Hello and welcome to the sixth episode of the fourth season of Glee, a magical television program about children and the gigantic potatoes who teach them how to sing. This week’s episode was entitled “Glease,” which’s also the name of William Schuster’s favorite hair product and Rachel Berry’s favorite cruelty-free vegan lubricant. So get on your jammies, grab a donut, stick a panda hat on your head and let’s get started!
We open in the Glorious Glee Club room, where a wide-eyed manchild has an announcement to make! What will it be? Brittany guesses “Adele is dead,” which sets us up to view the ensuing announcement as less horrifying than it is.
I mean, sure, Will’s handing Glee Club over to a human-shaped pile of vermicompost, but at least Adele’s not dead!
Tina’s delightfully incredulous, Artie’s confused, Brittany’s on Unicorn Planet, and Unique’s like, “whatever, that guy’s had no clue what to do with me since the moment I walked through the door.”
Tina: “Mr. Shue, Finn cannot take over Glee Club, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, at all! [to Finn] Sorry, Finn.”
Finn: “Guys, I know I can do this. And I’ve got really good ideas for sectionals.”
Tina: “WE’LL ALL BE DEAD BY THEN!”
But Adele will still be alive, so.
Thusly, chaos ensues! Hands are raised! Valid issues are raised!
Sugar: “We can’t win without him. Who’s gonna drive the bus?”
…and then Sue shows up to call Frankenteen into her office. Before we continue let’s just take a time out to bless Sugar Motta’s little heart-shaped heart, yeah?
Smear to the Principal’s lair, where Sue is irascible regarding Finn’s semi-employment at McKinley High. Do we even have enough janitors to handle all that gravy?
Sue: “Finn Hudson barely graduated high school less than six months ago, he has no bachelor’s degree, nor the certification to teach in the state of Ohio.”
Here’s the rub though: although one might imagine Glee to be an actual class as they seem to meet exclusively during school hours, it’s not — it’s an extracurricular, and therefore Finn’s lack of qualifications is NBD, says the Principal.
Finn: “I promise this is the right thing to do. I can take this Glee Club to sectionals, and I know we can win. I’ll work just as hard as Mr. Shue does, and I’ll do it all for free.”
Sue re-declares war against the Soviet Union or Texas or Afghanistan or Glee Club and storms out of the office, destroying all the office supplies and human beings in her path. This aggressive display is accompanied by the familiar sounds of Carmina Burana, a frequent soundtrack for Sue’s aggro moments.
Principal: “You’re a menace to the state of Ohio!”
Starsweep easterly to Fake Julliard, where Kate Hudson’s brought in her “upperclassmen” to help her students “up their game” ’cause she only speaks in Coach Tropes. Rachel’s chatting at Geyerdean’s face during dance class, seemingly her only course this semester.
Rachel: “Now that Finn and I are officially-officially broken up, I feel like I can finally focus on really why I came to New York, which is my work.”
Rachel gushes that she’s snagged an off-broadway audition for Ivan Von Ivanhoesomething’s “avant-garde” production of The Glass Menagerie, starring Tyrion Lannister, the Toledo Zoo, and a yet-to-be-determined “fresh face.” Rachel hopes her face is fresh enough, which’s why she’s protecting it under forty layers of makeup and 50 shades of grey eyeshadow. But Rachel does, actually, seem far more self-assured and ambitious than she was during her relationship with Finn — like she didn’t realize how caged-in the relationship made her feel until she was free. In fact, I endeavor to suggest that Rachel is The New Rachel. Kate Hudson overhears Rachel’s monologue and pops in to rain on her parade:
Kate Hudson: “Hey, some advice. You’re not ready for Ivan. You’re not tough enough yet. You don’t have enough wounds. Look, I auditioned for him for his Hedda, and he made me recite my monologue in a slip, standing on one foot, pouring tomato juice all over myself. Skip it, Schwimmer, Ivan will eat you alive.”
The New Rachel: “I can take it. And look, I was thinking, maybe you should audition too, for Amanda Wingfield!”
Kate Hudson, horrified to receive career advice from a precocious 19-year-old who, until a few months ago, was engaged to marry 180 pounds of cured ham, decides to exact revenge by offering Geyerdean a TA position that’ll require “lots of late nights” and a “lot of time after school.”
Kate Hudson wants to start “planning lessons” this weekend, but Geyerdean wants to start Monday so he can spend the weekend “running lines” with The New Rachel. Kate Hudson says that’s fine in her “that’s not fine” voice.
Smear back to the backstage area of this week’s Ongoing Neverending Constant Marathon Production of Grease, where Marley’s having trouble squeezing into her costume despite it fitting just fine yesterday. Tina suggests “bloating” and absolutely nobody suggests “you actually gained ten pounds overnight” because that’s actually not possible.
Obviously my first thought was “Fake Quinn is feeding her Calteen Bars.”
Amid this unfortunate lady moment, Fake Quinn shows up for her fitting.
Fake Quinn: “I’m here for my fitting. Where is Harajuku Girl?”
Sugar: “I thought you quit because your part was too small.”
Fake Quinn: “Well, Spray-Tanned Hawk Nose, to quote Shakespeare, there are no small parts, only fat actresses. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just say “fat”? I was distracted by Marley’s unfortunate and very noticeable weight gain. I’m confused. Are you playing the lead in Grease or Hairspray?”
Marley: “I swear, I’m not eating any differently. How is this happening?”
Alas, as revealed to us via flashback, Fake Quinn’s taken up sewing and has been dutifully tailoring Marley’s costume every night to make it just a little bit smaller, thus convincing Marley she’s packing on the pounds, ’cause Fake Quinn is a sociopath.
Fake Quinn says she’s just trying to help and the only reason she’s doing the play is to make real friends. See, Fake Quinn doesn’t have any real friends — an apt observation, as Real Quinn’s sidekicks were crucial to her Quinn-ness and Fake Quinn’s lack thereof is damaging her potential as a character. So…
Fake Quinn: “In the spirit of Grease, I thought it would be a good way for us to get to know each other, if we had a sleepover.”
I recommend adding “in the spirit of Grease” to your drinking game, if it’s not too late. But can Unique come? MARLEY’S NOT COMING UNLESS UNIQUE CAN COME! It’s a cute, tender moment and precisely how I like to imagine high school to be these days, full of supportive youngsters being trans* allies!
Fake Quinn: “Fine, ladyboy can come. But if I catch you hiding your dinky between your legs and prancing around like Silence of the Lambs, you’re out.”
Backstage at the McKinley High School cafeteria, Marley’s having a heart-to-heart with her Mom about how her costume keeps “getting tighter.”
Rather than asking, as I certainly would have 56 times by now, if Marley finds it strange that all her clothes fit the same except for this one dress, or asking, as I certainly would have 56 times by now, if she’s actually noticed any changes in her body size before going on The Zone — Mom indulges Marley in every mother/daughter pair’s most problematic summit for bonding — “weight problems.”
Mama Marley says she “raised a star” with “control over her life and body,” and since we’re talking about “control,” what better way to celebrate control than with an eating disorder?
Mama Marley: “You’re thin and beautiful. But you’re not going to stay that way unless you fight for it. So starting now, we are on a strict new diet. Together.”
It’s a mixed-up message — a woman who just confessed to gaining weight after her divorce due to compulsive binge eating inviting a young, thin, not-even-a-woman-yet teenage girl with imaginary weight problems spurred by a bitchy cheerleader’s unrelated wrath, to diet with her.
Smear over to the faculty lounge, where Sue’s barking at Finn for entering her Safe Space, which she points out is designated for faculty, not 19-year-old “plus-size male prostitutes” booted from the army.
But Finn’s just there to apologize for calling her baby “a retard.”
Sue: “I’ve seen your true colors, Finn Hudson. And you’ve got hate in that heart, double-stuff. And probably also frosting.”
Finn: “Fine. I tried to apologize. If you can’t accept that, it’s on you.”
You know what they say: if at first you don’t succeed, blame the other person and walk away.
Cut to Hummel Tire & Lube, where Finn, The Pied Piper of Pooty Tang, is escorting a band of motley pubescent singer/dancers into the autoshop for Motor Oil Wrestling, a.k.a., “rehearsal.” Finn busts out with intense wisdom:
Finn: “Acting is all about knowing the material, right?”
Step one: memorize your lines.
Finn auto-waxes poetic on Grease‘s “themes,” even though Grease ain’t that deep, but luckily neither is Finn:
Finn: “Well, it’s about fixing cars and getting, getting grease under your fingernails and signing a blood oath with your brothers to the very end.”
So basically, Grease is like Foxfire or The Craft, but with boys and cars and music. Thusly the boyz break into “Greased Lightin,” a more or less shot-for-shot version of the original:
Ryder Bieber-Strong acquires a pompadour for the number as well as a tight black t-shirt and homosexual jeans, making his whole situation at least 65 times more attractive than it was only moments earlier.
Tires are tossed, lyrics are excessively enunciated and before long Ryder Bieber-Strong’s riding a detached car motor while hanging from the ceiling by a white chain. Definitely Emmy material. Unfortunately for Pussy Wagon aficionados worldwide, the song’s lyrics are sanitized for iTunes, robbing us of genius poetry such as: “You know that ain’t shit when we’ll be getting lots of tit,” “You are supreme, the chicks’ll cream for Greased Lightin'” and “With new boosters, plates and shocks, I can get off my rocks / You know that I ain’t braggin’, she’s a real pussy wagon.”
Starsweep across a great expanse of fertile American land to the city of New York, where Kurt’s getting the scoop on Grease via mobile while The New Rachel, dressed like a Nancy Kerrigan Sex Doll, lies suggestively on the dancefloor.
Just as The New Rachel’s emphasizing to Kurt that they’re absolutely not going back to Lima for this Shitshow, Kate Hudson enters with only half a shirt!
Kate Hudson wants the scoop on what the two babies are “definitely not going to.”
Kurt: “Her recently broke up ex-boyfriend is directing my recently-broken-up ex-boyfriend in a school production of Grease, and we’ve got a bunch of friends in it, so we were debating whether or not we should go.”
Upon hearing that Grease is this weekend, Kate Hudson insists that the two of them make the trip to Oh-ho-ho and even offers up her JetBlue frequent flier miles to get Rachel there sans cash. Um, but persons wishing to transfer frequent flier miles are generally subject to enormous fees…
Kurt: “Rachel, I’m going. I need to see him. I haven’t seen him since. I’m not sleeping. I’m living off of ambien and The Notebook.“
So it’s settled — The New Rachel and Kurt Are Going To Ohio!
Smear back to Lima, where The Slumber Party is kicking off with Krispy Kream donuts, Kettle Corn, hymen-related conversations and lots of cute pajamas. It’s all a set-up for “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” but regardless it’s heart-warming to see Unique’s effortless and unquestioned inclusion in an all-girls slumber party.
Glee’s always been so heavy-handed about its Issue Episodes, stuffing them with Important Conversations and Very Special Relationships, and that’s all well/good, but Glee’s messages are, in fact, more effective when they’re subtle: like Unique being “one of the girls” at a slumber party, Santana & Brittany’s re-gendered cover of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and the beautiful spectacle of two same-sex couples dancing together at Senior Prom. What I’m saying is Glee doesn’t need to try as hard as it does.
Anyhow, this scene’s meant to mirror the same scene from Grease, in which Rizzo pulls Sandy into the bathroom and implores her to losen up a bit by letting Frenchy pierce her ears right that very minute.
But in the Glee version, it’s Fake Quinn luring Marley into the bathroom to teach her how to vomit just in case Marley is a total fucking idiot and: 1) Thinks bulimia is a solid weight loss strategy, 2) Doesn’t already know how to vomit.
Marley: “I don’t want to make myself vomit — that’s gross.”
Fake Quinn: “You know what’s more gross? Having your gelatinous, corpulent six-ton stomach explode blood and pudding and sour cream and chili cheese fries just because you didn’t love yourself enough to binge and purge.”
Kids don’t try this at home, it’s an eating disorder and can kill you or at least really fuck up your teeth and emotional well-being. Also, when an Issue Episode is about an issue near/dear to my heart, it’s impossible for me to talk about it without raging for 4,000 words, so I’m just gonna emotionally detach myself from this situation and proceed like a bunny on horse tranquilizers!
We consequently shimmy out to the bedroom for that “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” number, starring Fake Quinn as Marley in her “Newsies hat” and “mud-brown hair,” doing the original more-or-less move-for-move shot-for-shot. I wish they’d changed “Troy Donahue” to “Francine Beppu.”
It’s cute and jammies are cute, but in the original it was Rizzo and her friends mocking Sandy, and in this one it’s Patty Simcox and Sandy’s friends mocking Sandy. You know? Also, “Even Rock Hudson lost his heart to Doris Day” has a whole new meaning in an era when everybody knows that Rock Hudson actually lost his heart to Boris GAYAYAYAYAYYY.
Cut to the bowels of McKinley High School’s opulent offices, where Mr. Unique (a.k.a. Big Mike) and Mrs. Unique have summoned their progeny in response to Principal Figgins’ idea to call and congratulate them on Unique’s casting as Rizzo in the school play.
Mrs. Unique: “Look, ever since Wade was a little boy, we knew that he was different.”
Big Mike: “Most little boys don’t want to dress as Shirley Hemphill for Halloweeen.I mean, it’s just so specific.”
Apparently, Big Mike and Mrs. Unique were tickled to see Unique dressed up at Nationals in Chicago but are less enthused about seeing Unique dressed up at the McKinley High School Musical in Lima, Ohio. They’re pulling her from the play.
Unique says they’re overreacting, but Sue interjects that she’s seen Unique assaulted in the hallway. So… is she now using the threat of bullying to enforce conformity or to ruin Glee Club or because she’s back to genuinely caring this week? How does this fit in to her attitude last week NEVER MIND I SHOULD STOP THINKING
Finn’s pissed and Unique is heartbroken. Because McKinley High School Musicals forego understudies in favor of High Drama, now they’ve gotta find a new Rizzo. WHO WILL BE THE NEW RIZZO?
Yup, Finn’s called in Santana on short notice, but Artie’s not sure she can effectively step in this late in the game:
Santana: “I was born to play this role. I’ve known it by heart since I was one, Artie, come on.”
Santana’s return has caused Brittany’s little face to light up like a Christmas tree but everybody’s Tickle-Me-Awkward when Tina bursts in, announcing that she can do it and will be off-book by Friday but might need the script for the second act.
Tina’s consequentially crestfallen to see that Santana’s teleported here from Kentucky to play the role. Besides, who will be Jan if Tina’s not Jan? THEY STILL HAVEN’T CAST A MARTY.
Cut to a few hours, days or weeks later to the Hallowed Halls of McKinley High, where the Prodigal Suns have returned to their alma matter in search of closure and Broadway-worthy set design. The duo is effectively conflicted and nostalgic about said Hallowed Halls — it’s incredible how much distance you feel from your high school years after only a month or three away, because during that month or three you’ve been on your own and grown so fast the old places just don’t fit right anymore.
They’re reminiscing about that time this or that happened when Mercedes shows up, also remembering when this or that happened and she was there. Mercedes, also eons older than she was last season, says she’s super-busy with UCLA classes, her back-up vocals job, and fielding requests from Puck to hook her up with Sugar Mommas.
Backstage, Marley’s having a crisis ’cause her dress doesn’t fit. Yawn. Tina’s curious how Marley could’ve gained two inches in one day, especially while starving herself! Nobody mentions the uncomfortable fact that all of Marley’s clothes fit the same except this outfit! Sidenote, I’m concerned about her ability to perform in a musical on a diet of Saltines and chewing gum.
Thus Fake Quinn escorts Marley to the shrine of the porcelain goddess to throw up for no reason. Meanwhile, Lea/Kurt run into Finn/Blaine and it’s super awkward. Blaine sort of recedes into himself while Finn, ever the cocky giant, proudly states he’s thrilled they came to his Country Jamboree.
Before anybody can extract their broken hearts from their ribcages and swap them for newer models, Finn and Blaine have to go prep for the show.
Kurt: “You were right, it was a mistake to come.”
The New Improved Rachel says that’s not true and everything will be fine. It’s a high school production of Grease, what could possibly suck?