I have to say, I did expect a hell of a lot worse from Choke…but, to be fair, I also tuned out of the parts I was supposed to be paying the most attention to. Which is, I’m reasonably certain, the dead opposite of what they were going for.
For an episode entirely about A) the boy club, B) Rachel totally bombing out, and C) domestic violence, this wasn’t horrific. Not completely, at least. I was more often bored than traumatized, honestly, and the parts that made me feel the most uncomfortable—violent second-hand embarrassment, really—were circled around Rachel, not Beiste. I will say that, even though it was aggressively heavy-handed and obnoxious, as all of Glee’s Very Special Episodes are (really? Santana and the girls are making Chris Brown cracks in the hallway? Why do I find it immensely difficult to believe that none of them would see the problem with that—on their own), it could have been worse. Which doesn’t make it good, I leap to remind you, because dear Christ, why did they even try. But there were parts that were better than others, including:
-Beiste being “saved” by other women stepping in and talking to her, as opposed to a man—Will, or any other—swooping into her home and taking away her agency. Dot performed her part very well, and the sick, sad truth is, her story is one of the most accurate Glee has ever done. Of course she lied. Lying is part of the deal. Lying, and going back, and promising yourself it will get better someday; I’ve watched a family member or two do that very thing since I was a little kid. It’s horrible, and that shot of her back in the kitchen was a kick to the gut, but it was actually realistic, for once. Not every problem can be solved in 43 minutes. The problem is, of course, we will likely never see or hear about this ever again. Which kind of, again, defeats the purpose of even bringing it up.
-Puck failing, despite everything. Yeah, it sucks, but again—it’s realistic. Sometimes, you just don’t pass. Sometimes, cramming and utterly butchering a My Fair Lady song (although the performance was much more fun than the tune on its own, I’ll give it that) just doesn’t cut it. And I’m interested to see where—if anywhere—they’ll go with that.
-Kurt Hummel. Every inch of Kurt’s performance was wonderful, from him using Tina as a grudging prop, to him killing the shit out of that song, to his simple, “I love you, Rachel Berry.” Chris Colfer is so wonderful that I often wish I liked Kurt’s storyline more, because I would like to stan the hell out of him. Also, extra points for having the ladies sing back-up in their S1 Regionals dresses. As always, the prop/costume folk are on top of their shit. (Sidebar: Blaine gets a very rare honorable mention for what may have been unintentional shade hurled at one of Glee’s shittiest songs. “No more Candles.”)
-Cell Block Tango/Shake It Up. One was dead-sexy (although obviously a little damaging in context), and one was just downright beautiful. Extra points for fucking using Jenna this time around, both in lines and in song. Sure, she didn’t really have a plotline, but her little “my foot is asleep” shuffle was adorable, and I love that she was at the forefront. Also, again, in case you missed it—CBT was dead-sexy. I still wish for a full release, but hell-o anyway.
-Sue. I like this Sue. I like Sue when she’s still tough, still a bitch, but has a heart underneath. It’s how I love my Santana and my Quinn, too. These are hard people sometimes, but they’re still people, and I love that she was actually utilized kind of well, for once.
The rest of the ep was kind of traumatizing for all the wrong reasons, and more than a little WTFy. Like, yeah, the boys rocking out and joining together to help a teammate was adorable when removed from the fact that I just don’t care about bromance—but where was Brittany? They’re just gonna fail her without a word? If this Puck storyline sticks (which, as he’s a dude, it probably will continue charging forward), it spits even harder in the face of the girl side of that coin. Here’s Brittany, with her athletic prowess and her presidency, and everything else, and we’re not even going to mention her? Prove me wrong, Glee. Prove me wrong.
The actual domestic violence was…honestly, I don’t remember. I literally was slack-jawing at the hot-n-sexy that was CBT, and when the montage came (as I’d known they would do it), I tuned out. Completely. I don’t even remember what happened in that scene, more or less, and that should not be allowed to happen. I should have been roped in and held there, to get the point across. I can’t even say what they did wrong; I may have just decided that there was no way I could handle Glee fucking up another giant, offensive moment. But either way, it didn’t do at all what they intended.
As for Rachel’s choke…on the one hand, thank you for proving that—like with the “strong women can get hurt too” and the “cramming for a night might still earn you an F”—even the most prepared people can fail. It can and does happen, and you have to pick yourself up from that and learn to fight your battle a new way. I like that—if they play it that way. If they do the opposite, though, and have Rachel give up on her dream, or get “rescued” by Finn or someone, or try one of her weird illegal schemes, they’ll lose my focus completely.
Lea’s performance, though, was once again a fervent stretch for Emmy gold. The woman may be a little choppy on dialogue sometimes, but she’s a killer with her facial expressions, and she can cry like nobody’s business. I’m always impressed by that.
Next week, how ‘bout a little more glee, Glee? Like, say, a Brittana slow dance with a kiss, and some goofin’ off for all the kids, and let’s not treat Brittany like a dunce in an episode she has a large amount of power in. Please. I have no patience for further assassination of these poor characters.
(Speaking of: someone uprooted Rory and Sugar from whatever cave they’ve been boning in, but no one bothered to locate Quinn? Anyone? No? Shocking.)