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Glee – Season 1, Episode 7: “Throwdown” review
In which duality and blackmail rule the day.
This was the episode where the show took a step back, just a little bit, to great effect. No yearning squirming Emma Pillsbury, no noble goofball Ken Tanaka, no big bucket of ewwwww Sandy Ryerson–just New Directions and its two new directors, who do their best to live up to the episode’s title from the very first scene. Will and Sue hate each other so much that they even fight in their voiceovers. And, in a lovely touch, Will actually breaks the fourth wall to point this out.
This is a big fat flashback episode, so that we learn how exactly Will and Sue got to the point of screaming at each other in front of all the students. But that is such a foregone conclusion anyway that it doesn’t really hold a lot of weight. They may “hug it out” for Figgins, but privately they are all mutter and malice and veiled plots against each others’ regimes. Gonna be a throwdown in Lima tonight, y’all.
Sue starts it, stooping to conquer through the specter of racism–she picks every minority student in New D to be in “her” group, promising them that they won’t have to sing Will’s boring old [white] show tunes. (Guess they’ve forgotten about, oh, last week when they got to sing Beyoncé and Usher, or Will’s no-notes rendition of “Gold Digger” a few weeks ago.) With this new group assembled (including “Wheels,” “Shaft,” “Asian,” Other Asian,” “Gay Kid,” etc.), they burn through a Jill Scott in no time flat. It’s easy when you know how!
This actually addresses one of the themes brought up every once in a while and then dropped–the fact that the white kids get all the leads, all the attention, all the focus. They’ve been talking about this all season, but the few gestures Will has made (giving Tina the West Side Story song) have been minor at best. So, boom, now Ryan Murphy is deconstructing his own tendency to put Finn and Rachel ahead of everyone else…and it’s only Episode 7. It’s chutzpah, but it’s ridiculously awesome chutzpah.
Speaking of which, Puck is Jewish! That was a great reveal. Puck is growing on me ever since his sad I’m-the-real-daddy face a couple of weeks ago. He is poached away from the rest of Will’s group by Sue (along with a rare bit of business for Cheerleader #3) in retaliation for Will flunking all the cheerleaders for being stupid. This also led to another ace Figgins moment, admitting that 95% of all the Cheerios are functionally illiterate, and Sue owning that fact and being fine with it.
But the real theme of this episode was BLACKMAIL. Everyone is duplicitous on this show, and has been all along–but this took it up a notch. Terri and Kendra blackmail the great sarcastic Dr. Wu into lying about the baby actually, y’know, existing; horrid Jew-fro dude blackmails Rachel into giving him her panties, Sixteen Candles-style, just so he won’t blog the FinnQuinn news (with a side order of Rachel-envy on the side); Will and Sue both serially blackmail all the kids for their own selfish agendas. Nastiness rules the day, although as always we sympathize with Will in all cases. I actually ended up feeling for Terri too, with her “No matter what happens remember we love each other right now, right?” moment.
Eventually, the kids stage a walkout from both Will and Sue, leading to a moment of clarity. Then, suddenly, Sue quits, telling Will “It’s too fruity”–but we know that something funky is going on. Then the other shoe drops: Jew-fro is publishing his Finn’s Preggers! story after all…because he’s been blackmailed into it by Sue. Now everyone’s gonna know and the whole house is a-tumblin’ down and the public shaming and the parents will be involved and OH MAN IT IS ON NOW, like a werewolf fighting with a unicorn. Why, exactly, Sue sells Quinn out like this, will have to be revealed later.
In closing, I’d like to say that although I am a happily married family man with an understanding of the difference between reality and fantasy: Santana Lopez, Marry Me. That is all.