Glee Episode 420 Recap: Lights Out, You Don’t Wanna See This

Welcome to the 20th recap of the fourth season of Glee, a show which combines the realism and authentic emotional adventures of 80′s after-school specials with the exuberance of spritely homosexual teenagers singing unfortunate cover songs. Season Four has taken us on a wild adventure through water flume rides, vacuum cleaners, gummy worm factories, Rite-Aid stockrooms and the innermost ring of hell and this week was no exception.

In honor of this being Episode 420, I got stoned before watching this show. Just kidding, I always get stoned before watching this show!

"half baked" is an accurate description of most of the ideas contributing to the construction of this show

“half baked” is an accurate description of most of the ideas contributing to the construction of this show

So, I’ve given up at commenting extensively on the realism or lack thereof on this show, I think they’ve made it explicitly clear that nothing about this world even attempts realism besides the emotional issue-of-the-week, which we’re somehow supposed to buy into despite it being stuffed into stories bursting with inaccuracies and enormous suspensions of disbelief and general all-around wackiness AND despite the fact that Glee never, ever, not ever, follows up on its issue-of-the-week, thus deflating its purpose before we give it a chance to blow up in the first place. Which isn’t realistic. Because issues don’t start and end in 42 minutes. Generally they consume season-long arcs, like the very-well-done bullying story with Kurt. Anyhow, onward with this long recap!


We open in the Glee room, where Ryder’s sexting with a 52-year-old retired conveyer belt salesman named katie_xoxo who’s been watching King of Queens on Netflix for three straight days. Ryder’s like, “when are we gonna meet?” and she’s all like, “IDK,” and Fake Quinn’s all like “ew.”

i promise i won't sing you a homosexual love anthem in a purple leotard

it’s not like i’m gonna sing you a homosexual love anthem in a purple leotard with a full back-up band, 8 river-dancers, five foxtrotting mountain goats and the san francisco gay men’s choir or anything, i just wanna have coffee

Mr. Shue bounds in to announce that he’s been spying on their Regionals competition, the Hoosierdaddies (har) and that said Hoosierdaddies have a powerhouse singer who sits at pianos belting the national anthem for funsies. Therefore this week’s theme will be “Stadium Songs.”

i need a junior mint daddy and i want it nowwwwwwwwwwww!!!!

i want a junior mint daddy and i want it nowwwwwwwwwwww!!!!

But then the lights go out in the school and thus Mr. Shue must re-configure his master plan. Fuck Stadium Songs, these kids will now be tackling “Unplugged Week”!

If you're here from Ohio, or whatever, look no further, New York's hottest club is Ounce, located in the middle of the East River, this place has everything: cholos, puke people, a sheepdog that looks like Bruce Vilanch and an entire room of puppets doing karate

If you’re here from Ohio, or whatever, look no further, New York’s hottest club is Ounce, located in the middle of the East River, this place has everything: churros, puke people, a sheepdog that looks like Bruce Vilanch and an entire room of puppets doing karate

Cut to the Hallowed Hallways of McKinley High, which currently resemble a coal mine, where Ryder’s complaining to New Puck that katie_xoxo still won’t meet up with him. New Puck says he should cut this shit out, but Ryder insists katie_xoxo knows his deepest/darkest secrets, like secrets even New Puck doesn’t know, maybe even secrets the writers didn’t know about before writing this episode. New Puck advises Ryder Bieber-Strong to share his deep dark secrets with people he already knows.

look dude, don't sweat it, i'm not gonna tell anybody about our BJ practice sessions

look dude, don’t sweat it, i’m not gonna tell anybody about our BJ practice sessions


We then lace up our flower-print Doc Martens, hop aboard a runaway train and slingshot cross-country to the Barbie Dreamhouse Bushwick Loft in New York, New York, where Lady Hummel and The New Rachel have summoned Santana to sit in a chair so they can unleash a can of judgement upon her divine existence.

come on rachel just sit down and have a lap dance before you judge me for one more moment

come on rachel just sit in this chair and have a lap dance before you judge me for one more moment

Lady Hummel and The New Rachel, suddenly epic prudes, think Santana’s throwing her life away and sorely disapprove of Santana’s job at Coyote Ugly, using super sex-negative talk like “it’s bad enough that you let horny tourists grope you for tips” and scolding her for being a bouncer at a lesbian beer garden and a cage dancer at a girlbar, which’s ludicrous because at least half their classmates at Fake Julliard are doing the same goddamn thing, ladies gotta eat, welcome to the universe, little children of Ohio!

 

please sit down

please grab a juice box and a carpet square and two ginger snaps and let us know when you’re ready to learn a lesson

Also — and I say this as a person who’s been on Santana’s side of this conversation, but with slightly different context — this kind of judgery always gets my goat because it implies that jobs wherein sexual contact/sexuality are explicitly part of the job are somehow more demeaning or disempowering to women than jobs wherein sexual contact/sexuality isn’t explicitly part of the job. Sexism is an intrinsic element of most jobs, and I felt more violated by the insidious sexual harassment and blatant sexism of my pervy restaurant managers and I felt more disempowered by the boy’s club of publishing than I ever did in a job where the sexual element was out on the table from the get-go and priced accordingly.

Also being a cage dancer at a lesbian club is an awesome job! That’s where Whitney Mixter finds most of her girlfriends.

look ray-ray just 'cause i couldn't sneak you into henrietta's with that shitty fake ID doesn't mean you've gotta get all Judgey McJudgerson on me

look ray-ray just ’cause i couldn’t sneak you into henrietta’s with that shitty fake ID doesn’t mean you’ve gotta get all Judgey McJudgerson on me

Kurt and The New Rachel steamroll Santana’s valid point that she needs to work to make money to live, unlike them apparently, suggesting that she pursue her talents of singing and dancing. Even though she has three jobs. Two of which. Involve. Dancing. ANYHOO!

look santana, you need to get yourself new parents with lots of money so you can sit around all day judging other people for trying to make a living, like kurt and i do

look santana, you need to get yourself a new family with lots of money so you can sit around all day judging other people for trying to make a living, like kurt and i do

The New Rachel and Santana thus read a teleplay from Girls out loud to each other, with both ladies channeling Hannah in both mannerisms and speech:

Santana: “Well maybe I don’t wanna be in Funny Girl, okay? Or be a singing waiter at the Fires Island Pancake Shack. So why don’t you just stop trying to force all of your creaky old-time Broadway dreams onto my amazingly awesome dream.”
Rachel: “And what’s that.”
Santana: “I am trying to figure that out.”

Girls-channeling aside, it’s a vulnerable and authentic moment for Santana, who so rarely likes to admit that she’s not ten steps ahead of everybody else, including herself.  It was easier in high school to seem that way, but the whole “post-high-school plans” thing has been eroding her steely exterior for over a year now. Which is part of growing up, I guess.

Rachel and Kurt holler at Santana to remove the chair she found on the sidewalk, to which she probably responds:


We then wrap our feet in moleskin and our bodies in full-body Spanx and our heads in elephant condoms and fly back to Lima, Ohio, home to 97 law enforcement officials, where Mr. Shue’s lighting up my life with kerosene lamps. Sam performs “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers, which coincidentally is my new name for Kurt and Rachel’s new judgey attitude.

just please don't get a junior mint in my eyeball this time

just please don’t get a junior mint in my eyeball this time

Everybody sings along and has lots of feelings. Then it’s Artie’s turn, but Artie freaks about performing without his synth, but Sam points out Artie’s class privilege because Sam had to entertain Tiny Tim with two sticks and a bongo drum when his parents couldn’t pay the power bill. Also, Sam’s pissed that Artie was texting during his song.

Sam: “Everybody is so focused on being plugged in to the Twitterverse and the blogosphere that we don’t appreciate what’s actually right in front of us. And I think that’s just sad and lame.”

(as is using the word “lame”) (to artie, especially)

dude i'm just trying to mine some coal here, okay?

dude i’m just trying to mine some coal here, okay?


We then shift into wolves and run rapidly through the forests and streams all the way to New York, New York, where it appears Kurt is still employed at Vogue, although he seemingly hasn’t spoken to his boss since Christmas and has been “making his own schedule” all this time.

hello i'm here for the rim job?

hello i’m here for the rim job?

Sarah Jessica Parker asks how Burt’s doing, because she remembered the cancer thing (I didn’t), and he says his Dad’s doing fine. She then asks Kurt if he’d like to sub in as Celebrity Wranger for the New York City Ballet Educational Programs Superdance Danceshow Gala which is The Social Event of The Year. She says his friends can help out, because Glee.

i told you never to mention "sex and the city 2" in this office and you swore to never betray me

i told you never to mention “sex and the city 2″ in this office and you swore to never betray me


We then hop in our convertibles and zippity-zoom back to Lima, Ohio, where Sue Sylvester’s leading a sex riot aerobics class at 23 Hour Fitness.

now this is what i had in mind when i signed up to be a lesbian

now this is what i had in mind when i signed up to be a lesbian

Her class is chock-full of lithe professional dancers in coordinated outfits…

and now this move is for when you want to be penetrated extra deep

and now this move is for when you want to be penetrated extra deep

…and also Blaine! Who Sue mistook for an Israeli Lesbian.

caption

no thank you i do not want to touch your boobs

Also, this girl:

is definitely thinking about crayons and fruit punch

letting out a monster queef

After class, Blaine tells Sue that Roz wants the Cheerios to remove their ribs and that everybody at school’s still shaken up from the gun the gun the gun and they need Sue back at McKinley.


We then teleport back to the Barbie Bushwick Dreamhouse Loft, where Kurt proudly announces that they’re going to the New York City Ballet Superdance Tutu Gala as a family, inspiring sweet ballet-related memories and corresponding flashbacks from The New Rachel & Kurt.

baby kurt taking a stand for all of sparklepony kind

baby kurt taking a stand for all of sparklepony kind

Santana’s not wooed by the trip down memory lane:

Santana: “And I skipped all that crap to study the timeless art of crunk.”

Kurt quickly convinces Santana to tag along to the gala by promising a fancy gown from the Vogue archival closets.

i tell ya what little missy i'll even throw in black swan on blu-ray

i tell ya what little missy i’ll even throw in black swan on blu-ray


Back in The Glee Room, everybody’s got too many feelings, especially Ryder Bieber-Strong. He’s gonna sing Everybody Hurts, an R.E.M song that brings me back to my bathroom circa 1994, where I’d listen to this song on repeat while making lists of all the reasons I hated myself. It was awesome.

i don't need to open my mouth all the way, i can do this, just trust me, just throw me the junior mint

i don’t need to open my mouth all the way, i can do this, just trust me, just throw me the junior mint

Ryder’s unplugged emotions are spliced in with slow-mo flashbacks of various Glee kids getting slushied, a hammy-handed editorial decision so typical of Glee in the worst way.

At the song’s conclusion, Ryder Bieber-Strong admits his true intention has been to “unplug his feelings” and let them all know a thing before katie_xoxo spills his beans all over school. Here goes!

Ryder: “When I was 11, I was molested by my baby-sitter. She just walked in on me in the shower and she touched me.”
Sam: “Wait hold on did you just say “she”?”
Artie: “Like, as in a girl, Like a teenage girl?”
Ryder: “Yeah, she was like, 17, 18.”
Sam: “Dude, you were 11 and some hot 18-year-old plays with your junk, I would’ve killed for that.”
Artie: “Why are you ashamed of this?”

Oh, I don’t know. Probably because of shitty people like you saying shitty things like what you just said! That being said — this is out of character for Sam and Artie. I don’t believe they’d actually act like this. I get that this is commentary on the “double standard,” but commentary only works if you comment on it. Instead, it’s just thrown out there and never put into its appropriate context.

the incredibly true adventures of two girls who deserve solos

the incredibly true adventures of two girls who deserve solos

Ryder: “I don’t know, it kinda messed me up a bit. Like I have trouble trusting girls because of it, I think.”
Mr. Shue: “Guys, this is not something to high-five about. Ryder, I’m sorry but I’m obligated to report it.”
Ryder: “Whatever, she already got locked up, she was caught doing it to some other kid.”

Okay WHAT. What. Really. That’s all Mr. Shue’s got to offer the conversation? “This is not something to high-five about.” Why not, Mr. Shue? I think the children in this classroom would love for their teacher to explain why Sam and Artie’s comments are horrifically out of line. Furthermore, I get that he says the thing about reportage so we can get the exposition about Ryder’s sitter in the clanker, but that seems like a conversation best had after class. The conversation best had in class might be about why your Glee kids are all dicknails. Maybe before “I’m sorry but I’m obligated to report it” he could say “I’m sorry that that happened to you and I’m here if you need emotional support.” Anything? I’m going to throw a Rock Salt Slushie at Mr.Shue by the end of this season for real.

Sam: “I’m sorry but why is that a crime? I mean it’s every teenage boy’s fantasy, I mean there’s like 50 80′s movies about it —”

Tina: “Guys, this is so uncool.”
Marley: “His truth is his truth, not yours.”

Can somebody let the Glee writers know that being sexually molested or being transgender is not actually an example of a person’s “truth” but rather an example of a fact about that person? Thanks.

Ryder: “You know know what it’s cool. Uh, the guys are right. I don’t know what I was thinking. Um, I’m like the luckiest guy in here so… you know, yeah.”
Artie: “I mean, kid clearly has superior game.”


Fake Quinn, who’s been making compassionate faces in Ryder’s direction all episode, looks serious and removed and maybe even touched. But she doesn’t look surprised.

Glee420-00174

This scene is a Glee double-header, ’cause not only does the show treat the issue with complete disrespect, the characters do. Generally the characters exhibit everyday disregard and disrespect of their classmates and then summon giant wells of empathy and sentimentality for the issue-of-the-week but not today!


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Avatar of Riese

Riese is the CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1681 articles for us.

39 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    I just interneted instead of actually watching this episode, so I see why that would appeal to Ryder.

    After his big reveal I was like ‘nonononononononoonono this is going to be dealt with so badly or never addressed again’ so I stopped paying attention.

    Baby Santana is adorbs though.

  2. Thumb up 4

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    also i didn’t mention this in the recap, but did anybody else notice that the scene of interrogating becky that appeared in the preview didn’t appear in the actual essay? there’s also some episode stills i’ve seen around the internet from Fox where Blaine’s in a superhero outfit with a flashlight, which also never showed up in the episode. ISN’T THAT WEIRD YOU GUYS

  3. Thumb up 12

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    Riese,

    Thanks you so much for recapping this trainwreck every week – so we don’t have to watch all of it and skip the bits of awfulness. You always do a great job and it’s hilarious as always! I liked the NYC parts (as we all have agreed that part of this show is awesome), although I feel like Santana suddenly wanting to dance is a bit out of character? Wasn’t singing something she preferred doing instead? Also, just a side note – how much nicer would it have been if in that “At the Ballet” pic, instead of SJP, it’s actually Quinn singing? :-)

    I hated the McKinley parts.

    I HATED the molestation storyline.

    Perhaps because I had female friends who were molested as children. Because I had an ex-girlfriend whose cousin did that to her. Because I had a guy friend who was molested as a child. Because I worked with women and children who were survivors of sexual abuse and I remember one fifty-year old woman who, after having gotten married and having children, carried that secret and shame and anger of having been molested when she was a child and I remember when she finally came out with it, at fifty years old, that she was crying and crying and she still had that anger in her and she wished she could have done something about it then….

    I remember all these and it really makes me even more angry, BECAUSE GLEE HAS NO BUSINESS with dealing with a molestation storyline BECAUSE THIS IS AN ACTUAL THING that people actually have to live with and deal with and for some people it takes years and years to even actually come to terms with it and for Glee to decide to take it up as the “issue of the week” and have its characters think it’s cool, or treat it dismissively, or have Mr. Schue, who’s the ADULT in this show, dammit, say something like that, pisses me off even more, because this is just very disrespectful and irresponsible and f*cking offensive.

    Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

    This, in my opinion, is the MOST OFFENSIVE STORYLINE GLEE has ever made.

    And it angers me to no end. And makes my chest ache with rage.

    • Thumb up 2

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      I feel everything you said about the molestation storyline.

      Also I’m not sure if there was some warning on the actual episode or something, but I watched it on hulu and there wasn’t. Being completely unaware that there would be a molestation storyline and then suddenly hearing descriptions of it was triggering as fuck.

  4. Thumb up 10

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    “Sexism is an intrinsic element of most jobs, and I felt more violated by the insidious sexual harassment and blatant sexism of my pervy restaurant managers and I felt more disempowered by the boy’s club of publishing than I ever did in a job where the sexual element was out on the table from the get-go and priced accordingly.”

    True story, I would rather strip than work as a night waitress again. In exotic dance I get to be in control of my money and who I dance privately for (it’s actually a fantastic lesson in small business ownership if you can handle it) and, because sexuality is part of the service, it’s monetized and monitored. People get bounced for groping a stripper without permission. That’s bad for business. When I was waitressing, being groped or harassed by both employees and patrons was ignored because it was more important to keep the customers and owners happy than to keep me safe. I never felt as demeaned in exotic dance as I did serving.

    Also, I can’t even talk about the molestation storyline because it makes me livid. This is why so many men have a hard time getting help and, quite frankly, says a lot about rape culture that any unwanted sexual advance is ever considered cool or lucky.

    • Thumb up 3

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      yes yes yes yes yes. all of this. especially re: waitressing and the patrons; everything we’re expected to put up with for free, just for being human females with bodies

  5. Thumb up 5

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    Dude, serious shout out to the follow spot operators in At The Ballet. That was some solid work. Not to mention the amazing demonstration of all the cool stuff you can do with intelligent lights. The lighting designer made the lights dance! In my opinion, Glee is at its best when it sticks to theatre.

  6. Thumb up 2

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    I’m slightly handicapped by not actually watching the show, just reading recaps, but the aerobics class is a parody of the Eric Prydz “Call On Me” video, is it? The pictures of the girls and Blaine look staged that way.

    • Thumb up 9

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      Brittany is on vacation in Ponyville.
      Teen Jesus is playing at some Christian concert.
      Sugar returned to the future.

      Glee doesn’t care about them so I’m going to pretend that this is what happened.

  7. Thumb up 0

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    I live for these reviews. Bra. Vo.
    And I agree with Weevil, Naya is way too talented for the limited and stunted role she has on this show. So are Chris, Lea, and Cory.
    All of them need to leave the sinking ship ASAP.

  8. Thumb up 0

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    When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be a ballerina…I wanted to be an Archaeologist. Indiana Jones made the job look so glorious and dangerous and adventurous…That would have been the dream. But no. Instead I grew up to be a friggin’ dog groomer. A DOG GROOMER!

    On another note, I did love the NY side of this episode (though I’m very late in the game with this comment). Naya is ALWAYS so damn flawless, and breathtaking and just so stinking perfect and gorgeous. That purple dress was…no words. I was left speechless! And that Alexander McQueen dress in that first scene had me picking my jaw up off the floor. It was so short, and tight!

    The Molestation story was just too much. Not even going there. It hits too close to home and so I’m just going to pretend that it NEVER happened.

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