‘Glee’ Recap (Season 3, Episode 2): I’ll Make a Man Out of You

Now THIS is why you hire a goddamn writing staff! Holy shit on a shingle, that is what I’m talking about! This wasn’t the best episode of Glee ever, but it was one of the tightest, best-made, most well-acted, and entertaining hours the show has produced in a LOOOOONNNNNG, long time. It got a message across without shoving it down our throats like a treacly cyanide pill, and it even ended without the standard Closing Number that has come to define everything right (spectacular and fun) and wrong (clichéd and self-congratulatory) about this show. The fact that “I Am Unicorn” was directed by Brad “Who Are You To Spoil Something Talented People Worked to Create” Falchuk, who hasn’t been the most receptive person to the show’s criticism, is surprising as well; the episode was lacking everything that drew heat for Season 2 (and, to a degree, Season 1). It felt real, it flowed, and there was something genuinely at stake. I like where this is going.

Anyway, Shelby (Idina Menzel) is back as the coach of a second Glee Club that features Sugar Motta and only Sugar Motta (finagled into existence by her mobbed-up dad), and to atone for past sins or some such shit. For some reason she also insists on reintroducing herself to everyone in the most dramatic fashion possible. Puck drags Quinn to meet her in an empty classroom, and she materializes out of nowhere during Rachel’s audition for the school play like a damn apparition. Still, Shelby and Rachel almost have no interaction this episode; she’s really in town to re-establish Beth as an important plot point and something that actually happened (unlike, you know, all of Season 2). That clandestine meeting with Quinn is all about trying to get her to be a part of Baby Beth’s life. Quinn wants nothing to do with any of this, but Puckerman, amazingly, does, and he gets to meet and even hold the baby in the best scene of this very young season.

Quinn’s plot intersects with Sue; the Cheerio overlord wants her former star to be the subject of a documentary-style PSA about a student whose life was ruined by the arts. At Sue’s behest, Quinn marches into Schuester’s office and chides him for ruining her life of popularity with the stupid Glee Club, but Schuester and his cantaloupe-sized testicles are having none of this nonsense. He slams on the desk, calls bullshit on the whole thing, and tells Quinn to fuck off and have a nice day. After seeing a picture of Beth on Shelly’s phone, Quinn later returns to the Gleeks, all prim and proper and seemingly back to her old ways, but it’s less a regression to a lamb than a disguise for a lioness: she’s gonna sue the pants off of Shelly for custody of Beth, and if she’s going to win, she’ll have to look the part. Oh damn.

Meanwhile, Vocal Adrenaline has apparently fired Dustin Goolsby, because God forbid Cheyenne Jackson gets a steady gig anywhere, ever. With the powerhouse reeling, Schuester realizes the field is wide open for the Gleeks to sweep in as champions, and he decides to institute a “Booty Camp” meant to improve the ND’s dancing. Although, really, the whole side plot is really nothing more than an excuse to show rippling, Bodies In Motion-style shots of Schuester and Mike Chang spinning around like a damn top.

That, and to shoehorn in our Finn plot for the week. He’s working at Burt’s auto shop, and suddenly I have a very good of idea of what capacity Corey Monteith is gonna be sticking around next year. As if on cue, Finn tells Rachel he’s seriously entertaining the idea of working at the shop instead of going to college, seeing as he can’t dance and is only a marginally decent singer. Rachel insists Finn’s better than such an existence, and he has it in him to be truly great. A last-ditch, not-half-bad showing at the Booty Camp seems to revive Frankenteen’s confidence. Man, take away the girlfriend drama and this kid just doesn’t have shit to do on this show.

As for Kurt, well…he’s gay. That’s sort of the crux of his plot this week. He’s running for senior class president (forgot to mention that last week), and he’s enlisted Brit-Brit to help with his campaign. Thanks to his public profile and her overall sluttiness (it means she’s popular), they’re poised to make a serious run at the brass ring. Brittany is particularly excited because Kurt is a “unicorn,” i.e. he’s special and everyone knows it. Problem is, her entire media campaign seems to revolve around the fact that Kurt is a magnificent poof. He chides at the idea of exploiting his fabulous gayness to get what he wants, and resolves to run a more sophisticated, traditional campaign. More on that later.

Also in Kurt’s wheelhouse this week: the school play is approaching, and this year they’re doing West Side Story. Rachel is a shoe-in to play Maria, but there’s some inter-Gleek conflict as to who’s going to play Tony. Blaine is chomping at the bit to take the role, but seeing as Kurt’s a senior and needs the credits to get into that New York school, the blue blazered newbie decides to defer to his man.

Kurt’s tryout is impressive, but the musical’s directors (Emma, Artie and Coach Beast) decide that, despite his singing abilities, Kurt is too much of a ponce to play the hard-boiled Tony. Kurt acts out a scene from Romeo and Juliet to prove his masculinity, but he puts on this kind of deep, he-man voice that makes him kind of sound like the Old Spice Guy. The whole auditorium bursts out laughing and Kurt’s thrown into a funk until his magnificent dad steps in and reminds him that bro, you’re seriously gay and there’s nothing wrong with embracing that. It seems kind of awkward to have Kurt learn this lesson for the fifth or sixth time in this whole show, but whatever: he decides to go with Brittany’s fufu campaign strategy, but he’ll have to compete with the woman herself: thanks to Santana’s words of wisdom, Brit’s decided she’s a unicorn too and is every bit as qualified to be prez as Mr. Hummel. Oh dear.

Oh, and by the way: Blaine kills his audition for a supporting role but the directors want him to read for Tony. We cut to black off Criss’s flabbergasted non-response.

The songs, but full disclosure: I don’t know jack-all about West Side Story, so I won’t be able to compare these to the originals.

“Somewhere”: Lea Michele and Idina Menzel tag-team this one for Rachel’s audition. Lea’s painfully outclassed in terms of pure ability on this one, but these two make a hell of a team, and this is a much better outlet for their talents than that doo-wop “Poker Face” duet from Season 1. It’s a little bit too melodramatic to be the first song of the episode and really get the juices flowing in terms of oomph, but then again, that clearly wasn’t the point here. Jesus Christ, these two can sing. B+

Funny Girl: “I’m the Greatest Star”: This one is Kurt’s audition song, and it’s less about singing ability than his ability to make kind of a talented ass of himself. Still, holy Christ in heaven, he nails it. At first I was worried he wasn’t going to really get to show his voice, but the last half of the song is a singing clinic. There’s even one point where he twirls some sais like a goddamn Ninja Turtle. Kurt Hummel=Raphael? I like the sound of that shit. A

http://youtu.be/hIP8KG7Rv38

“Something’s Coming”: I’m a total Criss homer, so this shit is almost besides the point right now. I think he’s at his best when he’s doing goofy pop numbers with kind of an off-beat twist, but he handles the dramatics of a showtune pretty well too. Nicely done, but it’s time to get him back in his true element. B+

http://youtu.be/E4QCzm9nRUs

Next week: Schuester sings a song that was actually written after the year 2000 and is not from a Broadway musical. Gods be praised.

READ: More Faster Glee recaps:

Season 3:
-3×1 “The Purple Piano Project”: Glitterbomb

Season 2:
-2×22: “New York”: New York City Serenade
-2×21: “Funeral”: Putting the F-U in Funeral
-2×20: “Prom”: Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
-2×19: “Rumours”: Rumour Has It
-2×18: “Born This Way”: Corny This Way
-2×17: “A Night of Neglect”: Nobody Likes You, Either.
-2×16: “Original Song”: Everyone Loses
-2×15: “Sexy”: Sexy Time, Very Nice
-2×14: “Blame It On the Alcohol”: They Be Actin’ Like They Drunk
-2×13: “Comeback”: Biebermania
-2×12: “Silly Love Songs”: A Friggin’ Ohio Lovefest
-2×11: “The Sue Syvester Shuffle”: The Championship Game

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