Episode 20: Pointillist Causality

Ryan Sheely, Jordan Stokes, and Matthew Wrather join an inter-continental episode of TFT to overthink the season finale of Glee.

Ryan Sheely (skyping live from Nanyuki, Kenya 0°01′N 37°04′E) is joined by Jordan Stokes and Matthew Wrather to overthink the season finale of Glee, touching on Kenyan politics, nostalgia and repetition, virginity and sexual initiation, Marx Lite, love as a battlefield, Bohemian Rhapsody, and pointillist causality.

There will be no spoiler warnings and there will be many naughty words. If either of those things bothers you, don’t click!

→ Download TFT Episode 20 (MP3)

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KTN Kenya


Jeff Koinage

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Nick Clegg

Marx Lite

Chariman Mao, Quotations

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen Music Videos, Part 1 & Part 2

Elliot Fratkin, When Nomads Settle

James Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed

21 Comments on “Episode 20: Pointillist Causality”

  1. Matthew Wrather #

    There seems to be some audio interference in the last part of the episode. Very sorry for the crackles!


  2. Chris #

    I do believe the lyric is “has a devil put aside for me” though I don’t watch Glee so I can’t say whether or not they changed it.

    There are different theorems about what Bohemian Rhapsody is “about” but from what I gather the reigning opinion is “nothing.”


  3. stokes #

    But one could argue that precisely by writing such a vast, ornately complex song that’s about “nothing,” Queen makes a claim for the song as absolute music and themselves as absolute musicians. Compare it to something like Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son,” which is a similar song in a lot of ways, but is obviously about Serious Business like fatherhood, loss, and the meaning of life, and then ask yourself which song you actually end up taking more seriously. For me it’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” – and I say that as someone who actually has more respect and affection for Kansas than is typical for a 21st century music geek.


  4. Chris #

    Oh, I was by no means dismissing Bohemian Rhapsody because it’s not about much of anything. Hell, my favorite band is Pavement, so obviously meaning isn’t important to me when it comes to music. It’s a very well crafted song, not just musically but lyrically, and I would certainly argue that the most important thing about a song is that it sounds good, and the lyrics, regardless of meaning, sound good in Bohemian Rhapsody. Plus, it name drop Galileo.


  5. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Okay, I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, so I apologized if you address these two points. But I just watched the episode, and I have to ask:

    1. Sue is done trying to destroy the glee club, right? I mean, she went to great lengths to bring it back for another year. And the show did NOT imply that she did this solely so see could torture Will. Kind of the opposite.

    2. So if Sectionals happens at the very end of the school year, when do States and Nationals happen? (I have a feeling we’ll be finding out next year. Actually, I bet next year, the whole competition will be reorganized – the writers don’t want the whole first half of the year to be another confrontation with Eve and the poor girls school. The Glee gang is going to face Vocal Adrenaline again in November, either due to redistricting or a new structure to the competition. Just a hunch.)

    3. From last week: Does “It’s a Man’s World” count as a funk song? I mean, it’s James Brown, but it’s not funk in my book.

    4. Shouldn’t Quinn and Puck have ASKED Rachel before giving their baby to her mom?

    5. Will smashing Sue’s trophy right in front of three dozen kids is absolutely a fireable offense.

    6. Just my two cents, Vocal Adrenaline deserved to win. Their performance was clearly more musically challenging. In fact, “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be the Mt. Everest of show choirs – there’s no pop song that beats it for vocal complexity and sheer crowd pleasing.

    7. And finally, I’m bummed out that the Journey medley did not include “Open Arms.”


  6. Timothy J Swann #

    Quick question, how does Clegg refer to Glee? I’ve yet to start on this podcast (and unsure as to how much I need to invest in Glee to actually make head or tail of it).


  7. Sheely #

    Clegg came up with reference to the dynamics of authority on the podcast itself. Let’s just say at one point, we had a “hung podcast”…


  8. Matthew Wrather #


    #3 You have to download last week’s episode, which has great commentary from Jordan about what is and isn’t funk.

    #4 I can’t see why. Are you making the argument that Rachel has some sort of ethical rights w/r/t what her biological mother does?

    #5 Any episode of Law and Order has half a dozen fireable offenses for the cops and lawyers. At a certain point you have to have a TV show.


  9. Gab #

    I think Quinn’s reaction to her mom was extremely true to life. In a moment like that, she’d be so overwrought with emotion and the monumental importance of what’s going on that the least of her worries would be her rocky relationship with her mom, and the idea of having Mom there to comfort and support her in that moment could trump any anger. It happens with friends that have had a falling out all the time, the feeling of, “I wish Soandso was here!” for whatever reason, so it happening between an expectant mother and her own mother isn’t hard to believe at all. And I feel like they can handle any fixing-up later- while Quinn is giving birth isn’t really the appropriate time to try and mend a broken relationship. It would come across as selfish of either or both of them, since that moment should be about getting the baby into this world safely. The harsher way to put it is to say they can deal with their personal sh*t later- in the meantime, deal with the task at hand and give birth, already.

    Huff. I don’t have Netflix.


  10. Kater #

    @belinkie (and I haven’t listened to the podcast yet either)

    2. I don’t think we got a date attached to Regionals–it means their personal Glee season is over, because they aren’t going on to any other rounds of competition, but I don’t think anyone ever said that the school year was over then as well.

    4. That’s assuming Puck & Quinn have any idea what happened to their baby after she was born. I highly doubt that they do.

    5. Perhaps true, but given how many fire-able offenses Sue’s gotten away with, it’s rather moot to point that out over one such offense on Will’s part, the subject/victim/focus of most of her offenses.


  11. Kater #

    I’ve heard good things about Skins–and could follow along on Netflix! I’d vote for that. :)


  12. Matthew Wrather #

    It looks like we’re doing SKINS over the summer.

    It’s available on Netflix instant streaming (less than $10/month), or if you have a well-stocked independent video rental store in your town.

    We’re recording the first episode at the end of this week; it should be posted by the weekend.


  13. Timothy J Swann #

    I loved the first series of Skins, essentially because I saw Tony as attempting to be the Ubermensch. This greatly improved my experience of the show… (and isn’t entirely unfounded, he is reading Beyond Good and Evil, I think).


  14. Sheely #

    Let’s tentatively aim to cover two episodes per week (although I’m already 2/3 of the way through the fist series, so I imagine we won’t be able to resist jumping ahead a bit).

    Also, for the record, Chris dies.

    On the Syllabus for this week- Series 1, Episodes 1&@: “Tony” and “Cassie”.


  15. Megan from Lombard #

    After watching the episode and then listening to the podcast, I have to agree with the fact that Vocal Adrenaline deserved to win because of their performance. Also it was pretty obvious as to how the judges were going to vote based on their comments during that scene.

    Also I think that Schuester telling the club to take the summer off is going to hurt them next season since they could be spending that time nailing down a set and practicing it so they could beat Vocal Adrenaline when Sectionals and Regionals come around again.

    They’ve never mentioned or said anything further about Finn getting kicked out of the house. I’m assuming that they’ll bring that back up some time next season since it was a pretty heavy moment and even Kurt’s father said that it might ruin his relationship with Finn’s mother.


  16. Gab #

    If you’re going to go that route, “Clueless.”

    Would you expect students to read the original source material?


  17. paulbd #

    So how many episodes of Skins do I need to watch before the podcast?


  18. Matthew Wrather #

    The plan is to cover 2 episodes of Skins per episode of TFT. So if you watch Series 1, Episodes 1 and 2, you’ll be ready for this weekend’s TFT.

    @Gab — I thought the assumption was that Clueless was an adaptation of Emma.

    OF COURSE you’ll have to re-read Othello, Twelfth Night, etc. when we cover them. What do you think this is, college? ;)


  19. Gab #

    It is, so it’s an adaption of a classic (“that route”). And I love it. A lot. Probably too much. Ahem. Granted, reading _Emma_ may be more tedious (for some) than reading a Shakespeare play, but one could always watch the two movies and compare if.

    Will we get extra credit for direct quotes? ;p


  20. cat #


    1) It was one of only a few obvious scenarios that could have taken place after a certain point in the episode and a lot of people saw it coming. Still, I found it…easy? It felt a little lazy though understandable. It made me think of Jordan’s disappointment at them making Sue just another older female character who is unfulfilled or as in the Madonna episode, has built her identity around an icon. I hope the Glee writers aren’t getting the Gossip Girl syndrome of using certain characters (Blair, Jenny) as devices and not people so they constantly regress despite moments of development and their personalities shift to suit the situation.

    4) I didn’t think they should have asked Rachel but I thought that Quinn had already arranged for someone to adopt the baby (not Rachel’s mom) and so her quickly handing over the baby without any issue struck me as odd.

    6) I agree with Belinkie on this. I didn’t expect them to win in a grand, sweeping sort of wish fulfillment way but while the performances were not terrible it seemed like a bad choice to go into the competition with those songs especially given what we’ve seen over the course of the show.

    I don’t know if this relates to some of Jordan’s posts about how “real” sequences are i.e. Crazy Awesome Sex Montage and Take a Bow, and the Kristin/Chris duet/reprise…perhaps a lot of the more spectacular numbers (like those from the Lady Gaga episode) are meant to reflect a quasi-reality. That is, the audience knows these actors are capable of performing at a very high level, but some of the numbers during the course of the show have been showing an almost imagined greatness. We are seeing them as they think they perform. Because the songs are so often tied into their emotions or what is happening during the episode, they’re supposed to be a poignant reflection of what they’re feeling and not necessarily what the performance is actually like.
    The other option is that Will is bad at picking songs for competition. This could be true as, if I remember correctly, they threw out all of his song choices and went with their own to even qualify for this level.


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