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Glee Review: Rock Salt with You

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I liked Glee's Michael Jackson tribute episode a lot more than I thought I would. A backward compliment? Sure. But, hey, it's still a compliment.

Unlike past tribute episodes - to Britney Spears, to Christmas - this one managed to weave in a few key developments, mostly basing its MJ covers around ongoing storylines and legitimate character realizations...

... with the exception of Artie's totally random moment of anger, which resulted in an imagined "Scream" performance and an imagined few minutes of Artie walking around that served as an example of everything Glee can do so wrong: ignoring all logic and continuity for the sake of a song it can sell on iTunes.

MY EYES!

But I'll ignore that - and also ignore the fact that these kids are 16-18 years old, and Jackson last released an album in 2001, and, as harsh as it sounds, until he died, his music was NOT what most people talked about any time the icon came up, making it hard to believe today's high school kids would really worship the guy and constantly talk about "WWMJD?" - in order to focus on the positive aspects of the episode. They include:

Sebastian. Give it up for a true villain! We all love Sue Sylvester, but she's really just a quote machine at this point. Viewers can't take her seriously. Certainly not when compared to a guy that fills a slushee with rock salt.

There's been talk of making Grant Gustin a series regular on season four and I'd be all for it. Just don't even try to soften him up, Glee. There's nothing wrong with having a sincere antagonist for the group to rally against, especially when it leads to Santana threatening to go "all Danny LaRusso" on his ass. That was awesome.

Finchel. They clearly should not get married, not when each of them is essentially saying they need the other person in their life because, well, they don't have much else in their life. That's not a healthy outlook on love.

But I definitely appreciated the extra attention given to the proposal here; the duet they sang; Finn's commitment to making the most important question he'll ever ask more memorable than a quick, unexpected speech in the auditorium; and what can only be described as a hesitant yes from Rachel, at least once she realized how she shared the huge NYADA news with someone else prior to her fiance. Heck, what she even thinking of Finn at the time?

Quinn's negative advice to Rachel - you don't want an anchor from the past holding you back from the bright lights of the future - is pretty much magazine-spewing nonsense. If you love someone, you love someone. Period. But is this true love? Or is it high school love? Would Finn complete her, or hold her back?

The performances. They were great. That's never my issue with Glee. We all know how talented the cast is; I just often take exception when Glee comes across more like a concert (or, even worse, a PDA-inspired concert) than a television show and I vehemently disagree with those who somehow claim we shouldn't expect strong storytelling just because the characters sing.

(Watch Smash on Monday. Trust me, you can have both.)

So I'm happy to give props to my favorite covers here, which were led by Santana and Sebastian's simple, cello-accompanied "Smooth Criminal" and which concluded with the whole group nailing "Black or White," including a version of the face morphing MJ made famous in that video.

What didn't work for me? Anything involving Quinn. Sorry, the show ruined her forever in my book when she went all nutso in an attempt to get her daughter back.

Similarly, I feel no emotional attachment to Sam and Mercedes. As I said in my last review, we saw these two holding hands once, and we've barely seen more of Mercedes and Shane. It's times like these when my irritation grows because it wouldn't have been challenging to have built up an actual love triangle, or to actually have given Mercedes something to do outside of New Directions. That way, a duet such as the one here would have felt earned, not contrived.

Also: Did the group really choose to perform a number instead of go to the police with evidence of the rock salting? (And wouldn't remnants of the slushee also be pretty good evidence? Wouldn't doctors have picked up on the substance in Blaine's eyes?) That might be the most Glee-ish storyline ever. I don't mean that as a compliment.

But there I go being negative again. So I'll turn this over to the readers. What was your favorite cover? Is it believable that kids born in 1995 would be this into Michael Jackson? Will Rachel eventually turn Finn down? Should she?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
  • 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (281 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Blu

MJ s music is timeless. Add in to it the fact that many teens have gone retro with their musical taste and I find it very believable. Sure my bro may not have a similar appreciation as me and I definitely wouldn't have the same appreciation as my mother but the man's timeless. I say this as a girl in her early twenties who loves eighties music ,classic rock, and Motown,especially on record players. I think it speaks to modern music that even the youth are reverting back to music generations before them,with an understanding and appreciation as though it were new.

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My brother is the same age as the characters on this show (17) and he listens to the songs glee covers such as Michael, the Beatles, Beck, Journey, Bon Jovi and others. But the fact is, kids these days aren't just listening to today's music, they are expanding their music to other decades because of our parents. I don't know how many times we've asked our mom if we could listen to our music in the car and she reject it. After years of listening to constant 70's & 80's music, me and my brother developed a liking to other music besides Britney. & GaGa including, Cyndi Lauper, The GoGos, White Snake, George Michael & Michael Jackson, in fact I have an entire playlists dedicated to Michael Jackson songs.

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I have to disagree jboss, I was born in 1992 and I grew up with MJ, like a lot of us. People around breathed Michael Jackson, urging me to learn more about him and what he's all about.

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Also I'm offended that Tina wasn't shown in the last sequence when they were changing faces in front of a green screen :(

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I really really liked this episode. Found myself smiling a lot, but I do agree, that whole Artie bit was a bit not good :). I actually loved the Quinn scenes, guess no matter how much sh** she does, I'll always love her. Loved Human nature. I do have one question though: Is Sugar in the New Directions or no? She wasn't in the Christmas special but appeared again on the last episode and was missing in this episode again. She's probably catching up on her strange addictions episodes :)

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I agree with the reviewer. I understand that many young people (who are commenting on this site) born in the 90's or later love MJ's music, but it shows your lack of understanding of his ENTIRE career to completely overlook the 15yr period he was ignored by the public as a whole (there were trials and a marriage to LM Presley, my young friends). It was his death that shot him back to the forefront of pop culture awareness - but true appreciation for his genius can probably only come from those over the age of 25.

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REALLY enjoyed Sam and Mercedes doing "Human Nature," and I didn't mind Artie's tirade so much, although "Scream" made little sense to me. "Black and White" was AWESOME, complete with face morphing, but the Warblers going onstage seemed a bit contrived and melodramatic. Still, glad Sebastian got his comeuppance for now. Didn't really enjoy "Smooth Criminal"--good performance, but the cello accompaniment was creepy and I didn't see the logic in it. I have to agree with the reviewer; I'd have a lawyer in Sebastian's face faster than you could say "slushie." Doesn't Dalton have zero tolerance policy for bullying? I guess that only applies INSIDE school walls eh? Frankly, if Sebastian makes it onto the show as a regular, I'm back to watching NCIS on Tuesdays tyvm.

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Just something I wanted to point out, I'm the same age as the kids on Glee are supposed to be and although we didn't grow up with Michael Jackson songs we are familiar with his music, and especially now that he is dead many people have looked back at his work and really enjoyed it, including teenagers. Not everyone listens to the crap music of today.

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I concur with Keith. I'm a late gen Beatles fan, and I love me some MJ. When I was a kid, he was going through his trials, and in my Lutheran household, and so many others like mine, Michael Jackson's music was off limits. However, I still loved sneaking listens to "Thriller" and "Black or White." My students today know who Michael Jackson is, and did before his death. MJ is like the Beatles--he transcends generation.

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I'd be willing to bet that maybe 90% of everyone who's commented, no matter their age, has at sometime in the past, if only in the secrecy of their own bedroom, tried to moonwalk -- so I think MJ's music lives on in fans or fanatics. I was surprised in a conversation with some very young relatives about "Across the Universe" and their recognizing and appreciating it was all Beatles songs and Beatles characters and how cleverly it was plotted from song to song ... when the Beatles were "generations" before them! But then, you can hear an MJ or Beatles song or even Elvis Presley song on the radio on any gicen day -- and members of a Glee Club would probably be even more into the trendsetters or giants or however you want to describe Michael Jackson and the others of his stature.