After a stunt cliffhanger preceding a week-long break, Glee returns for the final third of Season Three with a deeply average episode. Feel bad for the States - they had to wait a good deal longer for Big Brother following February sweeps. Fortunately, Sue Sylvester is in play to salvage what she can from what is hopefully only a mid-season blip and not the start of a further downward trajectory.
The episode gets its title from the appearance of Blaine's big bro Cooper Anderson, as played by US telly star Matt Bomer, and takes the opportunity to explore a vaguely sketched discord between the two. Because the conflict between the siblings is never really explained beyond some belittling on Cooper's part, it makes the ensuing bickering somewhat tiresome and, rather than showing Darren Criss's versatility beyond his usual teen heartthrob thing, Blaine comes across as downright whiny. This applies to song too, as he shouts his way through Christina Aguilera's power pop hit 'Fighter'.
At least Bomer seems to be having fun, clearly relishing his chance to act like a grade A douchebag; however, this doesn't necessarily make it fun for the audience. By the time the two tackle the recent smash from Gotye, the admittedly great 'Somebody That I Used to Know', they're best buds and all I could wonder is why we had to sit through such a tedious setup for a resolution that's hardly groundbreaking. It might be interesting to see Bomer pop up in a future episode and used more effectively, but the A-plot here is just a big disappointment.
The rest of the episode isn't much better. First off, to pick up from On My Way's cliffhanger, Quinn is wheelchair bound but determined to be out of her chair and 'dancing on that stage' at Nationals. Maybe so, but Artie is keen on keeping her denial in check by taking her to the halfpipe and showing her a bunch of his wheelchair buddies who have adjusted to their disability. Of course, this is a well-meaning addition to the episode and keeps the show's devotion to the disenfranchised front and centre; but, following last week's Karofsky downer, pissing all over Quinn's dreams too seems a tad cruel - and a bit manipulative - on the writers' part.
Meanwhile, after failing to get hitched due to Quinn's accident, Rachel and Finn are having doubts again (wudyabelieveit??) while Puck is thinking about his future beyond McKinley and decides it may lie in L.A.'s abundance of pools: will Finn join him in his pool-cleaning business? With all this future stuff to contend with, no wonder the seniors are looking forward to a skive-off at Six Flags for a go on the biggest, baddest rollercoasters.
Thankfully, as it's an episode that is in dire need of a dose of the show's early wit and occasional acidity, Sue has a decent chunk of airtime in this. After being usurped as Cheerio leader by swim team coach Roz Washington, newly preggers Sue lends her expertise (and gloriously nasty and, erm, motivational retorts) to the Glee club in her aims to help them win Nationals so she can reclaim her Cheerios spot. The show's current penchant for miserabilism even rears its ugly head here though, as Sue's preliminary scans show irregularities - what happened to guilty pleasure fun?! Alas, it's disco week next week, so let's hope for some light relief with flares on.