Let’s time travel back to the early 90’s, when I was a ripe, blooming youngster enrolled in Sixth Grade Spanish with the same slightly off-balanced teacher who’d been attempting to teach me Español since Third Grade and had, thus far, failed. Specifically let’s time travel straight into “student evaluation” day, which involved discussing our successes and failures as students in front of the entire class — in Spanish — which is, obviously, a terrible way to conduct said evaluations. For me personally this limited my ability to speak of my achievements in anything besides trips to the baño or gusta-ing la playa.
Of course The Spanish Teacher’s first issue with me, Pia Luisa Campos (my Spanish Class name), was that I rarely spoke Spanish in class (although I passed notes in English near-constantly). “But when I talk and I mess up, you laugh at me,” I told her, ’cause it was true. She laughed at me a lot.
She told me, very seriously and in English, “Pia — we’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you.”
Anyhow, it wasn’t true. She was laughing at me. Speaking of people lying about laughing, this week’s episode of Glee was slightly worse than being attacked by a herd of wild elephants and slightly better than Work It!
Nation, I cannot watch this program again. I barely survived the first time. Therefore I’ll be recapping from memory, guided only by pre-transcribed dialogue and Intern Grace’s screencaps, and I’ll be doing so with this facial expression and overall demeanor:
Furthermore, I ought to warn you immediately that this might be one of the worst recaps I’ve ever written in my life, but NATION! — what am I supposed to do with this shit?
Because I’m uninterested in recapping the adult parts but this episode was mostly adult parts, lemme sum that shit up as quickly as possible so we can dig in to the handful of scenes featuring teenagers: This week on Glee, Will Schuster wore a series of unfortunate outfits, lamented his poor Spanish-speaking skills, fought with Emma regarding pamphlets-as-advice, and invited Ricky Martin into the Wacky World of This Episode to save Will from repeatedly embarrassing his white ass with increasingly wretched attempts to she-bang his personality all the way to Tijuana.
Furthermore, the episode deep-sea-dived into some of adulthood’s most fascinating life stages, like tenure-track teaching positions (the teachers are competing for one) and childbearing in mid-life (Sue decides to artificially inseminate herself ’cause this show is obsessed with non-traditional pregnancy). Then, we all rode the train to Trope-Town together wherein we encountered a Sassy Black Woman, amongst other tired racial stereotypes.
Alright, let’s get into the “recap”!
We open in Taco Bell, where three gigantic young men have donned Authentic Mexican Heritage Gear to inexplicably serenade rows of gumdrop children with, I believe, “La Cucaracha.”
Hey Glee, The Three Amigos called to say that Mexico called regarding “what the fuck you think you’re doing.”
Will, aroused all episode by Finn’s triumphant future, travels “con sombrero” throughout the episode.
Then, the Nazis (not to be confused with Radical Lesbian Feminazis), so epically disturbed by Will’s opening number and Sue’s relentless focus on her own ovaries, invade all the countries except for Greenland and Iceland.
Cut to Will’s Night School class, which was invented especially for this episode, after which Will takes Ricky “Menudo” Martin out for coffee in order to say condescending things and showcase his own porcelain whiteness and general inability to be Michael Scott, which is the only way this episode would’ve been funny.
Back in Glee Club, everyone’s sitting around thinking about how bad Finn sucks when Will blasts through the door with a marker and a word and this week’s word is “2030,” which is the year in which I’ll get over how much this episode sucked.
No but seriously, Will explains that 2030 is the year when Lima will be overtaken by Latin Hispanicos who only speak Spanish, which’ll make Finn feel like one of the depressed leads in the classic feature film A Day Without a Mexican.
The class, unanimously in heat due to the introduction of Ricky Martin to a classroom previously dominated by Finn The Human Shovel and Will Schuester, salivate over their assignment to sing crappy pop songs in Spanish.
Ricky and the team bust into a chair-dancing somewhat-funny/entertaining cover of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” although Finn’s Fimo ass somehow gets itself more screentime than Heather Morris’s Serious Dance Skills.
Irish Breakfast hand-jives, Ricky suffocates a keyboardist in a cardbord box, Brittany demonstrates Sex with Santana on a plastic chair, Sugar Motta does push-ups like a boss, and Santana demonstrates Brittany slapping her ass by slapping her own ass.
I’d like to announce we have reached the part of this “recap” where I’ve begun drinking some whiskey.
Meanwhile Will sulks ’cause he’s not the Sexiest Snowflake. He ponders his worth as a man and his various manproblems, because let’s be real — somebody’s gotta think about that stuff all the time, and it’s not gonna be anyone else in the entire world because nobody else cares and never will.
You guys, Will is EPICALLY self-involved, maybe he needs a spinoff. It can be called “The MEMEMEMEMEMEME Show” and every week the assignment is to sing a song about yourself. You know, like um, “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”
Mercedes and Sam are one step and a pole vault away from having a mega-secret affair and Emma’s real bad at her job. Emma’s a counselor who can’t counsel and Will’s a Spanish Teacher who can’t teach Spanish! This school is FUCKED and I am dRUNK anyhow!
Emma, an EXPERT on all things “desire-related,” offers very little in terms of ‘advice.’ However, in line with this episode’s casual borderline-racist nonsense, Emma offers a pamphlet for Mercedes…
…and tells them to stop talking to each other for a week and then decide their true feelings.
Mercedes: “I’m just trying to listen to my heart and I can’t hear what it’s trying to tell me.”
Emma: “Well, if you really want to listen, then you need to stop talking. I’m serious. You know, there’s a lot of communication in your lives these days. With texting and IM’ing and Facebooking, I mean you don’t have any quiet time with yourselves to make informed decisions on your true feelings — [points at Sam on his phone] –– for instance”
Mercedes: “Sam just tweeted that I smell good.”
Sam: “I won’t stop ’til it’s trending.”
Anyhow, this show is either racist or completely weird about race. Like whatever they’re doing — be it offensive, hilarious, or totally acceptable — it’s not working. It’s just not good. It’s lazy in the worst way ’cause it’s just like, leaning on race. Not being funny is always the largest sin, you know. We forgive the other sins if you make us laugh.
Let’s PAGEBREAK for funsies!
In the gym, a bunch of hot cheerleaders dance to a song I can no longer remember for a reason I can’t recall. I think it’s somehow related to Christmas or string cheese.
Sue and Roz fight, because NeNe Lekes, who plays Roz, is from The Real Housewives Show, which I think is about women fighting with other women.
Roz: “Sue, you can’t have no baby. You are as old as a hill. You ain’t gonna give birth to no child. You gonna give birth to a grandchild. You gonna get in them stirrups, and you gonna push and push, and a full-grown adult gonna pop out with a briefcase and a job talking on a cell-phone.”
Wow, yeah, mhmh.
Rachel, still under a bizarre retcon spell, spills the beans regarding her engagement to Count Chumpula to her best friend Mercedes, and Kurt Hummel the Magical Sprite Gay. Rachel spews some nonsense regarding knowing Finn is “the one” and Mercedes and Kurt are all like “WHAT?!” but for all the wrong reasons.
Far more compelling, however, is their gripping Twilight-related conversation because it combines a stupid show lacking in lesbian action with a stupid movie lacking in lesbian action, and at the end we’re all super-pale and dead.
We segue into Cuban-American Gloria Estefan’s “I Don’t Wanna Leave You Now,” which you may recognize from the Dentist’s office.
GAH THIS SHOW — Okay, look. I know what you need, reader/nation, I have predicted your desires. I think you need this:
For the last three minutes I’ve been staring at the screen, trying to visualize little monkeys inside my brain searching for the bit of information surely stored somewhere in the “memory” area that will reveal what happens next on this show.
Oh yes! The boys perform to an Enrique Iglesias mash-up wearing those ridiculous cowboy string-ties and tiny skis on their boots which Finn explains are “Mexican Hipster Boots” because Finn is an Instant Mexican Historian this week. Also clearly Finn missed the part about Enrique Iglesias being Spanish, not Mexican.
Then Santana wins the day:
Santana: “The teeth, the duende, the bizarre Mexican fads, Señor Martinez is, like, the best Spanish teacher EVER. I can’t wait to see your performance, Mr. Shue?”
Will: “My performance?”
Santana: “Yeah, to defend your Spanish teacher honor. I’m sure you have something muy amazing planned.”
Kurt recently injected thirty liters of rocksalt into his brain in solidarity with Blaine, and as a result, having heard word of Rachel and Finn’s Disgusting Engagement, he’s not worried that Rachel is settling for a dumbshit that’ll squash her dreams like a bug. But he is worried.
In fact, he’s just worried sick about Finn giving up his own dreams in exchange for the dreams of his far more talented girlfriend, who will almost definitely leave him for one of the Altar Boyz the instant she arrives in Times Square.
Look Kurt & Rachel, Finn don’t know much, but he knows he’s got no talent. Just let it be. I’m speaking words of wisdom: let it be.
Will & Emma fight and Emma says this:
Back in the auditorium, respite arrives in the form of Ricky Martin and Santana Lopez doing a strange but exciting duet to Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita,” because why do Spanish songs by Spanish people when you can do a Spanish song by a white person?! Santana’s dressed in a black satin pillowcase, boots and lipstick.
It’s super hot and fun and the only thing missing is Santana’s re-creation of this aspect of the original music video:
Will, jealous of Ricky Martin’s groin, questions Ricky’s inclusion in the number and Santana asks “Hey, wasn’t that number fantastic and truly authentic?” which I believe is a reference to their ability to speak Spanish in a way that doesn’t embarrass all of us here at home or make my ex-Spanish teacher laugh.
Then Will does something terrible I’ve blocked from memory involving singing and dancing. Even Brittany in a unitard can’t save it:
At the conclusion of this atrocity, Santana slides into homebase, pillowcase-and-all, and wins the hell out of this episode:
Will: “It was you. You’re the one who complained to Principal Figgins about me.”
Santana: “Yeah, and I’d do it all over again after that performance.”
Will: “You’re messing with adult things here, Santana. This is my job. This is my life.”
Santana: “And this is my education, and it’s not a joke to me, although it seems to be one to you.”
Will: “What are you talking about? They all loved my performance.”
Santana: “Because they don’t know any better. It’s your fault. You’re their teacher. You went from “La Cucaracha” to a bullfighting mariachi. Why don’t you just dress up as the Taco Bell Chihuahua and bark the theme song from Dora the Explorer? You don’t even know enough to be embarrassed about these stereotypes you’re perpetuating.”
Will, who clearly has never been accused of cultural appropriation on the internet, immediately strikes back in ignorance:
Will: “That’s not fair.”
Santana: “Isn’t it? What did you want to be when you grew up? Why did you want to be a Spanish teacher, Mr. Shue?”
Will: “Because…it was the only teaching position open at the time.”
Santana: “I want to remind you of something that an amazing teacher once taught me: without passion, you can’t succeed.”
Will: “Who taught you that?”
Santana: “You did. And you do. When you teach Glee.”
However, this final tender moment (followed by Will offering his Spanish teaching job to Ricky Martin, who then shares a “my parents were immigrants” story that made me groan so loud the neighbors complained) brought to mind the AV Club Todd VanDerWeff’s recap of Episode 306, Mash/Off, which noted that,” There’s something about this show that leads to messy tonal mash-ups. But where the show’s musical mash-ups are usually pretty harmonious, the tonal shifts can often be brutally unsubtle.”
VanDerWeff points out that the show vacillates so recklessly between over-the-top wackiness and real emotional punches that it often ends up failing on both ends. In this episode, Santana’s accurate consciousness of the ridiculousness of Will’s Spanish Phase is dead accurate and surprisingly self-aware but it leads one to wonder who wrote the rest of the episode?
Because although there were hints that Glee was self-consciously mocking Will’s ignorance — like his usage of the word “Latin” instead of “Latino/a” — it also seemed dead-serious about that week’s Spanish-Songs theme. Furthermore, Ricky Martin’s character came off as surprisingly genuine and subtly crafted, unlike the over-the-top antics granted to previous guests like Kristen Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris and Gwenyth Paltrow. It was incredibly difficult to figure out how this episode wanted us to feel, which makes me wonder if all it wanted us to feel was “like buying some singles on iTunes.”
From VanDerWeff’s 306 review:
” …I find it hard to watch an episode like this and be entirely certain what’s supposed to be satirical, what’s supposed to be taken seriously, and what’s supposed to be a mix of the two. Pull it off, and you get something like that Santana moment. Fail, and you end up with Kurt earnestly asking us all to reconsider dodgeball and a musical number that seems created exclusively to reflect the show’s promotional campaign.”
Although Sue remains super-funny, it seems the writers haven’t figured out what the hell to do with her now that they’re out of ways for her to try and sabotage Glee Club, and this episode’s pregnancy situation — which’ll undoubtedly be dropped next week — works about as well as the Senate Race (whatever happened to Senator Hummel, by the way?) and the battle-over-Cooter did.
Also where the hell is Tina? She’s like the Angelica of Glee.
Then everyone ordered tacos and ate them, and then burritos rained out of the sky. Everyone came to my house, and I made them quesadillas, and then we watched racist movies from history! THE END.