Glee Season 4 Review “Shooting Star”

People are either going to violently love or violently hate this week’s episode of Glee, ‘Shooting Star’, and not for the reasons they usually do. For this isn’t about song choices or relationship troubles, but about Glee tackling a ‘very special’ issue and layering lots of potentially problematic stuff onto the top of it.

The episode starts with Brittany’s proclamation that an asteroid is about to hit America, and this prompts Will to assign a ‘last songs’ assignment to the club, urging them to tell each other how they feel before it’s too late. It might be a plot device that, yet again, makes Brittany look like an emotionally challenged 8-year-old, but it works in the episode’s favor when a real crisis hits. While the class are rehearsing, they hear gun shots down the hall, and the school goes into lockdown.

When high school series usually tackle the issue of gun crime in school, it takes up the entire episode and hours afterwards to do it any justice – but I loved how this episode was structured. By taking 20-minutes for a normal installment of Glee and then the second half for the aftermath of a potential shooting, none of it felt forced or preachy in the way it easily could have done. Anyone paying attention to internet stories or press coverage were warned of the subject matter ahead of time, but I bet the uninitiated were pretty surprised when things turned.

Anyone who already hates the show will use this episode as their reason why but, for fans, the emotional beats were mostly informed by what we know about the characters and their relationship to one another. Brittany stopped being an idiot and found an appropriate place to hide from the danger, Marley and her mother were desperate to contact each other from across the school, and Tina would rather have been inside with her friends than out of danger as she was. The most powerful moment, however, was when we discovered the true identity of the shooter, and what someone else was willing to do to protect that person.

But this is also where the potentially problems lie, since the writers didn’t just choose to create a school shooting episode, they also chose to put the gun in the hands of a Down Syndrome sufferer. Yes, Becky Jackson, in a desperate and foolish attempt to protect herself from impending adulthood outside of McKinley High’s protective walls, brought her dad’s handgun to school. What she planned to do with it isn’t made crystal clear but we can assume that, had Sue not intervened, things would have ended in serious tragedy.

But the relationship Sue has with Becky, which has been one of the most powerful parts of the show for so long, comes into use here as Sue takes the blame for Becky’s mistake. No one was hurt, which makes the indiscretion less of a major issue in terms of punishment, but only time will tell whether Glee can weather the storm of criticism that may now come their way. Was this the right thing to do when it means that discussion around the episode won’t be about gun reform or violence in schools, but about the treatment of young people like Becky in popular culture?

What did you think of the episode? Did the confessionals make you blub or roll you eyes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.