Previously on Glee, Sue Sylvester cracked under the pressure of governing a public school in these trying times of standardized testing hysteria, so she bought a little Adderall off of Spencer Hastings’ drug dealer and popped enough pills to send her careening into fever dream where she became the personification of what your grandma thinks Tumblr is.
Sue Sylvester’s Sensational Show Choir Invitational is still going strong. After Vocal Adrenaline’s performance, she reads off the rules — despite Will’s impotent protests that you can’t make up rules after one team has already performed — which are: 1) The theme is Old School. 2) Every team needs 12 members, which is the only rule of show choirs in this universe and the thing even the Jimmy Fallon mocked when he did that Glee cold open at the Emmys one hundred years ago. 3) The Sensational Invitational is going to go on for three more days. Warblers tomorrow. New New New Directions the day after that.
Kurt says they’re just going to quit because this is ridiculous, even by Sue’s code of ethics, but she tells him he’s not going to even have the chance to quit because she’s going to kidnap him pretty soon. This episode is maybe the dumbest thing Glee has ever done, but there’s some really funny stuff in it. Like the way the music gets creepy and the camera keeps zooming in on Sue’s face like incremental Hitchcock effects when she’s threatening Kurt. It doesn’t make a single lick of sense, but Jane Lynch is in it to win it ’til the bitter, bloody end, and she’s still great at what she does.
Rachel and Kurt frantically whisper about what the heck are they going to do with these new rules. Kurt says they’re going to recruit Kitty, for one thing, and Rachel says she can’t bear to do it because Kitty hates her because she was so awful to the New New Directions when she was a senior. “Cross-dressing Mercedes” is the way Rachel describes Unique, which makes me want to throw my couch through the window, Hulk-style. That’s so offensive and for no reason! There’s no need for that “joke!” And playing the black trans woman’s storyline for laughs while giving all the emotion and sensitivity in the world to Coach Beiste’s storyline makes it even more problematic! GLEE, JUST STOP.
Anyway, so, they’re going after Kitty. Or Rachel is, anyway. Sue is coming after Kurt so he’s not going after anyone.
On a second date with known Lily Kane murderer Aaron Echolls, Kurt blurts out a question about what they’re even doing. I also would like to know that, Kurt, but in a broader context of this whole entire season. Sue wants to know, too, but only inasmuch as it affects her new life’s purpose of shipping Klaine. She’s pretending to be a waiter at Breadstix, wearing a bunch of Klaine swag, and passing out a children’s menu to Kurt and an old-timers early bird special menu to Aaron Echolls. Kurt says he’s sorry. Aaron Echolls says he is not. Of course, Aaron Echolls is a legit sociopath so it’s unlikely that he understands remorse in any capacity.
At Sue’s Klaine lair, Becky tries to convince her how fucking ridiculous this storyline is. She’s even got video footage of even their rooftop “Come What May” dream sequence. (I loved that dream sequence. I cried like a little baby who needs a children’s menu at Breadstix during that sequence.) Sue and Becky take turns talking about Blaine and Kurt like they’re doing a dramatic reenactment of real-life YouTube comments, and Sue reiterates her plan for kidnapping them and stuffing them into an enclosed space so they’re forced to stare into each other’s eyes.
Rachel tries to recruit Kitty into New New New Directions by telling her a lot of facts about herself, including that her favorite color is Jesus, so Kitty will know she’s not that narcissistic. Kitty says if Rachel wants to hook up with a blonde cheerleader for finger-banging shenanigans, the whole world is on the Faberry train. They talk about how Rachel is the worst for being an ambitious teenager but Mr. Schue is the best for being a patronizing grown man whose entire identity is built on the validation of his students. Kitty just doesn’t want to have her heart broken again by glee club. (Join that club, Kitty; we’re ten million members strong!)
Kurt and Blaine bump into each other in the hallway on their way to watch The Warblers perform. Blaine was using the staff bathroom, which was always a secret dream of his, I guess, and so they take the new elevator to the auditorium together. Only, surprise! It is not an elevator! It is a fake elevator that is basically just a really hot box where Kurt and Blaine are going to spend the entire day, trapped and sweating, so they’ll be forced to admit they’re in true love with each other.
But wait, it gets even more bonkers! Sue has created a Saw puppet of herself, riding a tricycle and wearing a tracksuit, and that thing comes riding into the elevator with a gift basket of wine and cheese and tells Kurt and Blaine in a creepy-as-hell robot voice that they’ve got to kiss on the mouth or they’re going to die in here and be forced to eat one another. They pretend to kiss, but that doesn’t cut it. So she pedals away and leaves them in their steamy elevator with their romantic picnic basket.
They lounge around, taking off their clothes a little at a time, affectionally watching each other nap, trying to escape, and finally deciding to play Celebrity. Fun facts: They planned to name their celebrity child Fettuccine Alfredo. Kurt’s ironic rapper name would be MC Hot Chocolate. Blaine thinks Dave eats too much ice cream.
Mentioning Dave’s name is what ruins the moment for Kurt, and also causes him to almost vomit. Sue’s Saw doll comes wheeling back in, talking about how Kurt and Blaine are being selfish for depriving the world of the romance it so desperately needs/deserves, so she’s going to drug them to make out with each other.
Y’all, what the lump is even happening? And why? Why? I don’t just mean these scenes; I mean this whole season. New characters we’ll never get to know replacing longtime fan favorite characters who never got a proper sendoff. Recycling plot lines that were already tiresome the third time we rehashed them back in season one. Nearly everyone acting out of character, even by Glee‘s loosy-goosey standards of what it means to be in-character. Mostly these ham-fisted meta storylines that feel like they’re attacking the fans whose lives were actually changed by these characters.
One of the weirdest things about The L Word is that the fifth season was the best one of the whole run. It was so meta it was basically like swallowing your own head, but it was also weirdly wonderful. Self-referential TV done right is a very fun thing to watch. 30 Rock. Arrested Development. Community. But for it to be enjoyable, the audience has to be able to laugh at themselves while also feeling like they’re in on the joke.
Glee’s final season feels like an alternate universe historical dramedy about how the captain of the Titanic refused to acknowledge that his majestic vessel had smashed into an iceberg until nearly everyone had thrown themselves overboard into the freezing ocean, at which time he strapped dynamite to the parts of his ark that were still afloat and stood on the deck shouting and fuck you everyone who believed this ship was unsinkable, and fuck you to everyone who told me it was filling up with water, too! while the whole giant boat exploded into nautical smithereens and was devoured by a gay leviathan at the bottom of the sea.
(I wouldn’t feel bitter about staying home on a Friday night to watch that show, but it’d have to have real sea monsters.)
Lezbihonest, Glee has never handled criticism well. Most of its meta moments have been about flipping off superfans (Lesbian Blogger Community, anyone?) or have disingenuously assumed that mentioning a legitimate cultural criticism of the show inside the show is the same as fixing the problem. Like the time Will grinded up on all his students while singing Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines” and afterward Artie was all, “You do realize this song is about date rape, right?” So you know it’s a song about date rape but you still paid for the rights to it so you can make a billion dollars selling singles of it on iTunes while also kicking royalties back to the guy who wrote it while also couching it in a storyline where the grown man teacher who dry humped his students while singing it is actually a hero? That’s so Glee!
Somehow, though, this frustrates me even more. It’s basically just Sue Sylvester saying out loud everything people have called Glee out on over the years while having her act like she’s trapped in some kind of dissociative Faustian nightmare. It’s like Glee is mocking shippers and also every person who had enough fortitude and liquor to make it this far. The world did desperately need the romance of these two characters. It changed everything. It needed Santana and it needed Brittany, too. People have been so vocal about these couples because they actually needed them. Why is Glee mocking the people whose whole lives have been made so much better because they finally got to see themselves reflected on TV? I just can’t wrap my head around why you would create a thing people love and then chastise them for loving it.
Anyway, Kurt and Blaine say they’ll make out, just for Sue, just so they can get out of this elevator. They know they’re lying. They’re doing it because they want to do it. But that’s what they tell themselves. When they finally do kiss, all open-mouthed and hungry, the Sue doll throws her hands into the air, and it’s filmed like the fourth wall perspective of a TV viewer. Even my girlfriend, who doesn’t even watch this show but is a film editor, looked up from playing Candy Crush to roll her eyes at this scene. (Not the kiss, the filmed perspective of the Sue puppet as TV viewer/shipper thing.) Luckily, Tumblr will fix this and Photoshop Sue’s arms right out of it.
Once Kurt and Blaine are free, they race to the auditorium to watch the final day of Invitationals.
While they are trapped inside the elevator:
Sue sends a prayer out for Blaine’s safety and the Warblers perform “My Sharona”/”You Spin Me Round,” and it’s fine. The most important part of their performance is Kitty arrives to watch and realizes how much she misses show choir. She decides to join up one more time, and she comes bearing gifts: The password to Sue’s computer (ThunderBolton69, of course) and the password to Sue’s encrypted file of songs that make her feel real feelings. Kitty got the passwords by bribing Becky with Mexican snack cakes.
After the Warblers’ do their song and dance, Sue visits Sam in the football field house to hypnotize him some more and continue her plan of Destroying Rachel Berry. First up, she wants him to convince Rachel to perform “the worst set list in human history.” The songs she has chosen are “Ascension Millenium” (by Cory Feldman; it is a song that paralyzed her when she heard it); “Dear Mr. Jesus” (a song that makes you want to beat up a small child); and “Justified and Ancient” (the worst song ever written). Sam does try to get Rachel to do those songs and also he tries to smooch her, but she snaps her fingers and breaks his trance and tells him to get his shit together and help her recruit some more members for New New New Directions.
Sam hops right on that. He tries to convince Spencer the Postmodern Gay to join up. Despite being a guy who was so confident in his gayness just two episodes ago that he monologued like a supervillain about how television changed his life/the world so much that he can just be who he is now and it’s no big deal, Spencer does not want to join glee club because he doesn’t want to be too gay. He feels like he can’t be a quarterback and also be a show choir guy. Sam says Finn Hudson shattered that stereotype in season one after Troy Bolton shattered it in 2006, and so Spencer says he’ll think about it for a minute. And he does. He thinks about it for a literal minute. And then he joins glee club.
The New New New Directions don’t want to change their setlist the day before Invitationals because they’ve never seen this show and don’t know how things work, but Kitty says Rachel has more talent in her pinky than they do in all their bodies combined, and so shut up and do what she says. They perform “It Must Have Been Love”/”Father Figure”/”All Out of Love” while Sue (really hilariously, actually) flashes back to all these terrible things that happened to her, like all these Republican presidential candidates losing elections and getting passed over for roles in Star Wars and Pretty Woman.
I don’t have any funny captions for these photos because they’re just amazing and insane by themselves.
She has no choice but to award New New New Directions first place because of how they touched her heart. Sam is the only person in the audience when the winners are announced.
After the show, some guy that is older than both Mr. Schue and Puck but somehow still in Vocal Adrenaline says he’s going to get Will fired for not doing his job, which is completely fair since he spent the whole day cheering for Lima’s glee club and bitching to Rachel about how he doesn’t like any of his students because they don’t need him to be anything more than their teacher/coach. It’s like they pity him, and he just can’t have that. He’ll be the one doing the pitying, thank you very much.
Kurt and Blaine confront Sue about her fake elevator torture chamber and gaze lovingly at each other and can’t keep their hands off each other while they tell her they’re totally over each other, and that her plan backfired. She says phase two is to just straight up murder their boyfriends. She takes Becky back to her lair and looks at a calendar and promises at least six more weeks of this … whatever this is.
Next week: Santana and Brittany are back, praise the heavens, and I think Brittany’s dad is Stephen Hawking? Also, Rachel and Sam get closer. And MERCEDES IS HOME. Riese, how did you manage to get all the Old New Directions in your episodes?!