Hello and welcome to the eleventh episode of the fifth season of Glee, a series created by a classroom of stoned high school sophomores about the fictional lives of a group of teenagers and their families residing in the affluent seaside community of Newport Beach in Orange County, California. It includes hot topics and in-depth discussions about issues like tomato juice, toddlers w/o tiaras, chambray shirts, oxy, sports cars, Claire from Season Two of The Real L Word, Midol, and The Abbey.
I feel like it bears mentioning before we get into this that as a human who has dealt with The Worst Situation Ever w/r/t losing someone to a sudden unexpected death, I often employ humor to deal with grief and nothing in that arena is off-limits for me, but I’m trying to be as sensitive as possible. I feel this bears mentioning because somebody on Tumblr wrote that they hoped Riese from Autostraddle felt guilty about all those potato jokes now that Cory Monteith is dead — so I just wanna be sure nobody’s confused about the fact that those jokes were about a character, not a human being, and that I am profoundly aware of the difference. Finn in all his starchiness wasn’t real, but Cory is, and his death is fucking sad and tragic and heartbreaking, and nothing I ever said or will say about Finn should be taken as me taking Cory’s death lightly. It’s awkward, though, because whereas Dana and Jenny’s deaths have offered many L Word recappers and fans opportunities for dark humor, you can’t really do that here, because the actor is also dead. It makes writing this really tough, and is one of the reasons I was pretty grateful that Kate recapped the tribute episode (which I’ve yet to see in its entirety) for me.
We open in Sir William’s office, which is a thing he has now. He calls Sam in to tell Sam that Finn was the best, he was their secret weapon, and now if Sam could just fill those shoes, that’d be GREAT.
Then Burt and Carol, a.k.a., The Hummel-Hudsons, show up to tell the Glee Club that it’d mean a lot to Finn if they won, and not like they have to win for Finn or anything, but also it’d be SO super cool if they just won for Finn. Not like they have to but it’d be cool if they did. Just you know. If they could. Try. to win. for. Finn.
We then transform into birds and fly all the way to sunny Los Angeles, California, which’s funny ’cause IRL they were already in Los Angeles.
They’re singing a weird song called “We Love L.A” and it doesn’t hold a CANDLE to Romi Klinger’s hit single “Gay in LA,” which would’ve been more fitting for this scene.
Cut to the hotel where the children are dawdling when who should show up but Mercedes Jones! Mercedes Jones is now a total baller with a fake chihuahua, just like my chihuahua Tinkerbell!
Mercedes gives them the low-down on her Hot New Career:
Mercedes: “I was selling my CD Hell 2 The No in a parking lot.”
Mercedes: “Now I ain’t gonna lie, business was whack. But then this Mexican lady bought one. I think she felt sorry for me.”
Mercedes: “Turns out that Mexican angel on earth was the housekeeper to Kanye West. She gave it to Kanye, who gave it to Kim, and she gave it to Ryan Seacrest, who gave it to Sony Records — the Sony Records.”
Mercedes: “Next thing I know, I’m sipping Perrier with a bunch of rich dudes.”
Snap to Mercedes telling the rich dudes what’s what: She’ll write for the artists on their label, but she wants her own album deal with all the perks, “all the P&A that you can muster” (that stands for Poppers & Alcohol, FYI) and two music videos “that you pay for.”
Meanwhile, Sir William’s struggling to check in his tiny button children because Sue called the hotel, pretended to be a police officer, and told them to call the FBI if “a 50-year old Ohio Man with a perm who had abducted 12 emotionally disturbed teenagers” came in to book a room.
Hark! Blaine spots Throat Explosion creeping through the hotel’s entrance, wearing all black because they are really intense humans who read a lot of show choir blogs.
Jean-Baptiste tries to psych out the New Directions, but Sam Evans tells him to hit the road because Sam Evans is being a LEADER. Jean-Baptise promises that his crew will crush the New Directions “like a bug.”
Ryder, dressed like an idiot, goes to visit Marley-Kate, who has her own hotel room because she’s a Diva.
Ryder says he’s been Facebook-stalking her and was disturbed to see she was a fan of Autostraddle JUST KIDDING was disturbed to see that she no longer identified as a “Singer/Songwriter.” She now identifies as Cisgender Female Undecided. Marley-Kate admits that she’s abandoned her dreams, ’cause she entered a lot of songwriting contest but lost all of them and so now she wants to quit Glee Club for Accounting Club. She makes Ryder promise not to tell anybody, which means he’s probs going to tell someone immediately.
Cut to that evening, when the New Directions are being super wild and sneaking into the auditorium for a little midnight practice. Unique is frightened, but Blaine’s like, “trust me, when I was in the Warblers, sneaking onto stage the night before a show was tradition.”
Then, who should arrive but the monochrome homos of THROAT EXPLOSION! What will they do now? Who will get to keep the rehearsal space?
Instead of having a Truth-or-Dare-Off, they just say mean things to each other until Sam holds up a picture of Finn. The picture of Finn has magical powers in that it makes everyone else in the room feel really awful and awkward. Jean-Baptise says everyone knows they’re “that Glee Club” who lost a friend this year and so he’ll let them have the auditorium.
It’s also kinda tacky as a device, but whatever. The New Directions get to keep the space and rejoice within it.
After a delightful commercial break, Sam and Tina are chilling with The Hummel-Hudsons, chatting about how much they love sports teams and show choirs. Tina laments that she’ll have such an empty life without Glee Club, and Carol is like, “well, at least you’ll get to have one.” Ouch.
Carol says she can’t be around all of Finn’s friends. Yeah, I feel you. Also, she feels like her insides are being ripped out. Can I just say that it feels really weird to have the first episode that actually acknowledges Finn’s death since the Death Episode not contain one single moment of his ex-girlfriend Rachel Berry, or his brother, Kurt, the former of whom has been a bit off the walls lately and both of whom, in real life, would probably still be in a deep depressive fog or the equivalent coping technique at this point? But… now that I think about it, I doubt Lea wants to play out her grief on screen, so actually this is the more respectful choice. Moving on!
Meanwhile in a Hotel Room Housing Two People We Don’t Care About, Ryder Bieber-Strong asks New Puck to put his shirt on so nobody knows that they just banged. New Puck says that Ryder should’ve waited ’til Marley’s body was no longer warm to ask her out. You know like when she became a Vampire.
The instant they decide to be friends again, Ryder confesses that Marley-Kate’s gonna drop out of Glee Club because her songs didn’t win the song contest, so they decide to deliver a tape of her sweet sweet music to Mercedes Jones, who will thus save the day. WE’RE MEN AND WE SAVE WOMEN!
The next day, Sam’s in a hot panic ’cause his Special Finn Plaque’s nowhere to be seen. Blaine is probably thinking to himself that Kurt has 15 of them under his bed.
Sam spots Throat Explosion passing their bus and lunges at them to demand the return of their Piece of Wood.
Jean-Baptiste: “Everybody knows all your decent singers graduated, and a little piece of wood with a picture of a guy on it isn’t gonna change—”
Sam: “You’re a tool, man!”
Luckily, says Sam the Leader, they have the spirit of love inside their souls and it will burst forth and they will win the National Championships. Sam assures them that Finn will be sitting right next to Mr.Shue, cheering them on, which kinda sucks for Finn ’cause he’s gonna have to sit in somebody’s lap.
Sam: “When we win our second nationals trophy, Finn’s gonna be cheering us on even louder!”
It will probably sound like it did when G-d gave Moses the Ten Commandments. It’s gonna be THAT REAL.
After a short break to pop some popcorn and pick our wedgies, we return to the Competition, for the funniest part of the whole episode:
Announcer: “A reminder from the City of Angels! The 405 Freeway is closed for repairs this month. Also the subway isn’t working and bus service has been cancelled because of snipers. Also if you try to walk, people will look at you weird. Also watch out for terrorists.”
The judges include Academy Award Winner Marlee Matlin, Jackèe (who you may recall from the best show ever Sister Sister) and the inventor of Prancercize. Marlee Matlin wins because she won’t actually have to hear any of this nonsense.
The first group, the Amazonians, is unfortunately not a band of women descended from the Amazon Lesbians of Yore but rather a bunch of teenagers dressed like pornographic peaclock clowns doing “Vacation” by Belinda Carlisle.
Next up is Throat Explosion. They’re wearing weird costumes and masks and doing a lot of robot moves to “Mr. Roboto/Counting Stars.”
I guess that was supposed to be really good. It seemed good, I think?
Backstage, Sam’s peeking into the great wide beyond in search of Burt and Carol, but alas they are nowhere to be seen.
Will tries to pump up his team of bizarre teenagers with emotional side-parts and lackluster hernias by reminding them that they’re not like the other teams here because they don’t have like, the budget of a Hollywood television studio, or a pool of thousands of talented singers or dancers to choose from. Instead they have to perform in dumb shirts with Ryder Bieber-Strong.
Will says, “we didn’t come here to win, we came here to sing and dance our hearts out.” But then who should show up but Good ‘Ol Carol, insisting that that’s “horse shit.”
Carol: “You guys are his legacy, which means I don’t wanna hear any garbage about doing your best or giving it the old college try. Go out there and wipe the floor with the other teams!”
The New Directions do what they always do at Nationals, which is Something Underwhelming involving light rock ballads and walking from the front of the stage to the back of the stage and then from the side of the stage to the other side of the stage. They open with “More Than A Feeling,” starring Tina and Blaine. It’s like going to the pediatrician but in tuxedos!
Next up is another favorite of my orthodontist, “America” by Neil Diamond. What movie was this in?
Then we get to U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” I like U2 but my girlfriend hates U2! These are the problems that define and control our daily lives.
Then Carol says that they’re singing all of Finn’s favorite songs, so I immediately feel like an asshole for hating it and almost start crying. Then they start showing little clips of Finn and now I’m fully tearing up. But actually not about Finn, actually about Cory! Jesus fuck. He was just this Canadian kid in a hotel room with his whole life ahead of him with all these people who loved him. Fucking awful.
After the performance, they celebrate backstage and Sir William finds Sam sulking in the wings, worried he didn’t do a good enough job. Sir William is like, ‘you did great,’ and then they hug it out.
Cut to another soundstage, another show, where Marley-Kate is outside practicing her “listless” facial expression. Mercedes Jones — who, by the way, looks AMAZING — pops by to tell Marley-Kate that she can only throw herself a pity party for three minutes when her song gets rejected.
Mercedes says to Marley-Kate that she got dumped from her first record label and lost all her solos to Rachel Berry and had to wear some really terrible outfits and put tater-tots in her pockets and didn’t get a love interest until Season Three, but now look she’s wearing a fancy coat and has a record contract and is Boss.
Marley-Kate is like, how did you know about my songs, and I’m like, wow I have not even been paying close enough attention to this episode to know what you guys are talking about. Mercedes tells Marley-Kate that she’s got talent to the gills! THE GILLS!
Deep in the hallowed harnesses of Sunny Los Angeles, the Glee Club is about to lose Nationals to those rich kids from the mime school. Then it happens: THEY LOSE.
Sir William says that there’s a lot riding on this and that’s why losing sucks so bad but you guys for real, I bet Finn is completely okay with this. Remember when he and Rachel kissed and you lost? It happens!
We then return to Lima, Ohio, where Sam’s re-hanging Finn’s portrait on the wall. His boyfriend is like, how did you get it back, and Sam is like, they totally gave it back because Jean-Baptiste felt super-awful when he found out his team member had stolen it and then they kicked the thief out of the Club. Before I can make another comment about how none of the Warblers were disciplined for throwing rock salt in Blaine’s eye, Carol and Burt show up.
The Hummel-Hudsons say that Finn always managed to find a way to feel like a winner even when he lost, even though he couldn’t dance or sing. Carol assures them that “win or lose, Finn lives in you guys.”
Sir William is thus summoned to Principal Sylvester’s Office, where he’s forced to bide his time in the waiting room as Roz presents her enormous Cheerios Championship Trophy.
Sue informs William that because Glee Club didn’t win, it’s gonna be destroyed forevermore, like when dinosaurs went extinct and McDonald’s stopped serving the McLean Deluxe. Also getting the heave-ho are diving, the academic decathlon and the actual decathlon.
Sir William: “Should I fight? Should I make a speech about the arts or how much this club means to me personally?”
Sue: “Save that for your wife. It’d probably turn her on.”
They’re gonna turn the Choir Room into two classrooms, and sell the Mysterious Band’s equipment to buy some new computers. Sue’s not mad though — she admits that she likes Sir William and his little club, and that’s why she’s so hard on them. Unfortunately, the whole situation is “out of her hands” and therefore Sir William should just be proud of his National Championship trophy and everything he’s done with the little demented humans who sing/dance.
Sue: “You didn’t lose, William. The game is just over.”
We then go to Foot Locker, try on 8-10 pairs of shoes, decide on a sensible pair of flowered Keds, and then walk on a tightrope all the way back to New York, New York, where Kurt, Santana and Rachel are working the night shift at Fake Ellen’s Stardust Diner.
Kurt emerges from the backroom bearing bad news — Glee Club is over and they’re turning it into a computer lab! IT’S OVER EVERYTHING IS OVER. ALL OF IT. WE’RE ALL OVER IT’S DONE!!!!
Just wanted to end this recap by sharing a note I apparently left for myself in this recap:
Remember to turn the potatoes at 9
Reader: I remembered.
Well, I hope you’re excited for next week, as I am, because next week is gonna be the 100th episode which means everybody is coming back, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kristin Chenoweth, Brit-Brit, Quinn and her new boyfriend Chace Crawford! At some point it appears lingerie will be worn. By Santana. I’M EXCITED.
i only sat thru the show to see the preview for 100, but found myself chocking up at all the Finn mentions!
but yeah soooo looking forward to Brittana and UHT in 100 and 101!
thanks as always for the great recap Riese!
you’re so very welcome!
1) Kinda surprised you didn’t mention that the lead of Throat Explosion is Jesse from Pitch Perfect. And yes, their act definitely was way better.
2) I have…mixed feelings about the Invocation-Of-Our-Dead-Friend’s-Memory trope they pulled with this episode, mainly because as you mentioned, they haven’t ever acknowledged Finn since his memorial episode, so they seem to be using Finn/Cory as a cheap rallying point rather than properly dealing with his death. But then it’s real life so we can’t expect to drag out the grief all the time? And feelings?
3) AND I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THAT QUINN IS DATING A BOY WHO IS NOT A BEARD. FUCK THAT. RRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEURGH. I feel fairly grumpy that I’m also (spiritually) bound to watch the 100th episode when I wish I could just incinerate this show and pretend it never happened after Season 2.
re: “2” — to be 100% honest with you right here in these comments, i thought it was not well done at all, and felt really exploitative. but i had qualms with ‘the quarterback’ too, and the rest of the internet thought it was really well done, so i think i’m just in the wrong, maybe.
I still haven’t watched The Quarterback, and I’ve decided that I never will mainly because it’ll be hard to separate reality from fiction, and since the fiction is done poorly, it’ll just be even more uncomfortable for me to hate the fictionalized version of a grief I share, you know? Because, like you mentioned with the potato comments, Finn was NOT Cory, but the show keeps trying to pretend like he was so they canonized a horrible character that unfortunately a really good person will be forever linked to.
Sister Sister? Girl, find 227 online immediately. You will not regret it.
I WILL DO THIS
ETA: regina king!
1) It is really hard to project your voice while wearing a mask so two for you Throat Explosion
2) Blaine and Tina killed More than a Feeling! Classic rock is a crowd pleaser so don’t hate. But their choreography was meh at best
3) who are those other New Directions members?!?!
1) i never even thought of that, NICE ONE
2) I LOVE CLASSIC ROCK but it seemed like an ensemble piece with better choreography would’ve done better. It seemed like a series of solos instead of a team.
3) also why wasn’t Bree/New Santana one of them?
So excited for 100!
I’m super uncomfortable with their blurring of the lines between Finn and Cory. Totally teared up and can’t help thinking that THESE ARE HIS REAL LIFE FRIENDS AND THIS IS REAL LIFE GRIEF.
But also, yay Tina for finally having more of a spotlight and killing it.