Sue suffers a tragic loss and comes to a realization.

By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated May 18, 2011 at 11:16 AM EDT
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Mike Yarish/FOX
S2 E21
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  • Fox
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You didn’t think that’d be easy, right? I mean, the episode is titled “Funeral,” after all.

This was such an odd episode, Gleeks. And I don’t mean that in a bad way — or a good one necessarily. But when I sat down to watch last night’s episode of Glee, I went into it remembering all of television’s major “death” episodes that have left impressions on me. Particularly I recalled Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “The Body.” I’ve only watched the episode once (who watches it more than once?), but from what I remember about the experience, it gave me chills. And it was painfully uncomfortable to watch.

I won’t go so far as to say last night’s Glee was in that realm of greatness. But it was uncomfortable to watch. Unlike normal episodes of Glee that attempt to give us tiny steps of progress in the seemingly 200 plotlines that are going on at any given time, this episode basically took us on two separate journeys. One was the journey to find a soloist for nationals, and the other was a journey through the grieving process of Sue Sylvester. It was shockingly streamlined and lacked the usual peppy nature of story editing, which tends to jump around and keep you on your toes. Instead, it was understated and contained major changes of heart from Sue that I definitely didn’t see coming. Let’s recap, shall we?

Jesse St. Jerk returned, and this time he was offering his consultation skills to the glee club, particularly aiding them in the aforementioned search for the star of nationals. And he was there to bash Finn.

Meanwhile, we knew something was up with Sue when we learned that Becky had been kicked off the Cheerios. As irrelevant as Sue has become this season, I knew in my core that this is one thing she wouldn’t normally do — unless the writers had become that completely determined to remove all redeeming factors from this character. Turned out that wasn’t the case. Becky simply reminded her of her sister, Jean, who had died the day before. Unofficial poll: Was there a dry eye in the house when Sue broke the news to Will and told him how she had left the nursing home because Jean had insisted? Didn’t think so.

A depressed Sue was positively uneasy to watch. She surprisingly had many great lines in this episode, but Jane Lynch did an outstanding job of delivering even the funniest quips with an underlying sense of sadness. I was glad that the writers chose Herman and Eddie Munster, erm, Finn and Kurt to be the ones to connect with Sue because I think they’re two of the most genuine characters on the show. Their offer to help Sue clean out Jean’s room and organize the funeral arrangements could have easily come across as insincere considering Sue’s history with the glee kids. I think they pulled it off well.

In fact, the show, as pleasantly unrealistic as it is, generally avoided sullying such a tragic moment with its typical cheesy touches. Even that moment when Schu went up to the podium to read the eulogy for an overemotional Sue at the Willy Wonka-themed funeral didn’t seem over-the-top. You’re invited to disagree.

Speaking of Schu, early on in the episode, we saw him packing up his memory vests with Emma as he prepared to leave for the bright lights of Broadway to perform in April’s show. In the spirit of this episode of change, I’m trying to be nicer to Schu and his “pure heart.” Can you tell? Warning: It won’t last. But I’m trying.

Too bad for Quinn, Finn was done trying. He ended their relationship after the funeral because he claimed that he didn’t “feel that way about her.” But Quinn didn’t accept it at first, insisting that she could deal with his Rachel confusion. I’m honestly glad that he made her listen, because, ladies, you don’t have to put up with a man’s wandering eyes. And I’m glad that Finn had the stones to just tell her to her face. In sum: Quinny and Finny will no longer be gettin’ figgy with it.

In the end, Sue reappointed Becky after recovering from womb rage. In fact, Becky is the new captain of the Cheerios. (The hug? Yeah, it destroyed me.) And Sue also decided to stop trying to destroy the glee club so she could focus on her bid for political office. (Honestly, I’d vote for her over most candidates.)

Also, Schu went against Jesse’s advice and announced that there would be no soloist because they were stronger as a group.

THE PERFORMANCES

“Back to Black”

I found Santana’s voice to be oddly charming on this Amy Winehouse hit. But I’m not a huge fan of the song itself. B+

“Some People”

Kurt usually oozes charisma, so am I alone in thinking this performance was a bit lackluster by his standards? B

“Try a Little Tenderness”

True story: I let out an expletive of joy when Mercedes got to the most powerful part of the song, and almost immediately after she finished, I threatened to injure Jesse if he claimed something was wrong with this bit of pure perfection. A

“My Man”

A high-drama song from one of the most dramatic characters on TV — did you expect anything less than a powerful performance that tiptoed the line between high drama and nacho cheesy? Admittedly, I do get a little tired of power ballads…what am I saying? No, I don’t. A-

“Pure Imagination”

If this whole singing thing doesn’t work out, at least Finn and Kurt have a backup career in event planning. (Wasn’t that funeral gorgeous?) I have to admit, when I heard the song last week, I wasn’t a huge fan of the cover. But context is so wildly important on this show. So after I factored in the backstory, it grew on me a bit. A-

QUOTABLES

(As always, submit yours in the comments!)

“You kind of sing and dance like a zombie who has to poop.” –Jesse

Jesse: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know we were in this to win the good-try ribbon at nationals. We’re in it to win the whole damn thing. And there’s only one way we can do that.”

Brittany: “Poison darts?”

“Honey badger, I am lactating with rage.” –Sue

Sue: “Your nickname is Panda Express.”

Howard Bamboo: “But I’m not Chinese.”

Sue: “Neither is the food at Panda Express.”

(Preach!)

“I’m allergic to pansies. And I don’t mean that as a swipe to either of you.” –Sue

“You know what happens in Vocal Adrenaline if someone dies during a number? They use them as a prop, like Weekend at Bernie’s.” –Jesse

“I only agreed under the condition that Frankenteen and Lady Trousers help me clean out Jean’s room at the nursing home. They look like they could use the exercise, and I like the idea of using your glee club as unpaid labor.” –Sue

“I’m about to go all Lima Heights.” –Santana

“Very astute, Porcelain.” –Sue

“Thank you for coming. Jean always stood up for you when I told her stories about how evil your hair was.” –Sue

“So, maybe you can come on Fondue for Two and judge my cat?” –Brittany

“Sure, some say that it led to my brother’s whip-it addiction and my sister’s bulimia, but my parents owed them the truth.” –Jesse

Episode Recaps

Glee

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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  • 6
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  • In Season
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  • Fox
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