My Man > Kurt’s pants > Sue’s tears > Try A Little Tenderness > Willy Wonka themes > Jesse St. Suck > Quinn > All those sweater vests
For a show that’s supposed to be a comedy, someone is always in tears on Glee—which is to be expected with an episode entitled “Funeral.” But along with an extra serving of emotion, Glee‘s penultimate installment of the season ties up loose ends that have been lingering for almost two years, setting the group up for the big nationals competition next week.
Sue Sylvester starts off this week hacking into Figgin’s email—with the help of Terri and her assistant at Sheets N Things—to reroute the glee club’s flight through Libya, which is exceptionally mean even for her. Terri calls her out on this being a little too extreme for anyone’s taste, but Sue isn’t just motivated by her cartoonish hatred. We’ve seen glimpses of her softer side, framed by the special relationships with her sister, Jean. One of the most tender outlets of that relationship is the mirrored affinity Sue shows for Becky, the cheerleader with Down syndrome. But this week Sue coolly removes Becky from the cheer squad, breaking the girl’s heart with no explanation. Will confronts Sue to ask her why she would do such a thing to her most loyal and loving student. Sue reveals Becky reminds her too much of her sister, who passed away the day before.
It’s difficult to see a character like Sue really hurting and believe it. We’ve seen glimpses before—people teasing her about her dancing or her anchorman boyfriend rejecting her—and we’ve seen her enraged by injustice and things she doesn’t agree with before, but Jean’s death packs the punch of both. The only problem is, where does Sue go from here? As the episode continues and she becomes more human and less the cartoon the show has presented for two years, can we really buy it if next season she’s back to her old ways?
While Sue is closed off about her loss, some people try to sneak into the cracks. Kurt and Finn attempt to lend her some comfort since they both have experience with losing a loved one; Kurt especially bonds with Sue over their desire not to have things sugar-coated in the face of adversity. But Sue is too hurt to truly accept their empathy, feeling guilty for being alive when she is so mean and Jean was so kind. She does accept the glee club’s offer to plan Jean’s funeral service for her, only to avoid doing it herself. She tells Will it was only because she fears an empty room and planned to use them as free labor to clean out Jean’s room. When they help pack up her things, Sue can’t even allow herself to keep more than a single stuffed animal, although she does helpfully point Kurt and Finn towards Jean’s favorite movie, Willy Wonka, which becomes the inspiration for their Wonka-themed funeral and subsequent performance of “Pure Imagination.” Sue speaks only a few lines at the funeral before she can’t go on and Will steps in to read her speech. It’s touching, and Glee pulls a few more tears out of you as the season comes to the end. The club gives a pure and simple performance, and Sue mouths her thank-yous at the end. As much as the glee club can be bumbling and off-center, they make it work when it counts.
After it’s all over Finn is in tears, both over the ceremony and because he is finally breaking up with Quinn. He tells her he thought he could fix everything from last year, but can’t, and when Sue spoke of feeling tethered to her sister he doesn’t feel that with Quinn and can’t pretend anymore. Quinn seems quite happy to keep pretending, by trying to pin all their problems solely on Rachel and deny that they’re breaking up. (But next year they can be Prom King and Queen together!) Apparently it is going to take her ages to get past that particular fantasy, but Finn shuts it down, telling Quinn he doesn’t want that life and yelling for her to feel things again. We can only hope this is the push that finally sends Quinn over the edge; it’s getting hard to watch more of her spiraling down into mounting delusion and intense self-esteem issues. She runs off as Finn watches Rachel come into view. Maybe she’s not the cause of his relationship problems, but she’s clearly the touchstone for him to compare and figure himself out.
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