Glee "Shooting Star" Review: Shots Fired

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Apr 12, 2013

Glee S04E18: "Shooting Star" 

Admittedly, that could have gone a lot worse. When the possibility that the "unthinkable" event on Glee might be a school shooting was first mentioned, I was concerned. I've always gotten the sense that the reason Glee likes to tackle huge, noteworthy subjects is that Glee seems to think it's the most important, insightful, and inspirational show on television—and while sometimes, Glee CAN be important and insightful and inspirational, most of the time, it's really not. For reference, please see Marley's eating disorder and Coach Beiste's domestic violence storyline, to name a couple that come to mind. 

Basically, I was really worried that the big, scary, school shooting portion of the episode would involve the New Directions kids hanging out in the choir room and singing their way through a lockdown. I was concerned that Glee's inherent melodrama would come off as crass and immature. I'll laugh at anything if it's handled properly. I just didn't think Glee would handle it properly. 

"Shooting Star" wasn't perfect. It wasn't even in the same ballpark as perfect. But I think it was at least been standing in the parking lot of the ballpark, because what Glee did well in "Shooting Star," it did very well.  

I don't like to end reviews on a negative note unless there is truly nothing positive to say about an episode, so let's do an about face and talk about what wasn't so great before I ramble about how the lockdown scenes were actually quite frightening and upsetting and I had to pause the screener because it reminded me a lot of this one time when my own high school spent a few hours sitting in the dark due to a similar incident that occurred too close for comfort to the school grounds. 

Glee's inherent melodramatic tendencies were relatively muted, but the show's habitual ham-fisted commentary was loud and proud in an obnoxious way. Seriously, it was all over the place, in everything from Brittany's meteor of mass destruction prompting everyone to "live each day like it's the last" to Mr. Schue's lament over his students' lost innocence to Sue's defense of "her" actions and how tragic it is that despite her long and illustrious career at McKinley, the thing she will be remembered for is this one unfortunate incident. I'm not saying that their sentiments are wrong, because they absolutely are not, but in an episode that featured far more subtlety than we usually get on Glee, taking my weekly 2x4 to the face stung more than it usually does. 

In the wake of December's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, Mike Hayes over at Buzzfeed wrote an elegant tribute to his hometown that says what Sue was certainly aiming for, but the problem is that a town and a person aren't the same thing. A town can't act the way a person can. Before we learned the truth about the true culprit being Becky, when the story we heard was that Sue had accidentally discharged the weapon she kept in her office while going through her daily safety check, the fact remained that Sue had made a conscious decision to bring that gun to the school where she worked knowing full well that it wasn't permitted there. It was hard to feel much sympathy for her, because she had essentially determined her own fate. 

Sue's comments did feature a modicum of subtlety, however, when you consider the community of McKinley High as an extension of Sue, who as a former high-profile employee was certainly in a position to represent the rest of the population on some level. Knowing Glee's penchant for dropping storylines entirely throughout any given season, the real fallout of the incident at McKinley is entirely up in the air, but the thing is, by taking the fall for Becky, Sue is, if we're being brutally honest here, contributing to the problem that led to Becky feeling like she needed to bring a gun to school in the first place. 

No one could have foreseen that, out of every character we've ever met on this show, it was Becky who would bring a gun to school, and by taking the blame for that gun going off, Sue ensured that for the time being, at least, no one might ever know. Becky's life gets to go on, but it's important to remember that Becky was terribly unhappy with where her life was going, and frightened by the idea of watching her friends graduate and go away... and now her favorite teacher/coach will be gone as well... and it's kind of Becky's fault. Sue highlighted America's crappy mental health care and inattentive parents and adults letting unstable kids get worse and worse, but covering up Becky's most telling action and cryptically asking Beiste and Schue to "look after Becky" isn't much better than the passive-aggressive care Sue railed against... which was probably the whole point.

So, despite Glee's insistence on punching us in the face with its message, "Shooting Star" is an episode the series can be proud of. The directing and acting were all around excellent, both during the lockdown scenes and in the aftermath. The images of Brittany hiding in the ladies' room and Marley's mom watching her cell phone continue to ring just out of reach honestly made my heart hurt the way Glee's manufactured emotion generally doesn't. I can't emphasize enough how much the decision to downplay the musical aspect of the series was a good call. Absolutely, musicals can and have tackled some seriously dark stuff (ahem, Miss Saigon) but it takes an incredible amount of care to do it right, and I'm fairly certain that harmonizing our way through a set list full of pop standards wouldn't have worked in this case. 

Omg and don't even get me started on the goodbye videos. Go find my broken heart, Glee. Find it and fix it and put it back where you found it!

What did you think of "Shooting Star?"


– Glee playlist of awesome: It was a light night as far as the singing and dancing goes, but all three performances were strong and "More Than Words" for Lord Tubbington was just too precious for this world. 

– So Ryder was definitely catfished and the culprit appears to be someone in New Directions. Who do you think it is?

– Lol at New Directions' upcoming competitive rivals: Hoosier Daddies from Indianapolis and Our Ladies of Perpetual Loneliness from Battle Creek, Michigan. 

– How do you feel about Kitty finally telling Marley about taking her costumes in? (Good effort, Glee, but I still hate her guts.)

– Sue's coming back, right? I mean, I know Jane Lynch is doing Broadway stuff, but that's a limited engagement.

– After spending most of the episode playing second fiddle to Lord Tubbington, Sam embraced his girlfriend's kooky ways (more than he already does, anyway) and embraced the opportunity for the fake newlyweds to start a fake family with the addition of Lady Tubbington.

  • Comments (156)
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  • alexldoyle Jul 26, 2013

    I am Alex Doyle watch this someone in bigger trouble by me.
    In glee this character is Sam and Blaine you be trouble by me anyway
    talk you one to one talk you about
    something with me I think in trouble
    you problems in mackinley high school come office talk to figgies about this and talk to Emma Pillsbury what your troubles and problems about this talk worriers me. Sort this mess out talk throught
    with me .

  • ForeverUnknown May 09, 2013

    This episode was sooo good! I was so terrified when the shooting started, and not because im scared of the idea of that happening to me, but because the characters that we have all grown to love and care for were put into some seriouse danger! I mean i mean i mean... Sam or Tina or Britany ( BRITANNY U POOR GIRL) or or or or or BLAINE could have... CoUld hAvE- *has spaz attack*

    This is a tv show about being a teenager and having teenage problems then singing about it. U just always assume that in a show like this, the characters (BLAINE) are never going to die (BLAINE!!!), but in this epiesode it felt like my safety rules came tumbling down and (BLAINE) then maybe, other walls can fall like maybe that personne (BLAINE) who u always assumed would live forever (BLAINE) could die tomoro and and and...

    This was a very emotional (scary) episode.

    P.S Im not obsessed with Blaine, he's just my favorite character and Darrens acting was so amazing and believable I just... I JuSt CANT. *sobs*

  • jonnegroni Apr 26, 2013

    Sue didn't have much choice though. Because of her condition, Becky would have been screwed if it was discovered she brought a gun to school. She could've been committed or worse. Knowing that she doesn't deserve that, Sue made the tough choice and allowed Becky to have a second chance.

  • cute2thebeut Apr 18, 2013

    I had finally gotten around to watching this episodes, I had no idea that Glee was planning to do a school shooting. This episode was honestly...Amazing. I'm going to be honest and say I did shed a tear. or tears..... I think this episode was close to perfect, one of the best in the entire series. The acting was phenomenal, we hope Glee can keep it up.

  • fleur-de-lune Apr 16, 2013

    I was also really surprised that Glee "went there."
    The last time I saw a show go there was "Earshot" from Buffy, which came out around the Columbine school shooting.

    Now here's the problem.

    When Buffy did it, it was more about reaching out to hurting teens. Buffy told Johnathan that people didn't hear or see his pain, because they were too busy dealing with their own. And that's the thing, they were dealing with it, dealing with the pain, they'd get through it, and so would he. That was really uplifting and real for people to hear.

    When Glee did it, they turned it into a political thing. Sue ranting quickly about guns and blah blah. Glee, turned a huge/important thing (as they so often do), into a political statement, ironically on the same day a gun related issue was being voted on.

    I can't speak for the other commenters, but I'm sick of Glee and other "care free" shows constantly cramming their political agenda down our throats. This may have finally been the one that does in it for me.

    It's not educational, nor is it entertainment anymore, it's become poor writing that howls into the abyss of all the other shitty shows out there.

  • MandyStrickla Jun 01, 2013

    Fleur, I see you point, but object to it for a few reasons. From a realistic standpoint, and a responsible one btw, having the characters hide was what should have been done. When a real shooting happens, you don't hear about people fighting for their lives, you hear about them finding a place to hide and staying there in quiet terror. It would have been irresponsible of the show to portray the teachers and students tackling a shooter, disarming them, or attempting negotiations because in real life, that would most likely result in more casualties. What the show actually did was show what people ought to do in those situations: hide, be quiet, and wait for the cops to give the all-clear.

    As for them turning it political, I disagree. If sue had actually been the shooter, yes, her rant about gun control could have come off that way. Since she was actually covering for Becky, she had to come up with an excuse fast as to why she, a teacher, would have a gun at the school. The scared or bullied kid defense wouldn't work for her situation. The idea that she'd want to protect herself and kept a loaded gun in her desk for that reason would. Also, keep in mind, this is the woman who brought us polititions with baboon hearts and Abe Lincoln, Americas first gay president.

  • fleur-de-lune Jun 07, 2013

    So if I understand you correctly... then if both you and I were at the Boston bombing; for instance, you would be the person running away for your life, while I would be the person running in, to save others.

    Thank you for putting that in perfect clarity.

  • li_grenadier Apr 18, 2013

    The Buffy episode was not in response to Columbine. It was supposed to air in spring of that year, but Columbine happened the week *before* the air date. Buffy was just unlucky enough to have coincidental timing.

    As a result, the WB pulled the episode, as well as the season finale episode (which featured kids with weapons at the school's graduation). "Earshot" aired in the fall, just before the season opener. "Graduation Day" aired in July, by which time it was felt the "violence at graduation" theme would be non-issue, since schools were all out for summer.

  • fleur-de-lune Apr 20, 2013

    You're completely missing my point. I never said it was in response to the shooting. I said it came out around that time.

    The point was the message. That they were fighters!!! They fought for their lives, for another day, and that they would eventually deal with everything. There was a message of strength there.

    Unlike Glee's episode, which was a political plot device.

  • LeahAmelia Apr 15, 2013

    I have to say, I did not think glee would go there. A shooting episode. Every show has one.. 50 % of those who watches glee are american teens. My guess is that some of them have experienced a school shooting. Is this what they want to see?
    Many people watch glee because it is safe..

    I can't wait to see if the kids have PTS after this episode. But I do not count on it.

  • anettfaugli Apr 14, 2013

    I watched the Glee project, and I was sure that Ryders secret girl would be Aylin from season 2... I would love that, a crazy, flirty muslim girl on Glee!

  • altsec Apr 14, 2013

    I can't believe no one has figured it out that he secret Ryder's girl is that band girl. You never get to see the people in the background reactions and in this episode that happened. Also she appears in the final song.

  • anettfaugli Apr 15, 2013

    Which one, the asian girl?

  • altsec Apr 15, 2013

    The black girl in green, also in that last scene Ryder texts her and inmediatelly you see the girl playing the violin, obviously that's why she doesn't answer

  • GleekStarKid Apr 14, 2013

    A lot of people are complaining that this episode is too soon after Sandy Hook and that it shouldn't have been aired and that it was exploiting all of it. Listen. Having a fictional world of characters endure something teenagers are scared half to death of is not exploiting. Listing all of the names of the Sandy Hook children and the shooters backstory is exploiting.

    That set aside, this episode had me shaking and in tears still to this day. I went to school the next day, hugging everyone and telling them how I felt about them. I couldn't stop shaking because the simple thought of your time running short and not being able to say goodbye... it sends chills down my spine. That's not something I want to happen, I promise. Darren Criss' performance in this episode brought me to tears. He had the best example of an anxiety attack that's ever been done on television. Seriously. Props to him. (I looooooooove you Darren!) And Chord too. Well, just, everyone. I can't single people out now that I think about it.

    The music downcut really helped too. But, when they sang Say at the end, it really got me. The song was a perfect choice. AND I CANNOT EXPRESS MY LOVE FOR THE LACK ON NYC. I've hated that whole choice of plot from the day they started it. Yeah, I wanna see how Rachel is doing from time to time and Kurt, but I really hate the fact they go back and forth. It's called "Glee" not "Glee and NYADA". It's about kids at a high school, getting through teenage years, not people going onto Broadway.

    Overall, this episode was perfect in my opinion. Props to Murphy.

  • JohnCouto Apr 14, 2013

    I loved this episode. It just felt so real.

    Who's cat fishing Ryder? My guess would be... Unique. BUUUUTTTT, Tina's stuff was in that classroom. Also, when Unique got up, she had her phone in her hand which means it probably wasn't Unique. But Sam said Brittnay went to the bathroom and didn't have her phone (he possibly figured she didn't cause she has no pockets? And she usually keeps it in her bag? maybe? Idk.)

    So: Unique, Tina (cause she's lonely), OR Brittnay (cause she was cat fishing for lord tubington?) lol can't wait too find out!

    Oh, and Blaine has a thing for straight guys, lets not forget. :)

  • Arkano1317 Apr 14, 2013

    But Tina was late for Glee practice, so her backpack couldn't have been there? Or could it?

  • JohnCouto Apr 15, 2013

    I don't know... They never have backpacks on in hallway scenes. Like ever. Lol so it could be possible they leave it there? Idk any things possible I guess lol

  • Arkano1317 Apr 16, 2013

    Since it's Glee I think it could be totally possible for Tina to just leave her backpack in the choir room all the time lol

  • JohnCouto Apr 14, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

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