Today I watched the most emotional Glee episode ever. It doesn’t really count as the best Glee episode especially given that it only had 3 songs which were not even good ones. But it touched a lot of nerves and pulled quite some heartstrings in me – to think I’m not even from the US where people had experienced, first hand, the tragedy portrayed.
[Warning: Spoilers Ahead]
At first, I thought it was just some routine Glee episode which tackled the romantic hang ups of the cast as well as their competitive spirits especially with Regionals coming up. But when the first gun shot sounded followed by the long agonizing moments of pure emotional torture – several things ran in my mind all at once. Despite wanting to hit the stop button and watch the episode no longer, I couldn’t bring myself to simply be cut off from the pure emotional torture portrayed.
“What is this? How long will this last?” It felt like the entire sequence lasted for hours. The New Directions waited in their hiding spots in the choir room while some of their members were scattered and trapped outside. Choir practice haven’t completely started and some might have been late for Glee practice hence why they were trapped outside the classroom. The others were left inside, presumably safely hidden, but going through an agonizing trauma of what could be happening outside and where their friends and relatives (in Marley’s case) maybe.
“Wow. They have an organized system.” Despite the emotional torture, I saw how organized they were. After the first shot was fired, they immediately knew what to do. Lock the doors and cover it with something heavy. Hide in obscure spots that can’t be spotted outside. Get down. Be quiet. Stay put. Even Brittany, who was locked outside, in the bathroom, knew what to do. Keep the showers running. Hide in the stalls. Remain calm. It all seemed as if they knew the drill in cases like this. Somewhat like knowing what to do when an earthquake or fire hits.
“Is this for real? They are very brave.” Not the cast but the production team. The issue tackled is something I know will surely strike chords in the hearts of many American viewers, especially those who can relate closely with what happened. But I was awed but the sheer bravado of the team to tackle such an issue. Something that clearly needs to be addressed in their education system – why kids would bring guns to schools and how safe the educational institution is. Glee has always been unafraid to tackle social issues pertaining to high school. Yes they dwell mostly in sappy story lines and cliche American high school drama but beyond all those they were able to tackle issues such as teen pregnancy, homosexuality (both male and female and transgender), bullying, suicide, and now school shootouts alongside common issues of acceptance, being different, pursuing one’s passion, and learning to dream.
“The emotion is killing me.” Indeed, it is. The emotions of all the characters were very raw especially those of Sam, Blaine, Ryder, Marley and Kitty. The rest – Artie, Wade/Unique and Jake – were not as emotional but their subdued acting complemented the emotional distress of the rest of the group. Brittany was also commendable for her performance where I can feel her fear and calm strength at the same time while she remained perched atop the toilet bowl in a bathroom stall awaiting the dreaded moments for what could possibly happen next.
The episode takes a sudden turn when the culprit for the shooting was identified. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) admitted that the gun fired was hers and what happened was an honest mistake. I doubt it the moment she made the explanation. I had a hunch that Becky was involved in it somewhere – judging by the focus given to her at the beginning of the episode – and true enough, towards the end of the episode when Will Schuster was asking Sue for the real reason of how everything happened – a flashback revealed that Becky, out of fear, brought a gun to school to be prepared. When Sue tried to retrieve it from her, it was accidentally fired.
I was sad that Sue would be leaving McKinley High (how will the revenge planned by Blaine pan out?) but I doubt she will be removed from the series. I’m sure, she’ll be in the background and the storyline will still involve her.
Blaming the shooting on Becky for me gave her character more depth. It showed that like any normal kid and despite her tough and bitchy exterior, she is still scared inside. Her plight was also an emotional one. How will she move on from the place which accepted her and made her feel loved (despite her bitchiness)? I do not think the show would put Becky in a discriminatory storyline, not after how they build up her character and showed how people with Down Syndrome can be normal additions to our society that needs to be accepted and respected. For me, making Becky responsible for the shooting further showed how she is a normal kid, just like everyone else, despite her genetic disorder.
Overall, it was a good episode. It was scary for me in the sense that it was a tragedy rooted too deeply in truth. But I hope that it will serve its purpose and be a perpetual reminder of the horrors and dangers of violence in an institution commonly regarded for the safety it offers its inhabitants. And may people realize the cause for such violence and perform measures to mitigate them in the future. Lastly, for Glee fans in the Philippines, although the episode may not directly hit a chord in our hearts because we cannot fully relate to the situation, may it provide us lessons how violence in the school is completely unacceptable and how the episodes of bullying (and sometimes gun pointing) need to be properly addressed so that we do not gravitate to graver violent tendencies.