Glee Recap: "Props"
The interesting writing for this episode begins, oddly enough, during Ian's intro. These nimrods finally figured something out. They've been trolling our chat rooms, our tumblrs, our forums, and it finally hit them. They've REALLY shafted Tina. She's one of the Original Five, faithful member of the Glee Club for three years. Her solos get interrupted, her clothing changes are ignored, and she can't even get a thank you for saving Mike's college ass. They don't know her name... so for one day this year... all eyes are on Tina. This is it. This is your episode, Tina. It's the only one, because we will be wallowing waist deep in Rachelness again before you know it. But this one's for Tina! Enjoy! And we'll try to make sure it does not get interrupted!
So of course, we will begin Tina's Own Episode by focusing on Mercedes and Kurt, because you know, they never get any attention. Sue's got them in her office, and she's on the warpath... It appears that Kurtcedes, who have obviously renewed their neglected friendship because RIB have been reading all the online bitching about it, have created a monster. Unique is on the cover of Show Choir Monthly, basking in the adulation of the crowd. Jesse St. James has been hailed as a visionary, and Vocal Adrenaline are now considered champions of diversity, even though they live in Ohio. Obviously, Ohio isn't really all that bad. It really is JUST McKinley that is a ravaging cesspool of hatred and suck. Mercedes and Kurt, possibly slightly proud of their transgendered girl, point out that Jesse was not in favor of Unique at first. No, no, THEY created this flaming star who sings and dances for the other team. THEY did this. Yes, Kurtcedes. She knows this, and she's got quite the punishment up her sleeve for Kurt.
Sue is concerned that Unique will trounce New Directions at Nationals, and Sue will lose the Cheerios forever to Roz. Therefore, they must fight flaming with flaming. Then she pulls it out... a flapper dress. Size Kurt. OK, Kurt. You've been begging for a competition solo forever. So have your fans. You've auditioned and auditioned. We've tweeted and tweeted. Now, here it is. The one chance. Your one shot. You will perform at Nationals, yes... wearing this dress. Your stage name is now Porcelina. You walk like a lady, you sing like a lady, now you will dress like a lady, because there is absolutely no difference in the world whatsoever between a gay boy who self-identifies as male and a transgender one who self-identifies as female.
This is, for the record, the second time faculty at McKinley have tried to do this to Kurt. The first time, Will congratulated himself roundly for offering Kurt a rare chance to play the lead as Frankenfurter in Rocky Horror. Kurt hated that idea as much as he hates this, and probably for the same reason; McKinley kids once saw him in a kilt, a man's skirt, and rose up in hatred to humiliate him. He simply cannot dress as a woman for a school event. It's just too costly for him, and he does not want to do it.
Wait... didn't he wear a dress at Halloween? Is that... is that... Oh, hell, yes. Snooki Hummel and The Situation Anderson went Trick-or - Treating this school year. Bada - BING! And looking prettier than her, I might add, Chris. (Aren't these two boys a bit old for this?)
But Kurt feels that a Halloween costume worn in the anonymity of night isn't quite the same as strutting the Nationals stage in a dress. He won't do it. Sue delivers the ultimatum. If they want to beat Vocal Adrenaline, Kurt needs to embrace his feminine side, and it does not matter whether he's comfortable with this or not.
But enough of that nonsense. This is Tina's episode! It's time for her to shine! So lets go onward to a lovely, feminine bedroom with artist books and a feminine hand that inscribes a dream: NYADA is my dest... wait a minute. That's not Tina. Oh, hi, Rachel. Why are you in Tina's episode? Oh, I see. You've regained your rampaging and devouring ambition that tramples everybody else. Did Prom Queen do that for you? Well, good, because you are far less insipid this way and I am glad to see you wanting things of substance again. I see that her dressing table holds a picture of her as Maria with Blaine. Yes, she still likes being a star, and now she's going to sing about it. Yes, Tina's episode begins with a Rachel solo.
She's not going to give up! Maybe she can put that "Dream" poster back up. She ends this song in the auditorium, and picks up her phone to call Carmen Thibodeaux. Wait... how did she get Carmen's number? Does a really famous woman like this just give that out to every crazed diva who wants a second chance? She gets Carmen's answering machine, and leaves a message. Oh, wait... she's actually left 14 messages. Yes, that is a lot. Carmen may reconsider letting people have that number. Rachel has also sent her a muffin basket, and an invitation to see New Directions perform at Nationals. She's planning on winning the MVP award... she'd like Carmen to see her win that, so that Carmen will see that she's really genuinely talented. Of course, by now Carmen's probably decided that she's really, genuinely crazy, but Rachel's not ready to give up on her dream.
And now we are in the choir room. We have a shot at Tina... does that mean they will finally talk about her? Well, it's back to Will, as he writes "Nationals" on the board. You see, Nationals is about a broadcast hour away, so it's time for them to begin rehearsing for it. They will be singing Paradise by the Dashboard Light, and then Rachel gets yet another solo. She's singing "It's All Coming Back to Me" and Tina looks very sad. Then, the Troubletones will take the stage with Porcelina in the forefront...
"Not gonna happen, Dragon Lady" says Kurt.
"Oh, you'll do as you're told, he/she" says Sue, who still doesn't understand the difference between being a little swishy and being transgender. Sue does not know she's being offensive. Do the writers? I am not sure. She wants the Troubletones to do What a Feeling from Flashdance with genuine authentic faux welding masks that might have been a little like the facegear she wore in the movie. Sam uses it to show Joe his Inner Darth Vader, but unfortunately, Joe does not know who Darth Vader is. Joe does not know what a Star Wars is. Joe may not know what a movie is. Sue thinks props and Porcelina will win Nationals, and Blaine, the guy with the bow ties, thinks props are cheesy.
Will reminds them that they are underdogs. Well, actually, since the are going to Nationals for the second consecutive year, that's ridiculous, but this is Glee so we let it slide. They have one last week to learn these songs, choreograph them, put together the costumes, figure out the props, and talk Kurt into what he evidently feels is the biggest humiliation of his life... I guess they didn't learn that much from last year's underrehearsed fiasco anyway. if there's anybody in there who is not up for trying and working their butts off... just get up and leave.
Everybody is frozen in shock. "You don't need me! Carry on!"
But Rachel needs this... no, Rachel needs to get into NYADA. Tina does not think that Rachel's blown audition is everybody else's problem. Maybe somebody else would like a solo! Mike is horrified. He thinks that Rachel is entitled to this solo because she is a senior... of course, Rachel was entitled to this when she was a sophomore at sectionals... when she was a sophomore at Regionals... when she was a junior at Regionals... when she was a junior at Nationals.. when she was a senior at Regionals... Will thinks Tina is very important. She's in charge of costumes. Tina feels like a human prop, which I think is stunningly accurate, and her NAME IS TINA, Sue. Yes, she's the one who used to pretend to stttttttutter.
Mike will not win any awards for Boyfriend of the week this episode. He chases his beloved out of the choir room, not to comfort her or encourage her, but to scold her. Mike thinks Tina is being selfish. Tina wonders why Rachel's constant demand for solos is "claiming her stardom"; Tina's sudden demand is selfish. Mike thinks it's because Tina's younger than Rachel; it's the senior's moment to shine. That argument is unbelievably weak for so many reasons I don't know where to start, so I will probably end up pointing it out throughout in various spots throughout the next two recaps. This did NOT end up being the "the seniors" moment to shine in the slightest, and I've actually quite a beef about that. For now, I'll just say again that Rachel's had her moment to shine repeatedly with only two notable exceptions in the past three years, so Tina's got a point. She's making her point in the worst possible way at the very last moment, but she's certainly got a point. Mike finishes scolding his hurting girlfriend and backs away. Bop to the head to you, sir.
Now it's Rachel's turn to browbeat Tina, and she's actually marginally nicer about it. She's talking as fast as I've ever seen her do, and she thinks Tina's timing is rotten - because it is - but Rachel either realizes Tina has a point or just thinks she'll hush if she's mollified. So Rachel offers her fifty bucks to shut up. That gets the sullen glare it deserves. Rachel explains that she gets a NYADA audition do-over if Carmen happens to see it, which means she is making Will center the last performance for every senior in New Directions around her on the off chance that a second chance she has not really earned might happen. It would be different if they knew for sure that Carmen was going to be at Nationals anyway for other reasons, but Carmen has no reason to be there and Rachel is not giving her a good one.
"Our part is to make YOU look good" says Tina. Well, of course, kid, and it has been so for three years. Tina felt she has been overlooked for three years in the shadows while everybody else was singing solos. She is tired of being silent, because she was one of the Original Five, who sang "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" while Finn and Puck threw slushies at them.
Well, someone tell me, when is it my turn? Don't I get a dream for myself? Starting now it's gonna be my turn. Gangway, world, get off of my runway!
This is Tina's sentiment.... but she is not the person who sang that song. This is one of the other glaring problems with this episode, which I will get to a little later. See, in terms of competition solos only, Tina does not have the worst situation. Tina actually did get her big moment to shine during ABC at Sectionals, and she did a fine job.
Rachel's response is to say that the weird isolation and lack of leisure caused by her own aggressive Type A personality is some kind of cross to bear that Tina must pity. I don't think Rachel's obsessive interest in show tunes, coupled with heading a bunch of meaningless clubs and putting out for Finn, is a burden that becomes Tina's problem. But Rachel does think Tina should wait until next year... which is when Harmony and Unique and all the new characters from the Glee Project will arrive and shove Tina to the side again. Rachel will continue her steady stream of solos from New York. C'mon, you know that.
Tina wants one solo, one moment to stand on that stage, and sing without being interrupted, and get that standing ovation. Apparently, ABC has never existed for her.
Blaine and Kurt are hanging out in massage chairs at the mall, eating ice cream cones. Blaine is being a better boyfriend than Mike; he thinks Kurt should not have to dress in drag if he is not comfortable with it. Mike is being a jerk via text message as Tina steps off the escalator with arms insanely full of the cloth that will be all the dresses for New Directions in a manner of minutes; apparently Tina doubles as a one-woman Asian dressmaking sweatshop. This is actually disturbing. Tina rants at them, and Kurt, who does not know quite how to help, puts on his friendliest, most supportive voice and invites her to join them for hot pretzels. Maybe Kurt should be Tina's boyfriend. Maybe that crosses her mind.
Mike texts to inform Tina that Rachel is one of a kind. Mike's a jerk. So, Tina angrily texts and walks... straight into the fountain. BONK! What happens next... is the one of the best things Glee has done all year.
Blaine and Kurt rush worriedly to her rescue, but as they pull her up from possible drowning, their faces change. It's not Kurt now, it's Finn. It's not Blaine, it's Puck... but he has a nice head of hair, and he's wearing a bow tie. Tina's own clothes have changed dramatically.
Puck in the bow tie asks if she can hear him; Finn in the fancy clothes says "It's me, Kurt." They are both calling her "Rachel." Mark-as-Blaine is worried; he thinks Rachel hit her head. Cory-as-Kurt wants to take her back to Glee Club; he should be taking her to the mall first aid station. Mark/Blaine thinks the priority is not to tend to her injured head, but to prepare her for her solo.. the character played by Jenna looks down at her ridiculous, dripping wet outfit, and realizes she's become Rachel.
Fortunately, since this is a dream sequence, Jenna/Rachel is completely dry within seconds and they find themselves back at McKinley. Cory/Kurt needs Jenna/Rachel's input on sheet music at Between the Sheets. That prompts a bitter little snipe from Mark/Blaine about Chandler, and Jenna/Rachel leaves them to argue.
I find this a little intriguing. This is happening in Tina's head. She saw Blaine break up with Kurt about Chandler, but did not see how they got back together. Does this scene indicate:
1. That Tina does not understand what that argument was really about, and still thinks there may be lingering animosity?
2. That Tina has actually observed lingering animosity?
At any rate, it does not matter because she's now being confronted by Artie, who is suddenly able to walk and has become a member of the Cheerios. Nope, sorry, it's Kevin/Santana, doing an almost DEAD ON, fabulous impression as he... er, she... uh... hopes Rachel does not choke on her solo like she did at NYADA. Immediately, Heather/Mercedes wheels up Naya/Artie, and Naya/Artie fervently tells Jenna/Rachel that he hopes she sings well, because winning Nationals is the most important that will ever happen to him, ever. Oh, Naya/Artie, I hope you have bigger dreams for yourself than that. Heather/Mercedes just says "Praise." I suspect that is all Heather could possibly handle for this assignment.
Amber/Brittney comes up to tell Jenna/Rachel that she needs to bail Lord Tubbington out of jail; he tried to sell her Ipod for drugs. That's some cat. This recap does not begin to do any of these switches justice, and there's no way it can. This is rapid-fire, hysterically funny, season - one quality Glee.
Ah... Lea/Tina arrives, slouching and depressed. Lea/Tina begins by putting herself down, and asks The Great Rachel Berry for pointers... until stopped by... and this is terrific... Matt/Sue, owning that unisex athletic suit like a bitch and managing to walk like a lady while insulting like a Sue. Matt did a GREAT job here. Jane/Will does herself proud in a natty sweater vest, calling Matt/Sue racist... And now the visual jokes are flying with delightful speed. There's perky Dianne/Sugar, a very tired and bored Darren/Mark - Darren in a mohawk! And then... ah, there he is, Jenna/Rachel's own true love... Chris/Finn, in a classic Finn slouch with a checkered shirt, looking at Jenna/Rachel as if she was the most beautiful thing in the world.
Ah, every straight girl wants Kurt to somehow be her boyfriend at some point or another.
Jenna/Rachel is not quite ready for the solo, and wants to think about it, but Chris/Finn, being a much better boyfriend than Harry/Mike, wants to give her a pep talk. He murmurs a few gentle, supportive words to her; he thinks she's best when under pressure. Now, Jenna/Rachel... show us how you, TINA, are going to win us Nationals. Oh, and then let's make out. Your boobs are bigger.
OK, if there are any Turt shippers out there, this one was for you.
A few more sight gags: Samuel/Mike is dating Lea/Tina. Harry/Joe, in resplendent dreadlocks, hangs with Damian/Sam, about to fall asleep. Chord/Rory sits in the background. I mention these now to get all this terrifically funny visual stuff, which I cannot describe well in words out of the way before I discuss this solo.
Jenna/Rachel, also known as Tina, gathers her courage and thinks of the song she wants to sing. Since this is a dream sequence, it's OK that she knows it instantly. And then... Jenna Ushkowitz begins to sing.
I understand that the writers of Glee basically did this as a much better version of Night of Neglect; they are giving Jenna her due. They are also permanently indicting themselves for underusing this girl, because her version of "Because You Loved Me" is EXQUISITE. It's as good as anything Lea does routinely, and better than a lot of what Naya and Darren do ad nauseum. Hey, RIB... variety is the spice of life, here. You really should have been splitting up all these solos a little more evenly this year, and Jenna is not the only one who got royally and horribly shafted. Itunes should not be the sole driving force of this show. Just saying.
Dianna/Sugar is loving it; she raises her hands in appreciation as she snuggles with Chord/Rory, Tina - for that is after all, the character Jenna is really playing - sings her heart out in the auditorium as supportive boyfriend Kurt - uh, Chris/Finn looks on with pride and Darren/Puck nearly goes to sleep. OK, they need to give Darren more comedy. This is CLEARLY his strong suit.
Tina's solo is having a magic effect on her crowd. The two Cheerios canoodle and flirt as Artie/Mercedes shippers finally get their moment, and we finally discover the circumstances under which Blaine and Kurt are allowed to show affection to each other: when it's Mark and Cory playing them, and it comes across as funny rather than tender.
Jenna does a rather wonderful job of aping some of Lea's singing quirks, by the way.
New Directions gives Jenna/Rachel the standing ovation that Tina claims as her own, and all of a sudden, she's all better. She goes to give Lea/Tina some kind words for singing backup, and promises her that Season Four will be Tina's chance to shine. I will believe that when I see it, although this episode gives me a lot more faith that there might actually be something there worth showcasing. Jenna's acting is still only OK, but that's true of every single person who is staying at McKinley except, increasingly, Kevin, so who knows?
Lea/Tina encourages Jenna/Rachel to find some way to change Carmen's mind... stalk her, if need be. Yes, stalking people always makes them want to see more of you. Lea/Tina tells Jenna/Rachel that by supporting her, she helps everybody in the group, and with that bit of Rachel worship out of the way, we are back at the fountain. Blaine and Kurt are again fishing Tina out of the fountain, and Kurt, played by Chris Colfer, is concerned about the very expensive, very wet fabric that is still in the water. Jenna is Tina, and Tina is feeling very much better now, thank you.
Report card for the actors involved in the body switch:
Some folks did very little. All they had to do was sit in somebody else's outfit. All passed, and were at least minimally funny. I suspect the weaker actors of the show were given the characters that did less for a reason.
Heather as Mercedes - barely acceptable. Only the wig was convincing, and the fact that they only gave her one line.
Amber as Brittany - better. Good deadpan delivery, and I actually understood her. Maybe the fact that Brittany could be understood today is actually a criticism of Amber's delivery.
Naya as Artie - OK. Not notable either way, except that the concept was hysterical.
Kevin as Santana - WONDERFUL. Spot on, and immensely funny.
Samuel as Mike - just kind of there. Nice hat. Hides the dreadlocks, surely. I suspect they just couldn't let him do anything else because of that hair.
Harry as Joe - really quite funny. Good hair stroking action from Harry.
Damian as Sam - Has the sleeping in class nailed. Surprisingly effective.
Chord as Rory - Just kind of there.
Dianna as Sugar - nailed it. Terrific. Spot on.
Vanessa as Quinn - did almost nothing at all.
Darren as Puck - Managed to steal a huge amount of focus while sitting dead still and yawning. Very nicely done.
Mark as Blaine - REALLY much better than I was expecting. I thought the mannerisms were great.
Matt as Sue - Brilliant. A real joy to see.
Jane as Will - Very good, although not quite as flashy in its effectiveness.
Cory as Kurt - Really quite disappointing. I was surprised. Maybe Cory was afraid of insulting Chris by owning the effeminacy too much. I have to give him credit for not going overboard in making Kurt too swishy, because that is a delicate line even Chris occasionally crosses.
Chris as Finn - Terrific. Mannerisms dead on.
Lea as Tina - Wonderful. One of the few times I actually completely bought into the body switch and went with it at an emotional level.
Jenna as Rachel... Since she was actually Jenna as Tina as Rachel, because she was always Tina the bodysnatcher, this is in a different league. I really enjoyed the whole thing. Jenna, take a bow.
We are back in the rehearsal space, and Sue Sylvester, champion cheerleading coach, is royally wasting everybody's time with a cumbersome Flashdance routine featuring masks that make it impossible for these marginal dancers to see through. Sparks are flying, and so are tempers. The kids just can't do it... because they aren't, you know, robots who can navigate flying sparks without fear. The horror has Jennifer Beals spinning in her grave, some time in the next fifty years or so. Mike can't see through the helmet. Brittany mumbles something unintelligible and I just don't care anymore. Blaine thinks it might be illegal. He might be right. Sam thinks they should unionize. Even Will sees that this is not going to work. Sue sneers and insults, as is her wont, and then asks her favorite little brilliant potential cross - dresser (never gonna happen, Dragon Lady) what he thinks, because she's still kind of fond of Kurt even if she's trying to violate his civil rights. Kurt puts down his size ten men's shoe and declares that he will NOT appear in drag... but he is willing to perform a different service for the team.
Mercedes, Santana, and Brittany burst into the teacher's lounge, quite intent on minding Beiste's business for her. They cite prohibitions that prevent discrimination against blacks, lesbians and really stupid people who can't deliver effective one-liners because they mumble too much, and demand to stay so they can harass a teacher. OK, why does anybody want to work at McKinley? Shannon is NOT happy to see them as she munches on her woes and her chicken, because they appear to think they have the right to tell her how to lead her life. (I REALLY wish Will had been the one to have this conversation with her - or even Sue. These kids should not have the right to badger her.) They saw the ring. They know she's been hanging out with her husband. For shame, for shame.
Ah, but Shannon thinks people deserve second chances... and certainly this is a conflicted episode, because there will be more than one undeserved second chance in this episode, and we are supposed to feel good about the other two, but disgusted about this one. I am in for one out of three, myself. Shannon says she's given Cooter an ultimatum, but it's not quite true. What she has given up is empty words as Cooter's verbal abuse flies and Shannon holds a huge butcher knife near the sink. He had it coming. He had it coming. He only had himself to blame. If you had been there, if you had seen it, I betcha you would have done the same.
Mercedes knows people can't change that fast. Well, actually, they can, (Sebastian Smythe) if it serves the script of the moment. Brittany does not wear underwear. I did not need to know that. THIS one, I understood. Santana tries a much wiser tactic and suggests that Beiste goes with them to Nationals, but she makes her excuses... I don't think even Shannon can body slam the Fridge.
Special Agent Hummel, taking a major in NYADA Countertenor excellence and a minor in espionage, addresses the other Glee club members in the locker room where they have gathered to watch the video he shot of a Vocal Adrenaline rehearsal. Nice detective outfit, Sherlock. It's in ever so artistically pretentious black and white - that Prince feller would approve - and we discover that VA dances better than ND. No kidding. This has always been true, probably because VA is made almost entirely of professional dancers and studio musicians, and ND is entirely made up of people who must sometimes attempt to inhabit a character, with varying success. VA can do the Human Centipede. I would like to see Finn and Rachel try this. No, I would not, I do not wish broken necks on either of them. Maybe Mike and Brittany could just to it over and over and over... Blaine wants to try it. Gee, I wonder who his partner would be. Bet they could manage it.
Oh, and they also have Unique, who is pretty darned impressive. Actually, what I think Unique really is, is a person with male parts who sings almost exactly as well as Mercedes does. The only thing that keeps her from being Unique is her plumbing. Finn thinks Rachel is their Unique factor, but since, as we saw earlier this year, there are other girls (Harmony) who do Rachel as well as Rachel does (Sunshine, who I guess graduated) , this is not even close. Every show choir in the country has a little girl with a big... VOICE, Sue. And yes, you are right. It appears that there are two other girls in Rachel's own choir who actually sing every bit as well as she does.
Sue does make a good point. Unique is unique really only because she's a gimmick. If she had female parts, she'd be Mercedes. Puck asks if they really need a guy to dress in drag to win... his brain is perking, here... but Will says no. Sue says yes.
In the next scene, we see Rachel do something that I guess actually ends a lively debate. She is very painstakingly rehearsing her vocal runs and basic technique. She tells Tina that she let herself get overconfident before the NYADA audition, and now she's rehearsing very diligently... so it is indeed possible that Rachel did not really rehearse as much as she should have before her NYADA audition. Maybe she thought she knew the song so well she did not need a refresher. Rachel has stopped harassing Carmen; she knows she can't change her mind. Tina then babbles about the body swapping dream as if Rachel had read the script; and Rachel thinks her brains may still be a tad scrambled, but the upshot is that Lea/Tina told Jenna/Rachel not to take no for an answer, which means that real Rachel advised dream Rachel and she was basically talking to herself; Tina was just a... prop. Or a transmitter, or something. Only from the mind of Ian Brennan.
And... Oh, goody. Tina, who has shown herself quite good at espionage before -she could go into business with Kurt - has found new and improved ways to stalk Carmen Thibodeaux, harass her, and waste her time. It appears the professor just happens to be teaching a master class not too far away... how about that convenient coincidence! If they drive really fast right now, they can stalk her in person! She'll be SO impressed and happy to see them! Not creeped out at all!
Why would Tina do this for Rachel? So that Rachel will leave the state, of course, and give Tina a chance to be the lead. Poor Tina does not realize that we are doing a split narrative next year and Rachel will still be the lead. Oh, and Unique's joining New Directions. Go sway, Tina. Rachel is, for a moment, sorry she pushed Tina aside, and Tina admits that the only part she's fit to play is supporter to Rachel Berry. Rachel tells Tina that next year she'll be the lead female in ND... (unless Harmony shows up. )
Sue announces that since Porcelain refuses to be a team player and dress up like a girl, he will graduate from McKinley as the only original member of New Directions who has never had a competition lead vocal while representing McKinley, and we are all supposed to be fine with that and agree that it was fair. Hey, Mr. NYADA finalist, almost certain to get into the most prestigious fake school in the country, how does it feel to know that nobody at McKinley will give you center stage - EVER - unless you wear a dress? (Finn took most of his song away from him during Rocky Horror because he would not play Frankie, too.) That piece of crashing, screaming injustice deftly swept under the rug, Sue goes on to announce a need for more human props; she's ordered eighteen little people, and I want to know how that even works and if it's legal. Will can smell the lawsuits coming a mile away and finally develops a backbone. He thinks they should try to work on their dancing....
And in comes a vision of inner beauty.
His name was Lola, he was a showgirl,
A tacky blonde wig way up there
Still sprouting lots of body hair
Yes this is Noah,
Prepared to help out...
We appreciate his passion, but he can't wear these fashions
At the Copa...
(Don't fall in love... Don't fall in love.)
Santana is strangely turned on. This is where past and present meet - Puck pretending to be a girl. Sue thinks he's ugly enough to be related to Beiste... Puck feels he has the balls to put them over the top. Nice slam against Kurt, Puck. In a minute you will understand why he won't do this. Will goes bug - eyed. He refuses to continue with the prop nonsense. They will work on choreography, and that is final. Puck heads out, dejected, and steps officially into the world Kurt Hummel inhabits full - time.
The first one to approach him is Rick the Stick. See, Rick the Stick remembers Puck as he was in the good old days. Puck the cruel. Puck the cool. Puck, who officially introduced us to the time-honored tradition of stuffing a terrified sissy into the dumpster as he screams, "Someday you all will work for me!" But that Puck is gone. He's developed a conscience and a few genuine friendships. So today, he did what that terrified sissy knew better than to attempt. He came to school in a dress, intent on helping his glee club. Puck tries to bluff his way out by calling Rick a loser, but they've got his number.
Rick is going to Ohio State to play hockey. He has a future. Puck, who will not graduate, does not.
Remember Saturday Night Glee-ver? It was just a few episodes ago. Will was oh, so incredibly worried about three seniors in his club. He feared for Mercedes, who had been accepted to several colleges. He feared for Finn, who was being offered a place in the family business. He feared for Santana. He was willing to rig a contest to do an intervention for them... but he did not give a bundle of figs about Puck. This is why Will is not, and never should be, Teacher of the Year, and I don't care how many trophies he gets. Now Puck really does face the possibility of becoming the sad older guy in front of the 7 - 11 who flirts with the high school girls and buys kids beer so they will let him party.
And that's how the fight starts... but Rick remembers the almighty No Tolerance policy against violence, and agrees to meet Puck out in front of the dumpsters, because that's so much better.
In the car, Tina asks Rachel to update her on the wedding plans so that the Finchel fans don't fret too much. At the moment, Rachel wants to win Nationals, come home, and get married by a rabbi before they take off for New York, since she's totally going there. I think this is a terrible plan, narratively speaking, but maybe there will be more divine intervention. I would not dream of seeing another person get put in a wheelchair, but how about kidnapped and held for ransom? Quinn's had enough for now; I nominate Sugar, since Daddy is rich. Take one for the home team, sweetheart!
Rachel muses about Nationals, and about the lives of adults who find that reality creeps in as their dreams die. You are right; there are a lot of people out there like that. No, stop, that's too depressing. She's several decades too young for a middle-aged crisis. Carmen is going to say "Yes! She has to! Season Four won't work right unless she does! Rachel thanks Tina for her support, and Tina the serf asks a boon of her lady; may they please sing together just once?
OK, here it comes. Rumble at the dumpsters. It did not occur to Puck to:
2. Tell a teacher
3. Bring backup.
He's prepared to do this battle all alone as a crowd gathers to watch near the buses of this exemplary campus with the No Tolerance Policy. Trash talk commences... it includes a reference to Puck's dad, which really connects painfully. But when Rick insults the microbrew that Puck himself will not touch... Puck swings, and the fight is on. Puck is lucky that the other hockey players do not intervene, but Rick, who excels at organized sports, is a better fighter than he is. Soon Puck is bested and thrown in the dumpster... he has come full circle, although I think it would not gratify Kurt to see this. As the hockey players begin to chant "Loser!" Puck, beaten and bloodied, crawls out of the dumpster with a new plan. He's got... a blade, it appears, and now Rick is genuinely frightened and horrified.
OK, NOW the Beiste shows up. Great timing, Shannon. Get a look at his face before you jump to conclusions. She does, but I've got a pretty serious nit to pick here. Zero tolerance? Not only should Puck have been out, but Rick's college dreams should have just gone up in smoke for this hateful garbage. Detention for the audience. No, that Zero Tolerance Policy only exists for Santana, and only for blackmail purposes.
Puck is the only one she hauls into the locker room.... since she was one of the directors for West Side Story, she should know immediately that this was Bernardo's rubber blade. She wants to point out the consequences for his future - explusion, jail... but he has no future, so he does not care. In what is, without question, the best scene of Mark Salling's career, he screams his rage at his own helpless, hopeless situation. He feels like nothing. His mother does not care. His father is AWOL. Puck feels like he turned out as garbage.
This is the boy who clung to an affair with a teacher and the hope of raising a little girl... they were what he looked to as ways to avoid his encroaching doom. Congratulations, Puckerman. With this scene, in light of what has gone before, you now have, officially, the most logical, the most well-written, the most affecting character arc of the year. Better than Kurt, better than Rachel, miles better than Santana or Finn, and it almost certainly happened by accident. He breaks down in tears as Shannon embraces him... two people who feel they are garbage, but both deserve better. They are bad-asses, but they can be hurt.
This is turning into one of the best episodes of the past two years.
Carmen Thibodeux is experiencing a different kind of pain. She's teaching a master class to a kid with a very nice voice and very plodding phrasing. Too good to be an American Idol reject, too bad to make it out of Hollywood. The song is "Always True to You" from Kiss Me Kate, and I wanna hear Kurt do this now. We need some personality here. Carmen's critique is accurate, but perfunctory at best. However, she probably would have given this kid hours of her attention if she'd known that Rachel had physically tracked her down. SECURITY! SECURITY! Alas, no such luck. Carmen is much too patient about his. She actually lets Rachel get about ten words out, and she doesn't have them physically removed from the building. The last scene was real, raw, and brilliant. This is fanfiction level tripe, and the reason why it bothers me is that Ian clearly knows this should not be happening.
Carmen delivers the monologue that should end this conversation. Every time she spends dealing with Rachel's emails takes time away from somebody else. Why is she more entitled? Yes, YOU DO TAKE TIME AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE. Carmen's tired of it.
That should have been the end of this. Ian was absolutely, perfectly spot on with this right up to the exact instant Tina pipes up. Rachel's entire story has been one of gross entitlement for three years. It's canon as such. That's an OK story to tell, it's an interesting story, it's believable, and there's better ways to get Rachel to New York with Furt... eh, I prefer Kinn... than to have Carmen cave. But Tina charmes the lady by calling Rachel a pain in the ass, and then she says Rachel acts like she's entitled and better than anybody else because she's entitled and better than anybody else. She's entitled to it because she's got the focus and drive that vanishes in her first real audition, right. She has an off day and that decides her entire future?
YES, TINA. IN THIS BUSINESS, YES. Sometimes, indeed. Most of the kids from Glee are here because they had that one big break and they DIDN'T screw it up. Jenna Ushkowitz may have a checkered history on Glee, but she reportedly NAILED that big audition. Chris Colfer was NOBODY. He blew it out of the rafters and created Emmy nominations in a void meant to be peopled by an Indian named Raj.
Olympic athletes prepare for years, decades. They have that one bad day, and it's at Olympic trials? That's it. The dream is over. THAT'S THE WAY IT WORKS. And if Rachel can't recover from a single bad blow, a single blown audition, a single lost chance, then she really doesn't deserve to go to NYADA, because Kurt's been taking it on the chin for years and he never threw in the towel. The theater world is brutally cruel, and it takes no prisoners at all. Rachel cannot expect Carmen to bow down to her like Tina does. Camen should not be merely Rachel's prop.
There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for Carmen to give Rachel special consideration, except for bad writing. They didn't give her a safety school or an alternate plan, but next year is screwed unless they get her over there with Kurt and Finn. So they have to resort to this. Carmen will just happen to be singing at the Lyric Opera in Chicago at the same time as Nationals, so why doesn't she just drop her own busy schedule with her own career to come bail out her stalker? Because Rachel just wants it so very, very much, and she is therefore entitled to it.
"I think it's time for you and your friend to go."
That really should have been the end of this. Yes, Rachel can and should audition again next year. Carmen did have to audition four times to get into Julliard. But I bet she didn't stalk the professors and demand her multiple chances out of turn, all at once. This scene was actually very well done and well acted.... it was just completely, entirely, utterly wrong. I would have been much happier if:
1. Shelby was close friends with Carmen and called in a few favors. It's slimy, but it happens all the time. Hell, even Sue could have done that. She seems to know everybody famous who ever lived, including people from other centuries. I fully expect her to reveal her heated, passionate affair with Abraham Lincoln, which ended when he came briefly out of the closet and then married that lunatic Mary so he could go into politics.
2. Carmen had a protege' competing at Nationals. She was going to be there anyway, and would be peeking in on New Directions to see Kurt Hummel, one of the kids she's chosen for her inaugural class, do the big solo he's not going to get because he's not a team player and won't wear a dress. Turn that Kurt Hummel solo into a Hummelberry duet, and suddenly Carmen's got a logical reason to be there, Kurt gets his due, Rachel gets her second chance, and I can stop grumbling. This was an epic fail that really could have been avoided. If ANY kid in New Directions should have had the leverage with Carmen to get Rachel a second spot, it should have been Kurt, simply because... he had already impressed her and she had a reason to listen to him. This went to Tina merely because she's never had a storyline and it was her turn. This second chance was not deserved in this format.
OK, let's get back to something less infuriating. Shannon comes home to find that Hubby Dearest has some pizza waiting for her, the big romantic lug. And wine. With contrived needs of Season Four not on the line, Ian can write an honest script here, so Cooter begins with the same song and dance every abuser pulls out. He's sorry. He's so sorry. He's having a bad week. He won't ever do it again. Now, let's celebrate! ...... P..p..p..please?
And she stares at him with the cold hard stare from Hell. Unflinching. Not budging. Then she puts down the fake switchblade. He is fooled by it. But she won't use a fake rubber blade on him. However, that big kitchen knife? He had it coming, he had it coming...
How did we let it get so out of hand, Cooter? WE? Shannon is done. She's out. She's leaving. She's leaving the shame, she's leaving the ring, she's leaving him. She doesn't hate him. She loves him, and this is why it's hard.... but if she loves him, what does that say for her self-respect?
And that's when Cooter rises to violence and knocks over the table, shouting abuse... Who will ever love her again, poor, homely Beiste? Who will value her?
"Me" says Shannon. And that's it. The only romance of Shannon Beiste's life has lasted about seven months, and she's been married for about three... and she got stuck with this guy. It's a wonderful, powerful scene, and I think Dot's the only shoo-in for an Emmy this year. I mocked the first half of this wife battering story mercilessly, because it was phony, preachy and pedantic, but this finishes it with immense power and honesty. This is not a PSA. This is a story, beautifully told. It's a shame they had to throw Cooter under the bus so fast and so completely to tell it.
Beiste goes off to the auditorium, and she finds Puck strumming his guitar. What follows is a very sweet duet, as touching as it is unlikely. They are singing "Mean" by Taylor Swift, and doing that excellent song far more justice than poor Taylor can herself, bless her heart. This is one of those times when the well-chosen song really, perfectly punctuates the story, and it's sung by the most narratively appropriate people. I am almost surprised that they didn't have Santana go and tell Cooter off by singing this instead, possibly in a duet with Blaine. Yes, that is precisely the kind of inappropriate nonsense they've been pulling all year, but this time, they avoided it, and i-tunes be damned. Boy, Dot's voice is beautiful and rich here. It is easily my favorite song of the two-episode extravaganza. Glee at its absolute best.
Then Shannon offers Puck the only deserved second chance of the night. Shannon went to talk to the geography teacher, and told her about Puck attempting to wear the dress. That was the moment he showed that he cared about something; he showed evidence of character. He didn't stalk her, or stand outside her door and beg, or send her dozens of emails and presents, or tell her that he needed a second chance because he just waaaaaaaaaanted it sooooooooo baaaaaaaad, and that sense of entitlement made him in fact, entitled. He just did something brave and decent, and proved himself worth saving. Therefore, Puck gets to sit his exam again. Bet the house he will pass it this time - it's probably the same questions - and Beiste will tutor him. He helped her, though he does not realize why.
Well, I am happy to report that the Costume Committee is not a one-woman Asian workshop. It's the purgatory of underclassmen, minus Artie and Sam. Basically, its the hazing ritual for people who joined this year, plus... Tina. Sugar complains that Rachel should sew her own dress, unaware that any dress sewn by Rachel is probably a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Of course, the show's most well-documented tailor isn't there. Kurt is a senior, so I guess he opted out. I hate Tina's next monologue. They are sewing Rachel's clothes so that Rachel can sing her songs, and none of them would be going to Chicago
if you had not stepped in with great vocals when Little Miss Star got herself suspended and all the other girls turned traitor, Tina
if Rachel wasn't so special and talented. Tina promises this: Put in the work, be a team player, and you will get your solos, just as long as you are not an effeminate boy with a very high voice who is good enough to get one of 20 rare NYADA spots. No, I am never going to stop bitching about this. Inexcusable writing. If they didn't want Chris to sing they should have made Kurt's dream be fashion instead.
And so we now we know that Tina will get all the lead solos in Season Four for sure, just as long as...
1. Unique does not take over in Season Four
2. Harmony does not take over in Season Four
3. The split narrative featuring Kurt and Rachel in New York does not basically swallow the rest of the show whole, so that they take over in Season Four.
Mike, the Asian boyfriend, is happy to see his Asian girlfriend contented and submissive once more. God, I hate this. Tina finally gets a storyline and it's about how she needs to be happy to bow and grovel before Rachel. You have got to be kidding me.
Sue and Will are finalizing the setlist for Nationals - the girls will sing Gaga WITHOUT Kurt this time, because god knows he can't sing Lady Gaga for squat, except for all those times when he nailed it - and Shannon arrives. She wants to be a chaperone for Nationals. Sue is snarky and rude until she finds out that Shannon left Cooter for good, and then she hugs her quite warmly and sincerely. They have finally found the best mix of nasty and warm for Sue. She remains acerbic and rude, but I can believe that she's connecting genuinely with other people and I hope this incarnation of Sue remains.
After some sentimental Finchel blather at the lockers, Rachel does her pity duet with Tina; it's Flashdance. Jenna sounds much better on this song than Lea does. They sing in the auditorium, through the halls, and onto the bus that will take them to Nationals.
And then they won Nationals and lived happily ever after. Oh, I've got to recap the next one, too? Ok, Ok, but I'm taking a breather first. The next episode is not as good as this one was.