I was going to wait until the season finale of Glee, and do a full review of the season. But I’ve decided to do a review of the Funeral episode for two reasons. One, the season is going to have to have a hell of a season finale to improve the season to a good quality. Two, Funeral shows everything right and wrong about the season as a whole in a nice hour-with-commercials package.
The episode has two main plots, and I’m going to have to spoil them to discuss the episode, so if you really don’t want to find out who’s having a funeral, stop reading. The first deals with the death of Sue’s sister, and how Sue deals with it. Her sister was always kind of a controversial thing (I remember when she was first introduced, people immediately cried that Sue’s character had been ruined), but I’ve thought it adds a nice foil to her mean personality to everybody else. The way this plot of the episode works fantastically on an emotional level. It’s tearjerking, it’s heartwarming, and it all climaxes with a beautiful full-group performance of Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka. It hits the drama note perfectly, as the show so rarely does.
The other plot of the episode revolves around Jesse St. James acting as a mean reality judge. If you do not already see the problem with this, you are the show’s writers. Trying to have drama and comedy is the point of a dramedy, yeah, but it just doesn’t work here. It really doesn’t help that he’s trying to judge who’s going to headline at nationals, so we get four performances in a row. Almost literally, there’s two performances, a commercial break, then the other two performances. There’s no plot in here, just Jesse St. James acting mean to people. You’re watching the mean guy on a reality show take scripted potshots at scripted people. And the whole thing is rendered moot at the end when Schuester decides to not highlight any specific person. There’s no moral here. I didn’t learn anything (don't be mean to people? They don't mention it, and they already covered it in a different episode, sadly enough). It’s painful, it’s unfunny, it’s pointless, it’s just terrible.
And here we come to the most confusing part of this. You have one of the best episodes of the season paired up with one of the worst episodes of the season, and they’re the same episode. The show’s quality goes all over the place from episode to episode, but now they’ve achieved that rare ability to make the show’s quality waver in the same episode. For every moment of drama that’s actually working, for every hilarious moment that’s worth the setup, for every showstopping song, you know that, in the same episode, there’s going to be meandering high school melodrama (Oh yes, Finn and Rachel are in love but Rachel’s with Jesse even though she doesn’t love him and why do we even care?), comedy that either doesn’t work or borders on offensive, and boring songs with no choreography or any heart. It’s like watching a train wreck that keeps going on and off the tracks. And I know full well I’m going to probably watch the third season, but unless it gets some serious fixing, who knows if it’s even going to still be watchable.