‘Glee’, Season 4, Ep. 20 Review: “And just when you think it can’t get any gayer, it does.”

I’ve struggled with what to say about the most recent episode of ‘Glee’, entitled “Lights Out” for days now. I enjoyed all of the songs, and even thought that Ryder’s rendition of “Everybody Hurts” was on par with the R.E.M. original. That said, there just didn’t seem to be a whole lot of “there” there.

We start off with Ryder in the school library, chatting with “Katie” again. Not gonna lie — I’m a little butthurt about the continuation of the “catfish” storyline. Of all the plots that ‘Glee’s writers could choose to follow with such consistency and care, they pick this? Not Marley’s eating disorder (and the way Kitty is blithely forgiven for heinously triggering it!), not the fact that Burt Hummel is fighting prostate cancer, not a look in on Dave Karofsky’s journey after he attempted suicide last season, not even something as banal as what happened to Joe and Sugar?! No, ‘Glee’ is trying really hard to make us care who Ryder is chatting up online to the exclusion of real dates and/or friends. At this point, I just want to find out who it is so we can put this dumb story arc out of its misery already.

The week’s musical lesson is “unplugged”, and comes courtesy of a power outage at McKinley High. This gives the New Directions kids a wonderful excuse to do some really inspired a cappella work, including an excellent shout-out to Stomp! with Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. It’s too bad that there wasn’t so much as a mention of Finn and Brittany being MIA (Cory Monteith just finished a stint in rehab, and Heather Morris is pregnant)…

Meanwhile in Bushwick, Rachel and Kurt take it upon themselves to stage a mini-intervention with Santana about how she’s spending her time. Apparently, she’s not “following her dreams” in a way that meets with their approval. (Wait, wasn’t that last week’s theme?) She rightly points out that not only does everybody have different dreams, but they also deserve a little time to figure out what those dreams are for themselves. And if that time involves me getting to imagine Santana Lopez as a scantily-clad Coyote Ugly bartender or Barbarella-themed cage dancer, so much the better. Yum!

The first of the unplugged numbers in the glee club is a stripped-down version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by Sam (who was totally a stripper for 5 minutes last season, and I see what you did there, show!). While it was a decent acoustic cover, it wasn’t holding the attention of all the kids in the choir room. In a subtle wink to the dumb “who’s Katie?” plot, Artie had his nose buried in his smartphone for the entire song. Of course, it didn’t hurt that this gave Sam an excuse to lecture everybody about unplugging from all the devices in their lives and see what’s in front of them.

Back in New York, the show’s apparently remembered that Kurt has an internship at Vogue.com besides his NYADA, and a boss (Isabelle) who may as well just call herself Carrie Bradshaw and get it over with. She’s throwing a gala fundraiser for NYC Ballet’s educational programs and she just lost her “celebrity wrangler”. She gives the project to Kurt, and mentions that he’s welcome to draft some friends into helping him. All of this serves as the thinnest of tissue-thin setups for the musical payoff at the end, in the form of “At The Ballet” from A Chorus Line, as performed by Kurt, Rachel, Santana and Isabelle. There’s supposed to be an emotional payoff too, after the flashbacks to the three kids as mini-me’s all taking ballet classes. I may have shed a few tears when Santana literally hugged her “inner child” before her NYADA extension dance class, but I was also really hormonal at the time, so it probably doesn’t count.

I was also hormonal enough to rewatch (multiple times!) Sue’s bit as a personal trainer at Lima’s 23 Hour Fitness club and the stupid hot “Sue 90X” routine that Blaine snuck himself into in an effort to cajole her back to the Cheerio squad. This was also a setup for Jane Lynch to belt out “Little Girls” from Annie, which she’ll be doing on Broadway later this summer as Miss Hannigan. The song was nice enough, but the best part of Sue’s set piece was her interaction with Becky, who misses her so much it actually hurts. Damn you, Becky, for making me sniffle again over Sue Sylvester!

However, the real emotional sucker punch this week came in the form of something that’s not likely to be addressed again, even though it really should be. Ryder took to heart Jake’s advice about opening himself up to his real-life friends, and confessed to the whole glee club his darkest secret — when he was 11, he was molested by his 17-year-old babysitter. His female babysitter. I’m a survivor myself, so I know what that sort of admission can cost, psychologically. And then ‘Glee’ took a cheap shot; Sam and Artie told Ryder that he should consider himself lucky to have been felt up by a hot girl. Tina, Marley and Mr. Schue tried to shut this crap down, but it was pretty much left as it was. Kitty later confided to Ryder that she was molested in grade school too, by a friend’s older brother, and had to change schools because of all the bullying that resulted from her speaking up.

After all of this, Ryder still blew off a lunch date with Kitty in favor of IM’ing with “Katie”. I really hope that once we find out who this girl (?) is, it’ll be worth it.  My money’s on Kitty, based on the nasty looks she was shooting him in the final group number alone. I just wish that more had happened this week, but I guess dark secrets and emotional blackmail will have to suffice for now.

About Jennifer

I'm a wife and a mother and a geek and girl, and I enjoy all those things immensely. If I had to boil myself down to a particular phrase, the one I'd use would be "rational romantic mystic cynical idealist". (All credit for that to Neil Peart of Rush....)