Mark Salling plays Puck with an innate swagger and roguish charm, but is also able to convey the simmering anger, resentment, and fear that lingers beneath Puck’s attractive exterior.

The Bad:

  • Musical Performances: Music took a back-seat this week, and it showed. There were only four performances throughout this entire episode and none of them were particularly engaging or energetic. Maybe it was a lack of Lea Michele?

The Music:

  • “One Love,” Bob Marley: Puck decides to wheel Artie around to fulfill his community service requirement. The unlike duo put on a little duet for some extra cash outside on the school steps. This performance of the classic reggae tune shied away from the standard “Glee” choir room set-up and managed to avoid seeming utterly awkward in doing so, which was great. Also, only Puck could sing a song about free love and peace with an open guitar case full of donated cash at his feet.
  • “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry: Kurt is sent to spy on a rival glee club at Dalton Academy, an all-boys private school, where he meets Blaine, a dark-haired and openly gay student. Blaine leads the Dalton glee club in a catchy cover of Katy Perry’s summer hit. Its hard to say which really caught Kurt’s eye- the students’ snazzy red-trimmed blazers or Blaine’s silky smooth voice.
  • “Livin on a Prayer”/”Start Me Up”: The girls combine classics from Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones for a performance that sounded great, but mostly looked and felt like an excuse to dress the “Glee” girls in black leather ensembles.
  • “Stop (In the Name of Love)”/”Free Your Mind“: The boys mash-up “The Supremes” and “En Vogue,” dedicating their performance to Beiste, who, like their song, manages to be both tough and feminine. Sam’s solo was the highlight- his throaty, sexy voice perfectly complimented Artie’s clear and powerful belt, and provided a welcome break from Finn’s frequent solos.

Overall:

Topical, interesting subject matter and great acting managed to overshadow the mostly bland musical numbers  in “Never Been Kissed.”

Rating: 7/10

The next episode of “Glee” airs on November 16th at 8 p.m on Fox.

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