To be honest, I was a little blown away at how good the latest episode of Glee was. Since the second half of season one, Glee has been less than stellar. Don't get me wrong, there've been some good episodes and moments. But even though I liked, for example, the Britney Spears episode, it was kind of a lazy episode. It was enjoyable but not necessarily "a good episode." As I watched last weeks unsatisfying "Grilled Cheesus," I started to wonder why I watch anymore. This week's episode reminded me why I liked Glee in first place. The whole episode gelled together and many of the problems that typically plague Glee were avoided.
One of the best aspects of "Duets" was the music selection. Lately, some of the songs on Glee have been, to put it in a polite term, blah. They've been okay, but I haven't had any desire to download them or listen to them again. That was not the case this week. I pretty much have the desire to listen to all of this week's songs on repeat, except for perhaps Finn and Rachel's "really rude" performance. I was pretty pumped for their "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." Don't judge, but I absolutely love that song, regardless of how cliche it may be. I also thought "Lucky" was surprisingly pretty great. I've never been much of a fan of Quinn's voice, but Dianna Agron sounded really good on this song. Another thing I enjoyed about the song selections this week is that they were actually songs that I could imagine the characters choosing.
I think one thing that helped with the music selection was the adaption of a looser theme than is usually used. When themes like "Hello," "Funk," or even "Britney Spears (as much as I love rocking out to her music)" are used, it really limits the song selection. The characters sing songs that suit the theme better than they suit themselves. While there was still a theme this week, it was a theme that worked. I didn't feel like I was being hit over the head with a concept. I also thought the theme was introduced somewhat organically into the storylines. Characters like Artie and Kurt had really been dealing with loneliness for a while, and while it wasn't really introduced before this, it made sense that Brittany would be lonely. Along with the idea of loneliness, the explored the "duets" or couples of the show like Tina and Mike, Finn and Rachel, and now Quinn and Sam.
Speaking of couples, I really liked how they dealt with the couples this week. "Duets" was really one of the first episodes where Finn and Rachel seemed like an actual couple. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but they seemed this week like they actually liked each other rather than were just using each other. I also am loving the Tina and Mike pairing. I really hope that the writers aren't planning on putting Tina and Artie back together because I fear that might be their plans. I feel bad for Artie, but I don't really like his character. He seemed like kind of a jerk to Tina where Mike seems like a sweetheart. He was so adorable this week with his little clap at Rachel and Finn's performance and his writing Tina's name in a heart on his vote.
While I thought Sam was annoying in the season premiere (I believe I referred to him as "that blonde thing" in a Facebook message to my sister), I actually kind of liked him tonight. I like the whole dorky angle that they're taking with him. He won me over with his "Sam I am" intro. I'm not sure how I feel about him and Quinn coupling, but their performance of "Lucky" was "so freaking charming" that I just might buy into the idea of them as a couple.
Just a small note on this, but I really like how they gave some closure to the Finn and Kurt storyline. I felt that was a little unresolved, but I appreciated that they went back and tied it up a bit.
Another thing I liked about this week's Glee is that it actually seemed to move the story forward a bit. For a while, I feel like Glee's been running around in circles with the same story lines. Unless that end running around in circles again, I think they made some movement forward this week. Some characters got some development, while still remaining in character like Brittany and Rachel. I liked how they handled Rachel this week. She grew a little bit with her kind speech to Kurt, but she's still the same Rachel whose "unselfishness" consisted of her ultimately trying to help herself.
There were some good Brittany moments this week, as always. Some of my favorites were her telling Artie that she used to think he was a robot, writing "me" as her vote for the winner of the duet contest, and of course, her pushing a meatball with her nose. I just wish we could have seen her and Artie's duet.
This episode was focused more on the kids than the teachers, and it really worked well. There weren't too many storylines to handle. Will's addition to the episode was little more than having hilarious reactions to the Glee kids' performances. I was really impressed that this episode was as good as it was, given the lack of Sue.