“Glee” managed to do something almost unheard of on TV these days with Tuesday night’s “The Power of Madonna” — they took a theme, focused on a few characters, and yet somehow managed to give every character a chance to shine. Quite frankly, it may have been the finest hour of scripted television that has aired so far this season — and that’s saying quite a bit, especially when you consider that “Glee” itself has already had some pretty fantastic episodes (including “Sectionals,” which was my favorite of the first half of the year).
I will admit that going into this episode I was probably more skeptical and less excited than most. Madonna has never been my favorite artist, and I sometimes worry with this show that focusing on one single musical style is going to divide the target audience. However, it really didn’t happen here as they somehow found a way to weave Madge into just about every second of the story.
Let’s start at the beginning. Sue Sylester wanted to empower her Cheerios in some way, so she decided to have them all embody the spirit of her own personal idol — Madonna. She took it a step further by forcing the principal to blast her songs throughout the school (except for Emma’s office, since she hilariously was the anti-Madonna and empowered no one).
As much as you could say that many other characters were the focus of this episode, I see it as really being all about Sue. Her “hair war” with Schuester — which originally stemmed from her anger at him taking her “Madonna idea” for Glee club — exposed a sensitive side to our beloved cheerleading coach. Jane Lynch (as she did with special-needs child earlier in the season) is magnificent at taking something remarkably small and turning it into a powerful moment. Her hair insecurity led to a great “domino effect” with Kurt and Mercedes, who offered to give her a makeover. Thus, the “Vogue” video featuring Sue was born, and it worked a heck of a lot better in this episode then it did as a stand alone video that I really didn’t quite understand.
This new “bond” between Sue, Kurt, and Mercedes led to the two students joining the Cheerios and belting out a performance of “4 Minutes” (which I loved, but then again I’m the biggest Kurt fan out there). They had an ulterior motive for that, though, which I will get to later.
First, though, we have to backtrack a little to the “Glee club storyline” of the week. The Madonna assignment was brought on because the men were being rude to women across the board — and it included everyone from Puck (or “Puckzilla,” as he called himself) to Artie with the not-so-timid way he chose to hit on Tina.
For Finn and some of the guys, finding a song of Madonna’s to sing proved to be a difficult assignment, especially since they were going through so much relationship drama involving these women. Finn was still in love with Rachel, who had moved on to Jesse St. James from Vocal Adrenaline. Therefore, Santana came up with a devious plan to help cause drama in the Glee club while at the same potentially make Rachel jealous — get Finn to sleep with her. Coupled with Rachel feeling pressured by Jesse into sex and Emma’s decision to “show Sue what’s up” by inviting herself over to Schuester’s place to have her way with him, we ended up having a nice incorporation of “Like a Virgin” into the show, which I thought was easily going to be the toughest song to throw into the mix.
In the end, though, Finn appeared to be the only one who actually had sex — though even he didn’t enjoy it. For Rachel, there was an even bigger surprise in store as Jesse decided to “move in with his uncle” and join McKinley High. Suffice it to say, Kurt and Mercedes were particularly upset by this as it meant another person was in line to steal their solos (which hence prompted their decision to sign up for the Cheerios, as well).
The power of persuasion
After all of this drama (and a few more show-stopping numbers by the ladies), the men did realize the error of their ways. Artie apologized to Tina (which may mean their relationship is finally about to begin), Finn welcomed Jesse to the club as much as it pained him to do it, and Will and Emma agreed to take things slow.
As for Sue, she decided that she didn’t need to “become” Madonna in order to feel empowered — she was already Madonna in her own overly-obnoxious way.
The episode closed with a great rendition of “Like a Prayer,” one that (along with “4 Minutes” and “Vogue”) stood out as a vocal highlight.
Overall, this was a substantial improvement on last week’s return. The characters were all given something to do, there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and Sue managed to steal every scene imaginable. We also have a great groundwork for next week with Jesse in New Directions.
What did you think of “The Power of Madonna?” Let me know your thoughts with a comment and stay tuned for more TV news. To view recent “Glee” cast photos, follow the link here.
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