“Dynamic Duets” isn’t going to make anyone’s list of the most memorable episodes in Glee history, but in the spirit of the holiday, let’s just be thankful that we had something other than procedural reruns and pro football to help keep us from fully succumbing to tryptophan comas.
And hey, we got Beiste without a side of Schue, another amusing (and self-deprecating) dig at “Night of Neglect,” and a self-sufficient Finn who’s not just sitting around moping over his on-again, off-again romance with his high-school sweetheart.
If, however, you got distracted drying your tears after watching Activia commercials, here’s what you missed on Glee:
* Finn got off on a sour note as New Directions’ new advisor, suggesting a “Foreigner” theme (songs by Foreigner sung in foreign languages wearing various national costumes) for Sectionals. Beiste gave her former student some solid advice — “be their hero” — and so Finn put on his tights and cape and suggested a plan B, “Dynamic Duets.” At the same time, he concocted a plan to stamp out bad blood between Ryder and Jake, as well as Kitty and Marley, by forcing them to pair up on homework assignments. When Jake discovered Ryder’s difficulty with reading, Finn took over, got New Directions’ newest member some much needed testing, and found out the kid was dyslexic. Cue a sweet, genuinely emotional scene between Finn and Ryder (complete with a hilariously random shot of a Cheerio strolling by in a neck brace), followed by the New Directions crew full embracing their mentor by gifting him with a superhero tool belt complete with markers, a doll’s head (thanks for the chuckle, Brittany), and antacids (to fend off instances of the “showchoir squirts”). Looks like Mr. Hudson is settling in to the choir room for the long haul, eh?
* Side note: Who else was delighted by Tina’s incensed response to Ryder and Kitty joining New Directions without so much as an audition, and especially her suggestion that Finn call in college freshman Santana to rejoin the club to hit the magic 12-member mark, “Because apparently she’s better than anyone enrolled here”? If she doesn’t get a major moment at Sectionals, girlfriend might want to consider pulling a Yentl and trying on a Dalton Warblers blazer!
* Ryder and Jake began the hour as bitter rivals in their pursuit of Marley. But after getting into a fistfight during their duet on “Superman,” Finn made them sit down and reveal their deepest insecurities (Ryder’s reading woes, Jake’s issues being biracial and Jewish). And since Jake helped Ryder on his path to being diagnosed as dyslexic — loved the comic-book hero edit of the reading test scene, btw — Ryder returned the favor by sticking up for his new pal (along with Becky and the New Directions’ superfriends) in the face of lunchroom bullying. Is this the start of a beautiful friendship?
* Marley confessed to frenemy Kitty that she’s been making herself throw up every day, and while her schizophrenic rival seemed to be encouraging the bulimic behavior, she then pulled a 180, insisted Marley change her hero name from Wall Flower to Woman Fierce, and enlisted her for a rather nifty duet to a Bonnie Tyler classic. Kitty does, however, seem to be having a bitchy influence on the wide-eyed innocent: When Ryder had to postpone their date because of a Saturday morning meeting with a dyslexia counselor, Marley promptly went and made plans with Jake! (Not sure I’m buying that total lack of empathy on the part of Ms. Rose). Meanwhile, Jake sought advice from Puck — lay back, be cool, that’s how I bagged Teri Hatcher, was big bro’s message — and determined to try to stay friends with Ryder while not giving up on his dream of dating Marley. Courting favor with Mrs. Rose (and complimenting her recent weight loss) might not be a bad place to start, bro.
* Last but not least, this week also found Blaine — president of the Secret Society of Superheroes club — going through an identity crisis. After heading to his former stomping grounds of Dalton Academy to retrieve New Directions’ stolen Nationals Trophy — without so much as a mild flirtation with Sebastian (bummer!) — the new head of the Warblers invited Blaine to slip back into his red-trimmed blazer and consider a return to the fold. Sam, however, said Blaine needed to stop punishing himself for his indiscretions against Kurt, and after a day of good deeds (painting over graffiti! participating in a food drive!) Blaine realized he belonged at McKinley. Cue Sam and Blaine absconding with their trophy. Cue their Warbler rivals, totally thwarted. “Blam!” “Slaine!” I approve!
* Hey, where were Rachel and Kurt and New York City? Planning a fall 2013 spinoff series, perhaps?
Episode’s Best Zingers
“Your name sounds like your parents named you after a cowgirl doll who comes with her own pony.” –Jake, insulting his rival Ryder Lynn
“Last night I teared up at an Activia commercial.” –Beiste, explaining her hormone issues
“My name is Hunter Clarington. I’m the new captain of the Warblers, and I’m not even remotely bi-curious.” –Hunter, introducing himself to Blaine
This exchange, regarding the awfulness of Finn’s proposed “Foreigner” theme.
Tina: “Worse than Funk.”
Artie: “Worse than Night of Neglect.”
“Deal do we have here?” –Finn, after Ryder and Jake tell him he sounds like Yoda
Grades for This Week’s Musical Numbers
* Blaine and the Warblers, “Dark Side”: C+ (this felt a bit like a retread, and lacked the zippy energy of the best Warblers numbers, no?)
* Ryder and Jake, “Superman”: B (whether or not you’re feeling the new New Directions’ story arcs, it has to be said these two are awfully cute)
* Marley and Kitty, “Holding Out for a Hero”: B+ (upgraded a notch for Kitty’s opening split move and subsequent whip play)
* Sam and Blaine, “Heroes”: A- (I’m digging this unexpected friendship, even if the “let’s paint over graffiti” montage was a wee bit ghastly)
* New Directions, “Some Nights”: B (hey, they let Tina sing a line!)
What did you think of “Dynamic Duets”? What were your favorite moments? Are you developing a soft spot for any of the Season 4 newcomers? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Glee recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!