Episode 6.2: "Homecoming"
The episode begins with a sketch of Dalton Academy's hallways (hmm, the sketch resembles a somewhat iconic 1980s music video) and a voiceover from Blaine (Darren Criss) about how his life has changed in the last few months, but how Dalton will always remain exactly the same. Except maybe not: As Blaine heads to his car, he is stopped by a young woman in a Dalton uniform. Her name is Jane (Samantha Marie Ware), and she's new to Dalton. As in, a student at the (formerly) all-boys school. Gasp! And she wants to be a Warbler. GASP!
More sketches as we transition to Sue (Jane Lynch) making the morning announcements: "It's Homecoming Week, which means that a bunch of old farts will be creeping around the hallways like Game of Throne White Walkers, horrifying you with their beer bellies and their liver spots. And that's just the Class of 2012," she adds, as that year's most famous grad, Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), strides through the halls encouraging students to sign up for Glee Club. (Also, Sue announces, the annual Homecoming Dance has been canceled due to Sharia law.) Rachel turns around as Becky (Lauren Potter) hisses "Lima loser!" and throws a slushie in Rachel's face. See? Nothing changes at McKinley, either! "I forgot how cold those slushies are!" Rachel wails later to Kurt (Chris Colfer), Sam (Chord Overstreet) and an utterly uninterested Will (Matthew Morrison), who is hosting the gang for dinner. But, of course, Rachel sees the brighter side of the situation, looking on the assault as a sign that she is once again the lovable underdog. Blaine joins them at the dinner table, and Kurt looks livid. Will explains that they have "fierce show choir competition" ahead of them, and that they should lay down ground rules for maintaining their friendships while supporting their own groups. "No stealing each other's set lists, and no spying!" Rachel begins. "No poaching," Will adds. "Always be supportive and clap for each other no matter what," Sam contributes. But Blaine is more concerned with allowing a girl into the Warblers. Will and Rachel feel that the men-only tradition is ready to be broken, and that Blaine shouldn't stand on the wrong side of history.
Cut to the Warbler's rehearsal room, where the students are up in arms at the idea of two X chromosomes invading their space. "We can't have a girl Warbler!" one student declares. "Imagine the sexual tension! We would never get anything done!" Um, kid? Do you have any idea how much sexual tension Kurt and Blaine had in this room back in Season Two? Reading my mind, Blaine asks if most of the Warblers aren't gay, and the kids are in an uproar again. "We all have girlfriends," one says. Of course you do, honey. Blaine echoes Will's words about being on the right side of history. "The arc of the moral universe bends toward justice," he says as though he totally didn't rehearse that speech the night before. "What about squirrels?" a snotty student asks. "Should squirrels be allowed to become Warblers?" But Blaine's speech worked on some kids, and now all the boys are arguing among themselves. The head Warbler notes that Jane still hasn't auditioned, and she may simply not be good enough to join the club. Shouldn't they at least let her try out and then decide? The boys agree, singing "Aye" as a triad. (Love it.)
Back in the old choir room, Kurt and Rachel are arguing about what their titles should be as they sort sheet music. "Where's 'We Both Reached for the Gun' from Chicago?" Kurt asks, getting all of our hopes up. After snapping at Rachel for not getting enough members in the club, he stalks off to the auditorium. From the heating vent, Rachel hears a male voice singing "Viva Voice" and runs through the halls trying to find its source. She searches in the boys' locker room (nice shout-out to the series premiere) and finds Sam in one of the hallways. Sam doesn't hear the voice (though he does regularly hear a high-pitched ringing in his left ear, he notes), and eventually it goes quiet even for Rachel. "I swear I heard it! I know it's true!" she says as she heads off to continue her search. "I believe you," Sam says quietly to her back. "The doctors won't, but I believe you."
The next day, Rachel and Kurt meet up in the auditorium and Rachel tells Kurt about her search, although she's not completely sure if the voice was from a man or a woman. ("Let's not label or judge," Kurt says. Oh, Chris Colfer, how I'll miss your bone-dry delivery!) Rachel believes that the new McKinley students need something to draw them to the Glee Club. "So I got on the phone," she says. "With who?" Kurt asks, and the lights go up on the stage to reveal Santana (Naya Rivera), Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Brittany (Heather Morris)...and the rest of us wonder who's in the theatre's tech booth to turn the lights on just at the right moment, and how long those kids were sitting there in the dark, just waiting for Kurt to arrive...but that's another story; never mind. Anyway…
Artie (Kevin McHale), Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Puck (Mark Salling) are also there, and as cute as he was with the mohawk, Puck looks damn good in his Air Force uniform and a full head of groomed hair. "Now the full gang is back to reboot the Glee Club," Rachel declares—-just as Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) runs in to see the group hugging. "Dammit, guys, you said you'd wait for me to park the rental car!" she says, before running over for her own hug. (So, wait, with just a day's notice, Artie can take off from the Brooklyn Film Academy, Puck can get leave from the Air Force and Tina can come in from Brown? Ugh, whatever, show.) As everyone hugs, Sam leans over and asks Mercedes if she's still a virgin. She walks away in disgust.
We come back from commercial with another sketch, but this time we see Artie drawing in the choir room as Rachel thanks the gang for returning "at the drop of a hat." She acknowledges that they can't all stay at McKinley all the time: "We know you have lives in other places." (They do?) and Sam and Kurt remind everyone that Will and Blaine are now their competition. Kurt announces that the former members will give the current students "a taste of what they've been missing," and turns on a speaker that begins playing "Take on Me" by A-Ha. The kids gather around Artie's sketch pad, which comes to life just like in the song's classic video. Holding a large frame with a sketch-effect CGI interior, the alumni run through the halls singing the song, jumping in and out of the frame as they switch from sketch to live and dancing their way into the cafeteria. It's a cool effect, but it makes one wonder if what McKinley has been missing is hallucinogenic drugs. Sue seems to agree, because she ends the song by tossing Artie's sketch pad into the garbage. Everyone's a critic.
Our second new face of the season! A senior, Roderick (Noah Guthrie), walks through the halls with headphones on, oblivious to the A-Ha-ness happening in the cafeteria and lamenting that "not one of these McKinley douchebags has bothered to talk to me." Well, yeah, dude, you're wearing headphones as you walk down the hall. That's kind of the universal symbol for "Don't talk to me." Whatever. He loves his music, and feels that it is his only friend, but considers signing up for Glee Club to make some real friends. Rachel intercepts him at one of her sign-up sheets and, chattering a mile a minute, tells him about the club and the upcoming auditions. Roderick, intimidated, hurries away.
Back over at Dalton, Blaine tells Jane that she can audition for the Warblers and that, if she's good enough, they'll consider letting a female join. "Let me get this straight," Jane says. "I have to go in there and perform for the Warblers just to make sure I'm good enough to warrant them taking a closer look at their already sexist and discriminatory admission policies?" "Yeah!" Blaine agrees happily. Jane, wisely, walks away. Blaine follows her and sits her down, acknowledging that change is scary but that she needs to show them what she can do. He brings her over to McKinley and introduces her to Rachel, with whom Jane is already familiar. Jane and Rachel share a little "girl power" moment and Rachel leads the young novice to center stage, snapping her fingers to get a spotlight. (Seriously, who's hanging out in that tech booth all day?) Rachel gives the girl some pointers—-stand with her back straight, keep her head up, maintain eye contact with the audience. "Make each person feel like they have a one-on-one connection with you," she says, and encourages Jane to sing Janelle Monae's "Tightrope." But we don't get to hear it, because we cut to— The boys' locker room, where Kurt bores Spencer (Marshall Williams) with stories of his own short-lived football career. Somewhat awesomely, Spencer points out that the only thing the two men have in common is that they are both gay, and that Spencer does not feel identified by his sexuality. Kurt argues that Spencer is standing on his (Kurt's) shoulders as an out gay student, and that he owes Glee Club for his acceptance. "Please," Spencer snorts, "I owe 'Modern Family'." Heh. "Just because you and I happen to be born to the same ten percent of the population that would choose Andrew Garfield over Emma Stone doesn't mean we have anything else in common," he says, because apparently 90 percent of the world's population is made of straight men and lesbians. (Also, regardless of sexuality, anyone who saw Garfield in Death of a Salesman would choose him in a heartbeat. On the other hand, I still haven't seen Stone in Cabaret, so maybe that's not a fair call. Anyway…) So Spencer has no interest in Glee Club. Think that's gonna change soon?
Over at Dalton, we finally get to hear Jane's audition for the Warblers, and she gets the group dancing and singing backup for "Tightrope." And, yeah, Ware has quite the fine voice, and dances pretty well, too. When she's done, the boys all applaud—-I think she's in, guys.
McKinley's Tea Party Patriot Club meeting is cut short by Puck's arrival ("At ease, teabaggers!"). He is flanked by Quinn, Sam, Tina and Mercedes, who mention that they were also in conservative clubs at the school. ("Then Puck got [Quinn] pregnant and she sort of changed for the better," Tina reminds us all.) After some anti-Obama cracks from the club president, Mercedes announces that these kids aren't good enough for Glee Club, and the alums walk out, with Sam telling the students about Quinn and Santana's hookup in the fourth season. Way to respect another person's privacy, Sam. But Quinn walks out laughing, so I guess she's OK with it.
Well, I was wrong: The Warblers don't vote Jane into the club, and Blaine says he will quit as coach if they don't let her join. "So you're going to threaten to resign so I can join a club where no one wants me?" she asks. Smart girl, our Jane. But Blaine points out that discrimination is, essentially, wrong, and that making change means making noise. He asks her for time to fix this.
Back at McKinley, the Unholy Trinity (Quinn, Santana and Brittany) walk out to the football field to seduce some more kids over to the club. "Just remember, sex sells," Santana says. "True. That's how Lady Tubbington got Lord Tubbington caught up in a Ponzi scheme," Brittany agrees. Oh, Brittany, how we missed you and your non-sequiturs! On the field, the girls sing and dance to Ariana Grande's "Problem," and Artie wheels himself through the dancing cheerleaders, marching band and footballers as he whispers the "I've got one less, one less" part of the song. (Look, Ariana Grande was on Broadway in Jason Robert Brown's 13, so that makes this as close as we're gonna get to a show tune in this episode.)
One of those dancing cheerleaders is Kitty (Becca Tobin), who Artie dated last year. Their breakup was bad, though, and Kitty resents that Rachel Berry didn't even know Kitty's name. "I know your name!" Brittany says to the Quinn lookalike. "It's Quinn!" "I'm Quinn," her long-time best friend corrects her. "Liar," Brittany mutters. A pair of siblings who Kitty refers to as the "Incest Twins" ask (in unison) if they can audition together, and Kitty reminds them that "Flowers in the Attic" should not be their aspiration. "If you really want to get Blaine back, here's what you do," Brittany tells Kurt in the choir room. "First, promise him you're gonna burn all your clothing and then tell him you're gonna start dressing like a normal person. Then I think you should really start getting honest with him about following your life's ambition, which is becoming America's top Barbara Bush impersonator." Rachel walks in and asks them how their searches have gone, and Mercedes despairs of finding enough students to form the club. But this time, they all hear the voice through the vent. "He's in the showers in the locker room," Sam says, familiar with the show's traditions. "They're always in the showers." But, nope—-they follow the voice to the library, where Roderick is singing along to his headphones. (Because everyone in his immediate vicinity wants to be forced to listen along to his music—-but that's not here or now.) The gang surrounds him and insists that he join Glee Club.
Noting that even Sue calls him "White Precious," Roderick rejects their suggestion. Puck laughs, not unkindly. "You are precious!" he says. (Although he was an ass, I kind of miss Season One Puck.) Rachel assures him that Glee Clubbers support one another and that none of them have made fun of her. "Not to her face, no," Brittany agrees. Quinn, once the most popular girl in school, points out that Glee Club brings disparate people together, and that their bonds are strong. (Clearly. All these college students cut class to come recruit and put their own academic careers in jeopardy? That's serious dedication.)
In her office, Sue writes in her journal: "Just when I thought I had finally killed my white whale, vanquished the tone-deaf pansexual leviathan that is the McKinley High Glee Club, it returns to befoul the great musical heritage of this nation, one execrable mash-up at a time." Much as in Season One, she wants a spy she can control within the group—-and she chooses Spencer, offering him a custom-molded Tom Brady "fleshlight" as a reward. (They keep the gadget in a plain brown paper-wrapped box—-but wow, Fox Network, I'm kind of amazed you went there.) Wisely, Spencer rejects the gift. (Unwisely, he doesn't call the cops immediately.) "First of all," he says, "I'm not for sale. And second, if you want to get rid of Glee Club, you're gonna have to get better items than that."
Auditorium. Roderick auditions for the Club with "Mustang Sally" with a band behind him (Brad Ellis does not seem to be among them), and gets increasingly into the music as he sings, strutting around the stage and riffing. The Unholy Trinity runs on behind him to sing backup, and it's hilarious to watch Brittany, of all people, mess up the choreography in the background. (Santana—-or maybe Naya Rivera—cracks up. Also, between shots the Trinity is in different poses, so boo to the editor for not being consistent.)
In her office, Sue has Becky make some announcements about the evening's homecoming activities, and literally has to wrestle the microphone from the girl's hands. Rachel listens in the auditorium as Kurt and Roderick discuss the lack of members. Fortunately, she says, someone new has also joined. Blaine interrupts, storming in and yelling about the rules they laid down around Will's dinner table. But in a flashback, we see that Jane (yay, Jane!) came to Rachel asking to transfer to McKinley and join the Glee Club, so Rachel doesn't feel that she broke any rules. Kurt tries to defend Rachel and the three of them begin squabbling. Roderick tries to sneak away, but Blaine tells him to see what kind of coaches Rachel and Kurt are. "This whole friendly competition thing?" he says. "It's over." Oooh, burn!
One final sketch to bring us back from commercial. Roderick and Jane are joined by twins Mason and Madison McCarthy (Billy Lewis, Jr. and Laura Dreyfuss, respectively, who look nothing at all alike, which will probably become a running gag in later episodes), a pair of Cheerios. So that makes four. Eight more to go! "I know most of you came for Homecoming and not for me and Kurt," Rachel says, "but we can't tell you how grateful we are for your help." Oh, so they were already in town and planning to come by the school anyway, and didn't drop everything to come running when Rachel called? That...makes a lot more sense, actually, but it makes the earlier lines about how the Glee Club will always join together in a crisis a bit less dramatic. Ah, well.
Sam starts whistling and playing guitar, and the Old and New Directions run out into the hallway, passing a poster of broken light bulbs that says "Cluelessness." Heh. At the homecoming bonfire (presumably fueled by books Sue wants burned), the Glee Club sings "Home," by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Blaine and Karofsky cuddle, watching the festivities. Rachel comforts Kurt, who looks devastated. In the locker room, Spencer joins the song and looks like he's about to sign up for auditions. So that ends the two-episode premiere for the final season. Not a single showtune. Only one quick theatre reference. (Will they do "We Both Reached for the Gun" this season?) And no Brian Stokes Mitchell guest spot. C'mon, Ryan Murphy, you can do better than this.
Up next on "Glee": "Jagged Little Tapestry"
(Air date Jan. 16, 2015)
"Homecoming" (Air date Jan. 9, 2015)
"Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett (Noah Guthrie)
"Problem" by Ariana Grande (Dianna Agron, Heather Morris and Naya Rivera)
"Take on Me" by A-ha (New Directions)
"Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (New Directions)
"Tightrope" by Janelle Monae (Samantha Marie Ware)
Watch the episode at fox.com/glee