There may have been fewer songs and jokes in this episode, but there was plenty of drama to go around in tonight’s “Never Been Kissed.” We actually got to see this never-been-kissed theme play out for two characters—both student and teacher—and the repercussions of physical and emotional bullying. This episode was obviously very timely given recent deaths stemming from bullying…it was almost like an extended “It gets better” spot, but with costumes and mash-up songs.
Coach Bieste was back in action tonight, and some of the guys (plus Tina) were actually using the thought of Bieste while they were gettin’ some action. Both Sam and Tina realized that thinking of the Bieste while getting hot and heavy can help them cool off. Word spread around school and Will found out about this little trick. Bieste knew something was up, but she didn’t know all the details until the world’s most awkward conversation EVER. Seriously, I cringed and squirmed when Will actually sat down to tell her the truth: that some of the kids find her so repulsive they use her image to turn off their raging hormones. I have been completely impressed with Dot Jones’ portrayal of Coach Bieste (the few times we have seen her since the season premiere). She perfectly walks that line of outer-toughness and inner vulnerability. I appreciated that Will gave her a heartfelt pep talk; however (and feel free to disagree with me in the comments!) I actually did not like that he gave her the first kiss she never experienced. To me, the end of his speech and that kiss crossed the super-hokey line…almost watering down what was a genuinely sad, lonely and real moment. I think I would have preferred a pep talk with a little less sap, but a more honest recognition of her emotional and physical insecurities (but this is probably because I have little tolerance for sugar-coated resolutions). I still appreciated the message this storyline was driving at—and I hope to see more of how emotional bullying can impact anyone—even an outwardly assertive and respected coach.
The spotlight of this episode, though, is Kurt and his struggles as the only openly gay kid at McKinley High. Between verbal and physical abuse, Kurt is having a rough time, especially at the hands of a particularly cruel football bully. My one complaint? Kurt does have friends and teachers who genuinely care about him…and who seemed absent in defending him in this episode just for the sake of the story arc…but we can overlook that because this is TV and because we got a very important and compelling story. Kurt makes a visit to the all-boys prep school, Dalton, and basically sees how the other half lives—and I don’t just mean the rich. He witnesses a “teenage dream” literally and figuratively. This prep school not only has openly gay students but they are accepted and equal members of the community—not to mention their glee club is fabulous! Kurt has major chemistry with the leader of Dalton’s glee club, Blaine, who also happens to be gay. This is the guy we (and Kurt) have been waiting for…someone who makes Kurt ‘stop in the name of love.’ Blaine gives Kurt the support and courage he desperately needs to stand up to the bully football player in an extremely powerful confrontation. I was honestly afraid for Kurt’s life in the locker room…and then we got a powerful surprise: the bully kissed Kurt! In hindsight, perhaps this twist should not have been so shocking (remember the end of American Beauty when the homophobic neighbor kisses Kevin Spacey and then kills him?). Still, I was not expecting it and Kurt certainly wasn’t. This kiss was even more horrifyingly significant for Kurt in that we learned he had never really been kissed before.
I am hoping that Coach Bieste and Kurt get their real first kisses in the near future (and the odds for Kurt seem pretty good right now thanks to his new teenage dream)!
The comedic moments in tonight’s episode mainly fell on the Puck-Artie-Santana-Brittany subplot. I mean, it wouldn’t be Glee without some great Brittany dumb-isms and Santana snark! Puck returned from his stint in juvy and was determined not to go back (no chicks and no kosher food). But, we even got to see a deeper, misunderstood layer of always-tough Puck as he and Artie struck up a new respect for one another’s ‘talents.’ The highlight was definitely a double date at Lima’s favorite Italian restaurant…including how the guys acted like jerks to woo the girls (“totally worked”) and Brittany coming on to Artie by squeezing his leg under the table, obviously not understanding his lack of leg sensation. And Santana’s solution for all these problems at school: people should just put out more.
I know I am leaving out the mash-up songs, and also Sue, who had to go to the wound center to stare at wounds to get the image of the Bieste out of her mind. Not much new to report on everyone’s favorite cheerleading coach—she came, she saw, she mocked!
What did you think of the intensely emotional (and physical) episode of “Never Been Kissed?”