Kurt with Brittany and Tina – Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
Sophy says: This would have to be one of the greatest episode openings ever. Not of Glee. Of all television shows. In the history of television. I mean, okay, sure, none of the kids are actually doing any singing in this best song pick, but whatever, okay, stop nitpicking, you guys. At the end of the day, does it really get much better than a baby-faced boy with a sequined glove on filming himself doing a synchronised song and dance routine to Beyonce in black and white flanked by a cheerleader and a goth Glee club nerd in matching leotards and mary janes?
Rin says: It doesn’t. And the only way you can equal this kind of stuff is by HAVING HIS DAD DO IT 3 YEARS LATER AS A GRADUATION PRESENT.
Oh the glory.
And as I understand it, before Glee, Hemo was a backup dancer for Beyonce and was on her Single Ladies tour, and then brought on to Glee to teach the other kids the Single Ladies dance. And during that they were also looking for a third cheerleader, and the rest is history. Very, very, cool history.
I loved and laughed so hard when Glee did its own version of the music vid. I remember watching so many at the time when everyone was putting up their youtube vids, but SORRY GUYS. GLEE WINS. Or really, Chris Colfer wins. I’m pretty sure there is nothing this boy can’t do.
Sophy says: I’d like to see him do some mime, to be honest.
And we really don’t feel that we can honour the opening without honouring its glorious conclusion also, so…
Sophy says: HAVE YOU EVER SEEN ANYTHING CUTER THAN KURT DANCING UP TO THAT BALL? HAVE YOU? I JUST.
OKAY MAYBE DIANNA WITH THE POM POM IN HER FACE. BUT SHE’S DIANNA, SO SHE HAS AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE IN CUTE.
This is the kind of silly sweetness that works for me – unlike the rehash of this plotline in season 2 in which Artie joins the team. It was just within the realms of possibility that Kurt, in a very precise capacity, could be an asset to the team despite having no training as a player. It was just within the realms of adorable that the guys would all stand up and dance to a dumbfounded rival team.
And behold Burt Hummel, aggressively proud father. That’s why we love him.
Rin says: It was really hard for me to move past the 3rd screencap. And if I hadn’t pulled myself together to scroll past, this recap may never have been finished. I did it for you guys though, just so you know.
And just when I thought Quinn’s face-pomming was going to kill me, Kurt started doing the marching bit of Singles Ladies (which is my favourite) up to the ball to kick it. I JUST. My heart could explode.
And Burt pointed. Dramatically.
Sophy says: FORESHADOWING.
“Take three of these a day or your baby will be ugly.”
Rin says: The red beetle you guys. The red. Beetle.
Sophy says: This is how little I know about cars: I just spent a full minute scanning the interior shots for a ladybird.
I can’t even deal with the faces Dianna makes in this scene. We tried to whittle down the screen caps, we really did, but each face she made was so uniquely incredulous/disgusted/fearful/affronted etc. It was impossible to cut any of them. Full marks also go to Jessalyn Gilsig for providing a perfect contrast with her terrifying and hilarious calm.
Actually full marks go to Jessalyn generally. She may not take out all the biggest lols in our recaps because, you know, there’s a lot of competition. But Terri Schuester is one of the most consistently funny characters this show has ever had.
Rin says: SOPHY capped these. So don’t you guys go try and pin this down on me and my Dianna obsession. SOPHY IS JUST AS BAD AS I AM. OKAY?!
Having said that… THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH 6 CAPS OF DIANNA IN A ROW. And plus she had a Quinntrance, running through the rain, so it’s not like you could ignore that. All’s fair in love and war. Or something.
TERRI. She’s just. SITTING THERE. WAITING IN HER CAR. Like everyone’s worst nightmare. I guess it teaches a good lesson… lock your car doors or else you’ll get baby supplements.
And agreed, Jessalyn is hilarious and it’s a pity she went out the way she did because her portrayal of Terri was so spot on. She always said the most ridiculous things with such conviction that you felt like this insane person could actually exist.
Also I kind of love that Quinn has to run all the way to her car to go and have a cry.
Sophy says: Silly Quinn! Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go straight to the fabathroom.
Rophy, Burt Hummel, Marriage?
Sophy says: You know the other reason we love Burt Hummel aside from his aggressive pride? Because he’s just generally the fucking JESUS FUCKING CHRIST of fathers?
This is easily the best scene of the episode, and easily one of the best scenes in Glee history. This hit me like a big, beautiful truck – even now when I knew it was coming. The writing and the acting are perfect – there is no other word – from start to finish, through and through.
Kurt makes a nervous joke: “Nighttime skin care is a big part of my postgame ritual,” he says, hiding who he is behind who he thinks his father would like him to be. But it’s immediately followed up by the bravest moment of his life – almost as though it’s precisely the hiding that makes him realise, suddenly, that he doesn’t want to hide. He wants this brilliant night he and his dad have just had to be real. And for it to be real, he can’t be using it as a shield. For it to be real, he has to be real too.
And so he tells his dad that he’s gay, just like that. And Burt knows because of course he knows because when Kurt was three all he wanted for his birthday was “a pair of sensible heels”. This leaves me picturing three year old Kurt trotting slash dragging around the garage in his mum’s work shoes. Which. But even as the scene is at its most warm and fuzzy, Burt is simultaneously taking us to a real and rough place. Because when he says he knew, he’s admitting he’s been in denial all these years – that his son being gay is something he’s wanted to repress – that it’s something he’s “not totally in love with”.
“If that’s who you are,” he says, with a hint of sadness, “there’s nothing I can do about it.”
It hurts – for a second. But the thing is that Burt leans in to Kurt immediately after and says sharply, almost like a threat, in the way parents tell their teenage sons to stay away from the liquor cabinet, “And I love you just the same. Okay?”
Hugging ensues. The kind of hugging that makes me feel like no hug I ever have in my life will be quite good enough.
And then there’s the big moment. The one where Burt proves he is the Jesus of dads – no, better than the Jesus of dads – because he was not born perfect – because he’s not perfect to this day – because he overcomes.
Burt Hummel isn’t open-minded. He opens his mind. For his son.
And he thanks his son for it.
“Thanks for telling me, Kurt,” he says, and there’s nothing in the world more reassuring or more right that he could have said in that moment, and I just want to cry and cry, because why can’t life be always like this – why can’t things always be as hopeful as this father and this son?
And finally, just to mop up any excess mush, Burt throws back a cheeky, “Are you sure?” on his way out the door.
One of the most perfectly balanced scenes in the show’s run.
Rin says: Well, there’s probably a reason I left this section to write about last because it’s one of those scenes that just hits you right in the chest.
Because this is all we could ever want, as children, from our parent/s. That you may not be the person they’ve always wished you would be, but they love you just the same. It’s the kind of unconditional love that should always just be a given between a parent and their child. And unfortunately that’s far from the way things are in reality. Especially when it comes to sexuality and the countless times you’ve heard a kid being rejected by their own parents because of it.
Which is why I’ve always kind of loved the whole idea of Glee as a show. It’s a show that basically promotes hope. For all the tragedies that occur, the idea that if you’re brave enough and if you’re true to yourself, you’re always going to be okay. Whether it’s something huge like coming out, or something a bit more trivial, it doesn’t matter. That if you let yourself want things, to live as honestly as possible, then one way or another you are going to get what you want. You just gotta try.
And at the time Glee started airing, there wasn’t a lot of that going around on TV. Not with teenagers anyway.
So when Burt accepts Kurt for who he is, and takes him in his arms and makes sure he knows he’s loved. It’s the ideal. It doesn’t always happen, but I feel like it’s important that it be shown as an example of all the ways we can be better.
Sophy says: You know, it’s kind of interesting how much we love Skins and how much we love Glee, seeing as one is so distinctively realist, the other so distinctively utopian. I wonder what that says about our personality.
Most Retrospectively Ironic Moment
“Maria is my part!”
Sophy says: And it damn well was. Go fuck yourself, Mercedes and Tina
Rin says: Hahahahah. She felt a deep personal connection since the age of 1!
I THINK MY FAVOURITE PART ABOUT THIS SCENE IS WHEN RACHEL IS ALL, NATALIE WOOD WAS A JEW YOU KNOW.
And there is only one person in the room paying attention to her. I’ll leave you to go check the episode by yourselves and pretend to be surprised at who that one person is.
“I’m a stud dude. I could wear a dress to school and people would think it’s cool.”
Rin says: Sorry Puck. No such luck with that one.
Santana got turned on though.
Sophy says: I bet he bought the dress after this scene. And just bided his time.
Rophy Says No!
Will having the emotional maturity of a bowl of soup.
Sophy says: It’s convenient that in saying no to Will, we are able to say a firm YES to Ballet-Rachel.
My favourite thing about her is that she can’t point her toes.
But seriously. Will Schuester. This is where you and I start to really have problems. I always remembered Will being pretty perfect up until he started getting his manwhore on. I was wrong. He was not perfect. First there was Acafellas, now this.
Looking back, maybe Will was just trying to shake things up. It’s possible. He is supposed to be a really nice guy after all – not a hint of the schemer in him – that’s just his wife’s way of life, right?
Watching this scene I’m honestly not so sure. Because I’m starting to see a pattern. In episode 2 he takes Rachel’s solo away and gives it to Quinn, of all people, because of Rachel’s involvement in a stunt that all of the other kids were in on. Rachel was not the “ringleader” in that situation. Rachel may have had the idea to do Push It, but every other member of the Glee club was happy to follow her behind Will’s back, no coercion required. So where was Finn’s punishment? Why did he get to keep his part in Don’t Stop Believin’?
Meanwhile it was only last week that Will was the one turning his back on the club in favour of his own dreams – how on earth can he get on his high horse about it with Rachel now? It’s only a week since, in his absence, Rachel pulled the group back from the brink and closer together – since she protected all her friends from being made to feel not good enough. So why is she getting punished instead of rewarded?
The short answer? Whether he’s fully aware of it or not, Will Schuester thinks it’s his mission in life to take Rachel Berry down a peg or two. To make sure she knows she’s not that special.
I do think this was intentional on the show’s part. It’s way too marked not to be. And honestly it could have been a brilliant thread if they hadn’t just dropped it somewhere along the way. Will and Rachel’s relationship went from complicated in season one to non-existent in seasons two and three. And that’s a shame, mostly because when I look back at these episodes, I feel like they were building towards some serious resolution between the two that we never really got.
I wanted this stuff to mean something other than ‘Will is intermittently a jerk’ and for that to happen Will had to realise that some of what Rachel was telling him was on the money. He needed to wind up admitting that no, he didn’t like her – and that that had more to do with who he is than who she is. It’s a shame, it really is. Because the psychology here is so clear: Rachel threatens Will on some level, shames him by her very existence, because she is the version of his young self who was always going to make it no matter what.
She will be a star for all the reasons he wasn’t – because of all the qualities he is eager to see as faults he needs to correct.
Acknowledging all of this would not have made Will a worse person. It just would have made him a more relateable character. And the teen wedding plotline was the perfect opportunity to do it. Rin and I ranted all through season three about how ludicrous it was that Will wasn’t allowed to have thoughts or feelings about Finn marrying his highschool sweetheart, given that that whole deal ended rather disastrously for Will himself. Well looking back it’s just as much of a bummer in the context of Will’s relationship with Rachel. The looming wedding and the wavering on NYADA were the ideal impetus for Will seeing the source of his issues with Rachel up close. He would be thinking “Oh look, she’s making the choices I made after all, this girl I always thought was bigger and better.” It would have been great to see him realise that having found true fulfillment in his life, he no longer felt jealous of Rachel’s single-minded devotion to her dream, only inspired by it. It would have been great to see Will stop trying to get Rachel to be more like him, and in fact try to get her to be more like her again.
Alas, as things stand, all of the above is moot. Canon is ‘Will is intermittently a jerk’.
Meanwhile, regardless of Will’s motivations, it’s depressing to see that a 16 year old girl has far, far more emotional intelligence and is far, far more articulate about things than he is.
Rachel lays it all on the table in this scene. She’s honest and calm and she does her very best to be fair instead of petty. She wants to argue her case in a civilized way. Will, on the other hand, is busy imputing nasty motives to her – she quit the group “out of spite”. He’s layering compliments with contempt – “I’m your biggest – and sometimes your only – fan.” And all the time he’s asking her – a kid who’s been bullied and belittled and put upon by all and sundry including him – to be the bigger man.
And the way their conversation concludes? Just priceless.
Rachel: “Everyone on the team is getting something out of being there. You’re doing a great job of getting them out of their shells, except for me. I’m still getting my lipstick flushed down the toilet. I still don’t have a boyfriend. Tina’s great, but… why do you have to hurt me to make her feel good?”
Will: “Just come to rehearsal.”
Brilliant, Will. Just brilliant. If you only help one kid… you’ll make damn sure it’s not Rachel Berry.
Rin says: First let’s get the Faberry out of the way, shall we? Ah yes, you’re saying, ‘BUT BUT, THERE WASN’T ANY!’ and to that I say. Look harder.
Who do you think is flushing Rachel’s lipstick down the toilet?
I think it’s tricky. Because I do like Will, I do I do I do. But sometimes the way he treats Rachel is too harsh. I’m one of those people who thinks Will is a great teacher, and that his proficiency as a teacher was dragged through the mud in favour of lols. Weird matador dancing lols. But when it comes to inspiring these kids and supporting them and encouraging them, he does it, and he genuinely cares for them and their futures. He’s the kind of teacher you’d want for your kids.
But somehow, whenever it comes to Rachel he loses some of those qualities that makes him great. Just like Sophy said, he thinks it’s his place to take Rachel down a peg. And I don’t think that it’s his place to do so. She already has two dads, she doesn’t need a third.
And Will’s move to give Maria to Tina, on the surface you could say it was just him trying to ~shake things up, but as Rachel indicated, she’s obviously mentioned West Side Story to Will a number of times before. He knows how much this role means to her, and yet he just so happens to pick this one, out of ALL THE ROLES IN THE WORLD, and give it to Tina? Passive aggressive, much? How can Rachel take it as anything else besides Will trying to punish her?
And please. Will. Don’t try and pretend you give a crap about Tina. How many solos has she gotten for the past three years?! Exactly.
Sophy says: Quinn flushed Rachel’s lipstick down the toilet but first put some on and stared into the mirror in the fabathroom and licked her lips.
Rin says: Creepy.
Wait a minute….
Sophy says: Whoa, Rachel must have lost a lot of lipsticks over the years.
Head In Hands
Will hugging his way back into our hearts.
Sophy says: Things like this used to win me over so easily back in the day. Sigh.
But seriously, this is a lovely moment. The way Finn walks into the room not even knowing where to look or how to speak and just kind of falls into Will’s arms?
MY FEELINGS ARE DEAD ON THE FLOOR.
Rin says: Aw aw aw! I totally teared up at this on rewatch because it’s so well done.
I liked that they showed Finn being completely shattered by the news of Quinn’s pregnancy too. And that he probably didn’t want to break down in front of Quinn because he wants to be supportive and the strong one. He wants to do what’s right
WHICH LEADS TO THINGS LIKE THIS…
Sophy says: Finn/Quinn was never my cup of tea, for too many reasons to list, but this was undeniably adorable.
Rin says: Never has a filthy little blanket been so adorable.
The only difference is that our dolls would be famous people and they would be behind glass.
Sophy says: It’s a bit disturbing that Sandy has managed to nab ‘Most Rophy’ twice in a row.
Rin says: Everyday we draw closer to crane dressing gowns and male pattern baldness.
Quinn Glory Shot
Sophy says: Two iconic shots in one episode. Impossible to choose.
Rin says: How did you stop at two, tbh.
Sophy says: You said I was as bad as you. You can’t take the crown back now.