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A Little Tenderness: Glee’s Funeral Episode

Another Day Late Dollar Short Hulu Review by Christiana Gaudet

Well, we’ve had a birth, a wedding, a divorce and a prom- there was really nothing left to do but have a funeral, right before (gasp) Nationals in New York.

Glee is a live-action cartoon that makes points with archetypes.  It teaches big lessons with broad strokes.  The lesson of the “Funeral” episode was compassion.

I love Jane Lynch as much as I hate Sue Sylvester.  The episode opens with Sue and Terri the Terrible plotting to re-route the Glee Club through Libya, on their way to Nationals.  Then Sue does something really mean, even for her.  She fires Becky.

When Will confronts her on it, we find out it is because Sue’s sister, Jean, has died.  Sue’s devotion to her Down’s syndrome sister has always been what humanizes her.  It makes us believe her redemption is possible.

When Finn and Kurt find out, they offer their sympathy.  Sue is shocked at their genuine concern, given how mean she had been to them, and to Glee club.  Having each lost a parent, their empathy is sincere.

I love the complex relationship between Finn and Kurt.  In this episode, we see that they are, over time, becoming brothers. 

Sue confides in them that she doesn’t have the heart to pack up Jean’s things, or plan the funeral.  Kurt and Finn offer to help, and, after packing up Jean’s stuffed animals, agree to plan a Glee funeral.

This doesn’t sit well with Glee’s new show choir consultant . . . you guessed it . . . Jesse St. James.

He has turned into a cross between a Vocal Adrenaline coach and Simon Cowell.  He makes the kids audition for a starring role in the set list for Nationals.

This was a vehicle for some great solos, and for proving what an infernal ass Jesse is.  The conflict is this.  His style is all show-choir-Rambo, which is never the right vibe for New Directions.  We saw that last season when they hired a consultant from Vocal Adrenaline.  (Can someone say déjà vu?)  But, Vocal Adrenaline has won four years in a row, with Jesse St. James as the vocal lead.  Will really wants to beat Vocal Adrenaline, and seems willing to put his values on the line to do it.

Sue tells Will she is grateful that the Glee kids are planning the funeral, because it guarantees attendees.  She is shocked to see the house packed with Jean’s friends; friends Sue didn’t realized she had.

The funeral is lovely, and a real tearjerker.  New Directions beautifully sings Jean’s favorite song, “Pure Imagination,” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

The tears I shed along with Sue were not only for Jean.  The most touching aspect was how lovingly the Glee club was treating their arch-enemy- Sue Sylvester.  We got it; we hope Sue got it too.  She told Will she did, and that Glee club was off her hit list.  Now she’s running for public office.

 In other plot news, Will plans to stay in New York and try his luck on Broadway.  He’s not telling the kids yet.  Terri is moving to Miami.

The Rachel/Finn/Quinn love triangle has a new level of complexity- Jesse.  Jesse is after Rachel, but Finn has broken up with Quinn because he still wants Rachel.  If only Rachel knew.

At the end of the episode, Will takes control from Jesse.  Instead of pitting the kids against each other in competition to be the star, they will sing together as a team.  Good.  I hate it that Will is constantly looking for his testicles.

Next week will be the last episode of the season.  I am tempted to do a tarot reading to see what will happen.  Will they win?  Is Sue really a changed woman?  Does Jesse really love Rachel?

I personally distrust Jesse, and root for a replay of Finchel. 

I was disappointed that Jean’s death was not an opportunity for the great Carol Burnett to reprise her fabulous role as the sisters’ Nazi-hunting mother.

Musically, it was an ok episode.  My favorite was Mercedes’ audition number “Try a Little Tenderness.”  I didn’t like Santana’s “Back to Black,” although I love the Amy Winehouse song, and I love Santana.  He voice lacked body and depth in this number- I was actually wondering if she was trying to sing it badly.

This was a plot-intensive episode in the run up to the season finale.  It was also the most tearful-icious episode ever.

In a world of war, terror, plague and pestilence, Glee’s “Funeral” episode teaches human kindness.  It reminds me of the first hard thing I learned as a little girl in the Methodist church.  God wants us to love our enemies.  Take that, Bible-thumping Glee haters!