Watching Glee Until It Gets Bad S1E6: Vitamin D

by thethreepennyguignol

Okay, if you’ve been waiting for the straight comedy episode of Glee, Vitamin D is the one for you. Because this is the Sue Sylvester episode.

I’ve touched a little before on why I love Sue Sylvester as a villain as much as I do, but this episode is almost too indulgent in Jane Lynch’s brilliance. I mean, I was literally flat out on the floor from Sue’s voiceover diary segment onward (watching a woman in her late forties in a sweatsuit scribbling in a notebook about just turning thirty did hit harder than it should with my birthday just past). From the smash-zoon in horror to her face upon seeing a twitch in her head cheerleader’s leg, to kicking a pensioner down the stairs, to convincing Will’s wife to take a job at the school, a trickle of a plot that takes over the whole episode. Jane Lynch is just stupidly good in this role, and I truly think her excellence sometimes get obscured by Glee’s less-than-glowing legacy. Seeing her march in to the Glee club at the end of the episode to announce she’s co-running the Glee club feels like letting out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Oh, yeah, now we’re cruising. Anything that front-and-centers her is exactly what I’m looking for.

And it’s Sue’s installing Terri (Jessalyn Gilsing) as the school nurse is an excellent opportunity to bring together the two sides of Will’s story thus far, his work and Emma, and his home with Terri. Most importantly, though, it’s a chance to put Gilsig opposite some of the better characters in the faculty; seeing her with Ken, Sue, and Emma is a total joy, especially her scheming alongside Patrick Gallagher that swims between genuinely touching and downright sadistic in a matter of seconds. I think she’s probably the furthest-out character other than Sue in this first season, and maybe too many of them at once would have toppled what little reality the show was hanging on to, which is why she was eventually phased out. Only one can reign, and all that.

Terri also sets up the kids with stimulants as part of her new role as the school nurse, leading to the Glee club performing two seperate coked- and mashed-up numbers. They’re both incredibly fun, but the boy’s version in particular – Confessions and It’s My life – makes me so happy.

To some extent, being on stimulants is just an excuse to let the cast show off a lot of their incredible talent (Harry Shum Junior going from pretending to trip over his feet two weeks ago to this is actually quite funny), but everyone is clearly throwing themselves into it. Chris Colfer’s hyperactive smoulder took me the fuck out, and seeing Cory Monteith windmilling from one side of the stage to the other like me trying to get my steps up at the end of each day is perfect. Kevin McHale also gets his little moment in the spotlight in his leather jacket, and honestly, I think am beginning to stan.

Even though this is a really comedy-heavy episode, I think the drama works pretty well as the episode draws on. Terri’s confrontation with Emma has a barbed wit to it, but it genuinely feels like real emotion that might arise from this kind of situation as opposed to a soap opera version of it. And what follows – the scene where Emma accepts Ken’s proposal in the most awful, crushing, settling-for-what-you’ve-got way possible – hit the very specific Glee saddybone that works for me. Quinn and Finn’s struggle as they try to come to terms with their pregnancy is actually better-played than I remembered, too, especially from Dianna Agron (have you seen her in Shiva Baby? If not, you need to).

Seeing Mr Schu try to lick mustard off his own chin actually made whatever I have down there go back in, so I’m adding that to my class-action lawsuit. But honestly, that’s my only real complaint about this episode: Vitamin D is such a fun episode that manages to make the drama land reasonably well without bringing it down in the process, plus it features some of those fun, downright silly performances I enjoy so much in the earlier seasons. Glee is still cruising, and with more Sue in the future, it’s going to stay that way.

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(header image via IMDB)