Wow, who ever thought that a show about a band of lovable losers could be so dark? We were crying tears of sadness instead of our usual tears of joy. It still felt pretty good, but damn!
We also got rid of our least favorite sub plot last night, but it was at the expense of Mr. Schuester leading our Glee kids to their inevitable sectional victory. That Sue Motherfucking Sylvester was also on a tear, and not being her sarcastic cutesy self. She was a hyena with carcass blood smeared all over her sneer, and she was out for murder. Also, everyone makes fun of the Glee kids and they love it. Next week Rachel is going to do a "You Spin Me Right Round" number in full S&M gear. Just you wait.
And we got our latte of pain with some ironic cocoa powder sprinkled on top thanks to the song selection which was all about sunshine and light and smiling. Yippee! Let's walk on sunshine through the choruses.
"Smile": Though this Lily Allen track may sound like a pretty ditty it is really a symphony of schadenfreude, with the singer laughing at the pain of her ex. How sadistic that this is what Rachael uses to get Finn ready for their co-captain yearbook shot. But before we get there, just who are these people in the band and where do they come from? If they're fellow music nerds, why wouldn't they just be in the Glee club? And how long are we going to go on using them and pretending they're not there? Shouldn't one of them get a joke or a story line or ask Mercedes out on a date or something?
These band members may just be part of the student body, which really loves defacing the Glee Club photo in the yearbook each year. Yearbooks are for doodling, but then why don't the Glee kids go and deface the cheerleaders picture? What's going to happen if they do? The cheerleaders are going to hate them and have their football player boyfriends throw Slushie in their faces? Too late. But they're a bunch of wimps, so when the principal bans the Glee photo from the yearbook so that it won't further humiliate the students, they don't protest. And why, oh why, Babygay Kurt, in your library research of past Glee photos didn't you unearth Mr. Schue's from back in the day?
Of course it was Sue MF Sylvester who really had it out for the little club that could. We don't know what happened to her at Thanksgiving, but it must have been worse than one of our horror stories, because her little quibble with the club turned into a vicious vendetta. She isn't acting because she hates them, she's doing this because she enjoys watching them suffer.
Just like all the New Directions kids love watching Rachael make a fool of herself. When Rachael, the secretary of the Muslim student's association, and Will insist that their club get a photo in the yearbook, Principal Figgins agrees, but there is only room for two people. The club elects Rachael of course. She wants the job, and none of them like her, so (like daft cheerleader Brittany says) they'll be the ones drawing a mustache on Ms. Barry.
Still, she convinces Finn to join her in the picture, and he agrees because his identity is more and more linked to being the big stud of the troupe. However, the football players are having way too much fun with his eventual humiliation. When they put a Sharpie to his face in real life, that's more than he can bear and he ditches Rachael for their modest photo shoot. Oh, the cackles of teens can be like razors.
"When You're Smiling": We only get a bar of this standard, but it's more than enough to make a point. The song is about overcoming disappointment and sadness and doing something to make your situation better, and Rachael needs that message when she's dissed by Finn for about the 7,543,319th time. He's not coming to take a picture, and he's not going to serenade you at your window, Rachael. Time to move on!
She gets into character right quick with a little pep talk reminding herself that it's lonely at the top and to stop caring what people think about her. As much of a bitch as Rachael can be, she really is quite a strong person to maintain her delusions of grandeur in the face of such staunch opposition. While her smile turns on the camera, it's her tears that really win the crowd over. By crying on demand and begging the cameraman, she books the club in a TV commercial. The whole world's smiling with them.
Quinn is trying to turn her frown upside down by getting reinstated in the Cheerios. Maybe if she got rid of that stupid side-pony-braid combination that she keeps sporting they'll let her back in. After getting kicked out by Sue and scorned by all the other girls (including the two who are in Glee with her), it's funny that so much of her status is wrapped up in being the chief flying monkey for wicked witch Sue MF Sylvester. She doesn't want her future "real" kids to think of her as some loser, but as a wonderful popular cheerleader. How is she going to do that? But forgetting her sorrow and convincing SMFS that she belongs on the squad.
The one really gritting her teeth and grinning through it is Emma, who is no longer getting married in Hawaii but at the VFW hall in Lima, Ohio, to a man that she doesn't love and doesn't have good hygiene. Of course that means she can't go with her beloved Will to see the kids at sectionals, since the ceremony is the same day, but she has decided that plunging into a life-long mercy fuck is the right thing to do and maybe if she smiles at it, eventually it will all be better. This story line is wearing as thin as an anorexic after a bout with H1N1, but we loved that Emma basically told Will to get over himself and stop assuming that she loves him. She knows pining away for him will end badly. Marrying Ken won't be much better, but she's hoping that by pouring sunshine all over it, she'll end up with a rainbow.
"Jump": Have you ever paid attention to the lyrics of this Van Halen chart topper? Me neither, and that's because they really don't make much sense. They're really just throw-away sentiment for a killer rock song. That said, we're taking the "jump" of the title to be a leap of faith or a call to some sort of drastic action.
Will didn't so much as jump, but was pushed when he found Terri's fake baby bump in her drawer. Finally, the fake pregnancy is over! Amen. It ended pretty well too. The scene between Will and Terri in the kitchen was a doozy as she desperately tries her best to manipulate him even though she knows her plot is over. The "Evil sister Kendra stole the baby bump from the maternity store" excuse was a dilly—It was so good, it's amazing it didn't work. The reason it didn't is because Will knows that Terri is one fucked-up, crazy bitch who would lie about being pregnant. He knows she's flawed but loves her anyway, for some strange reason.
Terri's rationale for why she did it is a little bit flawed. She says that Will is in love with her high school self, not the real Terri, and she had to save the marriage. That's a little hard for us to imagine, since we have no clue what she was like back then (flashback episode full of '90s classics, please!), but she knows there is something fundamentally wrong with the pairing. She blames his involvement with the club, but it's much deeper than that, and (as crazy as she may be) she's smart enough to know it. So, Will takes the big jump and moves into the Glee club's rehearsal room, where he finds a stack of mattresses, the payment for the crew's commercial.
Speaking of which, the spot in itself is a joy, but what was really great about it was watching Rachael make the jump from being a self-serving diva to doing something for the good of the team. While they all talk about how they will forget the little people when they're famous, the joy from their performance comes from the fun that they have as a collective. It's great that we're really starting to believe this. I want to be in the club too. I'd even go back to high school just to sign up. OK, maybe not...
The one who has really started benefiting from being a team member is Ms. Quinn Fabray, who uses her years under the bitchtastic tutelage of Sue Motherfucking Sylvester to save the club. When Will uses one of the mattresses, that means the Glee kids have been paid for their commercial, which is a no-no for a school group. That means the club is disqualified from competition. Pre-pregnancy Quinn was fighting to get these merry melody makers sidelined, but now that they've accepted her, she uses her scheming to get them reinstated, and with a full page in the yearbook to boot. The only gesture that Sue MF Sylvester can even feel anymore is a stab in the back, so Quinn tells her if Glee isn't resuscitated that she will rat out all the free shit the Cheerios have been swimming in for years. What did Sue write in her journal of doom about this move? She was probably proud and impressed.
And even better than besting Sue was when Quinn decided she didn't want to be a Cheerio anymore after all. She'd rather face the ignominy of being in Glee with people who care about her than the popularity of being the icy princess at the top of the Cheerios pyramid. Now she's using her scheming powers for good, not evil.
"Smile": The convention for ending each episode quickly became leaving the audience with a roaring and inspiring "11 o'clock number" (9:58pm in this instance) that will have us welling up, clutching our hearts, and loving this god-send of a show. Not this week. This song—another one about smiling through the pain—was not only bluer than normal, but also served as the background music for the Glee club's inevitable humiliation at the hands of a thousand malicious markers.
The real pain came when Will had to step down as head of the Glee Club in light of Mattressgate and left the kids on their own to lead the group. Wait, wouldn't control then go to Sue Motherfucking Sylvester, who is still unofficially the co-chair of Glee? Rather than getting them disqualified, Will would rather step down, which isn't as hard a decision to make after he saw them all come together for the commercial. Most of that responsibility rests on Rachael's shoulders, and it's inspiring to see her becoming a leader, which is as unselfish a position as she could take.
The kids even got excited about their full page in the photo book, brought to them by the letter Q and the noun "gumption." They were so jacked that Puck even worked up his delicious man guns just for the shoot (and boy, he shot us right through the heart with those guns). As Will watches on, smiling at the happiness that he's brought his group, they're all laughing, but everyone's a little sad. But wasn't Will's goal to give the kids the wonderful experience he had in high school? Looks like mission accomplished Mr. Schue. Put on your jump suit and get to an aircraft carrier.
With a stop by Sue's Corner (about how the day after Christmas all ugly people should stay inside so that her retinas could rest from seeing them) we see what is making her so angry she vowed to "innocently murder" Will: she's still smarting about losing her man to bitch-faced Andrea the anchor. All SMFS wants is to be loved. And if she can't be, then everyone else will suffer!
But it doesn't look like the Glee club is suffering at all. As sad as the final scene was—when we're left only with images of them drawn all over and defaced—it was also a bit inspiring. Sure, they might still be under the mistaken impression that no one will mock their picture now that they're "television stars," but it seems like they've stopped caring completely how everyone else feels about the club. They're having a great time, doing something they love, and have finally found social acceptance—and if that isn't enough to make you smile, than nothing is.