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

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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. 



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"?


– 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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