“Glee” didn’t hold back with its first new episode in 2012: It had an esteemed Oscar winner, a real housewife, a deep dark family secret revealed and multiple marriage proposals. That’s a lot to squeeze into 42 minutes, which is perhaps why it felt a little too eventful.
These seemed like five separate A-plots — not storylines that should’ve been happening concurrently. You’ve got the Becky’s Helen Mirren-narrated crush on Artie, Sam joining the Nene Leakes-coached synchronized swim team, Will proposing to Emma, Finn learning that his dad didn’t die in Iraq (he died of a drug overdose in Cincinnati) and then proposing to Rachel.
First things first: the Becky storyline. If this were Season 2, this thing would’ve lasted multiple episodes and made us cringe. In reality, it was handled sweetly and sensitively and that’s that. Plus, we enjoy being reminded of Sue Sylvester’s soft side. Also, “Lifetime: Television for Ovaries” made us laugh.
Second: Nene was hilarious. We take back all our doubts — if they use her sparingly, this won’t be another dated pop culture reference, like that time Paris Hilton was on “Veronica Mars.”
Third: Samcedes lives. Actually, scratch our earlier sentiment. This was definitely a B plot, and was perfectly fine. Nothing unexpected, and we wouldn’t object to these two crazy kids getting back together. Who doesn’t love “Grease”?
Fourth: The Will/Emma proposal. Emma’s song was gorgeous — her voice really suits the retro tunes. There wasn’t a doubt she would say yes, and frankly the synchronized swimming routine was super fun. The terrible thing was that Mr. Schuester asked Finn to be his best man. WE’LL REPEAT: HE ASKED A 17-YEAR-OLD BOY TO BE HIS BEST MAN. So this is why Mr. Schue creeps us out so much: he doesn’t have any adult friends.
Surprisingly, the Jagger-themed mashup proved to be much better when accompanied by some Mike Chang dancing. Actually, scratch that — not surprising at all. Mike Chang dancing makes everything better. The ladies’ number was gorgeous but boring. Not going to make the cut as a proposal song. Way too slow and emotional.
Finally: Finn. Finn, Finn, Finn. Frankly, we were prepared to really like this episode as a whole, but this is the storyline that messed things up. The whole “Finn’s dad is a drug addict” thing came out of nowhere, and frankly needed to be explored over at least an episode, not two minutes in the second-to-last act.
And don’t even get us started on the proposal. (Teenage marriage: How very “One Tree Hill”!) Talk about out of left field — tacking that onto an otherwise solid episode is so infuriating. We’ll be surprised if Rachel actually says yes. She’s too independent.
Favorite song: Based on musical arrangement alone, Rachel’s slowed-down, orchestral version of Usher‘s “Without You” was flawless (and is bound to be overplayed on our iPod in the coming weeks), but in the context of the show, we’ll admit it: we’re suckers for a good synchronized swim marriage proposal in the form of Rihanna‘s “We Found Love.” Even if it does involve Mr. Schue in a dumb white suit.