Glee: A Bad Reputation is Better Than No Reputation at All…Arguably

ONJI took a short break this week from yowling and clawing at my eye sockets at how depraved and grotesque “Glee” has become to actually…sort of…enjoy it. But not that much! And just part of it! That part being where cheerleading coach/erstwhile demonic force Sue Sylvester became the cuddly stuffed ostrich we all secretly known she is inside, and snuggled up to her sister Jean to escape the cruel jibs of her laughing coworkers after a video of her Jazzercising to Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” shows up online.

I feel like any of the other actors would have make the return of Jean, who has Downs Syndrome and lives in a nursing home, into the most maudlin of soft-shoe numbers, but despite the writers trying SO HARD to make it stilted and crappy, Jane Lynch and Robin Trocki are consummate professionals who never stop making diamonds out of dog doots. Befuddled by her sudden loss of status among the faculty (“What’s that smell?” Sue gasps in the teachers’ lounge, realizing that the usual stench of fear that surrounds her has lifted. “Oh my god, it’s coffee!”) Sue takes her sister’s advice to help others in order to help herself, and launches a campaign to help school counselor Emma grow a backbone. Fortunately for us, Sue’s dark and twisted take on what constitutes “help” is typically bound to narrowly avoid ruining some lives, and this week is no different.

Meanwhile, also dealing with humiliation, the Glee-nises are scandalized by a list posted with the relative Hotness ratings of the members of New Directions, or as its quickly dubbed, the Gleest. Now that is some realistic, high-school level cruelty that I can get on board with! Sue and her meat puppet Principal Figgins make it clear to Schue the culprit will be caught and punished with expulsion, because that is the only reasonable response to a note that affects all of 12 people in the school, and also not even really because we all know they will forget about it by next week. And if he can’t figure out who did it… well hey, why not, the glee club will be disbanded. We haven’t had that threat looming over us in, oh, 2 weeks or so, right? Bring on the heat!

THEN, as the club deals with the divisive aftermath of the list, we stumble in the biggest plot hole of all: Hot Asian Guy was not the first on the list! HELLOOOOOO?!? And did you see how they were basically TAUNTING us with him in that first practice scene? O MY GOD. Ugh, with his earnest singing face and his red cardigan with black trim. At one point Hot Asian Guy was standing next to Puck, and the camera panned over to him. I honestly thought they were going to have him say like, “That’s right!” or some other dumb but at least audible shit, but no, apparently they were just alluding to how he was going to break us off/show us what he’s got, dance-wise, during an Eh + performance of Vanilla Ice, “That One Vanilla Ice Song We Know, so Why Not Just Call It That?” Schue declared this week’s theme to be songs with bad reputations that can still be redeemed, just like the kids (because being called ugly is the same as having a bad reputation? I don’t know), and I drooled into the giant adult Glee bib I wear in giddy anticipation of just this kind of moment.

Having been voted dead-last on the Gleest (Haha! Agreed), Rachel decides that the only way to gain any popularity is to go full slut (at least musically). Yes, may I have another?! That is the best idea they/she has ever had. And, o my god, we all added the image of Puck wearing that Phantom of the Opera mask to our vault of Private Terrible Thoughts, right? I don’t even dig him that much usually but now I’d let him imprison me in the bowels of an opera house any day! Rachel’s quest to be such a naughty nanny is immediately derailed by her refusal to do anything remotely awesome like make-out, lest she cheat on her boyfriend of one entire day, Jesse St. James. Girl, seriously, DID YOU NOT JUST SEE THAT MASK? As a side note, is that too weird to have as a “thing”? Because I would like to that Phantom Mask to be my thing. I would like to have to gently introduce it during intimate moments and then pretend to be joking when my boyfriend gets creeped out and tries to leave. Haha, I’m just kidding. My actual boyfriend is the show Glee! And boy do I tolerate him this week! Instead of doing anything actually cool/gross/cool and gross with Puck, Rachel announces that she will be performing David Geddes’ “Run Joey Run” which…had everyone heard this song? Because I sure had not. I’m all for milking melodramatic songs for the last bit of sweet cheesy nectar inside, but this one seems super obscure to be putting up against cheddar powerhouses like “Ice Ice Baby” and… others….

The Loser Brigade (Mercedes, Tina, Artie and Kurt) also quickly assembles to discuss how to make their mark, given that none of them even got on the Gleest. HAHA, OUCH. That’s pretty great. Painful, indelible adolescent memories 4 LYFE! Joining them is Brittany, who accidentally took so many antibiotics that she “forgot how to leave” the practice room (Brittany for President of Laughs!) and, with her painfully exhausted eyes beseeching them, explains how she should have cracked the top three on the Gleest, considering that she’s made out with everyone in the school, even the janitor. Janitors hold a lot of sway in these Hot or Not competitions, what with their faculty connections and garbage cans filled with sawdust to put on the ground when kids throw-up. Kurt rallies them with an inspiration speech about being a badass, and I’m all about watching them start a hot, motherfucking dance scandal, when he throws down his trump card: “What is the worst thing a student can do in this school? Make a scene in the library!” WHA-WHA-WHAT? Kurt, what happened to you between that last episode and today? Last week you were hatching nefarious, far-reaching, pseudo-incestuous plots; this week you’re coming up with some fourth-grade bush-league scheme! No one even had an urn filled with the ashes of their dead father shaken at them in this one! I guess its like how Harper Lee only ever published To Kill a Mockingbird; some people have only one supremely great (or in Kurt’s case, mind-dissolvingly terrible) idea, and then their subsequent lesser ideas have them dancing in Hammer pants to “U Can’t Touch This” in a library filled with 3 students. The uber-slap to the face of their incredibly poorly conceived stunt is that the librarian loves it, just absolutely loves it! WELL THAT’S A BURN A-RIGHT A-THERE!

Like the snake in the garden, if on the first day Satan had (already) created track suits, Sue decides to buck up her self-esteem by fucking up Emma and Schue’s budding semi- romance. Revealing that she bribed Schue’s landlord to plant baby monitors in his apartment (ew, I imagine you would pick up a lot of squelching and grunting), Sue drops the bomb that Schue has been courting both the coach of rival team Vocal Adrenaline AND football-colored April Rhodes during the week, week and a half it’s been since Emma and Schue almost boned. Provoking Emma to anger was a fabulous scene: “You take weird mincing steps like you grew up in Imperial Japan,” Sue hisses. She marches Emma down the teacher’s lounge and sets her lose like a redheaded-weasel in a chicken coop. “You are a slut,” Emma announces to Will in front of what appears to be forty other teachers eating sandwiches, “You are a slut, Will. You are a slut.” And he is! He totally is. He was trying to sleep with Emma one episode, then goes gross wild on two other women? Sometimes I just want to scrub out a toilet with his hair. I’m personally digging how they decided to treat Emma’s OCD as an actual problem she is taking steps to deal with, rather than being like, “Haha, this bitch can’t wash her hands without putting gloves on. Some people be crazy, right?” all the time, and am equally glad they are letting her step up and vagina-slap some sense into Schue’s perpetually befuddled mug. Those eyes were made for bugging, Emma!

O, and what about the guest stars! Molly Shannon is wasted in every sense (two) of the word as Brenda Castle, a new teacher banned from teaching in Indiana due to a drug-related incident with her “shoot-ents”. Brenda basically wanders the halls being great and insulting people at random, provoking Sue to scream at her, “I will kick you square in the taco!” IF ONLY! I would make a .gif of that and have it surgically etched onto my retina. That’s how they work, right? Lasers? Alas, Molly isn’t in the episode nearly as much as I personally would have liked, her thunder stolen by the dewy stretched canvas that is Olivia Newton-John, who is intrigued by the booming success of Sue’s internet notoriety and angling to capitalize on it by casting her in a new, sexier video “Physical” video. Sue, who does bare a striking resemblance to a flintier, super-sized Olivia Newton-John, readily complies, and the resulting video contains all of the decadent powder blue matching sweatbands and obscenely tight red wrestling singlets of our dreams, just the cheese platter the doctor ordered. But even as much as I liked it, I couldn’t help but think…didn’t we already do this? Don’t get me wrong, I could watch them Sylvester-ize every music video ever made in chronological order, but I wonder how many times we can put all of our Glee-ggs in one swaggering, exquisitely butch basket? Just following the moment of Sue’s redemption, the Unfuckables have Kurt sacrifice himself on the altar of bad-assery by revealing that he in fact was the one that sent around the original humiliating video. “What do you want, Lady Face?,” Sue barks, but it is too late: instead of eviscerating him, Sue thanks him for launching her into stardom along side one of her idols. When will these nerds’ terrible schemes ever work out?

Hint: not ever. Never. Rachel debuts her “Run Joey Run” video at Glee practice only to reveal…she has cast all three of her former and current loves in the same role, and has them alternate scenes! SCANDLOUS! Well, not really, but the video is delightfully hammy and over the top, complete with fog machine and terrible acting. Remember Sandy Ryerson, the original pedophile glee club coach who Schue replaced after he was caught touching the students? Yeah, me neither, but for some reason he played Rachel’s dad in the video! Who murders her accidentally! Yipes! I’m just glad older actors are still getting work, is all I’m thinking. There are so many pedophile glee club coaches’ stories that need to be told.

The video ends with a perfect sliver of delicious camp, the kind of tacky sequins that should be covering this show from head to toe: Rachel wearing golden wings, her giant mouth toothy and wide, with the word “Fin” emblazoned over her white robe. Yes. Correct. Also, good job making an elaborate video to prove to the school that you are cool, Rachel. Guess who isn’t going to see this? ANYONE IN THE SCHOOL WHO ISN’T ALREADY IN THE GLEE CLUB. Not exactly the reputation game changer you were hoping for. The three hunks involved are (in)appropriately OUTRAGED to have been tricked so heartlessly into appearing in a music video as if they all had feelings for Rachel. Which is totally understandable, because… apparently none of them comprehend the difference between acting and real-life. Okay, yes, maybe Finn and Puck wouldn’t because instead of brains their skulls are crammed with hamburger meat, but Jesse? Has he learned nothing from his 42 years on this earth? Jesse precedes goes FULL DIVA on Rachel, or as much of a diva a 56-yr-old man pretending to be a teenage boy can go, and breaks up with her.

In one of the few verbal needles in a lame-stake (sorry J) Jesse heatedly warns Rachel away from him, threatening, “If we end up next to each other on the bar at Ballet Club…”, then I think we are going to have to sing an emotionally-fraught duet of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” as you dance en pointe! There is nothing this show could possibly have done to ruin “Total Eclipse,” a song written exclusively to be shouted to the heavens or your ex-boyfriend, with your face twisted in a mask of passionate, shallow emotion as you are lifted on the shoulders of male ballerinas. Schue also cracks the case of who made the list (Quinn, because she is pregnant and her life sucks) and Emma refuses to forgive Schue for being a jerk (until she does forgive him like, 8 seconds later, because all this drama is eating up her allotted door knob-touching time).

All in all, a satisfying milkshake of an episode: you probably shouldn’t have one every week since eventually you’ll bloat up and your teeth will fill out, but oh does it hit the spot. The promos for next week look TAN DELICIOSO as well. Kurt dresses like Elmer Fudd in order to make his dad love him (BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, AM I RIGHT GUYS?) and might make out with Brittany. Squeedle dee dee! I’m listening to my body talk, and its telling me that I can probably buy those Phantom masks online, one to keep at home and one to carry in my purse on SPECIAL OCCASIONS. Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it!

Halle Kiefer needs you to bring her some soup.