Glee Recap: A Very Special Cliffhanger

new directions season 3 regionalsEven a die-hard Gleek will tell you that Fox’s high-school musical can be patently ridiculous. Ginger supremacists, gym coaches who eat whole chickens like bite-sized snacks, educators who join their under-age charges for performances of sexually suggestive ditties — they’re all par for the course in the halls of the fictional McKinley High.

And yet there are times when Glee‘s audacity — its willingness to hit the empty dance floor and boogie with unselfconscious abandon — allows it to tackle some of the most important issues of the day with a headiness and honesty that aren’t merely refreshing, but absolutely necessary in these crazy, contentious times.

Seriously, how could even a hardcore homophobe remain unmoved by this week’s Glee? The sight of football jock (and former bully) Dave Karofsky getting outed and humiliated in a high-school locker room, and then heading home to tearfully dress up in his best suit and prepare for his own suicide, was as devastating as anything I’ve seen on TV this year. And while I’m always a bit reluctant when my favorite fictional shows try to double as PSAs, I’ll give a pass to Ryan Murphy & Co. this time around. After all, Karofsky’s journey over Glee‘s three seasons has not only been a wakeup call to a nation that is seriously considering a presidential candidate who equates homosexuality with bestiality, but it’s also made for some damn good television.

Glee Post Mortem: Max Adler on Life After [Spoiler] and a Possible Kurt/Karofsky Romance

Oh, and if Karofsky’s suicide attempt (emphasis on attempt; thankfully, he survived) wasn’t enough of a boom-boom-pow ending to Glee‘s winter season — the show won’t return with new episodes until April — we also had (cliffhanger alert) Quinn getting into a scary texting-while-driving accident, Rachel and Finn about to get into a married-while-immature accident, and (not so surprisingly) New Directions taking home first prize at Regionals.

If I’ve got any complaint with the episode, it would have to be that for a show that’s billed as a musical comedy, there certainly weren’t many laughs, and the musical interludes seemed like something of an afterthought — all the more perplexing for an hour that purported to focus on the 2012 Midwest Regional Show-Choir Championships.

But enough of my kvetching — let’s fast-forward to a quick breakdown of the central story arcs:

* Karofsky’s suicide attempt — mercifully thwarted when his dad found him before it was too late — sent waves of shock and guilt throughout the community. Kurt lamented not answering phone calls from his unwanted suitor. Sue, Schue, and Emma wondered if they should’ve seen the warning signs. Even Sebastian was contrite, admitting he’d callously told Karofsky he was too heavy to find love and that he should stay in the closet. All of this made Kurt’s subsequent visit to see Karofsky in the hospital more poignant. When Karofsky wept that he’d been abandoned by his best friend and been told by his mother than he had a disease that needed curing — we also found out kids had posted “better luck next time” and “try, try again” on his Facebook page — Kurt helped him visualize a future with a great job as a sports agent, a loving husband, and an adorable child of his own. Karofsky’s response to the dream sequence — “I’m so happy right now” — felt like an apt place to leave the character. I’d love it if Ryan Murphy & Co. let us see more of this complicated kid’s journey, but if they don’t, at least they’ve left Karofsky in a hopeful place.

* In a move that Rachel equated to “show-choir terrorism,” Sebastian used Photoshop to create filthy photos of Finn — which he threatened to post on the Internet if Rachel didn’t drop out of New Directions’ performances at Regionals. The threat created some trumped-up tension between the couple, but when Karofsky’s suicide attempt resulted in a kinder, gentler Sebastian, Rachel and Finn giddily decided to move up their wedding date and make it a post-Regionals shindig. Carol and Burt and Hiram and LeRoy all looked for ways to stop the wedding without direct confrontation about the awfulness of the idea — and the cliffhanger ending (more on that in a moment) left Rachel and Finn moments away from a date with the Justice of the Peace. (Surely, some parental figure will step up and do his/her job when the action resumes, yes?)

* The episode was also heavy in the Quinn department, with the formerly troubled teen seeking to regain her spot on the Cheerios before nationals, and encouraging her God Squad buddies to pray for Karofsky’s family moreso than Dave himself, since she felt his suicide attempt was an act of selfishness. (Wouldn’t this have been a great opportunity for Mercedes to drop The Golden Rule in Quinn’s face?) Quinn’s alarming position led to an uncomfortable exchange where Kurt (in an awful side-button sweater) dismissed Quinn’s problems over the last three seasons as pretty much inconsequential. This turned out to be neither character’s finest moment, but we’re talking about teenagers here — so it’s not as if all this self-absorption and/or lack of perspective were unrealistic. Before the hour was done, though, Quinn had finally convinced Sue to let her rejoin the cheerleading squad, reconciled with Rachel and agreed to be one of her bridesmaids, and then — terrifyingly — been sideswiped by an uncoming vehicle in an ugly texting-while-driving accident. Will she survive — and if so, how? We’ll have to wait till Glee‘s April 10 return to find out.

* Alas, the worst moment in the episode came when Schue gathered the New Directions kids to work through their feelings about the Karofsky situation, and shared his own strained story about how he once contemplated killing himself in high school after he’d been caught cheating on a test. The utter lack of context — had Will been struggling with other issues or depression at the time of his crisis? — gave the anecdote a vibe of desperation, of Will making up a story to better connect to his students as opposed to being a genuine revelation. And combined with another groaner that found Will revealing that Rory had never tried peanut butter — I thought our exchange student been living in Ireland, not dwelling in a cave? — I’m now almost convinced someone in the writers’ room is purposely sabotaging any/every Schue-centric scene in the show.

* Oh, and Sue is apparently “with child,” and the sudden rush of related hormones got her in the mood to help New Directions with its quest to win Nationals. “I don’t think there is a catch,” she wondered to a suspicious Mr. Schue. “I just wanna help you.”

* Product-placement line of the night: “We’re taking an Edible Arrangement to the hospital. Do you want to come with us?” –Mercedes to Kurt

And now let’s hit our letter grades for this week’s performances:

“Cough Syrup,” Blaine To be honest, it was hard to focus on Blaine’s Young the Giant cover juxtaposed against images of Karofsky descending into the depths of emotional despair. But taken on its own, Blaine’s vocal was strong and passionate — perhaps better than the original? Also: Did anyone get a slight Morrissey vibe from Blaine on this performance? Grade: A-

“Stand”/”Glad You Came,” The Warblers Oh, Sebastian, you’re a gem when it comes to delivering spicy one-liners. But your work as lead vocalist on this pair of Warblers’ Regionals performances? As bland as a bowl of plain lasagna noodles, I’m afraid to say. Grade: C+

“Fly”/”I Believe I Can Fly,” New Directions Solid vocals from Artie, Finn, Rachel, and Mercedes, and some not terrible rapping from Blaine and Santana, but this mashup lacked the epic scope you want from a Regionals showdown. And let’s be honest: “I Believe I Can Fly” is kind of the worst.Grade: B-

“Stronger,” the Troubletones If Ryan Murphy is still brainstorming what to have McKinley’s seniors do for Season 4, how about a girl group fronted by Santana, Mercedes, and Brittany? I have no idea who all those other chicas were supposed to be — or where they’ve been hiding out during rehearsals — but the vocals were fantastic, and it’s clear Mercedes no longer needs booty camp! Grade: A-

“Here’s to Us,” Rachel and New Directions Hard to find any fault with Lea Michele’s vocal performances, though I do wonder why New Directions always seems to be performing songs with choruses about drinking. Is it possible Mr. Schue doesn’t know how to read? Grade: B+

And with that, it’s your turn to hit the comments with your thoughts on the episode. Did you appreciate how the Karofsky story line was handled? What did you make of the wedding shenanigans? And what’s your prediction for Quinn when the show comes back with new episodes? Sound off below! And for all the Glee news, interviews, and commentary your heart desires, follow TVLine on Twitter @TVLineNews. Now ready, set, sound off!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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290 Comments
  1. Ratstar says:

    Kurtz a$$ holic comments aren’t so weird knowing that the shows writers are gay writers who know how to write only about the males – totally discounting Quinns hardships (after getting kicked out by her dad, she gets kicked out by Finn’s mom), how Santana got outed (glossing over her pain and having Finn rescue her, blechh). I’ve long ago stopped watching it, too much focus on gaystuffs. Enough already. Don’t anyone dare call me anti gay – the show is just too skewed.

    • jt says:

      Quinn got kicked out by Finn’s mom because she was trying to pass off her baby with Puck as Finn’s. Carole had every right to ask her to leave her house. Some of Quinn’s “hardships” are of her own making, you know.

    • TheWanted says:

      Ratstar, you’re not anti-gay. You’re a homophobe.
      Like every bit of the episode except for Rachel and Finn’s scenes

  2. Eran says:

    Disclaimer: I *am* gay (31 y/o).
    This opinion may rub many of you the wrong way, but while I get what an important message Ryan Murphy and co. were trying to convey in tonight’s episode, having Karofsky survive was a cop out.
    The Tyler Clementis of the world, sadly did not have someone storm in there in the last minute to stop them from giving in to their bullies and tormentors. They “succeeded” and every death like theirs ought to be an indictment of the society which sat idly by and enabled their bullying, their remaining in the closet and their belief that the world would be better off without them in it.
    Had Karofsky died, Ryan Murphy would have been able to hold a mirror to the face of the Santorums, Ajmadinajads and every other bigoted fundamentalist and homophobe out there and shown them the legacy of their actions. Moreoever, it could have shown the kids the consequences of their actions, particularly when your platform is TV and a show as big as Glee.
    Finally, the friends and family of the kids who did commit suicide could have finally seen some representation of their own pain of becoming suicide survivors because no one turns the camera on them once the coffin’s been lowered.
    I get R. Murphy and what he was trying to do. I genuinely do and I applaud him for it, but at the same time, the sad reality is that there is a whopping number of teens, gay and otherwise who do attempt and succeed in committing suicide. Those stories and in particular, their utterly devastating aftermaths deserve to be told as well, truthfully, bravely and honestly.
    Thanks for reading.

  3. AngieD says:

    The music was relevant to the topic. I think people expect a lot of fantastic high energy performances at sectionals/regionals/nationals. However, these song choices were more about the storyline vs competition. So, while it’s not ‘bad’ that this episode was regionals, I think people just had different musical expecations for regionals. For the people who were looking for the music, if you just factor out regionals, this was a great episode of Glee. If you only look at it as a regionals episode (which it was hyped as), then you will be disappointed until you ‘let go’ of it being a regionals episode. This epsiode of Glee took me on a see saw of emotion – from the low of Karofsky’s attempt to winning regionals (although you know they werent’ going to lose) o a wedding to a low of possible death.

  4. kate says:

    it’s not necessarily the “hardcore homophobes” who were totally put off by this week’s episode; it’s the opposite demographic, actually.
    check out Tomandlorenzo.com for a more realistic take on the episode.

    • Bring back the comedy says:

      Since the last two seasons have been an endless PSA for gay teens, I guarantee you that homophobes stopped watching this show a long time ago. As well as viewers who are tired of being beat over the head that gay problems are the only problems that really matter.

  5. June says:

    I have to disagree with the I Believe I Can Fly note. It’s one of my favorite songs and it deserved to be a song on its own. Not only that, but the mashup wasn’t very good to begin with. Disappointed to see the song be wasted in such a way.

  6. ro says:

    As far as the the whole “never had peanut butter” thing, you should know that most countries outside of the US and Canada don’t have peanut butter, and if they do it is nothing like the peanut butter we have in the states, so… your complaint is sort of ignorant… no offence.

  7. Sean C. says:

    And thus we learned that outing is an unfathomably terrible thing…when it happens to a boy.
    When it happens to a girl, it’s being done for her own good, and all it takes is a Katy Perry song to make everything wonderful. And then it’s only proper for her to thank the guy that outed her.

  8. Ananda says:

    Im pretty sure the mass will disagree, but it was one of the weakest episodes ever, too much going on, weak performances, really liked Stronger,but it wash;t stronger enough!! the editing seemed off (lip sync), the scenes that were supposed to be really emotional weren’t deep enough!! it felt odd, the entire thing, and don’t even get me starting with the car crash, cos that was the most annoying bit, I get text messaging while drive can cause accidents, but the way they did, with the character they used, it was just lousy !!

  9. murley says:

    i actually loved the peanut butter bit. i grew up splitting my time between ireland and the states and peanut butter was NEVER a thing there. my friends and cousins in ireland could never understand american’s obsession with it and most of them had never even tried it. it was so weirdly accurate it was great.

  10. Amber says:

    I can’t stop thinking about what is going to happen to Quinn. That scene should make EVERYONE stop texting while driving. I have a feeling she won’t live. since this is her last season.

  11. Mufeed says:

    well, great episode, tackled the harshest issues of today’s society effectively, with the characters portraying real passion. On a funny note, when Rachel tells Finn that they’re getting married ‘now’, he responds with “But, but I have gym?”…LOL :D

  12. Lizzy says:

    Everyone is talking story line, so I’ll let that go.
    I thought the songs were insipid and horrible last night. About as inspiring as 3 am at a 24 hour buffet.

  13. Leah says:

    WHO is Sue’s baby daddy?? Is she even pregnant??

  14. M says:

    Here’s what I think. All of you bashing Kurt are just has hurtful and cruel as the bullies are portrayed in this show. By talking about his actions in this way just shows you really are so closed minded. He was RIGHT…. Quinn didn’t have her life stripped from her because of who she was, she made a serious mistake and had NO ONE TO BLAME BUT HERSELF. Then when no one gave her the sympathy she was trying to get, she lashed out. Pretending to be troubled. I am not saying every stupid teenager that gets pregnant is entirely to blame, but most are and she certainly was. Karofsky is COMPLETELY different. For years he hid inside himself, lying to friends and family about who he truly is. And then, to be outed so publicly, and have those same family members and friends abandon you when you already feel you couldn’t be any more alone… I feel that plight is far worse then Quinn’s pathetic situation.
    BIG DIFFERENCE THERE PEOPLE…
    STOP USING GAYS WHO STAND UP FOR THEMSELVES AS A REASON TO BASH US. And you truly don’t know what its like TABITHA. To be able to live comfortably, knowing society sees you as a straight person a little more normal than a gay person. I”m not saying there aren’t other situations out there that can make a straight person feel as repressed, what I am saying is that the gay topic IS A MAJOR ISSUE. I’m not even in high school anymore and I can’t walk down the street without being harassed, and I’m far from what you people would define as a ‘flamer’ as I’ve been called ALL MY LIFE BY STRAIGHT PEOPLE.
    STOP THE DISRESPECT. STOP THE HATE.

    • Glee sends the wrong message says:

      I see you have gotten Glee’s message that gay problems are the only ones that really matter. This is what is wrong with Glee. It preaches about tolerance for gays while teaching that other problems don’t deserve the same level of compassion.
      Glee reinforces this idea that gay problems are more significant than others. Sorry, but being gay is not the worst thing that can happen to a person in this world and gay suffering is no more painful than other problems unrelated to being gay.
      Anyone who tries to belittle teen pregnancy because it was a “choice” really has along way to go in learning about compassion, tolerance, love and understanding.

    • Gays aren't the only ones with problems says:

      I find it hard to understand how someone expects for the disrespect and the hate to stop if they are putting it on others. Quinn should not have said that suicide is selfish, but Kurt’s reply was very unsensitive. He should have told her about how everyone reacts to problems differently. instead of belittling her problems and acting like she went though absolutely nothing.
      Yes, Quinn has made mistakes. Her main mistake was trusting Puck when he said that he had protection. But her entire life was ruined due to that. Her parents disowned her, and her mother only came back when her dad cheated on her. She hasn’t talked to her dad in two and a half years. She got absolutely no support from the people who were suppossed to love her unconditionally. And she gave her baby up for adoption. You don’t think that it’s painful giving the child that has been living in you and you’ve become connected to away? She spent a year acting like she never had Beth, and then he mom starts teaching at her school. Quinn has obviously had problems and needed help, but no one recognized that. You really think that she was only pretending to be troubled?
      I understand that it is hard to be gay, but the problem is that the show and you are acting like it is the only thing in the world that is tough. Quinn has had the hardest life in the Glee Club, yet no one recognizes it. Kurt has been through tough times, but so has Quinn.

    • DieHardGleek says:

      While I completely agree with you about Kurt I think in the end Quinn did have her fair share of problems as well. Think about it. Quinn was in a relationship with the coolest boy in the school. She was captain of the Cheerios, leader of the Celibracy club, and the most popular girl around. Then she cheats on her boyfriend with his best friend. At this point I would be surprised if anyone is sympathetic with her. But next she finds herself pregnant with her boyfriends best friends baby. She doesn’t want to admit to Finn that the baby is Puks so she says its his. Puk starts harassing her about whose baby it actually is. Quinn doesn’t want to tell her parents because of their traditions so she ignores that problem. All the while there are rumours circulating about how she ending up pregnant and the leader of the celibracy club, she has never had to deal with this kind of thing and she does not know what to do. Then Finn steps in and tells them she pregnant himself, getting her kicked out of her own home. She gets taken in by Finns mum and told she can stay at their house so now she has to deal with guilt that the baby isn’t Finns and sadness because her parents have disowned her and on top of all of that she isn’t even that sure what her feelings towards Puk are. Then Finn finds out the baby isn’t his and breaks up with her while also losing his best friend. Quinn knows that is her fault. Next she gets kicked out of Finns houseand taken in by Mercedes whom Quinn wasn’t even that nice to. While it wasn’t as bad as Kurt’s problem, she did have her fair share.

  15. Tim says:

    Never been much of a Blaine fan, but I thought his performance deserved an A+. Really passionate delivery of a great song. And it fit the situation perfectly.

  16. chitown_mimi says:

    Um, since when is “I believe I can fly”, the worst? It is very powerful when you are singing to give yourself encouragement.

  17. Princess Adora says:

    Great episode!
    Michael, you didn’t include funny quotes. I know it was a serious episode, but I loved the part when Rachel says to Finn she wants to get married now and he says “I have gym”. Awesome! And just another sign that they’re way too young for marriage!!

  18. RD says:

    After all the agonizing over songs throughout the series they ended up with those three?? I don’t know…..pretty lame selection,methinks.

  19. ginny says:

    Rory/peanut butter- This made me smile and recall an exchange student who could not get enough peanut butter when he tried it in the USA. Typically, Europeans eat Nutella and have not had the peanut butter experience. Looked like the Glee writers know about this phenomena. Nice touch.

  20. rmb says:

    Does anyone else feel sincere nostalgia for the campy madness of season 1 Glee? After this utterly unsatisfying episode, I cannot recommend strongly enough a re-visit to the pilot. Such joyful goofiness. Oh how far glee has fallen. I’m not ready to break-up, but maybe that’s just a stage of the dysfunctional relationship we (glee and I) have now.

  21. Amber says:

    Watching this episode made me realize I really don’t miss watching all those 80s after-school specials when I was a kid.

  22. Beth Murray says:

    All I will say about the Karofsky attempted suicide is that I watched horrified at what was happening. It was if I wanted to call 911 myself and get him help, for a moment it was not a TV show it was real life. Since he did not die, I am now afraid that Quinn will, and the guilt that Rachel will feel over the texting and begging her to hurry will totally change her future. I can foresee her trying to live out Quinn’s destiny and going to Yale and doing what she thinks Quinn would have done. As far as Quinn’s character goes, I have always liked her even though I felt the writers were not real sure how to type her,was she bad or good.
    As for regionals, I was disappointed in the music, because always before we have been so involved in it. This time it was just done and not entirely by New Directions. I also thought We Are Young would have been the best song for the ending.
    I think it’s time Emma and Will seal the deal, Finn and Rachel make workable plans, Santana realizes that even she needs someone with half a brain and not Brittany, Puck once again comes up with a winner, Kurt and Blaine stay happy and Sam and Mercedes take a shot at their own future.
    Things I wish: Glee would tell me what happened with Artie and Brittany? Puck and Zices? (I loved that combination) Tina and Mike, make it and that the show continues to be good after we lose all our characters that we have come to love. Glee has to return to what it was when it started to keep the interest of all of its viewers.

  23. Dori says:

    WTH??? Did they really have to make me cry every half hour??????? But it was a great episode…it’s been a while. I REALLY hope they don’t kill off Quinn. Maybe some semi-permanent damage will put her world in perspective though. Just a thought.

  24. Nat says:

    Just wanted to say thankyou for your realistic assessment of the Quinn/Kurt scene. I agree, neither of them were perfect here, but they are teenagers, and they are reacting to the situation from their own personal perspectives, so you can’t expect their reactions to be amazingly perfect – the way so many people seem to want them to be. It’s funny, I see a lot of complaints about the characters not being realistic, and particularly Kurt being too ‘perfect’ and not displaying flaws, and here is a scene where both of them were displaying their flaws in a realistic way, and not many people seem to get that. You don’t have to agree with or like what either of them said (I certainly didn’t) but the scene, and their reactions, was realistic.

  25. Angela says:

    to a nation that is seriously considering a presidential candidate who equates homosexuality with bestiality
    Ugh. YES. That’s a thought that terrifies me to no end.
    Very powerful stuff last night, yeah. I think both sides have a fair point here. Yes. People do get bullied for all sorts of stupid reasons. I think they have addressed some of the issues in the past-they showed Quinn’s struggles with her pregnancy. They’ve discussed Artie’s struggles being handicapped. Heck, they talked about Sam’s family being homeless and living in a motel-something I sure could relate to. No, not as much as they do the gay issue, but those sorts of things have been brought up. But yeah, it certainly would be great if they discussed all sorts of issues people face a lot more.
    But all those sorts of people mentioned above-they can all still get married. They aren’t told they’re going to hell day in and day out and trying to be “converted” to the “right lifestyle”. Gay people literally do not have certain rights that so many others get. And given how many gay kids have committed suicide in recent months, I think that says a lot about how deep this issue is.
    Meh. Anywho, regardless, I definitely felt for Karofsky last night. And I do agree that Will’s “suicide” story was…a weird one. I rather liked the use of “I Believe I Can Fly”, myself, but eh, well, to each their own :).

  26. Beverly says:

    This show used to entertain – now it informs. It is becoming one note and tedious. I support the message but its delivery is patronizing. Time to rediscover the charm of the original episodes where characters were not representative but just quirky.

    • DieHardGleek says:

      In the end though the episodes always meant something. The script always tried to convey a message. The only difference is that now the messages are much more serious and the delivery a load more direct.

  27. Sue says:

    Karofskys actions weren’t that surprising to me I saw it comming and I agree about Kurt and Quinn’s fight I think Quinn has gone through way more than poor Kurt can understand but Quinns accident shocked me I hope she’s ok I’ve really grown to love her.

  28. barbara says:

    I thought the music in this episode was boring. I thought that the Golden Goblets sounded the best of all the groups.

  29. Allison P says:

    The Rory/peanut butter thing mirrored Damian in real life–he’d never tasted peanut butter until a short while ago. It was nice of the writers to include it.
    Taking on a completely different tone, the Karofsky storyline was hard for me to watch. I’d thought Karofsky might do this at the end of last year, so I wasn’t expecting it now. Also, someone I grew up with recently committed suicide himself. However difficult the storyline was for me personally, I love the way the writers ended up playing it out.

  30. Addie says:

    I’m very glad this episode was shown last week. On Monday, one of my classmates committed suicide. Unlike what was shown in the episode he wasn’t bullied ever. He was a “Finn” like person, beloved by everyone and a star athlete, honor student and just the kindest person ever. I don’t think I can ever watch this episode again. I guess it just goes to show that someone who does this isn’t always the person who’s portrayed in the media. It can be the one you least expect.
    RIP Scott. I won’t forget you

  31. DieHardGleek says:

    But isn’t that part of what the teachers where saying when they were in Figgin’s office? That they could have done more to help? In the end, they can only help as much as the pupil will let them, like the old saying ‘You are going to have to meet me halfway’. If the pupil wont talk to someone then how are they supposed to know what th pupil is feeling? I realise that Karofsky tried to contact Kurt but, in the end, he needed to face up to what waas happening around him. Take a look at what went on when he went to Mckinley High and try to deal with the bullying.

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