Episode 6.9: Child Star (Air date: Feb. 27, 2015)
The episode begins with McKinley’s athletes running up and down the bleacher steps, doing push-ups and sit-ups and climbing ropes while Sue (Jane Lynch) yells through her bullhorn, calling them “sloppy babies” and asking how they expect to pass the Presidential Fitness Test if they don’t take wellness seriously. “Michael Phelps did not win 18 gold medals by swimming through a pool of pork rinds,” she reminds them—and how do you know, Sue? Were you there?
And then, for a perfect little shout-out to her first-ever line on the series, she snaps, “You think this is hard? Try consuming your own twin in utero. That’s hard!” Aww, Jane Lynch, I’ll miss your flawless comic timing. Come back to Broadway again soon. We’ll revive Annie again just for you.
Anyway, Spencer (Marshall Williams) clearly takes his physical fitness seriously and does pretty well in all the different challenges—all while making eyes at a cute student (Finneas O'Connell) with sideburns and a ponytail. And then it’s Roderick’s (Noah Guthrie) turn. Hey, remember Roderick from the beginning of the season? Yeah, neither do the writers, apparently, so it’s nice that episode writer Ned Martel thought to include him. Anyway, Sue immediately begins fat-shaming him as he prepares to climb a rope, but even with Spencer and Beiste’s (Dot-Marie Jones) encouragement, poor Rod can barely get his feet off the floor, and collapses in a heap on the mat. Still using her bullhorn, she calls him a “disgrace” to himself, his school and his nation. Wow. Harsh. Beiste suggests letting Roderick rest of a moment. “Oh, absolutely, Sheldon,” Sue snaps, dropping the bullhorn for a moment. “Let’s reward failure. Because while America is struggling with Type 2 Diabetes, China is colonizing Mars.” Spencer and Sideburns, standing next to each other, look uncomfortable. Sue picks up the bullhorn again and yells at “Double Stuff” to get up and try again. “And hike up your shorts, please, before some poor soul falls into your butt crack.” The students laugh, and Spencer turns around to (gently) hit some kid behind him. Sideburns, it should be noted, does not laugh and Sue’s cruelty. I like Sideburns already.
And here’s something we never see on the show anymore--actual current students in the McKinley hallways! Roderick walks with his headphones on, protecting him from the outside world, when Spencer stops him and pulls the headphones off. “We have a problem,” Spencer announces, and lists all of Roderick’s physical failings. “You can’t even do simple choreography!” he says. “If I’m going to be part of this whole Glee Club thing, it behooves me to not be strapped to a lead weight. Spoiler: You’re the lead weight,” he adds, slapping Roderick in the stomach. Yeah, behoove you, too, Spence. “Maybe you could help me?” Roderick asks. “Maybe I could try to do better—” But Spencer cuts him off. “Yeah, cool, try to try. Try to try. If you just tried, it would be great.” Roderick sighs and walks into his classroom—where he sits next to Sideburns, who has let his ponytail down into long golden locks. Okay, yeah, he’s pretty. And he greets Roderick warmly, which after the day he’s had, Roderick needs, so bonus points for Sideburns. Soft piano music starts to play as Spencer watches them talk—and then Spencer, being Spencer, walks into the classroom and over to Roderick and Sideburns. “Hey, buddy!” he says with very un-Spencer-like friendliness. “I gotta pick up some sheet music from you after class.” Roderick looks confused. Spencer turns to Sideburns. “Hey, man. ‘Sup? I’m Spencer.” They fist-bump. “‘Sup?” Sideburns says, looking a bit confused, giving him more in common with Roderick. “You’re Alistair, right?” Spencer asks. Alistair? Nah, I like Sideburns better. Sideburns asks if Spencer and Roderick are friends, and Spencer happily says that they’re in Glee Club together. “We work out all the time together, too,” he adds. “I’m kind of like his personal trainer and his inspiration.” Roderick arches his eyebrows, and I just adore Noah Guthrie twice as much as before and I want him to get a spin-off series that’s just him arching his eyebrows at other people being stupid. Anyway, Spencer flexes his biceps. “Go on, you can touch the guns if you want,” he smirks. “The safety’s on.” Sideburns flees the scene, and Roderick confirms that Spencer was flirting. “You wouldn’t understand,” Spencer says, still smirking. “You’re not a player like me.” Uh-huh. Roderick, no fool, says that Spencer isn’t a player, he’s a creeper.
In the hallway, Sue is walking with Superintendent Bob Harris (Christopher Cousins) and bragging about her accomplishments at the school. “Before I became principal at McKinley High, our students were dumber than Alabama first graders,” she says. Way to bust on all of Alabama. Show that condemnation, prejudice, and bullying. *sigh* Anyway, test scores have “skyrocketed” and the school is the most tech-savvy in America, which Sue credits to her “close, personal relationship with the Koch brothers—” HA! I love it! “— who generously donated a special ops drone which should be flying by right about now.” And, yep, there goes the Dragon flying by the Khaleesi, and Harris is impressed. Sue’s glad to hear it, because she has submitted herself of the United States Principal of the Year Award, which she calls the “icing on the cake” after all her years at the school. Harris asks if she’s planning to leave, and Sue denies it. “Don’t believe everything Becky Jackson tweets!” she says, and asks for a letter of recommendation from the superintendent—which she just happens to have written, with certain words already bolded. “Sue is an absolute joy to work with…” “...most slovenly of students...” “...multiple winner of national cheer…” “...her 1000s of local victories…” “Sue is a personal friend of Michael Bolton.” Harris says that he’ll need to review the letter before signing, but in the meantime, he has a favor to ask of Sue.
Cut to the auditorium, where Sue greets the Glee Club, Will (Matthew Morrison) and “Frodo.” She introduces Harris’ “one and only nephew,” Myron Muskovitz (J.J. Totah), an absolutely adorable tyke who’s getting ready to celebrate his bar mitzvah. Rachel (Lea Michele) puts her hands over her heart and makes an “aww” face at the news. “I’m putting on a show!” Myron announces in a rather effeminate way that gets Kitty (Becca Tobin) and Roderick to glance at one another. Myron wants pointers for his performance, and emphasizes that this is just a rehearsal. “So be kind!” And with that, the curtain parts, the lights come on, backup dancers emerge to tear off his suit (revealing gold lamé and tight white pants underneath) and he launches into a fully staged “Lose My Breath” by Destiny’s Child, complete with writhing and moaning and very inappropriate choreography for a 12-year-old. And even though his voice hasn’t changed yet, the kid sings damn well and dances impressively, so cheers, Totah! The expressions on the Glee Club members’ faces are just priceless, from amused to horrified to embarrassed and everything in between. It’s awesome. The number ends with the backup dancers dropping to the floor, and Myron PRANCES over them downstage, and since Kurt long-ago grew out of his former title of "Baby Gay," I think the mantle has been officially passed. Rachel tells Myron that he is “very talented,” and he (a huge fan of hers, it would seem) is grateful, but wants his bar mitzvah to be perfect, so he wants to improve the number. Kitty suggests that the dancers could smile a bit more, and Myron begins yelling that he already told his dancers to smile and he thought he hired professionals and they’re fired and oh, I get it, he’s a spoiled brat.
Speaking with the “adults,” Myron says that the stage is “sheer heaven” and wants to use it for his reception. He also wants the Glee Club to perform the opening act, and will pay them $20,000 for their efforts, but Will (again, evoking Season One), explains that show choirs cannot accept compensation. Myron then demands that the kids perform for free. Sue accepts on their behalf.
In the hallway that is suddenly filled with current students, Mason McCarthy (Billy Lewis Jr.) walks up to Jane (Samantha Marie Ware) at her locker. They commiserate and are cute and teenager-y and make plans to go to Breadstix (now that the place has been fumigated--ha!), but Madison (Laura Dreyfuss) links arms with her brother and and insists that he avoid carbs so that he can be fit for Cheerios. The twins walk off together as Jane looks bemused.
In the locker room, Mason confers with Roderick and Spencer about his problems with his sister and his crush on Jane. “Women are weird and mysterious creatures and I’m bored,” Spencer sighs, then teases Madison about his relationship with his sister. “No, seriously, aren’t you guys dating?” Mason wants Madison out of the way so he can be alone with Jane, and wants either Roderick or Spencer to ask her out. For obvious reasons, Spencer is out, and Roderick is unnerved by Madison’s craziness, but Spencer orders Mason to simply tell his sister to back off, and Roderick to meet him (Spencer) in the gym to get into shape. “Then you’re gonna help me get a date with my boy.” “How did this become about you guys?” Mason wonders. Have you never seen this show, Mason? In the faculty room, Rachel (who is not officially a teacher at McKinley, only a coach for the Glee Club) and Will (who is not officially a teacher anywhere) discuss Myron’s bar mitzvah and the New New Directions. Rachel says that the students are quiet, and Will (not meanly) wonders if it’s because she’s always talking. “You think I’m the worst,” Rachel sulks. Have you never seen this show, Rachel? Will assures her that they just need to make some choices for themselves.
Choir Room! Rachel informs the students that they will be performing at Myron’s bar mitzvah, but they’re less than thrilled. “You want us to sing at a spoiled little rich kid’s birthday party?” Spencer sums it up. Pretty much, yeah. Rachel and Will try to get their students excited about the opportunity, and Kitty (who has clearly seen this show) asks if they’re about to sing or if an alumnus is about to walk through the door. (Bless you, Kitty, for knowing the correct usage of “alumnus.” English majors around the world are rejoicing.) Will explains that this will be a great chance to practice for sectionals: “There is no tougher audience than—”
Will: “Tweens.” Kitty makes a Grumpy Cat face. and I want Becca Tobin to co-star in Noah Guthrie’s spin-off. It can all be about their adorable facial expressions! Anyway, Will explains that kids have no patience for bad performances, and Rachel tells them to start picking songs. As they talk, Mason makes eyes at Jane, but before he can get to her, he gets...erm, blocked by his sister, who begins chattering about what duet they can sing. He sighs and sits down to start planning with Madison.
Faculty room! Beiste inhales a chicken like he’s in Act Two of Hello, Dolly!, while Will, Rachel (the vegan) and Sam watch in stunned silence. Sue, at the coffee stand, misses her mug as she pours her coffee, and reveals that she has not slept for three days because she is now Myron’s slave. (She also leaves her coffee on the floor and drops her empty mug, so I feel bad for the janitor who will have to deal with that.) Their days now involve Vitamin B-12 drips and eight-hour pitch sessions that end with Myron screaming that his bar mitzvah is all about him and that he wants a big production. “Now, Janet, can you get me my espresso?” he asks the convict behind the secretarial desk. Meanwhile, Sue stays up all night reading Myron’s Torah portion while he sleeps (in a queen-sized bed, it should be noted—and really? A double bed for a 12-year-old?) so he can learn by osmosis. Will says that this behavior has to stop, and Sue agrees that it will—“Once you, Johnny Wanna-Peen, Homeless, Rachel, the Glee Club and I agree to be his backup dancers.” (Hey, remember how Sue promised to support Sheldon? Looks like she forgot that already.) It seems that Myron blew his entertainment budget flying in 100 performers for a callback that did not, in fact, involve dancing. Beiste protests that he isn’t a dancer. “My knees have been shot since my bull-riding days!” But Sue says that if she’s forced to participate, they’re all in the same boat, and she needs someone to be a worse dancer than her.
Hallway! Mason fights his way through the crowd to ask Jane to sing with him at the bar mitzvah, but she’s already partnered with Roderick. He then asks her out for pizza, which he doesn’t plan to tell Madison about. “I’m kind of a badass,” he brags. “The only badass I know that's also a male cheerleader,” she snarks back, then--less snarky, says that if he tells him that she’ll sing with him if he tells everyone that they’re switching partners. He looks worried.
In the gym, Spencer tries to coach Roderick up the rope. “You’re not even trying!” he yells. “Stop being such a wuss!” Roderick falls onto the mat as Spencer complains that his friend has “the athleticism of a couch cushion.” Nice. Roderick says that the “tough love” approach isn’t helping, and Spencer says that Roderick shouldn’t be so sensitive. “Sensitive? I’ve been taunted and teased about this kind of thing my entire life!” Roderick snaps. “Not to mention I’m terrified of heights.” Spencer says that football practice can get ugly and messy, and Roderick reminds him that he is not, in fact, a football player. “You’re right, because you’re too fat and you’re too lazy,” Spencer snaps back. In the background, we see Will stopping by the gym door to listen. Conveniently, Roderick chooses this moment to point out that this is why Alistair doesn’t want to date Spencer. “No one wants to get close to you because you’re a dick,” he says angrily, and I’m kind of impressed that Fox Network let them use that word. Roderick storms out past Will, who looks sadly at Spencer.
In the cafeteria, Roderick puts a sad celery stalk on his plate as Mason runs up and, in one breath, announces that they’re switching partners for the bar mitzvah. Before Roderick can object, Mason runs over to his sister (cutting in the lunch line) and tells her that she’ll be singing with Roderick. “You did that during Jagged Little Tapestry week,” she reminds him, and then insults Jane’s legs and hair, and isn’t it technically illegal for a white woman to insult a black woman’s hair? Anyway, upon hearing that Mason also wants to date Jane, Madison forbids their friendship and Mason finally stands up to her. “This isn’t your decision to make!” he argues. She freaks out and suggests he never listen to her again, like that time she told him not to eat an entire bag of sugar-free gummy bears and he ignored her and had the kind of results you can find in the Amazon reviews. Madison storms off and Jane hurries over to suggest that they sing with their original partners (and the kid behind them yells about how they keep cutting in line), and Jane looks sad.
Back to the hallway: Spencer sees the object of his affection, but Sideburns walks away before Spencer can flirt any more. As he walks in slow-motion down the hall, he sings The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” and sees Sideburns and Roderick chatting in a class. The scene shifts between the choir room and the gym where we see how athletic Sideburns is, and the other kids sing backup. When the number ends, Will suggests a mash-up with another singer--perhaps Roderick? Spencer refuses to sing with a “quitter,” and Roderick (once again) calls him a dick. Rachel looks shocked. The bar mitzvah reception is underway, and the boy himself enters in a silver-sequined suit with a blue silk shirt. He plays emcee and introduces Mason, who enters in a black leather jacket and sings Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” to cheers. From the wings, Madison looks stunned and hurt. Jane looks turned-on. Several pre-teen girls rush the stage and reach up to Mason like he’s a rock star. After the number, Mason runs to Jane for hugs, and then backstage to change into his next costume. Madison finds him and apologizes for being crazy and for wanting to be the only lady in his life. “I’ll always need you, Madison,” he assures her. “You know I”m a better person because of you,” he says, and she repeats it back to him. They hug and it’s sweet, even though she still busts on Jane.
Back from commercial, we hear the sweet, sweet sounds of Myron screaming in panic. He’s apparently trapped in a “stage pod” and the rope to lower it to the stage is stuck. Sue demands that Spencer climb up and rescue the boy, but Spencer insists that Roderick is the only man for the job. “I know I was a dick before, but I was the wrong kind of dick, and this time, I’m being the right kind of dick.” Wow, that’s a lot of dicks for a one-hour family friendly TV show. Anyway, Kitty notes that they could just get a ladder, but Spencer pushes Roderick forward. “Give me those gloves,” he says, and to chants from all the kids (Do it!” “Do it!”) he begins his ascent and saves the day. Back on terra firma, Spencer congratulates his friend. “In emergencies, even babies can lift cars,” he says. Myron emerges from the pod. “I think I pooped myself!” he wails. Sue sends Kitty to get butt-wipes and suggests he also eat some gummy bears. Heh.
Stalling for time, Jane, Roderick and Spencer emerge to sing Bruno Mars' “Uptown Funk,” and everyone dances in the aisles and has fun. Other kids emerge to dance and sing along, and as production numbers go, this is a pretty good one. When the number ends, everyone hugs, and we break for yet another commercial.
In the rehearsal room, Beiste, Sam, Rachel and Sue are all learning choreography from Will until Sue gives up and is about to walk out of the room, reminding Will that he doesn’t even work at the school. Rachel reminds Sue that she got them into this in the first place, and Sue rants to Will that he has done nothing to make their lives better, only worse. Sigh. Whatever, she rants and rages at Will again, because depending on the episode she either hates him or they’re besties. But since Will is no longer her employee, he can give as good as he gets. “Susie-Q—may I call you Susie-Q?” “No, you may not!” Heh. “The superintendent got you into this, not me, so why aren’t you going after him? Oh, that’s right. You still have a little crush on old Bob, don’t you? You think if you play your cards right, you just might get a date with a guy who once mistook you for a man. That’s really sad, Susie-Q. Even for you. Oh, I hope you enjoy my new Axe body spray. It’s a new scent called ‘The woman standing next to me is clearly losing her mind.’” Sam breaks up the fight and suggests they all take a Xanax (heh), but in slow-motion, Sue roars and flies across the room at Will, leaping on him and knocking him to the floor as she pummels him. And naturally, this is the moment Superintendent Harris walks in. Sue, ever the improviser, says that they’re just rehearsing, and Harris tells them to get to the stage.
In what I think is the choir room, Sideburns is playing the ukulele when Spencer walks in. Roderick, it would seem, told Alistair that he wouldn’t want to miss Spencer’s performance at the bar mitzvah. “And, man, was he right!” Spencer is thrilled that Sideburns saw him singing and dancing, and Alistair says that Roderick has been singing his (Spencer’s) praises. Beneath the macho exterior, he continues, he believes that Spencer might be a good person. “Plus, you’re smokin’ hot,” he adds. “I’m not blind.” Spencer uses this moment to stump for the Glee Club and invites Sideburns to join. “I know I’m a loser, but am I that much of a loser?” Alistair wonders. “I’m gonna say yes,” Spencer replies, and then cuts off Sideburns’ response to pull him in for a kiss. “And, sold,” Alistair says with a dreamy smile. So now they only need to get five more members in the two weeks before sectionals!
Backstage, the dancers are getting ready to perform, and Sue says that it’s “one minute to midnight” on her doomsday watch. “The final chapter of World War Glee!” Well, yeah, only four more episodes after this one. “And it all begins when I trip you onstage,” Will says, because he’s nothing if not professional. “You wouldn’t dare!” Sue hisses. “Wouldn’t I?” Will asks. Because he’s nice like that. Sigh.
Ariana Grande’s “Break Free” begins with lots of light and noise and Myron’s name in lights (much like Kurt’s when he sang “Rose’s Turn” way back in Season One). Rachel enters singing lead, and Will and Sue dance backup. The pod descends to the stage and Myron emerges to take over lead vocals, and they’re so autotuned it’s painful. Everyone else comes out to dance in unison, but I’m still stuck on the “die alive” and “become who I really are” lyrics that make my head hurt. Oh, Ariana Grande. Please get Jason Robert Brown to write your next song. Anyway, the song is a hit, Sue doesn’t fall and confetti and glitter fall all over the audience and performers...and seriously, “who I really are?” Really? Sigh. Moving on...
The next day, Roderick asks Spencer for protein supplements, but the jock suggests eating organic chicken instead. “You’ll thank me later,” he assures his friend. “I already owe you a debt of gratitude,” Roderick replies like any high school student would. He’s been working out and eating better (...since yesterday? How much time has passed, here?) and feels great. Spencer, for his part, is dating Alistair, and is excited about the relationship. “I hope I don’t screw it up,” he sighs. “I hope you don’t, either,” Roderick replies. Heh.
In the choir room office, Sue brings Myron in to talk with Will and Rachel. (Kurt and Blaine are clearly not back yet from their weekend-long honeymoon.) At all of 13, Myron is enrolling at McKinley and wants to join the Glee Club, Sue says with a pained expression, and Myron (naturally) begins yelling at her before kicking her in the shins and running into the main room and banging on the piano. Sue sinks miserably into a chair as Will tries to figure out how a 13-year-old can enroll in high school. Harris, it would seem, strong-armed the principal at Myron’s middle school to get the kid bumped up a few grades. The Glee Club now has a talented singer and dancer who happens to be a member of the superintendent’s family, offering the group automatic immunity from Sue’s machinations. “It’s my Dunkirk, William,” she moans, and the history nerd in me beams at the reference. “But it is just the first battle of the great war to end all wars. And in the words of a former vice-presidential candidate and my personal Lamaze coach, ‘I do not retreat, I reload.’” Heh. Sue leaves and walks down the hallway, and she’s back to the shoving-students-into-lockers violence that has never been funny. She even slaps a kid, and there’s a whole other TV series on another network about the fallout from people slapping other parents’ children. She kvetches in a voiceover that she had planned to make McKinley such a good school that it would cement her reputation “as the greatest educator since Mao,” and then ride off into the sunset on one of the five remaining black rhinos on the planet. Instead, she’s back where she started and still desperate to tear down the Glee Club. Sue returns to her Hurt Locker (oh, dear God, not this again. Please! Please, not this awful Hurt Locker again!) and swears to the “pretend people that I’m speaking to in my head and are very impressed with me, I will be the last man standing.” She nails pictures of the New New Directions to the wall, vowing that she may be buried in her Hurt Locker, but she’ll bury them all with her. Whatever. This storyline was boring by Season Two. Moving on…
At his new locker (which he needs a step-stool to reach), Myron thanks Kitty for lending him her panties after he soiled himself in that pod. He hands her some money, telling her that she deserves it, and she accepts, telling him that she agrees. While she refuses to kiss him (good move, Kitty), she assures him that he can always buy her friendship, and he’ll need all the friends he can get in the Glee Club.
In the office, Will and Rachel wax philosophical about their role as mentors to the students, and Will praises his protege’s growth. They hug and get to work. The students perform Echosmith’s “Cool Kids,” and are generally cute and cool, even as Myron tries to upstage Kitty, which is a cardinal sin.
Episode 6.9: Child Star
J.J. Totah as Myron Muskovitz
Christopher Cousins as Superintendent Bob Harris
"Lose My Breath" by Destiny's Child (J.J. Totah)
"Friday I'm In Love" by The Cure (Marshall Williams with New Directions)
"I Want to Break Free" by Queen (Billy Lewis Jr. )
"Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (New Directions)
"Break Free" by Ariana Grande feat. Zedd (Lea Michele, Chord Overstreet, Dot-Marie Jones, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, and New Directions)
"Cool Kids" by Echosmith (New Directions)