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Glee Recap: Did She Put Up a Fight?

GLEE: Rachel (Lea Michele) performs in the "Yes/No" winter premiere episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, Jan. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Adam Rose/FOX

Wow, Glee. This episode. This episode was all over the place. On the one hand, there were some things that I liked:

1. Kurt’s furry hat
2. Sue calling Coach Beiste “Michael Chiklis in a wig” (I’m normally pretty defensive about Beiste, but I’ll throw all my scruples in the garbage for a good Chiklis joke)
3. That one time when Blaine was wearing a cute sweater in the background of the shot while someone else did something boring
4. Santana saying, “The assignment wasn’t ‘Make everything about Rachel Berry and force everyone to watch,’ was it?” because seriously, why did Rachel sing half the songs in this episode when she was involved in ZERO of the story lines?
5. Artie’s inflatable aquatic wheelchair

The rest of the episode, in fine third-season-Glee style, managed to be simultaneously boring and offensive. Side note: Did anyone else get the impression from the commercials that this was to be an entirely Grease-themed episode of Glee? Not that I was overwhelmed with excitement about that (I’ve been to karaoke — I don’t need to hear “Summer Nights” ever again ever ever ever again ever), but I do think that Glee benefits hugely from structure. Instead, this episode was an unstructured mess — an exhausting tangle of one million unrelated story lines, peppered with insensitive dialogue and awkward, anticlimactic emotional reveals. Neat!

But it all begins in Grease-land. It turns out that Sam and Mercedes had a secret summer fling at some lake (which implies two things: (1) Apparently it was so hot and passionate that no one spoke of it for five months, even though all these kids do is sit around all day singing about where they put their genitals, and (2) LEECHES, you guys!!! Lakes are gross!). To celebrate, everyone puts on weather-inappropriate cardigans (it’s January in Ohio, dummies) and sings “Summer Nights” out on the bleachers to torture me. Fine. It is actually cute. They leave out that rapey part about whether or not the girl “put up a fight,” but Sam does sing the line, “She was good! Do you know what I mean?” (THE ONLY THING HE CAN MEAN IS SEXY INTERCOURSE!)

In the next scene, we hear Becky’s inner monologue as she walks down the hall. Becky’s inner monologue is voiced by Dame Helen Mirren: “You may be wondering why I sound like the Queen of England. It’s simple. In my mind I can sound like whomever I want. So lay off, haters.” Okay. I think Glee thinks it’s being super progressive here, but I can’t help feeling like Becky is the butt of the joke. They’re drawing a contrast, for comedic effect, between Becky’s Down Syndrome and Mirren’s erudite accent. As though Becky would/should be too ashamed to speak in her own voice inside her own head. Or perhaps I’m being too sensitive. Discuss! Anyway, Becky decides that she needs a boyfriend and settles on Artie. Unprecedented awkwardness looms.

In the cafeteria, Coach Beiste reveals that she and Cooter Mankins eloped, so she is eating two chickens for lunch to celebrate (GLEE, WE GET IT. SHE IS LARGER THAN MOST OTHER WOMEN AND SHE EATS FOOD. GET A HOLD OF YOURSELVES). This, presumably, means that Coach Beiste finally lost her 50-year-old virginity! High five! I hope somebody alerted Artie, as I remember he was creepily invested in that story line. Then Emma decides that she wants to get married to Mr. Schue (why!?!?!?!?), so she sings that song that Anna Chlumsky sings in My Girl when she’s in love with her fifth grade teacher. It’s not as cute as My Girl, and also they let Coach Beiste wear a dress in the fantasy dance sequence. Can you imagine? Fitting that many chickens into a dress!?

Okay, now Mr. Schue decides that he wants to propose to Emma, so he needs to tell the glee club first because he has no actual adult friends (“This is the kind of news that you share with your family, and you guys are my family”). He also enlists their help to pick the perfect “proposal song,” as though that’s a thing. Later he asks Finn to be his best man. WHY DON’T YOU KNOW ANY GROWN-UPS, MR. SCHUE?

Meanwhile, Artie asks that Sugar girl out on a date, and she replies that she will not go out on a date with him because they would look “weird together,” and she would be embarrassed by his withered wheelchair legs. This insane speech goes completely unchallenged for the rest of the episode and potentially the rest of existence. Cool story, Glee.

Sam joins synchronized swimming and is bullied within like 30 seconds because swimming is for gay guys (!?). The swim coach is a screaming maniac played by fucking NeNe from Real Housewives of Atlanta. “I AM COACH ROZ WASHINGTON … WHEN I WAS GROWING UP THEY SAID THAT BLACK FOLKS COULDN’T SWIM. BUT I HAD A DREAM! THAT I WOULD GET TO THE PROMISED LAND!” Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone. Am I being too sensitive again? Discuss again!

Then Artie sings a terrible Maroon 5 song “mashed” “up” with the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” It’s fine or whatever, but why do they always have to put Artie at the center of big numbers about dancing and jumping? Isn’t it a little cruel? DISCUSS x3.

Oh! Then a cute thing happens! In the search for the perfect proposal song, Santana, Rachel, Mercedes, and Tina sing “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” over footage of each of them seeing the face of the person they later banged. Their voices sound pretty and I was moved. But not moved enough to not use the word “banged.” (Sorry.) Then Mercedes pretends to cry, and says, “That song was so beautiful and moving. But the first person I thought of wasn’t Shane — it was Sam!” Good thing they barely established Shane as a character, then!

Mr. Schue asks Emma’s parents for permission to propose, but they say no because her OCD makes her too annoying. True story. Good parents.

Um, then for some reason Finn’s mom comes to the school and informs him that his dad didn’t die a heroic death in the military, he died of a drug overdose in Cincinnati. (This once again supports my hypothesis that McKinley High is the only building in Ohio.) Therefore, she says, Finn shouldn’t join the army because he will probably just get all stressed out and high on drugs like his dad. Mike O’Malley agrees, solemnly.

Becky sexts Artie a photograph of her nude boday and tells him that she is planning to intercourse him on Friday. A concerned Artie shows the photo to Sue, who remarks that Becky has “a cute little shape.” Then I died and now I am typing this recap from beyond the grave (they have the Internet in heaven, you guys!).

Mr. Schue and Emma discuss marriage, and he explains that they can’t get married because of her incredibly annoying OCD. “I know it’s not your fault that you have this disease,” he says, “but some days it just seems so hopeless. How will you handle spit-up on your special Wednesday sweater?” This is possibly the most insensitive speech in the entire history of Glee. Oh, hey, people with mental illness! Just so you know, you’re too weird to get married, ever. Frowny-face! Also, people with diabetes shouldn’t have the right to vote! No discussion on this one — it is totally definitely offensive.

Rachel and Kurt talk about how terrible and depressing the future is. Then Rachel sings a song called “Without You,” which has something to do with emotions. Next!

Sam suggests to Mr. Schue that he propose to Emma via synchronized swimming. Because every girl dreams of being proposed to at work while surrounded by wet teenagers who are her adult fiancé’s best friends! Rrrrrrrromance! The synchronized swimming is so insanely adorable that I barely noticed that the accompanying song was terrible torture-murder (“We Found Love” by Rihanna). I could have watched the synchronized swimming forever. Mr. Schue makes another insulting speech about how even though Emma is broken in her brains, it’ll be okay because he wants to be her babysitter who also has sex with her sometimes. Emma says yes. Artie rides his wheelchair into the pool.

Then Finn proposes to Rachel. Then I double-died.

Photo: Adam Rose/FOX