Glee: “Love, Love, Love”
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Glee: “Love, Love, Love”

C+

Glee

“Love, Love, Love”

Season 5, Episode 1

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“Love Love Love” isn’t much of an episode, much less a premiere, but it’s one hell of an antacid. Here’s what you missed on Glee: After the season four finale, “All Or Nothing,” I had some anxiety about the bizarre structural choices (exacerbated by the vertigo-inducing presentation). Why the school-year split? Why is one of the best characters leaving in the middle of that year? Why the slapdash cliffhangers? Seriously, what is going on with Sam’s hair? “Love Love Love” takes time to smooth almost everything over. Fanny Brice? Not so fast, Ms. I Get Everything I Want. What happened to Adam? “People liked the idea of us as a couple, but it never got serious,” Kurt says. Kurt and Blaine even talk about their relationship before getting engaged! I still don’t know why it’s May and how this season will roll out, but that could be productive stress, like scouring Breaking Bad for clues that Jesse will wind up okay.

Brittany doesn’t merit a mention, but, sadly, there are bigger elephants in the room. From a creative standpoint, I can see why Glee might hold off on a tribute to Cory Monteith. If the show doesn’t have the confidence—and I’m already regretting that hypothetical dare—to interrupt all that leftover drama with a more important tragedy, or to air a clip show with cast interviews remembering the young man, then the cliffhanger finale pretty much demands delaying the memorial. Unfortunately, that’s now another reason “Love Love Love” fails to lay out a course for this season, one more aftershock of the calendar split. As of the premiere, Finn is still studying to become a teacher. Thanks to that lovely phone call with Rachel, as I wrote forever ago, they are obviously each other’s endgames. Except now they’re not. And on a much smaller scale, Brittany, Heather Morris having left the regular cast, is now out of the picture for Santana. So what now? Well, for the moment, Rachel and Santana are busy waiting and singing for producers at a very Broadway diner. “We’re basically working actresses.” They’re going to find out about poor Finn in two episodes.

Therefore the laws of writing require Kurt and Blaine to be happy and together and forever and if we could get a puppy in there, that’d be great, too, just to balance out All The Impending Rest. Naturally the Glee writers—this time led by Brad Falchuk, whose episodes like “Britney 2.0” and “Wonder-Ful” have not been the most sensitive lately—still can’t get enough of thoughtless extravagant gestures, which we could maybe chalk up to Blaine alone if Tina weren’t so disgustingly grateful that the team sang her a song to bitch-shame her. “I really needed that,” she says, before going home to watch The Newsroom and write an essay swooning over the wisdom of wealthy white men. And is it meant to be romantic that Kurt makes Blaine beg to take him back? Yikes.

Psych! Kurt was just having his cake and eating it, too, I mean, messing with Blaine. See, he had already planned to ask Blaine out himself with a marching band at lunch. And after jumping up on a table and shouting out the final line of “Got To Get You Into My Life,” Blaine grabs Kurt and kisses him, I swoon, and the episode title finally applies as much as it ever will. The only other romance here is Artie and Kitty, Sylviggins notwithstanding, and their use of music and movement to stir our hearts is shadowed by the clichéd framework (Kitty doesn’t want to be out and proud about Artie), drama so arbitrary that Kitty just changes her mind about it when she’s finally called out. Except for Kurt and Blaine getting swept away together, there’s an inescapable stupor, and not just when Rachel deliriously walks through New York singing “Yesterday.” The classroom banter, the shaggy picaresque plotting, even a game of bumper cars set to “Drive My Car” feels lethargic. Is it that Glee tends to be so much more caffeinated than the Beatles?

Whatever skies were overcast for the rest of the episode, there’s no raining on the Klaine parade. Believe me, I tried. Blaine’s entire proposal is the most love-blind, ridiculous idea—uniting all the rival show choirs in celebration of gay marriage in general and Kurt and Blaine in specific—and the trepidation on Kurt’s face as he approaches Dalton cements my awkwardness about the whole thing. As if Kurt would want Hunter Clarington at his proposal? (Okay, Saint Kurt may just get off on the temporary truce, but still.) But then Rachel’s there fixing Blaine’s bow-tie and scooping him from room to room. Everyone is happily singing, “All You Need Is Love”—which, debatable—and at the end they’re all crowded into the stairway, Burt, Mr. Schu, Santana, to hear Blaine give this alternately sweet and run-for-your-life-cheesy speech to his best friend. Even Mercedes is there, silently bringing some color to the proceedings as per usual. And I can’t help myself.

That’s the biggest theme of the episode. Four of the five subplots—excluding Sue and Figgins—begin in anxiety and wind up in careless ecstasy. Rachel’s hyperconcerned about impressing the producers, and she ends up running out of the diner without a thought for them after a rollicking “A Hard Day’s Night” with Santana and their coworkers. Tina starts off moody, but the Beatles completely liberate her, and she eagerly dances across the transportive set for “I Saw Her Standing There.” Artie isn’t thrilled about Kitty, but the couple finds a happy ending together. And Kurt walks into Dalton like he’s serving a sentence. Minutes later he’s kissing the man he loves in front of all his friends and enemies and randoms. The music of the Beatles takes everyone away.

Glee contrives this entire absurd event purely to deliver some joy in anticipation of unspoken tragedy. Finn will forever be aspiring to win back Rachel and find his calling inspiring students. Finn will forever be aspiring. But before getting to that heart-breaker, Glee finds a little, well, a lot of happiness. There’s peace in the land, and all because of marriage equality. Having already given Blaine a dose of reality, Burt gives Kurt nothing but support. There’s singing and dancing and another kiss (Glee: 2, Modern Family: 0). I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Sue Sylvester of all people warmly congratulating the couple. Glee throws everything at the wall in this silly scene, and it actually works. The only thing missing is Finn.

Stray observations:

  • “Love Love Love” is directed by Bradley Buecker, whose showy visuals make the most of his scripts, whether winners like “Feud” or losers like “Shooting Star.” The episode has a number of unusual sights, like the wide shot of the slow bubble undulating across the screen as Rachel walks toward it through a park pining for yesterday, and the weirdo long shot that looks down a city bus as it parks and then snakes to follow Santana and Rachel. The only psychedelic moment is the overhead of the spiral staircase with the confetti raining and all those people moving, but I think Glee is saving the later years for next episode.
  • This week’s tacit self-criticism comes from Kitty: “Ugh, this school year seems like it’s never ending.”
  • Meet Bree. She’s like every other Cheerio Queen Bitch, only black. Diversity!
  • “Weren’t Bethenny and Jason supposed to be forever?”
  • Sue Rodham Sylvester is principal now, and her ultimatum to Will is that New Directions has to win Nationals or get cut. The suspense is killing me.
  • Sue also wants to rid the principal’s office of the deep ethnic musk that is Figgins’ hallmark. There’s the Glee we all know and tolerate.
  • Burt is still going strong: “You go in with all these fantasies about what your life together is gonna be like. Nothing but laughing and dancing around in your underwear. Cooking pasta. Sex. A lot of sex.”
  • Next episode is called “Tina In The Sky With Diamonds.” Two can play at this game, Roger Sterling.

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