Glee "Wonder-ful" Review: Every Night Is Now Alumni Night

By MaryAnn Sleasman

May 03, 2013

Glee S04E21: "Wonder-ful"

I've always had a special place in my withered Grinch heart for Burt Hummel, mostly because I really wanted to be on Global Guts as a kid even though I wasn't even coordinated enough to play tee ball, but sometimes—a lot of times—Burt is the voice of logic and sanity in Glee's magical fantasy-land version of Ohio. His role in "Wonder-ful" was no exception, even if his cancer storyline was one of the most pointless examples of melodrama-for-the-sake-of-melodrama to hit TV lately. Right up there with Rachel's preggo scare. Right up there. 

Here is a detailed timeline of Burt's battle with the big C:

December: Burt has cancer. Because it's the Christmas episode. CRY, MINIONS. CRY. 

*crickets*

May: REMISSION! LET US CELEBRATE WITH SONG!

Insightful stuff. Really. 

Still, Burt gets to be the Glee MVP because he yelled at Kurt (thank you, sir!) and then told Blaine his marriage proposal was the sort of half-baked idealized plan to win Kurt back that you see on TV—TV like Glee! Bonus points for dragging Rachel and Finn's eternal love into the smackdown; even if those two are slowly crawling back to each other on a road paved with hilariously bad ideas about what a healthy relationship looks like."Stay away from my future wife!" I mean, c'mon, Glee. 

Mercedes returned to McKinley to help New Directions prepare for Regionals because none of the alumni have anything resembling adult responsibilities, including the ones who've actually been confirmed to have things like jobs and classes and record deals. Kurt was back too, and he promised Blaine that he would stay through the competition because everyone at his ultra-competitive job and school is really understanding about blowing off real commitments for things that, if we're being brutally honest with ourselves, don't really matter. Sorry, New Directions. I'm just saying. Competition band alumna at your service, and one year we broke a bazillion records (okay, like two) and it was a huge deal for about ten minutes twelve years ago, and it never came up again for anyone except maybe the one kid who ended up going to Julliard. Idk. I guess on a show where everyone is destined to attend Fake TV Julliard, it matters, but that's really just indicative of the issues Glee has been dealing with all season while trying to balance the lives of the McKinley grads and those of the new class without completely overhauling the show. 

When the focus was exclusively on McKinley and all of the action was meant to build to Regionals or Nationals, it was easy to get behind the belief that New Directions winning was the most important thing to happen in the history of anything. For those kids and those teachers in that setting at that time, sure, it was everything, but once the focus was broadened and Glee's "grown-up" characters were exposed to new experiences, goals, and challenges, the high school stuff started to feel a bit quaint. It's hard to care about the new kids winning because it's hard to care about the new kids in general, and to have the graduates keep coming back to dedicate their lives to glee club when they have real opportunities and adventures of their own to worry about seems antithetical to their individual stories. For a show that spent so much of its time last season pushing the idea that the only way for its graduating seniors to grow, evolve, and experience life to the fullest was to get the hell out of their hometown, Glee's graduates spend an awful lot of time dropping everything to return to Lima at every possible opportunity.

Technically, Mercedes was in town to shoot a music video for her upcoming album release, but she ditched her producer and record deal when they clashed over the cover art because it's not like she would've probably had to sign a contract or anything saying she would serve her corporate overlords in exchange for theoretical money and success, up to and including not dressing like a teenager at prom for the album art. To be fair, her producer seemed like a total skeeve, but a storyline about being empowered to not show some skin would've had a greater impact if it wasn't the only thing Glee seems comfortable with empowering its female characters to do. 

Artie was accepted to film school but almost didn't go because he didn't want to abandon his mom after everything she'd done for him after the accident. He confided in Kitty—why would anyone tell Kitty anything?—and she repeated everything to his mom because Kitty doesn't understand boundaries. This is not a new Kitty trait. 

In New York, Rachel prepared for her Funny Girl callback first by calling Mr. Schue to stroke his ego and then by tiptoeing around Cassandra July, who upped the menacing routine to new heights... in an attempt to mask how she was secretly supportive of Rachel the entire time, from the very beginning, because Rachel is a special snowflake. 

Sometimes I wonder if Glee isn't secretly a nihilist epic masquerading as primetime comedy because of the regularity with which nothing ever matters. Nothing. Ever. Matters. 

Honestly, if you think of it in that mindset, the lack of consequences, erratic characterizations, and wayward storylines suddenly seems less like flimsy porno plots meant to shuttle us from one song-and-dance routine to another and more like the dark ravings of a once hopeful man who has been beaten down by the ills of the world. I like it. By golly, I like it. 


What did YOU think of "Wonder-ful"?



MUSICAL NOTES

– This week's Glee Playlist: It's Stevie Wonder. Even Glee couldn't eff it up. 

– #GleeHatesGirls. Awww, it's cute when you belittle legitimate criticisms about your problematic storylinesGleeHilarious.

– No bites on the catfish hotline. 

– No reference to Becky and the horrible, traumatizing, unthinkable shooting incident that cost a teacher her job and tarnished the innocence of the students forever. 

– Schue and Emma are engaged again. I guess it would've been too much effort to show them actually working to resolve the issues that drove them apart in the first place. 

– Do you think Rachel will win the part next week?

– Do you want Rachel to win the part?

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  • Mjuh May 09, 2013

    Love the whole special snowflake thing!

    I do have many thoughts about this episode but in the end I decided it's not even worth the trouble of writing it all down. Next please

  • coolhandkate May 06, 2013

    maybe they'll give Rachel an understudy role

  • missona May 05, 2013

    It is quite ridiculous to see everything that's happening with rachel when you watch Smash on the same time... Okay Glee doesn't care about getting real but a freshman girl getting a big role on Broadway... When this is the first time she even tries to play... Come on, Glee.

  • Ratisbona May 05, 2013

    I read the review the way they tell in the beginning of the show what we missed on Glee. It totally worked.

  • BranislavIvkovi May 05, 2013

    just another totally random episode of glee...

  • shocker713 May 05, 2013

    Kind of shocked they didn't do "That's What Friends Are For," but then I remembered that Burt Bacharach wrote that, and Rod Stewart originally performed it. And Stevie's version was technically by "Dionne Warwick and Friends."

    Also, I was actually kind of disappointed that Artie's mom was so supportive. As soon as I heard Katey Sagal was cast, I was expecting a mother who felt incredibly guilty for being unscathed from Artie's accident all those years ago.

    And while Kitty failing to recognize boundaries isn't a new Kitty trait, I guess you could say that at least she's using her powers for good instead of evil.

  • coutterhill May 05, 2013

    Only want Rachel to get the part so maybe, just maybe Barbra will show up. Hate that the catfishing and Becky stories were completely forgotten! Thought this was a horrible episode, same old Wonder songs we hear all the time on other crap shows, I'm talking to you American Idol!

  • JohannaSch May 04, 2013

    The record producer was the guy from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, who brought us the musical gem that is "Zoom Zoom". Just thought that needed to be mentioned.

  • radiumgirl May 06, 2013

    AWESOME.

  • Arkano1317 May 04, 2013

    Of course Rachel will win the part, she's a special snowflake! Gosh I can't stand this show anymore XD

  • NeimadParis May 04, 2013

    Glee's stories don't make any sense exactly like the ones on Nip Tuck or American Horror Story (season 2, season 1 had some cohesion, surprisingly) because they are Ryan Murphy's shows, he just throw stories in the air, choose the most shocking ones and stick it to any characters without caring about previous events, that is definitely his trade mark.

    And the 22 episodes per year format does not help, it only works for procedural shows with lot of stand-alones.

    But even knowing that i can't stop watching, because when he hits the mark it can be pretty good...

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