Glee – Funeral

The question of who was going to die in the ominously titled ‘Funeral’ was one that had fans wondering for a while – although I must admit, an onset photo of Jane Lynch in a suit (no tracksuit) seemed a big giveaway to me. Yes, poor Jean, Sue’s sister was the one to kick the bucket in an unusual and emotional episode of Glee that also saw Jesse St James play a nasty Simon Cowell like critic as Santana, Kurt, Mercedes and Rachel all auditioned for the solo for Nationals.

The structure of this episode was completely unlike any other. We had five songs – the beautiful Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (although more like Maroon 5’s rather fab version than Gene Wilder’s) that was sung by the New Directions at Jean’s funeral, preceded by the four solos as the kids tried out for the solo. It was pretty much four songs, lots of plot, one song, the end.

The contrast of the Jesse meanness – Mr Shue rather scandalously allowing it too – and the emotional story of Sue’s reaction to Jean’s death was a slightly uneasy mix. However I thought it worked really well. Sue has been pretty much wasted this year since her Cheerios failed to qualify for Nationals. Since Quinn, Santana and Brittany quit, we’ve not seen them and Sue has been reduced to cartoonish attempts to destroy the Glee club (although I did quite enjoy the legion of doom – or was it league??) Here Jane Lynch was excellent as the grief stricken Sue.

The episode began with Becky and her mum asking Mr Shue if she could join Glee Club as Sue had kicked her off the Cheerios. On confronting Sue, she tells Will about Jean’s death. Step brothers Kurt and Finn really step up by going to see her to offer their condolences. Both have lost a parent in the past and despite her anger, Sue is not in total bitch mode, clearly upset. The boys persuade the Glee club to help her by singing at the funeral and helping Sue clean out Jean’s things at the nursing home. The funeral itself is quite heart breaking as we see Sue as we’ve never seen her before. Her beautiful eulogy is read by Will for her after she is in tears and then we get the rather wonderful song that even Sue appreciates.

Later Finn breaks up with Quinn, although quite what Quinn has in store for New York is left hanging – and is quite the cliffhanger. Will she ruin their performance? Surely they cannot actually win – the show would have no where to go if they are national champions would it?

As Finn heads back to see Rachel, he comes across Jesse kissing her. Has he missed his chance? I have to say I am pretty much fed up with the Quinn/Finn/Rachel stuff. Finn’s constant switching of his affections has become pretty tedious and I just wish they could have Quinn and Rachel be something other than boy mad girls. We had a great scene with them last week after Quinn slapped Rachel, then poures out her feelings and fears about having nothing but her prom queen looks. Interestingly all the time Finn was saying he wanted to end things, Quinn kept referring back to Rachel over and over. Pull yourself together Quinn and focus on YOU!

Ditto with Rachel and her constant mooning after Finn. MOVE ON! I loved the early single minded ‘I want to be a star’ Rachel who ignored all the insults and slushies and focussed on her future career. Rachel has always been my favourite character – partly due to the insanely talented Lea Michele – but also because she is so single minded and tactless. She’s hilarious! This season has not treated the character that well at times. The only growth we have seen has nearly all been related to Finn (apart from a nice build up of her friendship with Kurt and to a lesser degree Mercedes). I want to see Rachel be wonderfully insane as a character, not just as a girlfriend.

Anyway, on a more positive note for Finn, it was good to see him be the kind hearted person we have seen in the past and for him and Kurt to do something together (they live together now as a family for goodness sake!) to help Sue.

Onto a run down of the music now. I have been playing the songs all week and thought they were all great this week. Of the four soloists, I found it hard to pick a favourite. In many ways this has been Naya Rivera’s season. As an actress and singer she has risen to probably the number two female performer after Lea Michele in terms of opportunity and exposure. Her voice suited Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, but the arrangement was exactly the same as the original (apart from cleaning up one of the dirtier lyrics!) She delivered a great performance though.

Chris Colfer’s rendition of Some People was really good, but a bit similar to his other recent big performances that have also been show tunes.

Amber Riley did a real lung busting Try A Little Tenderness, but again not a terribly ambitious arrangement. Jesse’s comments about her being lazy were way way off though.

Finally Lea Michele’s My Man was another outstanding Barbra Streisand number, expertly wailed by Rachel – but then we’ve had a few of those before too. Hmm, all four performing songs similar to ones they’ve done before. All great. Which was the best? I’m biased towards Lea Michele superior vocal power but the one I’ve re-listened to in the car most was Kurt, while I probably enjoyed Santana’s prowling performance most. Glad I didn’t have to choose!

My favourite song of the episode was the Pure Imagination one though. Perfect for the occasion – and a pretty great song anyway (quick sidebar, that old film with Gene Wilder was loads better than the Johnny Depp version! Music miles better too!)

I loved that Tina got one of the leads. She has a great voice and sounded absolutely gorgeous. I liked the version in the episode more than the iTunes version as only Tina, Kurt, Finn and Artie sang on the iTunes one, whereas as the whole group joined in on the aired version. Love to hear them all sing together.

With one episode to go, Glee hits New York and Nationals next week – and they haven’t even written their songs!!! What! I’ve heard two of the original songs but I am not totally sold on the idea of them doing original songs for the competitions. I prefer the cover versions, but ones that have an interesting arrangement. However the biggest suspensions of disbelief – that with a week to go they haven’t written, learnt, rehearsed or choreographed their Nationals performances.  As Jesse said, Vocal Adrenaline will be on IV drips to get them through 24hours a day practices!

I liked this episode a lot, although it was undeniably emotionally manipulative. Jane Lynch’s performance carried it through and I just loved that sweet hug with her and Becky at the end. Aw! Mr Shue does indeed appear to be heading for Broadway and April Rhodes musical – that surely wont last. Terri Shuster appears to be going as she has a job in Florida. Frankly it is ridiculous Jessalyn Gilseg has remained as a listed cast member when she has barely appeared since halfway through season 1. Will Sue’s gratitude towards Will last? Have we heard the last hair joke? Hopefully not.

Roll on NYC.