We return from “Glee’s” winter hiatus and …. yeah. It was an episode, and the music was fine and things happened in the plot, but there really wasn’t much to get excited about in “Yes/No” since we pretty much knew the answer to the big proposal question, at least the one that the story was structured around.
Yes, Emma accepts Will’s marriage proposal, but the episode tries to throw us a bunch of other matrimony-related twists, plus a discussion of disability’s impact on relationships and a dash of summer romance revival for flavor.
We start off with a cheeky “Grease” tribute where the club members dissect the summer romance of Sam and Mercedes to the tune of “Summer Nights.” It’s “Glee The Musical” right off the bat, a very Season 1 type of “Glee,” and the cast makes great use of paying homage to the original high school musical. The Sam and Mercedes plotline that had so much hope for fandom at the end of Season 2 gets addressed this episode in some respects, with Sam questing to woo Mercedes back by earning a Letterman jacket. Since all the desirable school teams are already full and practicing, Sam ends up joining the synchronized swimming team, revealing that McKinley has the funding for a wide array of sports you barely find in private schools, let alone sub par public schools in small town Ohio. The money to keep the pool functional alone would fund Glee club for the year. The team is run by Nene Leakes of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” fame in a bit of stunt casting. The character presumably has a name, but it’s mostly just Nene Leakes reading lines fabulously and ridiculously, with epic Olympic music behind her. She only has one generally pointless scene but is arguably the best part of the whole episode.
Sam ends up slushied for his new-found athletic passion and Mercedes takes pity on him and tries to help him before her boyfriend appears and gets grossly over protective and encourages her away. But Mercedes’ boy might have been justified — Mercedes eventually realizes, through the power of song, that she’s not completely over Sam. In a small act of storytelling maturity, Glee doesn’t tie up their potential romance in a neat bow in a single episodes, and so the viewer is left with something to hope for the rest of the season with the pair.
Meanwhile, we also have a plotline about Becky, Sue’s head cheerleader whose inner monologue is voiced by none other than Helen Mirren. Becky is after man, and settles on Artie as her new desired paramour, and tells him as much, effectively demanding a date. She’s very Santana before she came out about what she wants, so it’s nice to see a replacement as head maneater bitch in the McKinley halls. Artie, who was just turned down by Sugar, is flabbergasted, but does eventually go out to Breadstixx with Becky and has a great time talking with her. However, the Glee club tries to talk him out of spending time with her and potentially leading her on. When Artie rightfully calls them out on their hypocrisy over embracing difference yet not believing he could truly enjoy time with Becky it’s triumphant, but when Becky eventually makes a very explicit pass at Artie, he realizes he isn’t into her in that way and seeks out Sue’s advice. Sue, as the only person with good ideas and a sense of sanity in the entire episode, tells him to treat her just the same as he would treat anyone else and tell her the truth. He does, and Becky stays strong to his face as her inner monologue reminds her not to let them see her cry. She and Sue share a carton of ice cream and some Lifetime television to drown their sorrows.
The big “Yes/No” plot is Will’s marriage proposal. Emma and Sue find out that Beiste and Cooter eloped over holiday break, which causes Emma to worry that Will isn’t interested in marrying her since he hasn’t popped the question yet. Sue reminds her that it’s 2012 and she can do the asking just as well. Emma breaks into a heightened reality style performances of Laura Nyro’s “Wedding Bell Blues,” where she, with Beiste and Sue as bridesmaid backup singers, stalks Will through the school and eventually dances with him on the top of a giant wedding cake. As she drops back into reality and accidentally blurts out her intentions, Will is spurred into action, rushing to the choir room to declare via his precious white board that he will be proposing to Emma. Then, in true Glee fashion, he uses this as a teachable moment to have the club come up with a perfect proposal song for him as their weekly lesson.
| “Moves Like Jagger/Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
The boys (minus Kurt) offer a suggestion of Schue leading with his hips and break into a mashup of “Moves Like Jagger/Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (Maroon 5 and The Rolling Stones, of course) which is impeccably choreographed by Glee’s often unsung hero Zach Woodlee. Plus Artie manages to have Jagger moves while sitting in a chair and outshines even Mike and Will who dance beside him. The girls (minus Kurt) want to know more about Schue’s emotional reactions to Emma, and ask him to talk about the first time he saw her for the inspiration. They then perform “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” with each girl flashing back to the first time she realized she was in love, or at least that’s the best explanation because otherwise Tina’s flashback to rolling around in a field with Mike being the first time she saw his face makes zero sense. Santana’s first moment with Britt in the locker room is especially sweet, and this sequence is what reveals Mercedes’ lingering feelings for Sam. In the end one wonders where Kurt was during all the process, since he’s the only one around with actual wedding experience from his planning stint last season. Alas, we will never know his ideas for the perfect proposal (but it probably involves Glitter-fed doves).
NEXT PAGE: The Club Gets Synchronized, Plus a Shocking Revelation for Finn
In another inexplicable move, Schue asks Emma’s frankly awful parents for their blessing to marry their daughter, and they flatly refuse, then plant ideas in his head that a marriage with Emma wouldn’t be good because of her OCD. When Emma opens herself up to Will about the possibility of marriage later, Will proves he let this get to him and hedges on if the stress of marriage and eventual children would sit well with Emma. She offers that Schue figure out what he really wants, and fast. And fast he does! With the help of the club and Sam’s new synchronized swimming skill, they orchestrate an over the top proposal to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” in the school pool, complete with matching outfits, underwater moves, and a see-through platform so Schue, dolled up in an all white tux, can walk on water before diving in and emerging in front of Emma to give an overlong proposal monologue while the club treads water rapt at his feet. It’s the kind of insane, weird, “Glee” moment that goes all the way around of “I don’t get it” to “I love it.”
The final, potential shocker storyline this episode is Finn’s. When he goes wedding ring shopping with Will (who asks him to be his best man… doesn’t Mr. Schue have adult friends?) he admits that he met with a recruiter and is considering enlisting in the army. Schue immediately betrays his trust and brings in Burt and Carol to talk to Finn about his choices. While they aren’t completely unsupportive of his wishes, Burt does note that he’d like Finn to take over the tire shop instead of enlisting, if he’s interested. Finn keeps pushing that he wants to join the army to honor his father, who he believes died a war hero. Carol breaks down and admits truth — his father came back from the Gulf war with PTSD, was a drug addicted who wandered off and overdosed in Cincinnati when Finn was a baby. This completely breaks Finn, who is angry for the betrayal of the lifelong lie, and angry for his shattered hopes about a proud life post high school.
| “Finn Proposes”
He, Rachel and Kurt sit at Breadstixx and bemoan the approach of the real world and their unsure futures. As Finn complains about not having anything special in his life, Rachel begins to sing “Without You,” transitioning from the table setting to the choir room, and then again to an imagined reality where it’s just her and Finn alone in the room before the lights come back and the whole Glee club is there. This is also not the route Schue want to go, and so after the Rihanna proposal we get Rachel and Finn in the auditorium, a mirror of their first “date” as Finn sits her down and explain that he doesn’t want to end up like his father, and wants to hang on to the one good thing that makes him feel like he has hope: Rachel. So he’s opened up his first ever credit card to buy a ring and ask Rachel to marry him. “Glee” then ends with their new-found favorite trick, a suspenseful cut-to-black before Rachel can answer, although her face reads like a big fat “No.”
Where “Glee” missteps in trying too hard, and trying to fit two completely different kinds of episodes into one. The heightened reality aspects of “Yes/No” remind of Season 1’s greatness, and the very special episode aspects (ability and special needs impacting relationships and the idea of dashed expectations about your heroes) feel more like Season 2’s high points, but together in Season 3 they make off-center and off-putting television. We can only hope in two weeks when Glee takes on Michael Jackson that they find a way back to balanced and good TV.