Previously on Glee, The Original New Directions returned to Lima, OH to coach various show choirs and mend their broken hearts. Rachel’s heart was broken because her TV show flopped. Blaine’s heart was broken because Kurt broke up with him. Kurt’s heart was broken because he broke up with Blaine (and also Blaine started dating Karofsky). Sue’s heart was not broken because the place inside Sue’s chest where her heart should be is just a series of intricate nuts and bolts and wires because Sue is the former robot president of the planet Dunamis and she is slowly learning what it means to be a human on the earth through the power of song.
At the world’s only sheet music store, Blaine and Kurt bump into each other while looking for the soundtrack to Smash. Karofsky is there too, wrapping his arm around little Boo-Boo Warbler, talking about how he’s trying to help Blaine plan for Sectionals but you can’t get this guy off Broadway or even off Off-Broadway. Kurt manages not to throw up this time, looking at those two guys touching each other, but he does spiral into a maudlin performance of Carole King‘s “It’s Too Late,” which her performs with his former self and Blaine’s former self and also Blaine’s current self, while flipping through photos of the Good Ol’ Days.
(Does anyone over the age of 25 hear Carole King and not think about Gilmore Girls? I kept imagining Lorelai showing up and shaking Blaine like, “If you’re gonna throw your life away, he better have a motorcycle!”)
The next morning, Kurt and Rachel plot the weekly glee club lesson, and I must say: looking for music months prior to big events and planning lessons before class even starts is such a kangaroo-sized hop forward from Mr. Schue’s fly-by-the-seat-of-your-khakis brand of preparation that these four new kids whose names I will never remember (except for dear Jane, of course), might actually have a chance at winning … whichever of the choir competitions comes first. Sectionals? Regionals? Provincials? Factionals? Oh, man, you know what would have made this show one hundred times better? If it was called Factionals and it was about these warring factions of teenagers who compete against each other in singing and dancing and hand-to-hand combat. Like High School Musical meets Mortal Kombat. Sue could have taken over New Directions and, finally, Quinn could have had the heroic storyline she deserved!
Kurt wants to do Carole King’s Tapestry album this week, because of breakup feelings but Rachel says if they’re going to do heartbreak albums it should be something more modern, like Alanis Morisette‘s Jagged Little Pill, which, according to my calculations, was probably released the year Rachel was born? So, “modern.” Kurt and Rachel decide to do mash-ups instead of fighting with each other about who is right. For now.
In the football field house, Sam is ironing jock straps when Coach Bieste storms in and starts yelling at everyone and throwing out those bizarro colloquialisms we’ve grown to know and love. Like something about how you can bake a pie with rhubarb but you can’t eat the moon? Beiste is cool with Sam but rageful at Postmodern Gay, who thinks he deserves the start as QB1 this week, but Beiste thinks he deserves to get eaten by a pack of wolves. It’s all very erratic and troubling and after Beiste is gone, Sam, who has spent the last ten minutes using the reflective surface of the iron to fix his hair, says it’s a tough break because Postmodern Gay is a majestic knight on a unicorn and deserves a shot.
The real majestic knights on a unicorns, however, are the Unholy Trinity’s faces on her heads, and they have returned this week in all their effusive glory to judge Kurt and Rachel so hard for their first attempt at teaching glee club together. What Kurt and Rachel try to explain is: Choose Tapestry or Jagged Little Pill and then perform a mash-up with someone who picked the other album. But what happens is: They talk over and around each other about Reese’s Pieces and sandwiches and how the true splendor of New Directions is that you get to play inside the full spectrum of musical history. The children look confused; they thought the true splendor of New Directions was about playing inside the full spectrum of queer sexuality. But okay. They also look confused because all the grown-up people from last week are still lounging around in their old high school choir room.
Brittany explains it away by saying she can bend time and space with her mind, which: seems as valid as any other plotline on Glee.
Best (not-romantic) line of the night:
Tina: [rushing out of the choir room after Quinn] Quinn, can I talk to you for a sec? Artia said that you told him Brown is not an Ivy League school?
Quinn: [without even looking back over her shoulder] That’s not what I said; I said it’s barely an Ivy League school.
Becky also is back, roaming the halls of McKinley High. She’s got a boyfriend named Darrell and she’s also got a problem: She told him she was president of every club in high school, including glee club, which fact should give Sue a real thrill. She was able to fake being an astronaut, a surgeon, a speaker of Latin, a beekeeper, but Becky cannot fake the ability to swagger to song, so she asks Quinn and Tina to help her impress Darrell. And I don’t want to blow your mindgrapes right open on a Monday, but let me tell you a spoiler so you don’t pass out from shock in a little while: No dudes swoop in and fix Becky’s problem in the most offensive/patronizing way possible. Becky’s gonna get some hard truths from some ladies, and then she’s going to fix her problems herself. Like what Jane did when she left Dalton last week.
Glee, are you — I’m sorry, I need to sit down — are you learning? In your last season, are you finally getting it? Too soon to tell. I won’t believe! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me three thousand times, a plague on your house for all eternity!
Or, like, no. Not a plague. That’s mean. I’m sorry. Just please stop. You’re stopping, right? You’re stopping. You’ve got this.
(If Rachel ends up marrying Mr. Schue like some theory I saw on Tumblr, Glee, I am going to set you on fire.)
ANYWAY. Becky looks at Quinn and goes, “Thanks, Kitty” and scoots on down the hallway.
Santana and Brittany are canoodling in the bed where Santana one time claimed she liked to lay on top of Brittany like a lizard to help digest her food.
Santana: Do you think human beings evolved from fish just so they could have legs to scissor?
Brittany: That and to have mouths to eat pizza, probably. I think I want to mash-up two Alanis songs and no Carole King songs because I spent too much time being boxed up inside that choir room by Will fucking Schuester.
Santana: Well, but if we do it the way Kurt and Rachel said, we might actually be able to help New Directions win Factionals.
Brittany: I like how you can be a kitten with me, you know that? I like how you don’t feel the need to skulk around like a panther and murder people when it’s just me and you.
Santana: I’d like to be a kitten with you in New York, actually. I’d like to go back to college. I’d like you to go back to college with me. I know a diner we can work at where we can earn enough money to afford an enormous loft in Bushwick and all the vintage furniture we’ll ever need.
Brittany: Yeah, duh. That’s the dream. Do you think the whole world is jealous of us?
Santana: No, but they should be. Coming home to you is like my soul docking up at its charging station. Like that feeling you get when you sit down in a hot bubble bath after a whole day of being on your feet. Like putting on pajamas, and every morning is Christmas.
Brittany: I’ve built my life around you, too, Santana; I should have said it a long time ago.
My girlfriend watched this episode of Glee with me, her first episode of Glee ever, actually. The only things she really even knows about the show are what she hears our friends talk about which is Faberry stuff, mostly. (An actual thing she said during the show was, “So Santana fucked Dianna Agron’s character, right, and everyone was like ARRRGH why didn’t Quinn Fabray fuck Rachel Berry?!?”) She asked me to explain the deal with Brittany and Santana, and so I said, you know, about how they were best friends and then Santana realized she’s a lesbian and was in love with Brittany, and Brittany helped her come out, and Brittany just loves who she loves, and they weren’t together and then they were together and then they broke up and then they got back together and now here we are.
I could tell my girlfriend wasn’t very impressed because when you say it like that, it does sort of sound like, well, like Buffy and Degrassi and South of Nowhere and Skins and Faking It and and at least seven teenage lesbian movies I can count off the top of my head.
Talking to her made me realize a thing I’ve always known but never been able to put into words: The magic of Brittany and Santana isn’t just the story — though that is part of it; you can watch the same narrative unfold ninety-nine times and have the hundredth one click into place in your soul for reasons you’ll never be able to quantify — but more even than that, the magic of Brittany and Santana is the way we experienced them. It was the genesis of brand new world, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
During one of the bleakest moments of modern gay history, Brittany tossed out what should have been a throwaway joke: “Sex isn’t dating; if it were, Santana and I would be dating.” But she didn’t say it into a vacuum; her words didn’t get lost in the fourth wall vortex. Prop. 8, an enormous emotional blow to marriage equality, had passed only a year earlier in California. A rash of gay teen suicides were being reported around the country due to an increase in homophobic bullying. Despite President Obama‘s campaign promises during the 2008 election, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act were still going strong. The mood was dark and there was a since of dejection and hopelessness everywhere you looked in the world of queer pop culture. And then, a crazy thing: Twitter began to connect us to each other and to the people who make television in ways even the Jetsons couldn’t have imagined. (In 2008, the year before Glee started, Twitter reported 400 million total tweets; by early 2010, Twitter was reporting 50 million tweets a day. Astronomical!)
That’s the world Brittany spoke her throwaway line into, a world where queer women felt a lot hurt and a little helpless, and suddenly found themselves with access to the people in charge. And so Brittana fandom stepped into the darkness and seized a brand new power and began talking to the culture until the culture had no choice but to listen and to respond.
Santana didn’t come out as a lesbian because a bunch of writers holed up in some cabin in Vancouver between seasons one and two to toss around ideas about creating authentic and organic queer female characters. Santana came out because lesbian fandom demanded representation. Clearly, Glee wasn’t scared to tackle the gay thing and clearly Fox was giving them license to do things most broadcast networks at the time wouldn’t have dreamed of and clearly they had two female characters whose chemistry and storyline made perfect sense — and so queer women decided this was the moment they were going to stop eating crumbs off the floor and demand a seat at the feast.
Every one of Brittany and Santana’s relationship milestones has happened because fandom never stopped fighting for them. Throwaway jokes weren’t enough. Holding hands wasn’t enough. Canoodling in the background wasn’t enough. If Finn and Rachel could make out with their mouthparts, Brittany and Santana should be allowed to make out with their mouthparts. If Kurt and Blaine got ten duets a season, Brittany and Santana should get ten duets in a season. The show’s writers and producers antagonized Brittany and Santana fans on social media, mocked them with meta commentary inside the show, and scorned them in interviews with mainstream and LGBTQ media outlets. I will never, in all my life, forget Brittana fandom having to explain to Glee‘s creative team the difference between two people kissing and two people rubbing their necks together like giraffes.
But the theme of Glee from the very beginning was: when strong popular guys toss weak minority guys into the dumpster in the parking lot, the only way to win is to climb out and dust off the trash and Don’t Stop Believin’.
And so lesbian fandom took Glee at its word. Brittana fandom came together and held firm and relied on each other not to let the upside-down world convince them they were the ones who were walking on the ceiling.
I remember my dad making fun of me for being an adult who stood in line for hours at bookstores to get my hands on whichever new Harry Potter book was coming out at midnight, every time there was a new book, and I was always like, “The only people I want to know in my life are the ones who will stay up all night, nearly coming out of their own skins, because they’re so excited to be told a story they love.” Which is how I felt watching Twitter on Friday, gearing up for this episode of Glee.
I can’t claim the win; I checked out on Glee emotionally a long time ago. But goddamn, it was beautiful watching you your victory! That’s what I couldn’t explain to my girlfriend. “The thing” about Brittany and Santana is about falling in love with your best friend, which is a tale that never gets tired, but it’s also about a generation of queer women seizing their power and leading the way into a brave new world.
Becky comes clean to Sue about how she’s been lying to Darrell about her accomplishments of like discovering Atlantis and eradicating Ebola and beating Rainbow Road on Mario Kart Wii without ever even falling off the track even one time. Sue says all relationships are built on lies, even if the person you’re marrying is yourself. Sue seems genuinely excited to meet Becky’s beau, until she actually meets Becky’s beau, and then she seems like she wants to set his nards on fire. He doesn’t have Down Syndrome, which makes Sue think he’s exploiting Becky somehow, and so when he doesn’t die from the lethal laser beams she is shooting at him from her eyeballs, she decides to try a different tactic. But first Becky and Darrell have plans for Fuddruckers.
At glee club practice, Brittany and Santana mash-up “Hand in My Pocket”/”I Feel the Earth Move,” with a little harmony from Quinn now and again. The whole time, Santana is trying to get Brittany to just sit down so she can propose marriage to her, but if Santana is a kitten, Brittany is a golden retriever puppy and SHE JUST WANTS TO PLAY. Or either this is how they always are, like, “I’m going down first.” “No, let me.” “No, really, let me.” In which case they are gonna be juuuust fine. They sing, they shimmy, Brittany is dressed like breakfast. It’s awesome.
At the end of it, Santana asks her to please sit down, and then:
“I figured that this is as good a place as any to ask you this question. Mainly because it’s gonna really upset all the single guys and gals in here, but I wanna mash-up with you forever, Britt. I mean, some people love someone because they make them a better person and that’s not why I love you because you’ve always just wanted me to be myself. You’re my favorite person in the whole world. And we’re a big deal, you know, like no matter how many times we’ve tried to put our thing down and walk away from it we can’t because, I don’t wanna live my life without my one true love. And I normally say a lot of words when I’m saying something negative so since this is the most positive thing I’m ever gonna do, I’m gonna keep it simple. Brittany S. Pierce, will you marry me?”
Anyone who thinks that proposal wasn’t the best damn thing can suck an onion-flavored popsicle, and I mean it. Some asshole dropped a Tumblr ask in my box over the weekend talking about, “Santana used more words to tear down Kurt than she did to propose to Brittany and that says everything you need to know about how awful Brittana is.” And I’m like, “Uh, no. It tells you everything you need to know about how awesome Brittana is.” My girlfriend and I have been together four years and she can tell me three million words by touching my face and looking at me in my eyeballs for five seconds. I feel closer to her just lying in bed reading books for six hours, never saying anything, than I would if she was monologuing in my face all day. She can look at me across a room at a party in a bar with six hundred people, and I can tell you what’s going on in her head, and she never has to say a single thing. That thing Brittany and Santana have goes beyond words! They felt realer than ninety percent of the stuff on this show even when they were only holding pinkies and swaying together in the background!
Brittany says yes, obviously, because destiny is as destiny does.
One of the new guys is like, “What in the worrrllld?” And Puck is like, “Just a Tuesday, buddy.” The only person who isn’t moved to tears is Kurt, who — and we’ll forgive him for this because it’s the nature of humanity — can’t understand that his particular life situation isn’t the same as everyone else’s particular life situation, so he tries shut the whole thing down. But Tina goes, “When you find yourself trolling someone’s happiness in a way that even I would not contemplate, you need to check yourself.”
Postmodern Gay thinks about how Sam called him a quarterback stallion or whatever, so he spies on Coach Bieste to get some dirt to take to Sue to get Sam promoted to head coach so he can start as QB1. He peeps her taking a lot of pills, wearing a binder, which he calls “lingerie from the Victoria’s Secret trucker collection,” and generally acting unlike herself. He wants Sue to look into it, and since Sue’s just biding her time until Darrell and Becky return from Fudruckers so she can stab him to death with a cheerleading trophy, she says she’ll peek in and see what’s the what.
Out in the hallway, Santana requests a moment of Kurt’s time. Rachel tries to skedaddle, but Santana tells her to park her buns. And then she throws the most legendary shade in the history of this earth. The sun actually goes dark. It’s like an eclipse. Homer rises from the grave, writes an epic poem about it, and destroys all copies of Iliad and Odyssey, because this is what he wants to be remembered for. I am going to transcribe it for you because honestly the only thing that improves upon Naya’s delivery is the face Lea makes while it’s happening:
Kurt, I took what you said to heart and I thought long and hard about it and it occurred to me that you may have a point. Okay, maybe Brittany and I are too young to get married. I mean, after all that’s why it didn’t work out with you and Blaine, right? Or maybe it didn’t work out because you’re a judgmental little gerontophile with a mouth like a cat’s ass. Maybe Blaine got tired of hearing a shrill, self-aggrandizing lecture about how you felt the two of you were at the very apex of the gay rights movement every time you so much as cooked macaroni & cheese together — or farted. Maybe Blaine didn’t want to be with someone who looks like they just removed their top row of dentures every time they smile, or someone who doesn’t dress like an extra out of one of Andy Dick’s more elaborate wet dreams.
Maybe Blaine grew weary of dating a breathier more feminine Quinn Fabray. Maybe he finally got freaked out by your strange obsession with old people that causes you to skulk around nursing homes like one of those cats that can smell cancer. Maybe he got tired of watching you drape yourself on every piano you happen past, to entertain exactly no one, with, say, some song that Judy Garland choked on her tongue in the middle of or some sassy old Broadway standard made famous by another dead alcoholic crone. Maybe Blaine woke up one day and said, “You know what? I don’t want to marry a sexless, self-centered baton twirler. Maybe I need someone who knows more than thre dance moves: the finger wave, the shoulder shimmy, and the one where you pretend to twirl two invisible rainbow colored ribbons attached to your hips.” So, you know what? Maybe that’s why it didn’t work out. Maybe it has nothing to do with me and Brittany. Maybe it’s just that you are utterly, utterly intolerable. Maybe that has something to do with it.
It’s the meanest, most glorious thing I have ever heard, even though I really love Kurt Hummel. I think Santana is so cathartic because she says all the things you’re not even allowed to think about other humans? I don’t know. It really turns me on, and I’m scared to figure out why. When Santana swaggers off there’s a light-up marquee that says “Get your crap together” which isn’t quite as excellent as the one that said “Act normal, bitch” at Emily Fields after Rosewood High School came to life one time and tried to slaughter her, but is still very good advice.
Tina and Quinn try to give Becky some show choir moves, but she bounces after ten minutes to go to Cheddars with Darrell. Okay, she tries to bounce, but Quinn and Tina are as weirded out by Darrell as Sue was, so they drag him to Sue’s office so Roz can interrogate him, hilariously.
What Roz finds out that makes her go, “Whaaaaaat?” better than any GIF I’ve ever seen, though, is when she realizes Sue’s late sister, daughter and best friend/confidante all have Down Syndrome, but are not the same person. Everyone tries to get Darrell to admit to his perverse sins, but he says he liked Becky from the moment she walked into Quizzno’s, ordered every sandwich, and tried to pay with a counterfeit $10,ooo bill. He’s also already called NDSS to ask about sex and they told him he and Becky can do it when their relationship reaches that point, and so everyone needs to get off his junk and let Becky make her own decisions.
Brittany and Kurt are in the auditorium, filling up a giant plastic heart with Mounds Bars as a visual representation of all the minutes Santana and Brittany have spent together. (Off-screen, clearly. If they’d spent 6,000 Mounds Bars’ worth of screentime together on this show, I never would have had to keep breaking up with it and then binging on it and then breaking up with it again.) (Yes, I would have.)
Kurt: I’m sorry I made Santana’s proposal all about me. I think Mr. Schue did some kind of self-absorption voodoo on that classroom, I really do.
Brittany: Ugh, that fucker was the worst. Listen, I think you need to go out with someone. It’s time to move on.
Kurt: No. It’s not over with Blaine.
Brittany: I mean, it kind of is. I just decorated his and Karofsky’s new apartment.
Smash cut: [to a bed-less room with more rainbow flags than the afterparty at a unicorn convention]
Brittany: Look, man. You can either eat the chocolate or stand there with it in your hand until it looks like poop. Don’t be that second guy. Don’t be poop-hand.
Kurt: I missed you, Britt.
Brittany: Quite rightly.
However, Kurt is unable to shake the Dark Magic of William “Cucaracha” Schuester. During a performance of “Will You Love Me”/”Head Over Feet” by Jane and the new guy who is a Cheerio, Kurt runs through a whole Klaine fanvideo in his head and closes out their song with scathing, catty criticism. Rachel tells him to go home because he’s drunk on his own heartbreak. And so he does. But then he comes back and apologizes and Rachel forgives him because she gets it. She, too, has been possessed by the solipsistic demon spirit of Mr. Schuhe in this classroom once or twice.
Becky tries to go through with her performance of “So Far Away” with Quinn and Tina, and heavens to mergatroid, Dianna Agron’s voice just gets you in the gut, doesn’t it? And the place right below your guts. Why is everything about her so hair-yankingly tantalizing? I don’t understand. It should be illegal. If I were a closeted gay youth watching this show, thinking I was straight, every time she came on screen and opened her mouth I would hurl myself out a window. I would writhe around on the floor and cry and vomit. At least as a certified adult lesbian, I understand what’s going on inside me. Um, what. What am I talking about. Oh, right. Becky rushes out in the middle of the song and the girls chase her out to tell her some tough truths, mainly that she’s kind of an asshole.
And also, everyone lies to everyone at the beginning of relationships. It’s all just a farcical pantomime of pretending to get to know someone while concealing as much of yourself as possible. Quinn gets it because she lied to Finn about him being the father of her child. Tina told Artie she stuttered. Santana told everyone she was straight. But love is what comes after, when your girlfriend installs baby bumpers on the corners of your new fancy platform bed because you keep smashing your shins against the edges, and she still wants to have sex with you in that bed, even though you’re a person who needs something literally called Lionheart Whoopsie Guards to keep you from breaking your legs. Or, like, a less specific example from someone else’s life.
Love is when you both have a cold but you want the other person to stay in bed and you’ll make the tea. Love is when you give her the last cookie. Love is when you hang up her towel even though you’ve told her a thousand times to hang it up herself. Love is when you record her thing instead of yours, even though she’s the one who won’t delete stuff off the DVR. Love is when you go to bed angry and annoyed but wake up reaching for her the next morning anyway. Love is the pauses and the breaths and the spaces between all the things you say. It’s when you laugh when she laughs, even if you didn’t hear the joke. It’s when you accept her apology, even though your feelings are still hurt. Love is what happens after you lose the game of hide-and-seek and she sticks around anyway.
Santana says love is about finding someone who will put up with your crap. The camera asks Brittany’s face if it’s true and her face says it is, but also that love is when you’d rather put up with that person’s crap than live 100 crap-free years without them.
Becky’s like, “You’re all still some self-absorbed wankers, but thanks.”
Sue visits Coach Bieste to ask about the pills and the mood swings and the million personal days; she figures Beiste has cancer, and Beiste confirms it. So, in a meeting with Sam, Sue explains that he’ll be taking over the football team, but Beiste breaks down and explains that actually he has gender dysphoria, and he’s going to begin transitioning next week.
I’m very conflicted about them adding this storyline to the final season.Dot Marie Jones and Jane Lynch are both remarkable, let me say that. And god knows we need way more and way better trans representation on TV. But the reason I gave up on this show the first time was that awful storyline where Beiste just wanted to be kissed by a boy and Will was the fucking grossest thing. And then I quit again when Besite got into that abusive relationship. Being a woman with a more masculine appearance has been the hinge of Beiste’s entire characterization. And there are so few masculine women on television! Also, I am really not over how awful Glee was to Unique, and I feel her absence from this season as keenly as if one of the OG New Directioners weren’t here. I’m a white cis lesbian from rural Goergia, so my viewpoint is limited. Sigh. I hope they don’t fuck it up.
Finally, at Bredstix, Becky comes clean to Darrell about how she has Down Syndrome (which makes him smile) and also that she’s not Angela Merkel’s top adviser. He says they’re going to have a lot of pressure from the outside world, so they have to have each other’s backs inside their relationship. (This episode has a lot of weirdly excellent relationship advice.) Becky agrees — and then she slaps a strawberry milkshake onto the floor because it’s disgusting.
New New New Directions sing “You Live, You Learn”/”You’ve Got a Friend.” Which is all any of us really want, in the end. Someone to live with and learn from and be our best friend. Well, and to triumph over the patriarchy and the entrenched misogyny of broadcast network television and achieve quality representation for queer characters that resonate with the queer experiences inside our souls.
You lived, you learned, Lesbian Blogger Community. You know, that and you started a revolution.