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Glee, “The First Time” (3.05)

Santana, as Anita, and Rachel, as Maria, on stage for West Side Story.

A review of the newest episode, written by Roberto Agruirre-Sacasa and directed by Bradley Buecker, in spoiler-free and spoiler-y versions, after the jump…

Spoiler-free:

  • You know how the show has shifted to be good at the teen drama but pretty boring comedically and musically this year? This episode is a good example of that.
  • This episode has one really great musical number, headed by Santana and Puck (Naya Rivera and Mark Salling), and the rest are less than thrilling.
  • The numbers were all from West Side Story, mostly focusing around Blaine and Rachel (Darren Criss and Chris Colfer) – except one Warblers number.
And now, for spoilers…
To be honest… I found this episode a snooze. On a good week, Glee gets me grinning, laughing, and enjoying myself. At its worst, I find myself cringing, scowling and rolling my eyes. This week… I was mostly waiting for it to be over. The big V storylines didn’t interest me, I intensely dislike Artie as a character, and I have little interest in West Side Story. To top it off, Rachel and Kurt both seemed to play to their worst natures this week: for Rachel, that’s manipulation and desperation, and for Kurt, it’s being cold and bitchy. Kurt, in particular, was frustrating. He acted possessive and snippy around Sebastian, his conversation with Karofsky cold and condescending (and much out of sync with where their relationship left off last season), and was generally hard to sympathise with here. His one good scene, telling Blaine he didn’t want to lose his virginity to Blaine when he was drunk and turned on by Sebastian, worked well; most everything else rubbed me the wrong way.
Because the episode was overwhelmingly about these two threads, I took very specific joys from it. Max Adler‘s work as a free and happy Karofsky away from the hell of McKinley. Tina’s speech about her first time with Mike. Grant Gustin as Sebastian, essentially the male Santana. And the absolutely fantastic “America” number, which redeemed the rest of the episode. Naya Rivera, Mark Salling, and the rest involved had a lot of fun with it, and it was a joy to watch.
I’m not put off, mostly because I’m expecting next week’s “Mash Off” to completely blow previous episodes out of the water. In addition to some great moments I hear on the horizon, Eric Stoltz is directing again; I wait in hope that he’ll somehow be installed as a regular director, as his episodes tend to work well. Here’s hoping.
I’m going to go watch “America” again. See you next week.
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