Will plots proposing to Emma and Finn learns a harrowing family secret

By Joseph Brannigan Lynch
January 18, 2012 at 08:14 AM EST
Adam Rose/Fox
S3 E10
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We learned two important things about Will Schuester on Tuesday night’s Glee: He may not be able to make a friend over the age of 18, but his adolescent fixation sure does make him one romantic fella.

As for the not-so Shyamalan-of-a-twist that wrapped up the episode, let’s get to that after addressing something far more important: Dame Helen Mirren.

Snagging the perpetually elegant, agelessly sexy Helen Mirren to voice Becky’s internal thoughts was one of the most charming treats this show has offered in a while.

“You may be wondering why I sound like the Queen of England,” Becky’s Inner Monarch acknowledged to us via voice-over. “It’s simple. In my mind, I can sound like whomever I want. So lay off, haters!” Mirren hasn’t shown this much sass since Caligula! (although to be fair, I missed her in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets). Digression aside, Becky/The Queen told us the Royal We had their sights set on Artie for boyfriend material. That kid gets so much love! Must be something about those starchy button-up shirts…

In the teacher’s lounge, Coach Beiste revealed that she and that guy Cooter had eloped. (This made me learn you can’t type “Cooter” in our viEWer system. Now I wonder why that would be….) Not up for a temper tantrum, Sue took the news in stride and even offered some good advice to Emma: If she was concerned Will might never propose, why not ask him herself? After all, it’s not the 1950s, even if Emma dresses like it still is (although there’s nothing wrong with a little Cleaver chic, I say).

That comment sent Emma off on a musical fantasy sequence to Laura Nyro’s “Wedding Bell Blues” (more on that later) which strangely involved Beiste and Sue as her girl group backup singers. In an additional nod to British Royalty, backup singer Sue wore Princess Beatrice’s Royal Wedding hat, that popular object of derision amongst us commoners.

Since it’s Glee and everyone is either getting together or splitting up, the next scene found Sam trying to convince Mercedes to turn their summer fling into a perennial bond. But even after Samcedes’ adorable homage to Grease’s “Summer Nights,” McKinley’s Queen of Soul wasn’t ready to cut out on her current BF Shane so easily (she needed about an hour and a half and the Power of Roberta Flack to convince her Sam was The One).

Mercedes’ devotion to Shane made Sam think that all he needed to replace the hulking jock was a letter jacket, which was his reason for joining the school’s synchronized swimming team… which was the writers’ excuse for putting Chord Overstreet in a swimsuit and showing off those chiseled pecs yet again. But hey, I’m not complaining, even if I did prefer him in the Rocky Horror outfit.

NEXT: NeNe Leakes can act! Plus, we discover Finn’s (even more) tragic family history

When Sam hit the pool, NeNe Leakes made her acting debut as synchronized swimming coach Roz Washington. It was brief but the Atlanta Housewife proved she could spit out incisive verbal barbs at students with a disdain and rapidity Sue Sylvester would surely take her (Princess Beatrice) hat off to. (That comment about Sam’s uneven pecs will require closer inspection in the future.)

Buoyed by Beiste’s success and Emma’s half-internal, half-spoken marriage proposal fantasy, Mr. Schue decided it was finally time to ask for her hand. Of course, you can’t just propose to someone without preparing for it: First, there’s the tradition of “telling a bunch of high schoolers before you tell her.” When Schue told New Directions, “You guys are my family,” I was a little sad for him and a lotta sad for his parents. But to be fair, that unlikely scenario had a point: Schue wanted his kids to devise a romantic way for him to pop the question.

Pursuing an actual tradition, Will asked for Emma’s hand from her parents: given that they hate him, the answer was unsurprisingly ‘no.’ Still, it was a nice thought on his part.

Less thoughtful, however, was his callous plan of pretending he didn’t want to marry her at all just to deflect her attention from his nuptial intentions. First off, I’m surprised Emma bought it: I mean, she’s probably seen the same episode of Friends Will lifted that idea from, right? Secondly, it’s one thing to deflect, but using the phrase “it’s hopeless” in reference to her mental disorder was pushing things a tad too far.

Similarly questionable was his choice for Finn as his best man. I know the two are close — and I know it’s just a TV show — but that seems to be crossing some sort of line of weirdness. Particularly when Schue told Finn, “You’ve taught me more about being a man than anyone else,” which REALLY made me feel a whole lotta bad for his father, who seemed like such a nice guy in that one episode absolutely forever ago.

Speaking of fathers, we learned a distressing twist about Finn’s last night. In order to prevent Finn from joining the Army, his mother told him the truth about his pop. He did serve in the Gulf War, but he didn’t die in combat: A PTSD-related drug addiction claimed his life after he returned from the war. Cory Monteith acted out Finn’s anger, betrayal and disappointment admirably, which might have explained why that twist hit me harder than the reveal at the end of the episode.

Similarly depressing was the conclusion of Bartie Part Deux. Although Artie took Becky to Breadstix and stood up for her in New Directions, an incredibly awkward picture message she sent him eventually forced a conclusion. Sue Sylvester put on her Sage Wisdom hat and advised Artie to let her down just like he would any other girl. When Artie quashed their burgeoning… whatever it was… we received another Mirren-voiced internal monologue from Becky that was appropriately melancholy and elegant.

NEXT: The proposal, the ‘big twist’ and rating the performances

As questionable as Will’s diversionary tactics might have been with Emma, I have to admit I was totally emotionally on board when the marriage proposal sequence began. The procession of white roses, the Rihanna tune and the incredibly romantic synchronized swimming (a phrase no one has written since the day of Esther Williams) had me rooting for Wilma/Wemma in no time.

Throw in the hilarity of Artie rolling in the deep end (wheelchair and all) and the old Hollywood glamor of Will’s Thin White Schue tux, and I had to wonder what else a proposal could possibly need. Obviously, a “yes” is always appreciated, and after milking the suspense for a few seconds, Emma gave us (err, Will) an affirmative.

As for the much-hyped “big twist” at the end, I have to side with Comrade Sandra and say I wasn’t awfully surprised when Finn proposed to Rachel. Not that I saw it coming at that exact moment, but you had to figure it was on the horizon sometime before graduation. And that cliffhanger of an ending (the episode cut out before we heard her reply) doesn’t count as a twist either! A twist is, oh, I don’t know, finding out your war hero father was actually a drug addict. (So at least we had that.)

What did you think about Finn’s proposal to Rachel? Are they meant to be? Or is a marriage proposal not the best answer for a girl currently fretting she’ll be a Lima Loser all her life? As for the tunes, here’s my take. Which song did you like best?

Performances:

“Summer Nights,” Grease: Absolutely perfect for Sam and Mercedes: Amber Riley and Chord Overstreet harmonize surprisingly wonderfully. Easily the most fun number of the episode. A-

“Wedding Bell Blues,” Laura Nyro, the 5th Dimension: Ms. Pilsbury might not be much of a singer, but the curiosity of backup vocals from Coach Beiste and Sue Sylvester made this entirely worthwhile. B-

“Without You,” David Guetta: If I had to choose between Lea Michele and a French DJ, I would pick her every time. B

“Moves Like Jagger,” Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera/”Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” The Rolling Stones. Even if Sam has the Jagger lips and Mike has the Jagger hips, only Artie could have handled these two mega-hits. Not a good song for marriage proposals by any stretch of the imagination, but a spunky diversion. B+

“We Found Love,” Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris. As mentioned above, sheer pleasure. Now would someone please get that wheelchair out of the pool before it rusts? A-

“The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face,” Roberta Flack. You know it’s a good performance when the producers are so confident in the vocals they just let the singers plop down on stools. Plus, it was a creative way for Mercedes to realize she prefers Sam. Emotional montages! They always reveal the soul. A

Episode Recaps

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