In the first episode, Spanish teacher Will Schuester puts together a glee club. He inherits the remains of a club from a former teacher-turned-drug dealer, Sandy Ryerson, who was fired due to inappropriate behavior interacting with a student. The glee club is short several members, most notably a male lead, which star singer Rachel Barry insists upon. Will plots to poach Finn Hudson from the football team after hearing him singing in the shower after practice. In a fit of desperation and unethical decision-making, Schuester plants marijuana (bought from the former glee club director) in Finn’s locker and blackmails him into joining the club.
In the second half of the pilot, Will’s wife Terri reveals that she’s pregnant. She pressures schoolteacher Will to get a more lucrative job, and he reluctantly quits the “New Directions.” Meanwhile, Finn also quits after being teased by the football team. When the team traps Artie in a portable toilet, Finn refuses to participate in tipping the toilet over. Realizing his new-found loyalty to the glee club, Finn rejoins. After hearing the “New Directions” practicing the song, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Will also returns to the club to assume his role as leader.
Fox took an unusual strategy when it released this premiere: executives chose to air it directly after the spring American Idol finale. They then waited until the fall to release new episodes (a delay of several months). They clearly took a chance in losing audience participation, but the strategy paid off. Strategists at Fox correctly assumed that American Idol and Glee would have significant crossover, and the spring premiere allowed Fox to create hype over the slow summer months (New York Times, Not That High School Musical).
Featured Songs: “Where Is Love?” from Oliver, “Respect” from Aretha Franklin, “Mister Cellophane” from Chicago, “I Kissed a Girl” from Katy Perry, “On My Own” from Les Miserables, “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” from Guys and Dolls, “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease, “Can’t Fight This Feeling” from REO Speedwagon, “Rehab” from Amy Winehouse, and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” and “Don’t Stop Believing” from Journey.
This episode focuses on overt sexual behavior represented in song. The glee club performs at a school assembly in an effort to recruit new members, which they need in order to compete at the regional glee club competition (a fact rudely pointed out by Sue, the cheerleading coach). Will’s song choice for the assembly, “Le Freak,” is disliked by the glee club, who suggest “Gold Digger” instead. Meanwhile, Rachel joins the celibacy club in order to get closer to Finn, who attends with his girlfriend Quinn. She soon discovers that the celibacy club is not as pristine as its name suggests. Her discovery of the celibacy club’s true nature leads her to secretly change the New Directions’ assembly song to “Push It,” which she feels expresses students’ true desires. As a result, the glee club is banned from performing all but squeaky-clean administratively-selected songs.
Several cheerleaders audition for the glee club, and are admitted, but are soon approached by Sue to ruin the glee club. Trouble brews further when Will and Emma, the guidance counselor, share an intimate moment. Meanwhile, Will’s wife discovers that she is having a hysterical pregnancy but lies to Will about it. Finn and Rachel also kiss, though Finn’s recurring premature ejaculation problem plagues him, and he goes back to his girlfriend Quinn.
This episode earned the Parents’ Television Council “Worse TV Show of the Week” due to its prominent portrayal of sex acts (ParentsTV, Worst TV Show of the Week).
Featured Songs: “GoldDigger” from Kanye West, “Push It” from Salt-n-Pepa, “Take a Bow” from Rihanna, “I Say a Little Prayer” from Dionne Warwick, “Le Freak” from Chic, and “All By Myself” from Eric Carmen.
In an effort to reclaim some of his old show choir glory, Will forms an all-male acapella group called “Acafellas.” He neglects the New Directions, who hire a tough outside choreographer to help them. The choreographer is so difficult that the cheerleaders hope that he will inspire some glee members to quit, but Rachel fires the choreographer instead. The cheerleaders also conspire to convince Mercedes that Kurt has a crush on her, but she is rebuffed when she makes a move on him. Angry, she smashes his car window. Later, Kurt admits to Mercedes that he’s gay. At an Acafellas performance, the creepy ex-glee club director Sandy proudly announces that Josh Groban is attending to see them. Will realizes that performing with the Acafellas is not his true desire (in part because Groban reveals he is attending only to ask Sandy to stop stalking him).
Featured Songs: “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” “This is How We Do It” from Montell Jordan, “Poison” from Bell Biv DeVoe, “Mercy” from Duffy, “Bust Your Windows” from Jazmine Sullivan and “I Wanna Sex You Up” from Color Me Badd.
Quinn discovers she’s pregnant and manages to convince the ever-innocent Finn that the baby is a result of an ill-timed encounter in a hot tub. Finn doesn’t realize that premature ejaculation in a jacuzzi won’t get a girl pregnant, but the true father, Puck, understands the situation perfectly. Will’s wife Terri crosses a line into mental illness when she cooks up a scheme to get Quinn’s baby. Meanwhile, Kurt’s father Burt catches his son and two ladies doing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” dance in unitards. Thinking quickly, Kurt tells his father that he’s in fact wearing a football outfit, because he’s the new kicker for the team. To keep up his appearance as a red-blooded American teenaged boy, Kurt has to try out for the football team. He turns out to be a great kicker, but the rest of the team isn’t doing very well. Finn’s solution to the football team’s woes: getting them to dance the entire “Single Ladies” song, so to loosen them up. After busting out the moves in the middle of the game, the team uses their newfound confidence to win. Impressed, Puck and two others join the glee club.
A school production of Cabaret, led by the still-creepy Sandy and conceived of by the diabolical Sue, lures Rachel away from the glee club. Rachel is bitter that Will assigned a choice solo to Tina. That leaves the glee club still short one member of the twelve needed for sectionals.
The football team’s confidence has one other result: Kurt comes out to his father. In one of Glee’s more touching moments, Burt tells his son that he loves him for who he is.
The pregnant teen theme drew some ire from conservative Christians, who also objected to some of Glee’s other themes (Time, The Gospel of Glee: Is It Anti-Christian?).
Featured Songs: “Taking Chances” from Celine Dion, “Tonight” from West Side Story, and several dances to “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyonce.
5. The Rhodes Not Taken
Will, attempting to secure the regionals win, invites his former classmate April Rhodes to join the glee club. In spite of the fact that April is clearly far too old and drunken for high school, she enrolls and joins the club. April’s influence on the glee club members is not a positive one. She’s an alcoholic, thanks to an ill-begotten stint on Broadway, and gives Kurt alcohol. She also shows Mercedes and Tina how to shoplift. Emma intervenes, and April promises Will to get sober.
Finn, doubting his abilities to get a football scholarship and concerned that his future isn’t bright enough to include a child, decides (with Emma’s help) that a music scholarship is the way to go. He doesn’t think they can win regionals without Rachel, though, so he seduces her back to the glee club. She enters the room just as Puck announces that Quinn is pregnant with Finn’s child. Enraged, she confronts Finn, who insists that they had shared a real kiss, but Rachel storms out. She returns to the musical, which she then gains complete control over.
At the glee club Invitational, a clearly drunk April performs to great applause. Will, though, immediately kicks her out of the club for singing while intoxicated. Rachel returns just in time, rejoining the club for the remainder of the concert.
Special guest: Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes
Featured Songs: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Maybe This Time” and “Cabaret” from Cabaret, “Alone” by Heart, “Last Name” by Carrie Underwood, “Somebody to Love” from Queen.
6. Vitamin D
The glee club, thinking that they have little competition at sectionals, becomes lazy. Will decides to shake things up by pitting the boys against the girls. Quinn tells Sue that the glee club is making her tired, when it’s really her hidden pregnancy. Sue, convinced that the national cheerleading win is slipping from her grasp, plots to take Will down. She tells Terri that Emma is interested in Will, which is true, of course. Will’s happy school life is interrupted when Terri takes a job as the school nurse (in spite of having zero medical experience) to keep an eye on Will and Emma. Terri’s nursing abilities become even more questionable when she gives an exhausted Finn pseudoephedrine. Finn shares the pills with the rest of the boys, who then go on to give an exuberant mash-up performance. Terri manages to convince Ken to propose to Emma, who accepts reluctantly.
Kurt tells the girls of the boys’ secret weapon, and Terri gives pills to the girls, too. The girls perform their own high-speed mash-up, but Finn and Rachel feel guilty for cheating. They confess. Principal Figgins fires Terri for giving the kids pills, and appoints Sue co-director of the glee club so she can keep an eye on Will.
Featured Songs: “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi/”Confessions Part II” by Usher, “Halo” by Beyonce/“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves (both mashups).
As new co-director of the glee club, Sue’s first move is to create a subset of the group. This subset consists entirely of minority students, who Sue convinces are being discriminated against because they’re always singing backup to Finn and Rachel. She names the group “Sue’s Kids.” Will takes Terri’s advice and fails all of the cheerleaders in Spanish class. It turns out that most of the school was terrified enough of Sue to pass her cheerleaders in spite of their dismal academics, so Will’s move was both brave and warranted.
Sue responds by taking Puck and Brittany (for dubious reasons) for Sue’s Kids. After Sue and Will’s antagonism degenerates into a knock-down fight in the middle of a rehearsal, every one of the glee kids walks out (except for Artie, who is carried by the football team members). Sue concedes to Will and the glee club is re-formed. She may have backed down, but she hasn’t backed out; Sue has more tricks up her sleeve later.
The double-pregnancy intrigue continues, with Finn and Quinn heading to their first ultrasound appointment. Quinn insists that they give the baby up for adoption. Terri then takes Quinn’s ultrasound and passes it off as her own, blackmailing the OB/GYN in the process. Will still hasn’t figured out that Terri isn’t really pregnant. Although Terri’s secret is safe for now, Quinn’s isn’t. Jacob Ben-Israel, the school reporter, discovers Quinn’s pregnancy and threatens to reveal it to the school. Rachel is able to stop him by giving him her used underwear. Sue finds the underwear and blackmails Jacob into publishing the story anyway, and Quinn’s secret is out.
Featured Songs: “Hate on Me” by Jill Scott, “No Air” by Jordin Sparks, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes, “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne, and “Ride wit Me” by Nelly.
Emma’s marriage to Ken is impending, and the two disagree on their first dance song. Emma wants “I Could Have Danced All Night,” while Ken wants “The Thong Song.” Emma asks Will to try to make a mash-up of the two songs, and to teach her to dance. Ken catches Will and Emma dancing, and jealously plots to sabotage the glee club. He schedules football team practices at the same time as glee practices, forcing the dual members to choose one or the other.
Matters of love become more complicated. Sue falls for her co-worker at the television station where she records “How Sue Sees It.” He agrees to a date, but cheats on her before the date even happens. Angry, Sue cuts the pregnant Quinn from the cheerleading team. This completes Quinn’s fall from popularity, which started with her involvement with the glee club. Her baby’s dad, Puck, gets advice from his mother to date a Jewish girl. Fortunately there’s a Jewish girl nearby: Rachel. He sings his first solo to impress her. Puck and Rachel attempt to get a relationship going, but Rachel realizes she still has feelings for Finn, and Puck still likes Quinn. Finally, Finn manages to convince Ken to change the football practices, and everything works out perfectly in the end.
Featured Songs: “Bust a Move” by Young MC, “Thong Song” from Sisqo, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady, “What a Girl Wants” by Christina Aguilera.
Will discovers that the school doesn’t have the funds to hire a handicapped-accessible bus to go to sectionals, so Artie will have to travel separately. Outraged, the glee club plans a bake sale to raise funds for the bus. Puck visits Sandy, who gives him marijuana, which Puck uses to make very special cupcakes indeed. Of course, the special cupcakes make for a great bake sale, raising plenty of funds for the bus.
Quinn is also short on the cash she needs for her unborn child’s medical care, so she bullies Finn into looking for a job. Puck’s cannabis cakes are such a success that he offers to give Quinn the money for the medical bills. Quinn declines. Finn finds a job as a busboy at a local restaurant, helped by Rachel.
Rachel has her own problems: she’s in a fight with Kurt for a particularly juicy solo. The song is traditionally sung by a woman, but Kurt desperately wants it and can hit all of the notes. Rachel gets the solo anyway, which enrages Kurt’s father Burt. Burt accuses Will of discrimination, so Will allows Kurt to audition. After Burt gets a threatening phone call about his song’s orientation, Kurt throws the competition in order to spare his father pain.
Quinn’s forced departure from the cheerleading team leaves a conspicuous absence, which Sue holds auditions to fill. She surprisingly chooses Becky, a Down syndrome afflicted girl, and everyone is immediately suspicious of her intentions. It turns out that as mean as Sue is, she has a warm place in her cold heart for Down syndrome ladies, since she has a sister with the disorder living in an adult care facility.
Prior to this episode, Glee was almost entirely comedic. But this episode takes the special theme to a more dramatic level, focusing the entire show on discrimination. Glee would go on to do this more and more often as the show went on to focus on bullying and its effects on students. This episode was drawn from several cast/crew experiences. The concept of a disabled person longing to walk came from producer Brad Falchuk, who had a spinal cord injury. Kurt’s storyline was taken directly from his own experience in high school, where he wanted to sing “Defying Gravity” at the talent show but was denied by teachers, who insisted that it was only a song for a female. His grandmother, upon learning of the situation, arranged to have him sing it at church instead (People, Glee‘s Chris Colfer Reveals Real-Life Story Behind Kurt’s Diva Moment).
Featured Songs: “Dancing with Myself” by Nouvelle Vague, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked and “Proud Mary” from Ike and Tina Turner.
You can’t sing love songs without love, and this episode is full of heart-patterings and love triangles. Will assigns the glee club ballads and assigns them partners. Since the glee club is down one male, he’s forced to participate. His partner, Rachel, develops a serious crush on him. She dedicates herself to becoming his personal maid and cook, a role that Terri encourages. Finn is also the object of unwanted attentions when he is paired with Kurt, who schemes to break him and Quinn up. Kurt advises Finn to practice singing his ballad to someone he really loves: Quinn’s baby. He sings to a picture of the sonogram, and his mother catches him and realizes the truth.
In a further display of bad choices, Finn sings “(You’re) Having My Baby” to Quinn, but does so at the least opportune moment: dinner with her family. Quinn’s father is enraged and kicks Quinn out of the house. Finn’s mother agrees to take Quinn in.
Rachel realizes her crush is ill-advised when she meets another formerly Will-obsessed girl: Suzy Pepper. Suzy had lavished attention on Will until he reprimanded her. In a masochistic fit she ate an extremely hot pepper and then needed an esophageal transplant. Rachel, realizing that she doesn’t want to be like Suzy and moreover likes Will for the wrong reasons, backs off of Will.
Songs: “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, “I’ll Stand By You” by the Pretenders, “Crush” by Jennifer Paige, “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka and Odia Coates, “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police/“Young Girl” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap (mash-up).
This episode sees the New Directions encountering their two rivals for sectionals. Will invites the James Addams Academy for girls to perform. The New Directions are intimidated, but Rachel assures Will that the Academy girls are just using sexy hair flipping to distract from their poor singing. Will takes her words to heart and adds some “hairography” to their own choreography, making everyone wear wigs. Later, the second rival group, a glee club at a school for the deaf, perform an understated number with the New Directions, and Will reconsiders his flashy choreography.
Having promised her baby to Terri, Quinn begins to have second thoughts about adoption. Terri arranges for Quinn and Puck to babysit for her sister Kendra’s three terrors, but the plan backfires when Quinn and Puck turn out to be great babysitters. However, Quinn discovers that Puck spent the evening sexting Santana, and returns to the adoption plan.
Sue’s machinations continue when she gives the New Directions’ set list to the two rival glee clubs. Kurt also schemes, giving Rachel a makeover that he’s sure Finn will dislike. In the end, Quinn goes back to Finn and hearts are left broken.
Special guest: Eve as rival glee club director Grace Hitchens
Featured Songs: “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child, “Don’t Make Me Over” by Dionne Warwick, “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna, “Hair” from Hair/”Crazy in Love” by Beyonce (mash-up), “Imagine” by John Lennon, “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauder, and “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease.
Since every year the glee club yearbook photo is defaced by other students, Principal Figgins decides (on Sue’s urging) to deny the glee club a photo in this year’s yearbook. Will, upset, purchases ad space in the yearbook in lieu of the traditional photo, but the space only allows room for a two-student photo. Rachel happily volunteers and convinces Finn to participate also, but threats to his popular status cause him to back out. While sitting for the photo, Rachel learns that the photographer’s brother is the owner of a local mattress chain. She convinces him to let the glee club perform in their next commercial, thinking that getting on TV will make the other students respect them. In payment, the mattress store delivers a stack of mattresses to the school.
Meanwhile, Will finally discovers that Terri’s been fooling him all along and isn’t really pregnant. He leaves her, going to the school to get some sleep. On discovering the mattresses, he uses one. The next day, Sue is victorious, because any club accepting payment for singing is categorized as professionals, and therefore ineligible for sectionals. The glee club plans on returning the mattresses, until they realize that Will’s already used one.
Quinn makes an effort to return to the Cheerios to get into the yearbook photo, but Sue denies her. Quinn reminds Sue that the Cheerios had accepted many perks and therefore were also ineligible for their national championship. She blackmails Sue into giving the glee club one of the cheerleaders’ designated yearbook pages. Sue offers Quinn a space back on the Cheerios, but she turns her down after she realizes her true loyalty belongs to the glee club.
Finally, Will disassociates himself from the glee club, realizing that he’s the only one who accepted payment for the mattress commercial, and making them eligible for sectionals again.
Featured Songs: “Smile” by Lily Allen, “Jump” by Van Halen, “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin, and “When You’re Smiling” by Louis Armstrong.
Emma’s wedding is conveniently scheduled to take place at the same time as sectionals, but she diplomatically agrees to put it off to take Will’s place as the head of the New Directions. Rachel figures out that Quinn’s baby is actually Puck’s, and tells Finn, who blows up and quits the club. The club enlists Jacob, the school reporter, to stand in the back and sway so that they have enough to complete. They also have to decide on their ballad for sectionals, and a diva-off commences between Mercedes and Rachel. Mercedes wins, but the clubs’ plans are foiled the minute sectionals begins. The other two choirs, performing first, poach every one of the New Directions’ songs. Will calls Finn and begs him to return to help the club out, which he does. They decide on a new set list, but Rachel steps in for Mercedes, who knows that Rachel can perform under pressure. During judges’ deliberations, Grace, the rival choir leader, has an attack of conscience and goes to confess her transgression, but the judges have already decided in favor of the New Directions.
Will goes to Emma’s wedding, but discovers that it has already been canceled by Ken. He realizes Emma’s feelings for Will and can’t marry Emma. She quits her job at the high school because she fears being around Will and Ken, but on her way out the door, Will catches her for a kiss. Finally, in a moment of vindication, Principal Figgins suspends Sue for her role in the leaked set-list debacle.
Songs: “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Barbra Streisand, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones, “My Life Would Suck Without You” by Kelly Clarkson, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls, “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey and “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Finn and Rachel begin a relationship, but Finn is clearly not over Quinn, having just broken up with her before sectionals. Sue’s exile from the high school is short-lived; she slips Principal Figgins a date rape drug, photographs him in a delicate position with her, and blackmails him for her job back. Sue is still dedicated to bringing the glee club down, and her dastardly deed this week is to distract Finn from Rachel with Brittany and Santana. Finn goes on a date with the two cheerleaders, but decides to go back to Rachel. She, however, hasn’t been sitting idly by, and has met the dashing young Jesse, a member of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. A spark flies between the two singers, but the rest of the glee club is skeptical. They think that Jesse is using Rachel to bring down the glee club. Rachel and Jesse agree to keep their relationship secret.
Will has entered a not-so-secret relationship with Emma, but her obsessive avoidance of germs prevents them from getting too close. She also reveals that she is still a virgin. Terri visits Emma to tell her that Will sang her the same song that Will and Terri danced to at the prom. Emma feels betrayed. The matters are complicated when Will meets Shelby, the coach of Vocal Adrenaline, and the two end up making out. The episode ends with Will and Emma deciding to take time apart to deal with their individual problems.
Special guest: Idina Menzel
Even from her pre-Rachel days, Lea Michele was compared to the Broadway star Idina Menzel. The two bear a striking resemblance, from their skin tone to the shape of their mouths, and Glee fans were quick to point this out. Menzel, who became famous after roles in Rent and Wicked, was courted to join Glee by Ryan Murphy. From the beginning, fans hoped that Menzel would be cast as Rachel’s birth mother, and they were not disappointed (People: Wicked Star Idina Menzel Not Coming to Glee — Yet!).
Featured Songs: “Hello, I Love You,” by the Doors, “Gives You Hell” by the All-American Rejects, “Hello” by Lionel Richie, “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, and “Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles.
15. The Power of Madonna
Sue tries to empower the Cheerios by having them emulate Madonna. She’s still blackmailing Principal Figgins, so she’s able to play Madonna songs over the school intercom all day. The Cheerios also perform an impressive routine to “Ray of Light” while wearing stilts.
The glee club girls are confused about sex and relationships, so Will assignment is to perform Madonna songs in an effort to help the girls realize the power of their femininity. Sue’s empowerment lesson is turned on her when Will teases her because of her clothing. Kurt and Mercedes help Sue out by giving her a makeover, then recreating the “Vogue” video.
Three couples also decide to have sex: Will and Emma, Finn and Santana, and Rachel and Jesse. However, only Finn and Santana actually go through with it. Finn lies to Rachel and says he didn’t sleep with Santana, while Rachel lies to Finn and says she did sleep with Jesse. Jesse, for his part, transfers to McKinley High in an effort to convince Rachel that he isn’t a spy for the New Directions. Kurt and Mercedes become angry, thinking that they’d lose solo time, and join the Cheerios in addition to singing with the New Directions.
Although the first season is heavy on the Journey songs, this episode is entirely devoted to Madonna and is the first example of a single-artist episode. Madonna granted Glee access to her entire catalog, and the episode helped boost sales of her CD and DVD, which had been released a week prior to the episode’s scheduled airing.
This episode was not loved by all. See the Globe and Mail, These days, I’m watching Glee with a hint of dread.
Featured Songs: “Express Yourself,” “Borderline”/”Open Your Heart,” “Vogue,” “Like a Virgin,” “4 Minutes,” “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” and “Like a Prayer,” all by Madonna.
April Rhodes returns in this episode as the mistress of a roller-rink tycoon where the New Directions have gone to practice. Sue booked the school auditorium for Cheerios practice, forcing the New Directions to find creative rehearsal spaces. Will’s decided to leave his old apartment for a smaller place, so he offers his larger place to April. She visits to check it out, but somehow she and Will end up sleeping next to one another in bed. Will, sensing that April is selling herself short, tells her that she’s too good to be just a mistress, and April promises to leave her roller-rink lover. But when she tries to break up with him, he has a heart attack and dies. His wife buys April’s silence with two million dollars, and April uses it to get to Broadway.
Kurt schemes to fix his dad Burt up with Finn’s mom Carole so that Kurt can spend more time with Finn. Finn is very unhappy that his mother is moving on from his deceased father, and fights with her about the furniture in their home. In particular, Finn wants to keep his father’s old armchair, which has sentimental value. Kurt’s plan backfires when Burt and Finn seem to bond. By the end of the episode, Finn even lets Burt sit in the special armchair. Kurt finds himself saddened, thinking that Burt would have preferred Finn as a son.
Sue tells Mercedes to lose ten pounds so Sue can keep her reputation when a reporter comes to town. Mercedes attempts a healthy diet, but is depressed when the results don’t show on the scale. She then crash diets and ends up fainting. At the nurse’s office, she runs into Quinn, who assures her that she’s beautiful the way she is. Mercedes takes Quinn’s words to heart and make a last-minute change to the Cheerios routine, singing “Beautiful” instead of the planned song. The reporter is fooled into thinking that Sue is in fact a loving, accepting person.
Featured Songs: “A House is Not a Home” by Dionne Warwick, “One Less Bell to Answer” by Burt Bacharach/”A House is Not a Home,” “Fire” by the Pointer Sisters, “Home” from The Wiz, and “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.
17. Bad Reputation
The glee club is rocked by the release of an anonymous author’s “G-list,” which ranks glee club members in order of sexual promiscuity. Sue is also the victim of a bad reputation when Finn uploads a video of her dancing/exercising to “Let’s Get Physical.” Finally, Emma (spurred on by Sue, of course) calls Will a slut. All of these events cause Will to decide to assign the glee club to “rehabilitate” a song with a bad reputation, giving Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” as an example.
Principal Figgins is particularly shocked by the Glist and disturbed by its effect on the students (some of which are horrified to be on the list and some of which are disappointed they didn’t rank higher). The disappointed students team up with the completely neglected students (who didn’t even make the list at all) and perform MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” loudly in the library, wearing spectacularly ridiculous MC Hammer-style outfits. Their efforts are in vain when the librarian is delighted.
Finally the confessions surface: Kurt admits that he stole the video from Sue. Surprisingly, she thanks him; Sue has been contacted by Olivia Newton-John herself, who asks Sue to help with a remake of the song. Will figures out that Quinn wrote the Glist, and she confesses. She expects to be punished, but Will lies to Principal Figgins and says he never figured out who wrote the list. Will apologizes to Emma, who declines his offer of flowers, saying that the two of them needed to start over and get to know each other more truthfully.
Finally, Rachel inspires ire when she casts all three of her paramours, Finn, Jesse, and Puck, as the same character in a music video she’s making without telling them. When she shows the video, Jesse breaks up with her, and the rest of the glee club walks out.
Special guest: Molly Shannon as teacher Brenda Castle.
Featured Songs: “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer, “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John, “Run Joey Run” by David Geddes, and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler.
Three storylines highlight this week’s theme of loss. Puck loses his confidence when a doctor shaves off his mohawk to examine a mole. Puck decides he can get his popularity back by dating Mercedes, now a popular cheerleader. He woos her with a song. Santana is upset and has a musical duel with Mercedes over Puck, but Mercedes soon realizes that Puck is returning to his old bullying ways. She dumps him and resigns from the cheerleading squad.
Kurt is still jealous of his father and Finn’s burgeoning bond. He changes his appearance and activities in an attempt to appear more masculine, and thus have more in common with his dad. He even resorts to making out with Brittany, ensuring that his dad walks in on them. Burt still bonds with Finn, though, and Kurt sings a song in jealousy. Burt overhears Kurt’s song and assures Kurt that he loves him for who is truly is and that Kurt will never lose him.
Rachel’s complaint of the week is that she carries too much of the glee club vocally. He assigns the group to each sing a solo. Rachel begins to lose her voice, prompting her to go to the doctor. Her doctor says she has tonsillitis and recommends a tonsillectomy. She is terrified of the procedure, since if she loses her voice, she fears that she will have nothing special left. Finn teaches her an important lesson when he introduces her to a friend who was paralyzed in a football game. She realizes that she could lose her voice and still be a lucky person. Rachel repays Finn and his friend by giving his friend singing lessons.
Featured Songs: “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, “The Lady is a Tramp” by Sammy Davis Jr., “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica, “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp, “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, and “One” by U2.
19. Dream On
Another triple-story line show emphasizes a theme: this week, dreams. Bryan Ryan, the new school board member, arrives and symbolically crushes the glee club’s dreams. He really crushes their dreams when he proposes to de-fund all arts programming. Will knows Bryan already; they were in glee club together in high school, but Bryan’s own dreams were squashed with an unsuccessful Broadway run. Bryan now runs a twelve-step program for former glee club members. Will and Bryan audition for the same part in a local production, and Bryan is briefly placated when he remembers his love of the arts. He changes his mind when Will lands the coveted part, but Will gives his part to Bryan to save the glee club.
Rachel tells Jesse that it’s her dream to learn of her mother’s identity. It turns out that Shelby, the Vocal Adrenaline coach, has been using Jesse to get to Rachel: Shelby is Rachel’s mother. Jesse gives Rachel a tape of her mother, whose identity she still doesn’t know, and Rachel realizes that she got her singing abilities from her mother.
Artie reveals that it’s been his dream to dance, so Tina sets out to make it happen. She does research into current scientific breakthroughs, and Artie gets excited that someday he might actually dance. Emma brings him back to reality when she tells him that his dreams are probably very far down the road, if they are there at all. Artie realizes his limitations and insists that Tina find herself an able-bodied dance partner.
Featured Songs: “Dream On” by Aerosmith, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees, “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats, “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by the Mamas and the Papas, and “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables.
Although this episode features three separate storylines like the previous two, they are not unified by any particular theme. The episode is loosely connected through the songs of Lady Gaga, but is not comprised entirely of Gaga songs like the Madonna episode. Plot-wise, the Gaga theme is inspired by Vocal Adrenaline, which is practicing a Gaga song for regionals. Will, hoping to shake the glee club up, assigns the kids to practice Gaga songs. The girls (and Kurt) gladly oblige, but the boys are more reticent, choosing to perform Kiss instead.
The differences between Kurt and Finn are highlighted when Burt and Carole announce that they are moving in together. The boys are told to share a room, and Finn suffers an attack of homophobia, heightened by Kurt’s redecoration of their shared room. Finn snaps and calls Kurt “faggy,” and Burt catches him in the act. Burt is extremely angry and makes Finn leave, accepting that he and Carole’s relationship might end because of his actions. Finn makes up for his gaff by defending Kurt when the football team engages in more bullying. Finn and the rest of the glee club dress up as Lady Gaga in a stand of solidarity with Kurt.
In a mostly unrelated story line, Rachel hears Shelby singing and realizes that it’s the same voice she heard on the tape from her mother. The two have an awkward meeting where Shelby helps Rachel design a costume. Will intercedes, thinking that Shelby’s intentions aren’t pure and that she doesn’t really want a relationship with Rachel. Shelby reveals that she yearns for motherhood but isn’t able to have children anymore, and that Rachel represents the baby she’d like to have now but can’t. At their next meeting, Shelby tells Rachel that they can’t have a close relationship and the two launch into the most original of any Glee cover yet: an acoustic version of “Poker Face” that transforms the infectious pop song into something introverted and meaningful.
In the final storyline, Principal Figgins develops a Twilight-induced bout of vampire fear and tells Tina that she needs to stop dressing goth. She attempts to change her style, but decides that she’d rather be herself. She deals with Figgins by dressing as a vampire and threatening him with a vampire attack if he doesn’t leave her alone.
Featured Songs: “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance by Lady Gaga, “Beth” and “Shout It Out Loud” by Kiss, and “Funny Girl” from Funny Girl.
Vocal Adrenaline demoralizes the New Directions by toilet papering their rehearsal room, and the glee club sinks into a funk (the double-meaning theme of the episode). Will assigns them funk songs to help boost their spirits. Finn and Puck, though, take the low road by slashing the tires of all of the Vocal Adrenaline members’ tires (they have matching Range Rovers). Principal Figgins tries to expel them, but Shelby intercedes, insisting that they simply pay the damages. Finn and Puck are forced to get a job at Terri’s store, Sheets-n-Things, where a disgraced Sandy shops. Even though Terri is less than thrilled that she needs to work with Finn and Puck, she eventually helps them, saying that Finn reminds her of Will.
Will pulls his own trick on Sue when he seeks to throw her off her game for the national cheer competition. He seduces her with a song and invites her to dinner, but stands her up. She enters a deep depression and her cheerleaders’ future prospects suffer. Will has a change of heart and tries to get Sue to return to the school. She agrees, but only if Will chooses between two punishments: he can let her house her cheer trophies in the glee room, or he can kiss her. He chooses to kiss her, but she changes her mind at the last second and Will has to clear space for the cheer trophies in the end anyway.
Jesse, who has transferred back to Vocal Adrenaline, lures Rachel to a parking lot where his club throws eggs at her. As a vegan, she is particularly disturbed by the eggs. Will has to redirect the anger of the McKinley boys’, who want to attack Vocal Adrenaline. He convinces them to sing a funk song instead, a musical style that has always been beyond the uptight Vocal Adrenaline. They are properly scared and the New Directions head into regionals on a high.
Featured Songs: “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus, “Loser” by Beck, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown,” “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” by Parliament.
22. Journey to Regionals
The New Directions head to regionals but are dismayed when they learn who the judges are. They include a host of people they’ve encountered before, and not all in positive ways: Josh Groban (who likely still associates Will with his own stalker, Sandy), Olivia Newton-John (Sue’s friend), Rod the newscaster (Sue’s former paramour), and worst, Sue herself. The glee club knows that they won’t be able to stay together unless they win. The first glee club to perform, Aural Intensity curries favor with the judges by performing a mash-up of a Groban song and a Newton-John song, delighting the two singers.
Finn professes his love for Rachel just before they go on stage to perform Will’s selections: a Journey medley. Right after the performance, though, Quinn’s water breaks. They rush her to the hospital, leaving Rachel behind to watch Vocal Adrenaline tear the house down with a performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Rachel asks Shelby to coach the New Directions, but she says that she is leaving the performing world. Shelby is then revealed as the adoptive mother of Quinn’s baby. After the birth, Quinn and Puck bond.
The judges choose the New Directions as the losers of the competition, placing below Aural Intensity (2nd) and Vocal Adrenaline (1st). The glee club is dismayed, knowing that they will have to disband. Emma tries to convince Principal Figgins to relent and let the glee club stand, but he refuses. Sue, though, has a change of heart after the other judges bully her. She identifies with the oft-bullied New Directions and convinces Figgins to let the glee club have another year to prove themselves. It turns out that Sue voted for the New Directions in the first place, since she saw all their work and heart. Finally, Will catches Emma for a kiss, but their relationship status is left up in the air until next season.
Songs: “Faithfully,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Any Way You Want It”/”Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” (mash-up) by Journey, “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John/”You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban (mash-up), “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “To Sir With Love” by Lulu, and “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.