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Glee: The Ballad of Will and Rachel

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Last night's Glee, "Ballad," was pretty strong, if a little too full of awkward-in-a-bad-way moments. The musical numbers were entertaining and plot-driven, the jokes were on, the narration was ramped back up to Election levels, and the ep's main hook -- all the glee kids are randomly paired up to sing ballads -- was a fun way to put together characters who might not normally hang out. Of course, there were some horribly awkward moments thrown in for good measure, and the ending shot for uplifting but wound up just cheesy, but what the hell, it was still some fun Glee.

Plus hey, the show was actually briefly broadcast without the sides chopped off! Thanks for the 20 seconds of care, Comcast! P.S. You guys actually suck!

So it turns out that sectionals will require all the choirs to perform ballads, which gives Will the perfect excuse to pair the kids up and have them sing to/with each other. (Probably my favorite idea was Puck and Mercedes together.) But Will unleashed the burgeoning stalker in Rachel when they partnered, initially for "Endless Love." His narration was great, too: "Crap, she looks crazy right now." Rachel developed a Crush crush like right away and even gave him a tie! "Endless Love" always reminds me of this old guy, Clyde, who frequented the same dive bars in L.A. that I did and who would always sing that song on karaoke night with whatever young girl he could convince to be his partner. I miss you dude!

Anyway, Will spent the episode dodging Rachel, and their story had some of the funniest moments, like when Rachel shows up at Will's apartment and Terri makes her clean everything. Will sang a fun mash-up of "Young Girl" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me" that went right over Rachel's head, and she later tried to sing Jennifer Paige's "Crush" before he cut her off. They also had some of the most genuine moments, too, especially at the end of the hour when Will had to let her down easy. His speech that she would find someone just right for her was by-the-numbers, but he sold it, and it was a sweet little moment.

Finn spent the episode wrestling with his worry over Quinn's baby, and Kurt tried to use that to put the moves on Finn. Also, I'm pretty sure "put the moves" is the creepiest way I could've put that, since no one's said that in a couple decades, so sorry about that. Kurt's got a world of pain on the way if he thinks his crush will pan out, so there's that to look forward to. But he was able to help Finn man up and work through his feelings in song, like men do, or at least like I do. This is where the teeth-gritting awkwardness started to come in, with Finn singing "I'll Stand By You" to the baby's sonogram and busting out "(You're) Having My Baby" during a dinner with her folks. Yeesh. I watch The Office every week, and I still could barely make it through some of this. But the show pivoted quickly into some genuine drama, with Quinn's conservative dad (he twice mentions his adoration of the certifiably insane Glenn Beck) kicking her out when the news breaks. Finn's mom, however, is sweet and understanding, offering to let Quinn stay with her family as long as she needs to. The lesson? Um, conservatives are dicks? I don't know. I just felt bad for Gregg Henry having to play such a tool. I love that guy.

Everything ended with the glee club singing "Lean on Me" as a gift to Finn and Quinn to show their support, which Puck didn't want to do. He even copped to being the one to knock Quinn up! He told Mercedes, who thought for a moment before telling him that Finn's already "been cast" in the father role by Quinn, so Puck should just move on. Thanks for the terrible advice, lady! When it comes time for the group sing, Puck puts a little extra emphasis into the repeated "Call me" while eyeing Quinn, so they might still have something. Kurt did the same thing with Finn, though, which was cute, but man, that kid is gonna get his heart broken.

Line of the night: Finn, talking on the phone to Kurt while hiding in Quinn's parents' bathroom: "I have to go. They'll think I'm pooping." l

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