It appears that I missed a recap for the April 19th episode of ‘Glee’. I guess I’ve got too much going on these days to keep up with all my “stories,” unfortunately. However, last week’s episode was a very special 90-minute spectacular, and I feel like that’s basically begging for someone to pay attention to it.
Long story short on the previous episode, which was called ‘A Night of Neglect’: The kids had to put on a fundraiser to pay for their upcoming trip to New York. Sue organized a battalion of hecklers. Will’s girlfriend Holly (Gwyneth Paltrow) transferred out of town again, leaving him behind, but not before dressing up in costume as “hermaphrodite Nazi sympathizer” Wallis Simpson. (You’d know who that was if you’d watched ‘The King’s Speech‘.) And of course there was much singing and dancing, because that’s what this show does.
So, jump to last Tuesday’s episode. The network advertised ‘Born This Way’ as if it were 90 minutes of wall-to-wall Lady Gaga songs, which would be annoying for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the show already had a full-on Lady Gaga episode this time last year. Fortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case. There’s only one Gaga number (the title track) in the whole episode – although that song does sort of inspire the plot.
Things start when Rachel breaks her nose. (Or, more accurately, Finn accidentally breaks Rachel’s nose.) Her doctor tries to pressure her into getting a nose job, which he insists won’t affect her singing voice, and may even improve it. Rachel decides that she specifically wants Quinn’s nose.
This prompts the rest of the class to start obsessing over the things they don’t like about themselves. Finn can’t dance, Mike Chang can’t sing, Tina’s eyes are too “Asian,” Artie doesn’t want to be a four-eyes (seems like some contact lenses would be an easy fix for that), etc. Mr. Schuester is aghast. He decides to correct their self-esteem issues by assigning songs about self-acceptance and self-empowerment.
Most of the kids come around, but Rachel is determined to go through with the nose job, despite reminders that her idol Ms. Streisand famously refused to alter her own honking schnoz. So, her friends have to stage a “Barbra-vention,” which turns into a flash mob dance number at the mall. (Hmmm… This seems awfully familiar, doesn’t it?)
Santana wants to be Prom Queen. Somehow, this is supposed to help her woo Brittany away from Artie. She figures out all on her own that bully Karfosky is gay, and confronts him directly with this. She hatches a plan to act as his “beard,” pretend that they’re a couple, and help him clean up his image. First, he has to apologize to everyone he’d bullied. Then the two of them start an anti-bullying club that patrols the school in jackets and berets like the Guardian Angels. Finally, Karfosky has to apologize to an incredulous Kurt and convince him to come back to McKinley. Doing all this should gain Karofsky and Santana enough good will to win them Prom King and Queen. Kurt sees through the charade pretty quickly, but was hoping for an opportunity to come back to the school anyway, regardless of Karofsky’s motives.
Lauren also wants to be Prom Queen, and actively courts the fat-girl and social outcast vote. Quinn feels threatened and tries to warn Lauren off, which only prompts Lauren to dig up some juicy dirt on her rival. It turns out that Quinn’s real name is Lucy, and she used to be fat and ugly in middle school. Her nickname was “Lucy Caboosey.” She was so traumatized by the constant humiliation that she lost a lot of weight, got a nose job, changed her name, and transferred to another school district. Lauren leaks this info the school, but the plan backfires. Suddenly, Quinn has the sympathy vote from the fat girls and social outcasts.
To wrap up their lesson, Will has the kids make up T-shirts that list the one thing they most dislike about themselves, which they will proudly wear in a group number to Gaga’s “Born This Way.” His own shirt says “Butt Chin.” Brittany wears an awesome “I’m With Stoopid” shirt with an arrow pointing up to her own head. (Puck has a similar shirt with an arrow pointing down to his groin.)
Not everyone is so honest or forthcoming, however. Emma refuses to acknowledge her OCD until Will basically forces her to see a therapist. More importantly, Santana thinks she can get away with wearing a “Bitch” shirt, when that clearly isn’t the thing she most dislikes about herself. Brittany tries to help Santana come out of the closet by giving her a shirt that says “Lebanese.” Oh, poor dear Brittany…
Santana doesn’t show up to perform in the big Gaga number, but we see her in the back of the auditorium, alone with Karofsky. She’s watching Brittany and wearing her Lebanese shirt, looking dejected.
Other notable performances in the episode include Quinn singing “Unpretty,” Finn singing Sammy Davis’ “I Gotta Be Me” with backup dancing from Mike Chang, and the Warblers seranding Kurt farewell to “Somewhere Only We Know.” The best number comes from Kurt himself, belting out a tremendous version of the ‘Sunset Boulevard’ tune “As If We’d Never Said Goodbye” as he returns to his old friends.
The episode is pretty good, but I honestly can’t think of any reason it needed to be 90 minutes, other than as a promotional gimmick. It could easily lose a bunch of unimportant scenes, including that flash mob number, to come in at the standard length. Frankly, it would have been better if it had.