WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FROM LAST NIGHT’S IMPORTANT EPISODE OF GLEE. DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET.
It’s hard to know where to begin…
For those who were expecting last night’s Glee to take an after school special approach to the very serious topic of school shootings, they were met with nearly ten solid minutes of the most harrowing and tension filled moments of the series. The show isn't the first teen dramedy to try it's hand at capturing the horror faced by students and faculty when faced with such terrifying circumstances — One Tree Hill, anyone? — but considering the episodes proximity to the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the situation hit very close to home. (Too close to home for parents in the small Connecticut town, as we reported earlier.)
But if we may say so, we thought the episode, while emotionally charged and frightfully dramatic, never stepped over the bounds of gratuitously exploiting the circumstances. Truly, we thought the storyline was handled tastefully, and just perhaps, it opened up a difficult dialogue for parents and teachers to have with their kids.
So, what exactly was the storyline? Well, as the kids all convene in their beloved Choir room for a seemingly uneventful day of singing and laughter, two shots ring through the hallway, forcing the Glee clubbers to scatter and hide behind pianos and chairs. They start to tweet and text the ones they love — this includes probably two of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the episode, like when Marley tries to reach her mother, who works in the cafeteria. The audience sees she's safe, but that she is trapped in the school's kitchen, curled on the floor hoping to conceal herself. And then there is Heather Morris' Brittany, who we find perched atop a toilet in the girl's bathroom, giving perhaps the best performance on the show to date. Knowing she is somewhere scared and alone, Sam tries desperately to leave the choir room to save her, but in the end Mr. Schue braves the halls to bring Brittany to safety. It's then that the kids start filming testimonials and farewells to their families on Artie's iPhone, which in into itself was hard to watch. After ten mostly silent minutes, the gang hears the "All Clear" and a wave of relief fills the room. (Watch the full scene above)
In the end, no one was hurt, but the episode did possibly see the end of one character's time on the show: Sue Sylvester. In a twist no one saw coming, Sue confesses to Principal Figgins that it was she who shot off her own gun in her office. She explains that "times have changed" since she first became a teacher, but that she was only trying to clean the gun when it went off. Later, we come to learn that the story was a cover for Sue's favorite student, Becky. The frightened girl, petrified of graduating and leaving the sanctuary of McKinely, brought the gun to school to protect herself. When she revealed the weapon to Sue in her office, the gun misfired and then fired again when Becky dropped the weapon to the floor. But as the truth remains a mystery to everyone but Sue and Becky, Figgins has no choice but to fire Sue from the school.
Where this leaves Jane Lynch in the scheme of things (especially since the fate of the show itself is so uncertain) remains to be seen, but we sincerly hope this isn't the last we see of our Cheerios Coach.
If nothing else, the episode opened the topics of school safety and gun violence to a demographic that perhaps needed an outlet. So, we ask you too: What did you think of "Shooting Star" and how it addressed issues of gun violence in schools? Do you think it was handled tastefully, or was it too soon?