Tradition has it that the network airing the Super Bowl usually schedules a high-profile show immediately afterwards in the expectation of a ratings bump. This year, Fox programmed ‘Glee’ for the coveted time slot. That seems like an odd fit to me, but the show tried to make it work with a special football-themed episode.
‘The Sue Sylvester Shuffle’ opens with Sue staging a huge Cheerios routine to the tune of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” It’s still an annoying song, but I have to say that it’s kind of nice to hear it without any auto-tune for a change. The number is a massive production featuring BMX stunts, pyrotechnics, blue wigs and – as Sue puts it – “the can’t-lose combination of boobs and fire.” Nonetheless, Sue is bored. She’s done it all by this point, and is having trouble getting inspired to top herself. In her quest to add more edge in time for the football championship halftime show, she has a brainstorm and decides to bring in a human cannonball act. She calls it her “Sueclear weapon.” But she can’t just shoot some trained circus performer across the football field. Oh no, she wants a real Cheerio in there – specifically Brittany, who’s terrified at the proposition. When Principal Figgins nixes the idea as too dangerous, Sue goes on a Godzilla-style rampage through the school.
Although the football team is on a winning streak, tensions between those members in the Glee Club and those not are causing a huge amount of strife. Finn blows an important play because he doesn’t trust Karofsky to block for him. Coach Beiste and Mr. Schuester devise a plan to force the entire football team to join Glee for a week, in the hopes of showing them what the club is really all about. Naturally, Karofsky and his cronies are resistant. To prove that they don’t just sing showtunes all day, Puck and Rachel perform Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” Most of the players get into it, but Karofsky continues to scoff. Understanding how important it is to unite the team, Finn and Puck set aside their differences and become buds again.
In her outrage at being denied what she wants, Sue takes revenge by getting the Cheerleading Finals rescheduled to take place at the same time as the football championship. This means that the game will have no halftime show and no cheerleaders. She also gives Quinn, Brittany, and Santana an ultimatum: either quit Glee or be dropped from the Cheerios. They decide that remaining popular is more important than doing something they love, and concede to Sue’s wishes.
With no cheerleaders, Will concocts a crazy plan to have the football team put on their own halftime show, a mash-up of “Thriller” and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll,” performed in full zombie makeup. Skeptical at first, all of the players eventually come around. Karofsky even suggests they practice a dress rehearsal warm-up number to “She’s Not There” (which is by a band called The Zombies – get it?).
Just when it seems like things are finally on the right track, a bunch of pricks from the hockey team make fun of and Slushee the football team. Rubbing in the humiliation, one of them remarks: “Holy crap, they turned Karofsky gay!” That comment triggers Karosky’s insecurities and pushes him over the edge. He rallies the other football players to quit Glee, even if it means sitting out the big game.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, we cut to Kurt and the Warblers practicing “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child. This really serves no purpose except to remind us that they’re still part of the show.
Anyway, it looks like the football team won’t have enough players to compete, and will have to forfeit the championship. Then Rachel gets the goofy idea that she, Tina, Mercedes, and Lauren will join the team to keep them eligible. They won’t have to play, really. They’ll just stand on the field and lay down on the ground during plays. Except for Lauren; she’s totally psyched that she gets to tackle boys.
This goes about as well as you’d expect. During the first half, the team gets slaughtered, and Tina is almost injured when she tries to actually play. Just before halftime, Finn pleads with the cheerleaders to quit Sue’s evil regime, and Puck talks the rest of the football team into doing the halftime show so that Beiste will let them play in the second half of the game. Even Karofsky jumps on the field and joins in when he sees how well the number goes over with the crowd. Beiste agrees to let them play, and asks everyone to keep their zombie makeup on to psych out the other team. Rallied by the cheerleaders chanting “Braaaaaaains…,” the team pulls out a last-minute victory.
The next day, Sue is interviewed by Katie Couric, who profiles her as “Loser of the Year.” Couric informs her that, due to her failure at the Cheerleading Finals and her ridiculous cannonball stunt, Sue’s budget for the Cheerios has been slashed and redirected to Glee Club. “I hate you, Diane Sawyer,” Sue says.
Lest we assume that all is right with the world, Finn tries to make friends with Karofsky and invites him to join Glee full time, only to find that Karofsky is back to being a dick again. Victories in high school are short-lived, and he sees no point in upsetting the order of things. So much for that.
As the episode ends, Quinn tells Finn that she’s proud of him, and that what he did reminded her of why she loved him. Then she kisses Finn. I don’t think Sam is going to take that very well.