Glee: Marking Time

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At the outset, it looked like another Sue Sylvester-heavy episode. First, she gave Mercedes (and, less emphatically, Kurt) an ultimatum to lose weight or be dropped from the squad, then she commandeered the McKinley High auditorium for an entire week, forcing New Directions to secure a new location for their rehearsals and leading to another in an endless series of confrontations with Will.

But just when you thought Fox had gone overboard in reacting to everyone saying Jane Lynch was the best part of the show, she disappears until the third act. In the meantime, we got an episode that did little to advance the overall plot, whatever that is (regionals...I think), and instead focused on Mercedes' attempts to lose weight and the smoldering homoerotic tension between Kurt and Finn.

Oh yeah, and the return of Kristin Chenoweth.

Yep, April's back (if anything was more strident than the praise for Lynch's character, it was the calls for Chenoweth's return). Far from taking the straight and narrow -- as was suggested by her last appearance -- April's gone the Anna Nicole route and landed an octogenarian sugar daddy. Now she's managing the roller rink that Will seeks out for rehearsal space. This happy turn of events leads to not one but two Chenoweth numbers, both duets with Matthew Morrison (Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" and Burt Bacharach's "One Less Bell to Answer").

Still we have to ask: what's the point, exactly? To give Will some romantic tension? True, Emma was completely AWOL this episode, but it isn't like there's any danger the guy would behave like 99% of the male population and allow a drunk Kristin Chenoweth to jump on him. No, April only makes an appearance when the creative team needs to butch Will up.

And did someone mention homoerotic tension? It seems Kurt engineered the whole hook-up between his dad and Finn's mom to get himself in closer proximity to the latter's nether regions (his "happy ending" comment bearing the truth of that). To his chagrin, father Burt takes an enthusiastic shine to a potential son who prefers football to footlights.

Meanwhile, Mercedes passes out from low blood sugar (or pressure, whatever) thanks to her weight loss efforts, leading Quinn to give her a pep talk about her body. Because a blonde white girl who can carry a baby to term without visibly gaining an ounce is who should be dispensing advice about body image. If anyone out there didn't predict Mercedes' closing song would be Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," you were probably clicking over to Game 7 of the Detroit-Phoenix series as much as I was.

In other words, not much happened. For further proof, look at the absence of so many primary cast members: Rachel had one line, while boyfriend Jesse -- whose presence we were supposed to make such a big deal out of for the last two episodes -- was relegated to bobbing his head to Kurt's soulless rendition of Luther Vandross' "A House Is Not a Home." Artie and Tina get to talk in one scene, Puck spends a second week doing little beyond offering a quip or two, Hell, Mike didn't even get to dance.

By the time we got to Mercedes' Revenge of the Nerds moment, where all her fellow "misfits" are called down to the auditorium floor, we were ready to move on. Glee's second half isn't getting off to the crazily hyped start as the first installment, and that's to be expected. Unless they can pick up the pace, however, we may be looking at another Cop Rock.

Best Line [Tie]: "You were conceived on a pinball machine." -- Carole Hudson
"I haven't had a solid meal since 1987." -- Three guesses


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