Glee, “Pot O’ Gold” (3.04)

Puck promises support to Shelby.

A review of the fifth episode (in spoiler-free and spoilery forms), written by Ali Adler and directed by Adam Shankman, after the jump…

First, spoiler-free tidbits:

  • This is the shiny debut of new Glee club member, and The Glee Project winner, Damian McGinty. He leaves a stronger impression than past newbies like Chord Overstreet‘s Sam and Charice‘s Sunshine, and fits in well alongside figures like Santana, Finn and Brittany.
  • Burt Hummel has a nice plot kickstart here that I think will pay nice dividends down the road.
  • The lead figures here were Santana, Brittany, Burt, Finn, Sue and newbie Damian, plus the Shelby/Puck/Quinn triangle of doom.
  • Songs go to Shelby’s Troubletones, who snag at least one new member, Rory (Damian McGinty) and Blaine.
  • Quinn has a fantastic speech to justify something horrible.
Now for the spoilers…
I love Naya Rivera. I love Santana and her relationship with Brittany. So I was happy to see the two get renewed screentime, especially with Santana stretching her scheming muscles to use Rory to sway Brittany towards the Troubletones. I also liked the growing tension between Santana and Finn, because their relationship is weird and I love every time the two interact. She took his virginity, and ever since they’ve had these weird vibes that I love watching.
“Do you know hard it is to do something perfectly?”
Dianna Agron is having a stellar year. Last season, she was largely embroiled in ridiculous romantic plots; though I thought they dug into her character (and, in fact, laid the ground for her material this year), it was widely panned. Here, she’s telling an entirely different story: a girl who life has broken, who has been betrayed or left behind by everyone in her life, who sees an empty road laying out before her, and holds onto the one hopeful thing she can see. Unfortunately, as this episode makes clear, Beth is not hers. While Shelby is open to Quinn and Puck getting to know her (and, I suspect, largely for the reasons to lays out to Puck: someone else to enjoy Beth’s milestones and love her), everyone involved knows that Shelby is doing a great job.  Her full speech:
“Everybody has their big plans! Colleges, New York, even you have your stupid pool cleaning business and what do I have? Beth is perfect. She’s my perfect thing. Something even I can’t screw up. Do you know how hard it is to do something perfectly? I’ll never get the chance again. So even if I never leave this town or accomplish anything, I’ll have her to call mine.”
So, she lays out her desperation in a heartbreaking speech that lays out exactly what she sees for her life: no hope except Beth. But her attempts to get Beth will only harm the child, as she has no way of providing for it, and thus would (as she predicted when she gave the baby up for adoption) give her a life of desperation and sadness. Loved, too, but desperate and removed from another who loves her too. And the likelihood of rights being given back to Quinn and Puck, who are still in high school, is negligible even if Beth is removed from Shelby’s care. So, her plan is destructive and harmful, and Puck – Puck of all people – can see that. It’s a really interesting plot to watch unfold, especially given that last shot of the episode. Could a Puck and Shelby coupling work for Beth? I’ve seen odder functional couples work in my own life, so where most will write this off, I remain open to seeing where the writers take it.
And Mark Salling gets a winning turn with “Waiting For a Girl Like You”, his best vocal solo since season one.
The Rory plot felt like mostly a way to introduce a newbie, but it slipped nicely into the Santana, Brittany and Finn dramas, so I didn’t hold it against the show for being a little clunky. I enjoyed it, and I like Damian McGinty, but I don’t have much to say about that aspect.
I am really happy the show is gearing up for a Finn and Blaine showdown. Rachel has had rivals for the crown over the years, but the closest we ever came to a challenge to Finn was Sam, and he stepped out of the spotlight pretty quick. Blaine, on the other hand, is a breakout star who led a show choir that did very well against the New Directions, tying them once and narrowly losing a second time. Blaine and Rachel flirted with a relationship, and demonstrated some musical chemistry on “Don’t You Want Me” last year, so Finn could easily see himself being dethroned in his own Glee club this year. Finn has grown a lot, but can he succeed when rivals are popping up in his very own choir?
I just wish the music and comedy had been stronger this episode, as the story and character were strong – the strongest it’s been all season, I’ve argue. I definitely don’t blame the music issue on Ali Adler, who is the first new writer to take a swing at the show. But. Her backstory that I know best is Chuck, which makes sense: that show has always lived on equal doses of drama, comedy and sweetness, with none ever really taking the lead. There’s a few jokes that hit the funny bone, but it feels like Santana should have had some amazing zingers in an episode this focused on her. Instead, her main breakout scene was intimidating Rory, and Rivera did the bulk of the work there. The Brittany-isms were also funny, but no gut-busters. Where was the Ian Brennan pass here?
The other issue was the music. For Finn to freak out and Santana to give her big speech, “Last Friday Night” should have been a Blaine-fest, but he was only the strongest in what felt like a big group number. The Troubletones’ debut also felt a little subdued, with no breakout moments for either Amber Riley or Naya Rivera, whose characters left the New Directions to get said moments. Instead the solo line was thrown to Brittany, whose voice is the weakest of the trio. And the remainder of the two numbers were both offered up by newbie Damian McGinty as Rory, and while both were fine showcases for him, neither really gave me proper goosebumps. “Take Care of Yourself” was definitely the stronger of the two, and was very sweet, but this ended up being an episode with no showstopping numbers, and I think that hurt all of them a little.
All in all, emblematic of the season as a whole: strong drama, stirring character moments, but few laugh-out-loud moments or mindblowing musical numbers. I’m hoping they can ramp up the latter without losing the former as the season gains steam.
One Response to “Glee, “Pot O’ Gold” (3.04)”
  1. Nice blog 🙂 I love rory and i want him to stay forever! haha. Check out my glee blog 😀

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