“Glee” plunged into the late Whitney Houston’s music Tuesday with a ferocity some might say matched or exceeded some of Whitney’s own.
“It’s Not All Right But It’s Okay,” when Blaine sang it to Kurt, became the cry of a wounded animal reduced to a single obsession: survival.
“Saving All My Love For You” turned into Quinn’s nightmare of darkness, fearing she would be saving that love forever because it could never be returned.
And so it went on an episode that ricocheted between deep tension and high ecstasy.
Anyone who ever had a heart could not fail to be moved when Puck handed out gift bags to all his friends, each with its own individual shot glass that Puck had “jacked from houses where I clean pools.”
But Whitney songs dominated the episode, even in the moment when Rachel and Santana did a bump-and-grind to “So Emotional” and Santana had to admit that her three years of trying to make Rachel’s life “a living hell” had fizzled.
“Say something annoying,” Santana told Rachel, so she could remember why she didn’t like her.
The most interesting tribute to Houston, though, was so subtle it almost felt inadvertent.
Quinn, who lost movement in her legs when she she was injured in that accident where she was texting while driving, went into rehab with Joe and immediately fell for his gentle hands and kind eyes.
Okay, people fall in love with their therapists and nurses all the time. This is the time when the therapist fell in love right back, which created two separate but equally large problems.
Quinn was convinced Joe didn’t really love her, and no one could ever love her, because “he was grossed out by my chair.”
Not exactly true.
The real cause of Joe’s ambivalence was his Christian faith, which tells him that desires of the flesh are weaknesses that contravene the teachings of the Lord.
Joe mentioned this to his friend Sam, a fellow believer, who said he’d rationalized it all out. The world is different now from Christ’s day, said Sam, so the rules have changed. You can be a believer and still get some action.
Or, said Sam, you can stay old-school, in which case “you have to decide if you want to get close to God or close to her.”
Where this circles back to Whitney is that she spent much of her life wrestling with that same dilemma: the peace and comfort of her inner spiritual soul set against the pleasures and sometimes ravages of the flesh.
Whether or not “Glee” was deliberately nodding to Houston’s own struggles, it did set Joe up to eventually tell Quinn, “When I’m with you I don’t care what God says about sins of the flesh.”
Elsewhere, Kurt had that bruising argument with Blaine, but then Emma maneuvered them into making up by getting Blaine to admit he’s sulking because he’s going to miss Kurt when Kurt graduates and goes to New York, leaving Blaine behind.
Kurt promised they would Skype every day.
Kurt didn’t make that same promise to his Dad, but they had the same kind of “I’m gonna miss you” confession scene.
Meanwhile, Will admitted to Emma that he may have the worst case of “empty nest syndrome” on the whole show.
Tell us something we didn’t know.
That’s why he and Emma have to get married in May, he explained, because he wants the kids to perform at the wedding and he’s afraid if they wait until fall the kids won’t come back for it.
Emma was sympathetic, but not sympathetic enough so she would agree to get married at a KOA campground where they could power the stage with trailer hookup lights.
And then presumably celebrate using Puck’s jacked shot glasses.
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