Nobody can accuse this week’s installment of Glee of taking it slow in the plot-development department. The parallel elections — for senior-class president and Congressional seat — got wrapped. Santana came bursting out of the flannel closet. One couple consummated their relationship, one love triangle got a little heated, and one member of New Directions got suspended by Principal Figgins. They barely had time for the Irish kid!
Of course, if you got distracted by the unbearable unsightliness of Kurt’s gray turtleneck poncho or his asymmetrical cream-colored turtleneck half-sweater and missed some of the major story arcs, allow me to catch you up — in the classic “here’s what you missed on Glee” format:
Things kicked off with Santana in Principal Figgins’ office, facing suspension for walloping Finn in the face at the end of last week’s episode. Figgins didn’t buy Santana’s tale of an alter-ego named Snix taking control of her slappin’ hand, but Finn changed his tune and declared Santana’s innocence — provided she bring her Troubletones colleagues to a pre-Sectionals powow. There, Finn tasked the members of McKinley’s competing show choirs with an assignment to cover music “by ladies and for ladies” as a way of showing support for Santana coming out as a lesbian.
At first, Santana resisted her friends’ supportive gestures, but Finn persisted in his efforts to get through to the girl who took his virginity, telling her he feared the anger she directed at those around her would eventually get directed at herself and result in suicide. “You mean something to me,” said Finn, and even though I wish the writers had done a better job in explaining his resolve — a line or two about Finn seeing the world through the eyes of his gay stepbrother would’ve probably sufficed, or perhaps Finn admitting he felt bad for his part in outing Santana and making her vulnerable to that absurd campaign ad — I still bought his sudden display of empathy. By episode’s end, Santana had come out at school and to her parents (with positive results), but — in a scene that proved Naya Rivera’s got dramatic chops on par with her ability to drop pithy punchlines — was tossed out of her grandmother’s house for sharing her secret (a statement still somewhat short of total self-acceptance: “I love girls the way that I’m supposed to feel about boys.”) Santana ended the episode on a positive note, explaining that “the struggle continues, but at least I know I’m not alone.”
Meanwhile, Sue (remember when she used to be funny?) fretted that her unscrupulous campaign opponent — who was outing Santana purely for the chance at short-term political gain — was raising the specter that she, too, might be a lesbian. So what better way to change public perception than by going to one’s little black book and ordering up “20 CCs of man-candy, stat”? After flipping past Dan Quayle (“too needy”), Oliver North (“biter”), and Matt Lauer (“too much crying”), Sue settled on the man who was making Beiste’s quadriceps quiver and heart palpatate: Cooter Menkins. Game on, ladies! Sue mocked Beiste for being a client of “the John Travolta Institute for Head-Thickening and Facial Weight Gain,” but eventually Beiste fought back, telling Cooter that, “If I had to bench-press a wildebeest just to prove to you how much you mean to me, I would do it.” I’m #TeamBeiste — always — and I’m hoping the writers will be, too. (FYI, Sue wound up finishing last in the election, and Burt Hummel got the win.)
Sue and Beiste weren’t the only McKinley staffers involved in romantic intrigue. Shelby foolishly summoned Puck to the hospital to comfort her after Baby Beth cut her lip, and when they returned home, the single mom with the full-time job somehow summoned the energy to go to bed with the teenager who noted Shelby was welcome to sample “four more hours of me before I need a steak sandwich and a Coke Zero.” I hate the idea of Shelby being so needy and insecure that she can’t handle a simple trip to the ER with her daughter, and I hate the fact that the writers have taken her past the act of dangerous flirtation and into the unredeemable territory of sex with a student. But, since they’ve gone there, Puck’s obvious-to-everyone lusting, and later his petulant anger when Shelby declared their tryst a mistake, seemed mighty realistic.
I’m not so sure, however, that I’d buy him being dumb enough to confess the affair to Quinn, of all people. I mean, earlier in the episode he’d rejected her advances and called her the most selfish person he’d ever met. Then he’d fended off her demands to impregnate her. Yet seconds later he’s spooning this loon and confessing his darkest secrets to her? Maybe the writers should’ve had Puck drinking heavily beforehand — to chip away at his guard and make it a little less implausible that he’d go all “I need to tell you something.”
And finally, also from the Department of Bad Decisions, Rachel stuffed the ballot boxes for senior class president with votes for Kurt Hummel, but in her typical zeal, added more fake votes than there were senior class members. (Who can blame a gal desperate not to move to NYC without her best gay? What if she required an emergency makeover or a souffle?) To save Kurt from punishment, Rachel confessed to her crime, got suspended for a week by Figgins, and was banned from sectionals. Le gasp!
And that’s what you missed on Glee!
Now, with that out of the way, let’s run through the episode’s five best lines of dialogue/zingers:
5) “This is between me and Brian Dennehy.” –Sue, telling Cooter to step aside and allow her to settle her beef with Beiste
4) Santana’s use of the phrase “gel-ervention” to take a potshot at Blaine’s hair.
3) “My quadriceps have been trembling like jelly all day. Cooter really pushed me to my limit last night!” –Beiste, innocuously dropping a double-entendre about her weightlifting session with Cooter
2) “I’m trying, but your hideous bowties are provoking me.” –Santana, throwing more shade at Kurt and Blaine and their 1-800-TOO-MUCH fashion choices
1) “I haven’t been this worried about a vote since Lambert Vs. Allen.” –Rachel, agonizing over the election for senior class president
And with that, let’s assign some grades for the week’s musical numbers…
“F***in Perfect,” Kurt and Blaine
I wasn’t sure how much I was (or wasn’t) enjoying the opening third of this ditty, but it really picked up steam as it went along — and I’m not sure I’ve witnessed so much glee in the New Directions room all season. Santana’s subsequent comment that the performance had to be added to the list of horrible crap she’s been through this year rang a little false, though, didn’t it?
Musical grade: B+ Relevance to the plot: B+
“I’m the Only One,” Puck
I bought Puck’s high-school boy obviousness and Shelby’s front-and-center discomfort, but I wish for once that Puck would get to do a mashup or an interesting arrangement or something that wasn’t all about coloring within the lines of the original. Then again, maybe I just loathe the Puck-Shelby romance too much to get excited about anything associated with it?
Musical grade: C+ Relevance to the plot: B-
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Finn
Probably my favorite performance by Finn in the last two seasons. Yeah, sure, the introduction of a violinist was a silly way to signal “seriousness,” but Cory Monteith sounded terrific on this slowed-down, stripped-down rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s classic good-time anthem, and the intimacy of the staging — with Funn sitting backwards on a chair and delivering the song directly into a choked-up Santana — was beautiful. Bonus points for that sweet mid-performance smile between Finn and Rachel. (Note that I won’t gripe that Finn could’ve picked something lyrically more relevant to the cause.)
Musical grade: A Relevance to the plot: A
Okay, so maybe Beiste isn’t the strongest vocalist in the Glee universe, but it was a killer use of Dolly Parton, and I was moved by our Fortysomething-Year-Old Virgin’s plight.
Musical grade: A- Relevance to the plot: A
“I Kissed a Girl,” Santana, Rachel, and the ladies of New Directions and the Troubletones
And thus, Glee continues its quest to cover the entire Katy Perry songbook. Uff da. But even as someone who’s never thoroughly enjoyed this ode to a brief, Sapphic experiment, it was nice to see all of the female characters united for a good cause — and crushing the gross bravado of the sophomore rugby captain in the process.
Musical grade: B+ Relevance to the plot: A-
“Constant Craving,” Santana (with Shelby and Kurt)
Gorgeous and totally relevant, too. Though a tiny part of me wished that Santana hadn’t had to share her lead vocal. Is it only me?
Musical grade: A- Relevance to the plot: A-
What did you think of this week’s Glee? Which plot points made you happy, and which had you looking for a rewrite? What was your favorite musical number? Take our poll below, then hit the comments and argue your points. And for all my Glee recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!