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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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Not reporting an incredibly violent assault was the most alarmingly bad decision the Glee kids have made so far. I actually love the growth in Quinn, I am just pissed they rushed her story so much. More Quinn/Rachel friendship, less stupid decisions regarding 18 year old marriage please.

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I agree with you. Artie singing Scream made no sense at all. And Rachel to ask Quinn about advice, and her advice was so cliché, such bad writing. Seriously.
I agree with every you wrote Matt, the only advantage i have is I don't have to watch the show anymore, since I don't have to review it, so I will stop being upset about the bad writing.
I only enjoyed Season 1 of Glee.

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As a teen born in 1995, I can say that the most attention I ever payed to MJ was the day he died, and the next day, when my dance teacher taught us Thriller. However, I really enjoyed the episode (though I was also a little incredulous with the fact that they wouldn't tell police about the rock salt--given that it DID land Blaine in the freaking hospital).

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I have to say that I do not understand the purpose of Rachel going to Quinn for advice about Finn. I feel like there's a major conflict of interest, Quinn has to resent Rachel that Finn picked her over Quinn. You even see in Quinns locker a picture of Finn and Rachel, with something over Rachel's face. It would have made more sense to go to Kurt. I guess they can be engaged as long as they agree on a long engagement that doesn't happen until after college. Also, Mercedes and Sam just don't make sense to me. I really like her with her current bf, he's good to her and supportive of her. He made her realize she could be a leading lady. I also didn't understand why the warblers weren't more upset with how Blaine was treated. They had all been on really friendly terms up until this last episode, Blain was their leader for a long time. It just didn't make sense to me.

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I liked most of the episode. I went to high school with a girl who was engaged before graduation. (I never met the man and haven't seen her since, so I don't know how it worked out.) I always like Burt's appearances, but he should be in congress now. (I hope they do a spinoff with him in Washington.)
Sebastian has earned my respect as an actor now, but where is Rory? Why hasn't Britney spoken for three weeks?

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I am really trying to stick with Glee - but it is increasingly difficult to enjoy the show. The first song of this week's episode was so cringe worthy!!! I watched Fame and yes I remember them dancing in the cafeteria - and that was cringe worthy as well having gone to a conservatory myself and never ever seeing anyone break into song or dance. Anyhow - the thing that is the most pathetic is the writing. It was clever in the beginning but it is now a caricature of itself. Glee's 1st season was the best. It's time for them to graduate and close the school!!

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I know it's probably too late for major format changes, but I was thinking that this, and perhaps every song performance on Glee would be immeasurably more palatable if it STARTED OUT ACOUSTIC FOR A FEW BARS and then morphed into the polished studio version. It would be as if they sounded that polished to themselves in their heads. It might remove some of the "musical-weirdness" that so many people react badly to. Just a thought.
Great music, above average episode. Cory's improvement vocally (and Dianna's) continues to impress me as a singer. Also, I was often an idiot about life when in HS (sometimes still am); many of us were(or are). Why do viewers expect anything else?

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"...with the exception of Artie's totally random moment of anger"
I love Artie anger moment and i agree with every single word he say to Mr. Schuester.

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Quinn's advise wasn't negative but good and probally the right one on most cases. People graduate from high school, go out to the world as young adults and experience more of it. It's part of growing up. Breaking up with Finn will just be a wake up call to stop talking non-sense and seriously start moving forward.

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My little brother is 12 and he is obsessed with MJ, he dances Thriller and all. So yeah, real talent does that, and MJ`s legacy is not that old, is not like the kids of Glee are obsessed with Elvis Presley or Sinatra