With no Glee til next week, we go all the way back to last week (jeez!) for the fallout from one of the best episodes of the third season.
So previously on Glee: we got Puck and Quinn trying to get their baby back through a series of Dick Dastardly-esque plots to prove their suitability as parents, but oh no Puck is kissing Shelby so whose side is he on? Answer: Team Puck. Everyone is angry at each other because of: school Presidency campaigning, applying for drama school, running for the Ohio Congress, starting up a rival glee club. Intrigue!
This week kicks off with Puck still madly infatuated with Shelby, aka Rachel’s previously estranged mother, aka the woman currently raising his child. Unsettling on several levels, not least the one where the chap playing Puck is about thirty, but Glee seems to be having fun with that. And sure, “Hot for Teacher” might not be an alarmingly creative song choice, but it works with his character and gives the boy cast a chance to do some high-intensity mic-stand choreography (Mike Chang, Dreamy Blaine) and thrash around behind a drum kit (Finn). Bless Finn, he tries.
The fantasy musical number is immediately trumped by Sue Sylvester’s political ad, featuring MS Paint accusations of Burt Hummel having a baboon heart transplant and marrying a donkey, quick-fire logical leaps between extraneous pieces of trivia, all matched with Jane Lynch’s straight-up delivery in front of a gigantic American flag (“I’m Sue Sylvester, I have a human heart, and I approve this message.”), which is a recipe for delicious, fattening comedy muffins. Nom.
So the conceit for the episode is something called a “Mash-Off”, which is totes a Thing, and is introduced by Mr Schu and Shelby doing the Lady Gaga and Crystal Gayle versions of “You and I” while Mr Shoe does his best I’m So Digging This Song You Guys Shoo-face. Shue. In any case, the New Directions and the Troubletones are going to face off in time-honoured high school fashion: dodgeball! Why not. One spirited Pat Benatar/Blondie mashup later the Irish guy has a bloody nose and Kurt just wants everyone to stop fighting.
A note on the Irish guy. He is not the greatest actor, but between this and Boardwalk Empire I have all the Irish I can handle. When Santana says “mouth” with an Ulster accent I was wrought with a nostalgia that I have not yet shaken. Thank you for your time.
Speaking of Santana, her ‘Finn = fat’ campaign has reached critical mass and after a pretty entertaining litany of his performative flaws the big guy lashes out in the most emotionally engaged and insightful way, to whit, that Santana’s uncertain relationship with Brittany is upsetting her more than she’ll admit, and she should come to terms with her sexuality.
Puck informs Idina Menzel he will no longer be Muttley in Quinn’s Catch the Pigeon schemes. Meh. I don’t really buy him doing anything but the worst possible ideas as part of Puck’s Quantum Theory of the Worst of All Possible Ideas.
The class president debate! Brief political satire via a dude with dude hair telling teachers what to do because he pays their wages through, like, his dad’s tax. Then Brittany reminds us why we all love Brittany by being Brittany all over our faces – she pledges to outlaw the murderous rampages of tornadoes. After Kurt’s noble, mature proposal to outlaw the institutionalised bullying of dodgeball is golf-clapped off stage, Rachel apologises for her dirty tactics campaign and urges the constituents to move their votes to Team Hummel. Incidentally, for a thorough examination of Kurt’s wardrobe this week, check out the Vulture recap. Fried gold.
Suddenly, anti-Sue attack ad out of NOWHERE! It publicly outs Santana, criticising Sue for letting such a deviant into the highest position of authority a teenager can hold before casting similar aspersions on Sue herself. Santana exits the scene in tears, with “my parents don’t even know yet.” The fear and anger and emotional charge are all there in spades, and bravo, Glee, it’s been a while since things got so raw.
Even better, it carries over into the final number, Adele’s “Rumour has It/Someone Like You”, one of the best of the year. Better to show than tell:
Finally, Santana exits stage front and accuses Finn of orchestrating the advert, and slaps him square across his doughy cheeks. End scene.
Good time to get back into McKinley High! The ongoing Puckline is getting a little dry, but otherwise there were actual personality developments going on that were keenly executed, and the difference between Kurt and Santana’s experiences of becoming openly gay could hardly have been better handled. Here’s hoping for more of the same next week!
How’s this semester been for you? Give us your thoughts in the comments.