Glee 221 Recap: “Funeral”, or “Back to Black”

Well! What a doozie! I mean. Wow! JESUS CHRIST ON A CRACKER! I mean, what a FUCKING EPISODE, right?! Right guys?

Just kidding, did they make this episode just specifically to piss me off? (Sometimes I feel like Ilene Chaiken does that to me IN MY SLEEP!) Did they think “which storylines does Riese NOT GIVE TWO SHITS ABOUT, let’s ONLY DO THOSE”? I mean. And then — and THEN! — “which plot device will, inevitably, still make her eyes water, and which songs will make her heart sing, so that she feels conflicted about wasting this precious time so close to Nationals?” well if that’s what they thought then they’re wrong. I’m not conflicted.

I found this Getty Stock Image that best explains how this episode made me feel:

The good news is that my intern, her name is Grace or “Intern Grace” for short, really handled my Devil Wears American Apparel graphic-related demands this week with aplomb. Did you know that Sue Sylvester walking down the hallway looks just like Frankie walking down the hallway?


Did you know that Sue Sylvester sometimes looks like Bette?

The more you know!


So, the show! Actually before I begin I want to say that it’s really late on Thursday, I’ve been in flight all day, am currently in Michigan a mere 3 hrs away from the Lima, Ohio Cracker Barrel, and wordpress just erased 30 minutes of work on this thing just for funsies! So I’m sorry if it’s not funny.

It’s another morning in Lima Ohio where Mr. Shu has mixed up his weekly ritual of writing on a whiteboard and then underlining it by writing the word on the whiteboard BEFORE the children arrive and NOT underlining it! This week, the word is “NATIONALS.”

Will opens by informing the children that Jesse St. James, once again wearing a homosexual outfit, has been added to Glee Club as a “consultant.” Because you know, for weeks everyone in Glee’s been sitting at home in the darkness binging on tater tots, drinking wine coolers and crying WHY DON’T WE HAVE A CONSULTANT IF ONLY WE HAD A CONSULTANT WE COULD WIN NATIONALS WHERE IS OUR GOLDEN CONSULTANT.

"rock and roll" -rex manning

Regardless, clearly McKinley High is so fond of inexplicable plot devices that the kid from the other school who fucked Glee at nationals last year and got into a fist-fight at prom last week is now on payroll.

How does The Glee Club feel about this last-minute addition to their “team”?

Jesse’s big idea is that they should center the show around their strongest performer, and everyone knows it’s Blaine. Just kidding it’s Rachel. Just kidding there’s a sign-up sheet on the door. Just kidding obviously it’s gonna be rigged because Jesse is dumb/evil.


Sue wants to fly the Glee Club to Libya so they’ll be swarmed and murdered by militants, and also, she fired Becky, and now Becky wants to be in Glee and Will says no, she can’t, because Nationals is coming up and they just can’t deal with a new member right now.

look, i liked the wallpaper, so i turned it into a dress. what's the big deal

I’m pretty sure Will is gonna let Becky in anyhow and I’m mentally preparing myself for the “people with Downs Syndrome can sing too!” episode which undoubtedly would end with Becky covering We R Who We R backed by a 50-piece orchestra and Cirque du Soleil trapeeze artists.

Which — to be fair — would’ve been AWESOME.

Then Becky says, “I just want to belong,” which I mean. Crack my heart open with a screwdriver.

But Will stands his ground. Hm. Well played, Will. Well played.

(What’s the purpose of this scene, then? It must be relevant to a future scene which will undoubtedly irritate the fuck out of me.)


Will goes to yell at Sue about firing Becky.

Turns out Sue fired Becky because Becky reminded Sue of her sister and Sue’s sister died. Womp Womp.


Here’s the thing about teevee episodes involving the death of an immediate family member — a sibling, a parent, a child — if you’re one of the people, as I am, who’s lost a parent/sibling/child, the episode is always about you. Grief actually isn’t that complicated, and television generally does it about as awkwardly as we do it ourselves, though more contained, sometimes. But all that benign grief is there at the surface, you know? Bette’s Dad was my dad. So was Dawson Leary’s Dad, and Miranda’s Mom, and Nate/David/Claire Fisher’s Dad…. it actually doesn’t even need to be good to make you feel sad!

But also — I came here for Brittana.


So are you following? So far the girl with Downs Syndrome has been fired by Sue Sylvester and summarily rejected from Glee Club. Finn has upset Quinn with his love for Rachel and Jesse has upset Finn with HIS love for Rachel, which manifests as Jesse ripping on Finn’s singing/dancing skills. Then Sue’s totally nice sister died. Will has been in like every scene so far. We even had to spend time in Will’s bedroom looking at his clothing.

shenny did it better

So basically everyone is sad or dead, including me.

Also, Finn has no confidence and won’t audition for Glee and Jesse fucked up all of his confidence in ten seconds. Lesbians are so insecure, probably because people were assholes to us in high school.

You know what Finn should do? He should put “at least mike chang can dance” on a white t-shirt, and go sing “Closer to Fine” on the stage while the rest of us eat our Jell-O and wonder why Brittany and Santana are not making out.


Also Finn and Kurt, aka Team Lesbigay, visit Sue to offer their Grieving Expertise or support or something. They’re like little cub scouts, Kurt is the smart one and Finn is the one everyone wants to talk to.

wreath + garden + birdcage = grieving flower boquet

Somewhere in here they get the idea to throw her a funeral, because both of them are, basically, big softies who love feelings. Sue Sylvester is the opposite of that. And opposites. Attract.

who wore it best

I gotta hand it to Jane Lynch this episode. Much like being waterboarded, it’s not easy to play a ruthless semi-psychotic Darwinist bully trickster being in grief. But she does it. It’s shocking at first ’cause Sue’s always so dry — so that flat monotone is in full effect, but this time there’s no snap at the end, just a dry dull sadness.

Sue: “So how do you think you can help me? Are you here to tell me how to deal with this?”
Kurt: “Not at all–”
Sue: “Because if I’m being honest with you, Eddie Munster and Herman Munster, I don’t know how to deal with this. I can’t go back into that nursing home and start sorting through Jene’s things, and I won’t plan a funeral. If you boys would really like to help me you might start by trying to explain to me why it was her time and not mine. She’s the sweetest person I ever met. and as both of you can attest, i’m probably the meanest, so how come i’m still the one standing here talking to you?”

Jesus fucking Christ my eyes are watering again.

no, we didn't plan this. we just both like stripes.

The Lost Boys return to Glee Club with grand plans for a … FUNERAL! Why would they wanna throw a funeral for that bitch Sue Sylvester, is the question. They argue that it’s outside loyalty — they’re not doing it for the “bitch”, it’s for the bitchin’ sister.

The kids still seem a bit wary, considering the funeral will probably take up valuable time they could spend having conversations in their bedrooms while looking in the mirror. These kids love mirrors.

(Does Will still write lesson plans? Kinda feel like the kids are constantly running the show these days, with all of Rachel’s announcements she oughta be promoted to Vice Principal or something.)

Jesse thinks throwing the funeral is a bad idea.

Jesse: Can I say something? When someone dies, yes, it’s a tragedy, but it’s also a part of life. And you can’t let death put you life on hold. Now, I don’t mean to be blunt, but I don’t think you should be planning a funeral the same week you should be focusing on the set list for Nationals.

Finn: Seriously? You… you’re serious?

Jesse: Actually, yes, I am. Do you know what Vocal Adrenaline is doing right now? They’re in their third week of 24-hour-a-day rehearsals. They’re on an I.V. drip. That’s how hard they’re working. Do you know what happens in Vocal Adrenaline if someone dies during a number? They use them as a prop, like Weekend at Bernie’s.

Well they’re definitely gonna lose because you can’t win if you’re sleep deprived. BAM!

to the left to the left


It’s time for auditions and Jesse, the ambitious asshat that he is, lets Will know he’s practicing for a big career as a reality show judge, which I mean — duh Simon Cowell, I see how this is gonna be. They’ve got a lot in common, like big egos and a good resume for the job. Will will be a conglomerate of Randy’s cheesiness, Ellen’s kindness and Paula’s dim-witted-ness.

You know I just recognized Will’s haircut: Justin Timberlake. N’Sync. Quite some time ago.

have you seen hey paula

I think Will’s got brain damage of some sort. Maybe from when that stranger offered him candy and a ride home from school and then decked him with a baseball bat.  Sue could’ve wiped his dumb ass onto the pavement in episode 111 (Hairography) just by setting up a few Home Aloney booby traps or just hired a wicked witch to lure Will into a gingerbread house.

Basically, what’s about to happen here is that Santana will blow it out of the ballpark, Kurt will climb the fence and grab the ball and throw it back into the stadium, and then Mercedes will catch the ball and score a home run. Then Will will clap softly and Jesse will hurl emotional tomatoes violently at the stage.

First up is  Santana, doing “Back to Black” which has been in my head ever since. She’s got this thing she does — like she’s dressaging her sexuality, like she knows just how to perform heterosexuality, how to play it, but she’s a little bit above it at the same time. She’s sassy but dark too. Classy. That rhymes. Raspy.

Following this incredible performance, Jesse juices up the enema and expels it into hate speech about the best two minutes of this program.

Don’t rain on that bitch’s parade, pretty boy. Don’t you dare. She will crack your barrel.


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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, 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! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3212 articles for us.


  1. These people who don’t even have a set list for Nationals were complaining about Jesse St. James but he was right most of the time.
    Mercedes is not as hungry as Rachel even though they’re more or less on the same level talent-wise, Finn is not the best male singer (Artie is. I hate him but it’s true) and planning a funeral for someone they don’t even know is not the best use of their time when they’re so close to a competition they spent 2 years trying to get to.
    That said, Jane lynch was amazing in this episode. Amazing.

    • I agree. What Jesse said to the club was very accurate. They should be spending time on Nationals. Santana could have been way more emotional with the song; I mean she’s a great singer, but she draws from bitchiness more than emotion, which is her character. Kurt did amazing, and Jesse didn’t say he didn’t, but how many people can handle Kurt singing girl songs? I wish more could. I really do, and I almost want Glee Club to say fuck it, and make Kurt the lead. Mercedes also is an amazing singer, but her whole attitude on practice is wrong (I was in choir; even if you’re as good as Mercedes, you still have to practice.) As annoying as Rachel can be at times, her whole life is performing songs, which is why she often gets the solos and what not. Then again, all these characters are supposed to be teenagers…

  2. No, no, they don’t have a week to write, choreograph, and practice their original songs! They had a week left at the beginning of the episode, and then several days passed (to plan the funeral, have the audition, etc). At best they have a couple of days to do the sort of thing that real show choirs spend months and months practicing. Given that I think Will said something about “…on the plane” in the last scene, they might just have the plane ride and the few hours before Nationals to do it.

    Yeah. I kind of want to hit my head hard against my desk a few times, but I can’t because I’m in bed and I’m too lazy to get up and go to my desk.

    Complaining aside, Jane Lynch was so great in this episode though! And I was very impressed by that backbend Chris Colfer did in his audition song–if you’ve ever tried that, you’ll know it’s really, really hard to do.

    The lack of Brittana makes me sad. :( Is it too much to ask for Nationals to end with a heartfelt on-stage declaration of love between Brittany and Santana before they hop the state line and elope in Connecticut? I don’t think so.

  3. 1. ahhahahhaahahahahaha
    2. The episode wasn’t THAAAAAT bad. I found it not at all heartwrenching, but I think it was well-constructed (although I, like you, have interest only in Brittana makeouts and found the entire thing tiresome on the whole).
    3. Thank you for being in my life.

  4. I would watch the hell out of Brittany, Santana, and Kurt just sitting around, being vampires.

  5. Somebody please lock Ryan Murphy in his cellar so he isn’t able to write anything anymore and put it on our teevee screens and make us lose the best moments of ours lives. Please, somebody. Please.

  6. This episode was lame. Funerals and people dying? Not even remotely fun. Especially when it’s a show about fucking show choir. Major downer. And then it was just performances back to back to back with hardly any story. Zzz. Thank god for Jesse’s snarly comments, even if having to see Will be a douche per usual annoyed me.

    And lastly, OHMYFUCKINGGOD STOP GIVING LEA MICHELE SOLOS. I am so sick of hearing her sing slow, boring Broadway numbers. This shit is written into her contract because it sure as fuck doesn’t help the momentum of this show every week. Lea Michele is a good singer, but I don’t know why they act like she is better than everyone else. She isn’t. Naya is just as good. Amber is better. And Cory isn’t the best guy. Personally, I think Mark is the best.

  7. This episode was terrible. I spent at least half of it rolling my eyes and fast-forwarding. And I can be fairly obsessed with Glee.

    I mostly feel that THEY felt that they needed to give Sue her own ‘very special episode’ to submit to whoever votes for the Emmy noms. Jane Lynch is amazing, but seriously.

  8. I am convinced that Quinn’s plan is to run away to a lesbian colony with Santana.

  9. This recap just made my (usually unbearable) work day.




  10. there were so many plot holes in this episode I can’t even.
    I mean, how did they get the money to hire a consultant when a week ago they were selling taffy to raise money?
    Also I agree that Will was a douche to let Jesse stay for so long.
    Also more Brittana please.
    I’m convinced/hopeful the season finale will end with them together.

    • Also, didn’t Ned – I mean, Sandy Ryerson give them all of his drug money for Nationals or something? Did that not happen? Am I delusional?

      (not that I care – plot holes are the essence of Glee, and I actually think they make the show…better?)

      • I think Sandy gave the money to the mathletes or whatever group it was Ryan Murphy made up just for that one pointless episode. The Brainiacs? I cared so little I didn’t bother to remember their name. Whatever group the Glee club was trying to raise money for. Sandy gave it to them.

      • sandy did give the glee club money, yes, but then the next week will started talking about needing to sell taffy again. i don’t know.

        also, glee couldn’t get one single person to come to their benefit concert but sue puts them on the schedule for the funeral so that she can guarantee a “full house”?

  11. This episode was such pointless filler. The audition performances were all very good, but a waste of time. (Yes, even Santana singing “Back to Black” was a waste of time. Although her running her hands down the mic stand in such a way as to make me jealous of said mic stand – not a waste of time.)

    The only plausible reasons for the death storyline were a) to have an easy way to redeem Sue’s character and b) to give Jane Lynch an Emmy reel.

    Also, Jesse St. James Jesse St. Sucks. What a douche. The only reason he’s back is to draw out the Finchel drama some more.

    And no Brittana = :(

    • yeah i agree, everything was a waste of time. besides quinn and finn breaking up AGAIN, absolutely nothing happened in this episode that will matter next week. i’m not sure what the purpose is of these episodes, they did the same thing with the one about the benefit concert — like why the hell are we spending time on THIS, you know?

      • Because clearly Ryan Murphy doesn’t know how to plan out a season, or storyboard, or anything that would make the plot of this show make any sense whatsoever. I started watching Glee because YAY Broadway people on my TV! but now I’m just in it for Santana.

        • I seriously could not agree with you any more. As a theatre kid, I was so excited when I heard about Glee for the first time, but I cannot get through one friggin episode without yelling at my tv out of frustration. DAMN YOU GLEE for introducing a lesbian storyline that I’m contractually obligated to watch due to my gayness.

          • actually ditto, as an accidentally constant friend-of-theater-people i’d been hearing about this show for ages before it came out and was really excited about the SINGING AND DANCING! which i still enjoy.

            i actually did stop watching it mid-season one? and then picked it back up because brittany and santana were making out this one time that it was on. i’d watch bits and pieces to it while re-writing/editing other people’s recaps, which i believe we stopped doing after a while, and then re-started in season two but what’s really funny is that i’ve never once wondered what i missed w/r/t the second half of season one, because none of it has been relevant!!

  12. With all this talk about people you love, I feel like all I did this episode was cry my eyes out, and then cry some more. All I could think about was, “Even though I’m graduating, I’ll be tethered to my family and I’ll miss them so much forever and everrrrr!” *CUE SOBBING*

    Lord, I’m not even done yet and I’m already crying about missing people. Is there any hope for me to survive college/what is this I never cry?

    • You will survive college, and then sob/freak out again at THAT graduation. Life is a series of awesomenesses and then goodbyes. It sucks, but it’s how it works.

      • I just wanted to say you have the best avatar of all time.
        I miss Willow and Tara and “The Body” was one of the best hours of TV I have ever seen.

        • Me too. They were my first introduction to shipping. The show was very metaphorical with their relationship for quite a while, even though the lesbian community picked it up from the start. Cripes, we had to wait almost a year for that kiss from “The Body”. I hope Brittana doesn’t take that long….

  13. Riese I absolutely love your recaps! I notice you’ve been mentioning how Mercedes needs a boyfriend in the past couple recaps so I just wanted to chime in on that subject. I’m not sure if you know about the Oprah Channel (or whatever it’s called) doing that Idol spinoff ‘The Glee Project,’ and forgive me if you know this already, but apparently Ryan Murphy has said that if a guy wins the guest role on Glee, he will be a love interest for Mercedes.
    So hopefully she will have that boyfriend next season!

  14. The Glee school really needs to hire a real guidance counselor because some of these characters are dangerously crazy.

    Rachel: that boy threw eggs at your fucking face. Get over him. Or at least get off his balls.
    Quinn: for someone who cares about image so much, why are you so pathetic? I am embarrassed. For you.

    I bet one of these girls will commit a murder next season. You know, for “love.”

  15. 1. I love Mercedes. I want girlfriend to get some action. But the part of me that remembers being single and prospect-less all through high school (and most of college, but we don’t have to talk about that) also wants there to be a strong female character on this show who just doesn’t date even though she wants to and even though she’s awesome. That’s just how it is for lots of people. I wish it wasn’t Mercedes though.

    2. Whenever I watch Glee, my face is doing whatever Lauren’s face is doing. How long do I have to wait for Lauren to get more face time on this situation?

  16. “…and I mean — one tear? Really? No that’s not enough feeling. You can’t shortchange a lesbian on feelings and not expect us to notice.”

    HAHAHAHA hilarious!

  17. Totally, Brittany, Santana and Kurt would make awesome vampires. I really want to see that episode!

  18. Ryan Murphy, your existence makes me sad. Your entire purpose in your career is to write teevee and this is what you produce. If you didn’t piss me off so much I would feel sad for you.

  19. Sometimes Sue Sylvester looks like Joyce from the L Word.

    Hmmmm. Also, i loved jesse when he was on prior to egging rachel..but now he sucks hardcore.

    • “Sometimes Sue Sylvester looks like Joyce from the L Word.”

      Touché. Honestly, I was just hoping for a “Lip Service” tangent. #iamalwayshopingforthis

  20. Jesse St. James is SO gay. I think the Glee writers forgot how to write any not-gay characters who aren’t….wait, yeah, I think the writers forgot how to write straight people.

    • I was under the impression that the jessie st. james acting super gay thing was intended to be humorous, e.g. the “masculine click of my designer shoes” line?

  21. All I can think of when I see Kurt is…you look just like Peter Pan.

    This episode was just really tedious. I will rampage the streets in the manner of Godzilla if Brittana is not sorted next week.

  22. Watching Glee is like eating 16 bags of donuts at the same time…but why all the hating on Will? He’s an unbelievable cheesy character, but in an unbelievably cheesy show, what does it matter? I only recently started watching. Did he do something specific [besides wearing all those sweater vests?]

    • I’m not sure. I started disliking him early on, with full blown hatred coming on right around the time he thought it was a perfectly acceptable idea for him to play Rocky in a show where his sixteen-year-old student sings a song about how much she wants to have sex with him.

  23. totes watching true blood right now.

    can i please please see some sort of santana sophie-anne leclerq situation? maybe? anybody?

  24. My b friend (hey) just showed me your site. We are not only impressed with the incredible wit (literally laughin up the Friday night) and how organized everything is. Linkin all the references had to be a lot of work people, but it is well worth it. Keep up the great work; you just got a few new fans. =v9

  25. The ONLY good thing about this episode was Santana’s mind-blowingly amazing job at Back to Black. My mom even initiated a conversation with me just to tell me that she liked that “Latina lesbian” rendition of Amy Winehouse. YAAAAYYYY!!!

    Also, did anyone else feel uncomfortable that none of the Glee kids were appropriately dressed for a funeral? Who the hell wears red and white to a funeral!?

    • YES! It’s not like there’s a secret dress code for funerals that high school students couldn’t manage! It’s black, dudes. You’re in show choir, you should have at least one all black outfit.

  26. 1. This: “The Autowin Award for the Worst Edit of the Year goes to the Cotton-Commercial montage of Finn’s goofy lezmug in his Varsity Jacket, smiling like he just won the Soapbox Derby and the prize was a pizza party, spliced into the opening of Lea’s song.” Yes! Those were my feelings.

    2. Not enough Santana and Brittany

    3. I have similar feelings about Ilene Chaiken

    4. Santana singing Back to Black… that’s now how my dreams start.

  27. as much as shuester normally drives me insane, this episode just freaking.. i mean, he couldn’t have let becky take attendance? that’s all she did on the cheerios. he has to say NO? how and why. how and why?! i swear they design him to send me over the edge.

    my number one feeling is santana. obvs, but still.

  28. Oh, Team Furt. I love them. And Jane Lynch. And pretty much everyone except Artie (misogynistic bastard) and Will (every conviction he has changes within 5 minutes).

  29. Just saying Imma kill anyone who doesn’t wear black to my funeral, why glee kids? why? Santana did it right.

    • Tell me about it. Unless the funeral organiser specifies a different dress code, you wear black and cover up for a funeral. Anything else is rude!

  30. I totally just misread the advert for ‘Wet Seal Teen Girls’ as ‘We Sell Teen Girls’. I was quite worried for the intergrity of the site until I realised my brain is fuzzy from TOO MUCH GAYAGE.

  31. This episode confused me ..a lot. They only have a week till they have to go to New York and they still don’t have a set list?I feel like they do have a set list but maybe I just didn’t pay action because of all the gay being thrown in my face…

  32. I know I’m reading this really late, but if anyone scrolls down to these comments, next episode: incredibly gay song by brittany:

    Brittany :
    I got you in the palm of my hand
    Wanna put something hot in you
    So hot that you can’t stand

    Gonna take you to my lips
    Empty out every last drop
    So thirsty for what’s in you baby
    That I can’t stop

    In the middle of the night, I’m in bed alone
    Don’t care if you’re glass, paper, styrofoam
    When I need some water, baby

    Coffee or gin
    You’re the only thing, I wanna put them in
    My cup, My cup
    Sayin’ “what’s up?”
    To my cup
    My cup

    More of a friend than a silly pup
    My cup
    You know what it is
    Sayin’ “What’s up?”
    To my cup

    Sayin’ “What’s up?”
    To my cup
    Sayin’ “What’s up?”
    To my cup

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