It seems like recently, more and more episodes of Glee are being held up as the "best yet!" by critics, and indeed stars of the show. Whether this is because the show no longer has the buzz it used to is debatable, but 'Yes/No' was inevitably going to become one of those instalments (alongside, say, 'Asian F' and 'The First Time').
The problem with that is it raises the hype. Can instalments ever live up to the glowing praise they receive before they air? Well, 'Yes/No' had its silly bits, but it was arguably one of the better episodes of the season (even if it did cram an awful lot in).
We begin with a performance of the Grease classic 'Summer Nights', as Mercedes and Sam explain their fling. Clearly, it's just an excuse for an expositional musical number, but at least it was fun.
From Rachel's cape to the original bleachers to Mercedes and Sam's faces in the iconic merged image to Rory singing the line: "Could she get me a friend?", it was a vibrant opening and kind of set the tone - this was an episode when the little things would be done well, too.
Anyway, Sam's still pining after Mercedes, and somehow comes to the realisation that she's with Shane because of his letterman jacket (um, okay.) It's too late for him to join any of the sporting clubs, though, except one - synchronised swimming.
This is patently a bit absurd, but hey - it sets things up for a VERY IMPORTANT musical number later, and we get to see NeNe Leakes as the team's brilliantly bizarre coach.
The only problem is that synchronised swimming is almost as uncool as glee club, and Sam gets promptly slusheed after leaving the pool. This earns him sympathy from Mercedes (yay!) but she leaves him - with backward glances, mind you - to walk to class with Shane (boo).
Elsewhere, Becky decides that she wants a boyfriend in a brilliant voiceover from Helen Mirren. This could have been awful, but actually it was excellent - and Mirren clearly had a blast (saying, for example, "lay off haters... let's get reals".)
She decides that she's after Artie and asks Sue (who's actually wonderfully supportive in this episode) for advice. Sue tells her to just ask him out, as the worst he can do is say no.
Artie's a bit thrown by the proposition, but takes Becky to see him perform with glee club. That's not enough for her, though, and she demands that he take her out for dinner, where they end up having a great time.
It's actually quite a touching little storyline, especially when the other glee club members raise questions about the date and Artie slams them for their hypocrisy - how they go on about it being okay to be different, until it's someone else. But he still doesn't actually want to date her, so Sue (who's apparently new school counsellor) advises him to just be honest.
So he admits he doesn't want to be with Becky, and she accepts it - but walking away she's devastated and Helen Mirren's voice tells us that she knows it's because she has Down's (and it's so sad). But Sue - who's also been dumped, by Cooter - is there to commiserate with her, eat ice cream, watch trashy television and hold her hand. Adorable.
But that's not the main meat of the episode! When Emma discovers that Beiste and Cooter have eloped (amazing), she admits that she doesn't know whether Will will ever want to tie the knot with her.
Sue suggests that she ask him, prompting Emma to sing 'Wedding Bell Blues' and fantasise about getting married. Unfortunately, she might just say some of this out loud in front of Will.
But fortunately, Will decides that he wants to propose - and enlists the glee club to help him make the big question special (I'm not even going to think about how weird this is). Straight away, Artie and the boys have an idea - a mash-up of 'Moves Like Jagger' and 'Jumping Jack Flash' - which provokes some very odd Will-dancing-faces that I'd rather not have seen.
The girls, meanwhile, offer up a beautiful arrangement of 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face', which prompts them to remember meeting their loved ones for the first time. Inevitably, Mercedes thinks of Sam - not Shane! - and has a bit of a cry. Should she really be with Sam?!
Elsewhere, the weirdest teacher-student relationship EVER continues as Will goes engagement ring shopping with Finn, and asks him to be his best man (does he have no real friends? I mean, really.)
But the awkward shopping trip does serve a purpose - Finn reveals that he's thinking of his future and is going to meet a recruiter to join the army. Basically, he wants to follow in his father's footsteps. Will doesn't say anything, but he makes a very concerned face.
In fact, Will tells Burt and Carole about Finn's plans and they're shocked - and Carole is forced to reveal that although Finn's father was a good man, he didn't die in service. In fact, he was dishonourably discharged and passed away after a drug overdose.
It's a really powerful scene, as Finn's sucker-punched by the news and can only say he feels sick. Carole explains that she wanted Finn to know about the good side of his father - not the last few months of his life.
It's a really interesting development and I would have loved to have spent more time with it (I still hold hope it will be explored more in episodes to come). For now, we settle for Finn processing the news in Breadstix with Kurt and Rachel, who are both upset about their NYADA prospects (because that's totally the same).
But Rachel sees how upset Finn is and sings 'Without You' to him, prompting a really nice Finn-Rachel moment as she takes it to the choir room. Will thanks her, but he's not sure which song to use for the proposal. In fact, he's not sure if he should propose at all...
Why? Well, he invites Emma's parents over to ask for their daughter's hand in marriage - only to be perturbed when they point out that Emma's OCD could cause them problems in the future (such as when they have kids).
Instead of dismissing them like he's done before, Will takes their words to heart, and when Emma asks if he wants to marry her someday he says he does... but how will she be able to handle it? At first I thought this was a fakeout to put Emma off the scent, ala Chandler in Friends, but it's way too emotionally cruel for that.
Emma ends up in tears, as she says that she is trying to get better but she knows she's not there yet. But she loves him, and if that's not enough for him he needs to be honest soon. It's so sad.
But there's not much jeopardy for long - Sam's come up with a great idea for the proposal, so Will decides to do it. He meets Emma in her office and walks her to the swimming pool, with people including Beiste and Sue handing her white roses on the way.
In the pool, the glee club and synchronised swimmers perform an amazing routine to 'We Found Love', all 1950s swimsuits and Artie tipping himself into the water (oh my) and Will's ridiculous silver top hat.
It is brilliant, to be fair - and then Will says that though Emma can find life tough, he's there to balance her out. He gives a lovely speech, and proposes, and of course she says yes. Hurrah!
But we're not done yet - Finn is still thrown by the truth about his father, but he tells Rachel that she's the good thing in his life. He says that if she keeps loving him, everything will be OK. And then he takes out a ring and proposes...
Of course, Glee leaves us on the mother of all cliffhangers - and yes, I am interested in whether she says yes, because I think both outcomes have interesting implications (the only thing I'm hoping doesn't happen is a middle ground of 'I'll marry you some day, but not now').
The more I think about this episode, the more I realise that it was one of the ones deserving of hype - not perfect, but with some interesting and entertaining moments. So what did you think? Yes, or no? Next week: Michael Jackson.
- I like that both Sugar and Rory got lines in 'Summer Nights'. It feels like more people got to sing this week, even if we did get a solo from Rachel as always.
- Wasn't Sue great this week? She was actually supportive and friendly, but still got the zingers in. And it didn't feel like a massive character change - just a bit more nuanced.
- I really enjoyed NeNe Leakes' guest spot, and I'm glad it didn't run to more than one scene. She was wonderfully terrifying, but it wasn't allowed to get old.
- Sam has to have a water-based nickname for his synchronised swimming dressing gown and asks if he can use "Trouty Mouth". Love it.
- Every so often, Glee has lines that make me wince (in a bad way). Becky deciding she didn't want to date Mike because she's "no rice queen" was definitely one of them. What did you think? Edgy comedy, or taking it too far?
- I want to reiterate that Helen Mirren's voiceover was amazing.
- "Frankly, Becky, I think you can do better." Lovely Sue.
- Artie likes Sugar? Since when?
- "Maybe she can date someone who doesn't sound like one of those weird puppets they bring round to the grade schools to teach kids about sexual predators."
- Becky's inner monologue about the real reason Artie broke up with her was brilliantly done, but so sad.
- From a musical point of view, the arrangements in this episode were among some of the better ones Glee has done. Agree?
- Sue wearing Princess Beatrice's hat in the wedding fantasy - a lovely touch.
- "Time to call Boreanaz."
- 'Wedding Bell Blues' wasn't my favourite song of the episode, but the sequence was really enjoyable - especially Emma in a shower cap.
- Will was considering not marrying Emma after all. But Sam comes up with a great idea for a musical number, so I guess the proposal has to go ahead. Will couldn't turn that production down.
- I love that Rachel is trolling NYADA chatrooms to find out if other people have heard about their applications.
- I know Will thinks he's Jesus, but really - walking on water? Looked cool, admittedly.
- "This incomplete person with toothbrushes and rubber gloves and so much love for you." Oh my.
- Emma's pamphlets are back! About time. 'So, you're a spinster' - the leaflet every high school needs.
- I liked the little reference to Finn and Rachel's first date-type thing from the pilot. Rachel still doesn't know why he ran off. Ahem.
- What's Rachel's answer going to be? Discuss.