The Wife:

What a great character-driven episode, and what a great step forward for Glee. I loved Kurt’s arc and his fabulous dance performances in this episode. Caught dancing in a leotard (which wicks the sweat from his body) to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Kurt tries to butch up for his dad by pretending he’s dating Tina and that he’s now the kicker on the football team. So, with Finn’s help, he “auditions” for the football team and manages to land the role of kicker simply by being able to deliver a Beyonce-fueled kick clear across the goal posts, something their previous kicker couldn’t do with or without the help of Beyonce.

But Kurt butching up for his dad isn’t the only thing hinged on McKinley High football. Quinn tells Finn that she’s pregnant (you know, from that time he came in the hot tub because he couldn’t think of hitting the mailman with his car fast enough), and that she’ll be keeping the baby. Finn, wanting to be a good guy and not just another “Lima Loser” like other teenage fathers he’s met, knows that if he wants to be able to support Quinn and their child, he’s got to get a football scholarship and go to college. The only problem is that the football team sucks. Hardcore.

Yeah . . . about that time we didn't have sex in the hot tub . . .

Yeah . . . about that time we didn't have sex in the hot tub . . .

Kurt suggests that the players loosen up by learning to dance, just as the Chicago Bears did with the Super Bowl Shuffle. I can tell you honestly that this isn’t just a myth, but that many professional athletes take dance lessons to improve their agility. Giants’s pitcher (and former Oakland A) Barry Zito used to regularly perform in the Nutcracker, and we’ve all seen how well athletes do on Dancing with the Stars. So, knowing that the football team’s reputation is on the line, Coach Ken Tenaka hands the team over to Kurt, who teaches them the “Single Ladies” routine.

But despite Finn’s heartfelt confession of his situation to Mr. Shuester and the goodness in his heart that inspires him to do right by Quinn, we all know its not possible for him to have fathered Quinn’s child, considering she’s the president of the celibacy club and they’ve never had sex. And Puck, our resident rakish, MILF-loving, pool cleaning lothario, knows that he is the only person Quinn has had sex with. Wanting her to admit what they’ve done, he spends the rest of the episode torturing her and Finn with his knowledge of the pregnancy. And Terri, learning of Quinn’s plight from her husband, sees a golden opportunity in it and sets in motion what will most likely become her plan to covertly adopt Quinn’s baby.

So with all this hanging in the air, McKinley High sets out to play football. At first, they get their asses handed to them, but with merely a second left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Finn takes a pregnant pause and calls a time out. He convinces his teammates that the only way they could possibly win now (and they so desperately need to — so they’ll have a chance at the championship, so they can get scholarships, so they can get respect) is to pull out their secret weapon play: Put a Ring on It. Rather than pass the ball immediately at the whistle, the whole team breaks out into the “Single Ladies” routine and confuses the hell out of the opposition. From there, they’re able to score a touchdown, which means that Kurt gets to be the hero of the game by scoring the winning extra point kick.

And all, it seems, is saved by the power of dance and the goodness of a little gay boy’s heart. I have to admit that I totally had tears in my eyes during Kurt’s final scene with his father in which he comes out to the man who has known all along, as all Kurt wanted for his third birthday was a pair of sensible heels. This scene, and Finn breaking down on Will’s shoulder totally got me.

Meanwhile, outside of the great parts of this episode described above, Sue has landed her own opinion segment on the local news and is speaking up for everything she believes in: caning, litter and so on. When the news station threatens to cancel her segment if the Cheerios continue to defect to the Glee Club, she reinvigorates her sabotage plans by blackmailing Principal Figgins (with his hilarious video from the time he was a steward for Mumbai Airways) to get Sandy back on campus as the school’s Arts Administrator. And Sandy’s first move as admin? Create a musical audition that will steal Rachel Barry away from Glee. Already jealous that Will wants to give Tina the West Side Story solo, Rachel readily takes the bait and when she sees that Will hasn’t changed his mind, she quits Glee Club for good.

It is a little disappointing how readily Rachel played into this scheme, but despite her seeming kindness and tendencies to be dumped upon by everyone, its also easy to see why she would be drawn to a place that wants her to have the star she so believes she deserves. A great arc for Rachel over the course of this season would be for her to realize that, sometimes, wanting what’s best for herself is a completely selfish act and that she should try to change those tendencies. Already, Will, Finn, Kurt and Quinn have grown and changed so much over four episodes, but Rachel, arguably the second lead, hasn’t.

I do think this was a wonderful episode, but I wish that the musical numbers had been better placed. Anything involving “Single Ladies” was great, but Rachel’s audition for Cabaret was not well-chosen or necessary, even if it was a “naturalistic” use of music. I was glad to hear Tina solo, but rather than the Rachel number, I felt like this episode needed to give Quinn or Finn a song to express what they’re going through. There certainly were moments where music could have worked, especially as Quinn ducks away to her car, in tears. I suspect she might have started singing along to a CD as she drove off, had Terri not been there to ambush her. Maybe the point was to break the expectations of the musical and not sing where we could all feel there should be singing? Or maybe, if Finn were to have a song, Ryan Murphy simply couldn’t get the rights to use Ben Folds’ “Brick?”

Stray thoughts and quotes:

  • “Is the baby black?” — Kendra, in horror, to her sister Terri before Terri reveals she’s not actually pregnant. What a great nod to Nip/Tuck, where Jessalyn Gilsig’s character actually did give birth to a black baby after spending the entire season making Julian McMahon’s Christian Troy believe it was his.
  • Dear sweet God, I absolutely need Emma’s baby blue sweater with the leaf detailing on the collar. This show is sweater heaven!
  • “To all those naysayers who say you can’t strike children on their bare buttocks with razor sharp bamboo sticks, I say, “Yes, we CANE.” — Sue
  • “My body is like a warm chocolate soufflé — if it isn’t warmed up properly, it doesn’t rise.” — Kurt, inadvertently also talking about his penis.
  • “Not everyone has the walnuts to take a pro-littering stance, but I won’t rest until every inch of this state is covered in garbage.” — Sue
  • Anti-embolism stockings are hilarious.
  • “If I was out to get you, I’d have you pickling in a Mason jar on my shelf by now.” — Sue
  • I’m sorry, Kurt, but as good as you look in that leotard and sparkly vest, you will never look as good as Joe Jonas, who has thighs so delicious I want to eat them. (Don’t worry about the dancing. Just stare at his thighs.)

The Husband:

Fun fact that I learned in an interview with Chris Colfer, the actor who plays Kurt: the coming-out scene was very much based on the similar conversation Chris had with his own father when he was younger. He didn’t get into specifics, but I have a feeling that pretty much everything Mike O’Malley said, aside from the “sensible heels” line, was close to verbatim. It was sweet without going too schmaltzy, but it also didn’t let some of his father’s prejudices off the hook. This is clearly a major point in Chris’ life having grown up in a very conservative town just outside of Fresno, California, and I’m glad he could share that with us.

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The Wife:

Here’s where I make a confession: I love Josh Groban. I have seen him in concert. (With my mom!) I own all of his albums. I used to own a Josh Groban tee shirt. I think his cover of “My December” is way better than Linkin Park’s original. I watched the concert version of Chess, which we all know is a fucking weird musical, because he was in it. I am a member of a Facebook group called, “I Would Have Josh Groban’s Illegitimate Children — FOR FREE!” which was started by my friend Amber, another huge Josh Groban fan. And yet . . . I had no idea he was going to be in this episode. So when I saw his name in the credits, I went like this:

“Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Man, I was already excited enough by the presence of Victor Garber! And in a bowtie, no less! But Josh Groban, too? Surely, the television was being far too kind to me!

But besides my guest star joy, Glee seems to be moving along at a fairly steady pace. At least for the first half of the season, we can be certain that the two overwhelming threats to the Glee club will be Sue Sylvester’s meddling (for no other reason than she wants her budget back at full) and Terri’s “pregnancy,” which draws Will away from his own personal interests. I suspect we’ll see a lot of retreads of situations that make things harder for the Glee kids, as well as things that distract Will’s attention, but as long as the performances keep their luster and the writing keeps its wit, I won’t be bored. It’s hard to move forward quickly during a first season, and few shows can actually achieve that. Glee has to keep reiterating these basic conceits so that it doesn’t feel so serialized that a new viewer would be alienated from this shiny happy world. I do, however, hope the retreads don’t happen for too long. With the pilot available since the spring, I suspect Glee has as many converts as it is likely to get by this point.

This week, Sue’s Cheerio spies put Rachel up to the task of telling Will that he’s not a good enough choreographer for them to be able to beat Vocal Adrenaline at Regionals. The kids want to hire $8,000 star choreographer Dakota Stanley, but they haven’t got that kind of cash, so they host a car wash fundraiser, which serves as the backdrop for Mercedes’ performance of “Bust the Windows” when her crush on flamingly gay Kurt is crushed when he says he doesn’t have feelings for her, but is in love with someone else. (You see, she doesn’t want to think she’s in love with a downlow brother, so she assumes the object of Kurt’s affection is Rachel, not Finn, even though Rachel and Tina warned her about Kurt’s disinterest in vaginas earlier in the episode.) It’s an incidental plot, but it contributes toward the episodes thematic structure, which is all about finding your confidence. By the episode’s end, when Mercedes apologizes for breaking the window of Kurt’s car, he tells her he’s gay, but never had the confidence to say it, just as the rest of the Glee club realizes when they meet the overly frank monster that is Dakota Stanley that they don’t need his fancy, overpriced dance moves at all: as long as they are themselves and perform with confidence, they can win. (Although, he did say what I’ve always thought about Lea Michele’s nose. But she’s right to counter with the fact that Barbara Streisand never did get that nosejob, and she’s a supernova.)

I'll still take you to sing-a-long Sound of Music. Promise!

I'll still take you to sing-a-long Sound of Music. Promise!

Meanwhile, when shop teacher and cough syrup addict Henri loses his thumbs in a freak accident, the rest of the teachers (including substitute shop teacher Sandy, who is not allowed with in 50 feet of children, not teenagers) try to cheer him up and realize that they’d make a totally sweet a capella group. But before I talk about the collaboration between Howard, Ken Tanaka, Will and thumbless Henri, I have to talk about Henri’s thumblessness. Outside of the apt use of music, this scene is one of the most Ryan Murphy things about the show. I adore his macabre humor here: watching Henri be presented with a thumbs-up cake, then trying in vain to use a fork, then raising the plate to his mouth and eating the thumb. Pure genius.

The guys get together and rehearse and Will’s house, which Will thinks really turns Terri on because since he started singing with the Acafellas, their sex life has dramatically improved. He doesn’t realize, of course, that this is actually because she really needs to get pregnant to make good on the news Will told his dad and mom earlier in the episode. I do think, though, that there is something Terri finds attractive about her newly confidant husband. The reaction shots of Terri and Emma to seeing Will et al perform prove that they are both a little star struck by the whole thing. Will, of course, is great, and Acafellas becomes a moderate success.

Will’s Dad: This is huge! We sold all 17 copies of you CD!

Will’s Mom: I didn’t even have to show my bosoms!

Principal Figgins likes the act so much that he invites them to perform at a PTA meeting. Sandy, who was denied a spot in Acafellas, tells everyone that he can get Josh Groban to attend the meeting, which would help the school’s clout, but only if he performs with them. As the meeting nears, Henri is sent to cough syrup rehab and can no longer perform, and Howard drops out of the group, as well. In an effort to save the performance, Will recruits Finn and football star Hank (Ben Bledsoe) lends his voice to Ken Tanaka, but only if hot MILFs will be there. (He is an above-ground pool cleaning gigolo, in addition to being a full-time high school student.) The new Acafellas put on a completely stellar performance of Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up,” which is greatly enjoyed by all, including Josh Groban, who is, indeed, “cute as a buttermilk biscuit.”

Good thing thumbless Henri is downing cough syrup in the audience right now.

Good thing thumbless Henri is downing cough syrup in the audience right now.

Groban, however, was only attending the performance to serve Sandy with a restraining order, as Sandy won’t stop pestering him since Groban accidentally became his friend on MySpace. In my favorite moment of the episode, Josh Groban then seduces Will’s mom because, well, I’ll let him explain it:

“Scads of screaming teenagers don’t do it for Josh Groban. Josh Groban loves a blowsy alcoholic.”

Oh, Josh Groban! I love you!

With the short-lived glory of the Acafellas at a close and Dakota Stanley fired, Will rejoins Glee club and gets right back to work on new music for Regionals. Will’s dad tells him that, because of the confidence his son has on stage, he’s decided he’s going to finally pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer . . . which just cements the fact that this character is what Jordan Weathersby used to be before he became Jordan Weathersby.

Stray thoughts:

  • I absolutely need the floral sweater dress Emma is wearing when she’s gardening in her office. I can’t find anything close to it, but, so help me, I will!
  • “You’re going to have a school full of pansies unless you get some hot wood in those kids’ hands.” — Sandy
  • I dunno, I kind of like Crescendudes . . . Testostratones is also good.
  • “Will, if I don’t get some sleep, I could miscarry.” — Terri
  • It makes sense that Sue used to be in special ops military, doesn’t it?
  • “Yes, if by someone, you mean the tender crook of my elbow.” — Kurt, in re: kissing
  • “Who is Josh Groban? KILL YOURSELF!” –Sandy
  • I like that they made a little in-joke about Kurt wanting to see sing-a-long Sound of Music with Mercedes, as Kurt’s character was named for the fact that the actor played Kurt in a tour of Sound of Music.
  • Sue: I’m revoking your tanning privileges for the rest of the semester.
    Santana: Nooooo! [And she runs out of the room sobbing.]
  • By the way, I’ve seen Rockapella in concert. That’s right, the dudes who sing the theme song to Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? Be jealousssssssssss!