Episode 6.12: "2009"
I was looking through my calendar the other day and happened to glance at September 2009. And there it was: September 9. “Glee.” Actually, it said “Glee!” because I’d seen the advance pilot and loved it and couldn’t wait to see more...and, of course, I knew a show about a high school glee club that performed showtunes would never last, so I didn’t want to risk missing a moment until the Fox Network inevitably declined to extend beyond the front 13.
And those first 13 episodes were dazzling. Weren’t they? Remember? As silly and over-the-top as they could be (remember Terri’s fake pregnancy and Quinn lying about her real one?), they were consistently funny and the music was great and the performances were strong and it was just endearing. Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy had something to prove, and they proved it. Who could have predicted that the show would take off like it did? Who could have known how hungry audiences were for stories about the high school losers and geeks who express their emotions in song and who dream of creating something unique? September 9, 2009. The world changed and no one realized it right away. Suddenly, the nerds and the outcasts and the dreamers had a show for and about themselves. And while the writing was never again as strong as it was during those first 13 episodes, Brennan, Falchuk and Murphy used their platform to make the world a little bit of a better place, shining a light on bullying, homophobia, transphobia, body image, the need for arts education and the value of music in everyday life. For all the show’s later problems, those accomplishments have to be recognized and admired. So hats off to the creative team for everything they did right over the last six years. It's a long list.
So let’s go back to September 2009, shall we? Will (Matthew Morrison) walks through the door of his apartment calling out to his wife. “Honey, you’ll never guess what I did today! I decided to take over the Glee Club!” He opens the door to the craft room to reveal that his wife is Terri Schuester (Jessalyn Gilsig), because it’s 2009. Terri raises a hot glue gun like it’s a...well, a gun, and Will’s smile falters a bit. Roll credits!
Voiceover: “My name is Kurt Hummel. I’m a sophomore at McKinley.” We follow Kurt (Chris Colfer) as he walks down the hallway filled with (we must presume) alumni who never actually left the school upon graduation. He continues that on his first day of school last year, the principal told the freshman class that the next four years would be the best years of their lives. “What a joke.” Immediately, Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) shoves Kurt into the wall. “Out of the way, fag,” he snarls. Oh, yeah, now I remember why I never liked Karofsky. “Sorry,” Kurt snaps back. “Hope I didn’t make you late for remedial math.” And oh, God, it was hard enough to believe that 24-year-olds were 15 back in 2009, but now most of the cast is nearly 30 (Mark Salling is 32, for the record), and while they’re all game and acting like teenagers, none of them look like they belong in high school. And man, I didn’t realize how much Chris Colfer had grown up since the pilot episode (he was actually 18 when it filmed, and unlike everyone else on the show, he looked like a teenager). Now that he’s 24 and playing 15, he looks like...well, like the rest of the cast looked back in 2009.
Anyway, speaking of Salling, Puck turns around at Kurt’s verbal defense. “What was that?” Kurt looks nervous and backs down. Karofsky knocks Kurt’s books out of his hands and Puck kicks them down the hall. As they turn to walk away, Puck slaps Karofsky on the ass. “Hey, bro, don’t be gay,” Karofsky mutters.
Kurt goes to pick up his books, and continues in voiceover that he constantly feels humiliated, isolated and alone (which is..pretty much the same thing, yes?). Other kids walk by and continue kicking his books. He was a happy kid once, he continues, but he no longer remembers what happy felt like. Ouch. “I feel like I could die tomorrow, and I don’t think anyone would really care.” Double ouch. Oh, Kurt. Honey. I just...ouch. There’s just no way of making a joke after that. He walks by a table of self-help pamphlets, including “Ending It All: Pros and Cons,” “Alzheimers: Pretending to Listen” and “Is That My Period or Have I Been Shot?” Ha! Thank you, Murphy, Brennan and Falchuk (who all wrote the episode together). I needed a smile after that voiceover. But the smile fades away pretty quickly as Kurt picks up the “Ending It All: Pros and Cons” pamphlet. Oh, God. Emma (Jayma Mays) comes up behind him and asks if she can help, but Kurt claims that he made a wrong turn. Emma introduces herself, and Kurt drops the pamphlet before shaking her hand. Emma asks if Kurt is new to the school. “I’m a sophomore,” he says softly. “That’s awkward,” she smiles. “Well, if you ever need anything, my door is always open, because feelings don’t take vacations, do they?” She spritzes her hand with sanitizer as she says this, and continues chattering about her schedule and herself before Kurt walks away. Heh. But once he’s gone, Emma notices the suicide pamphlet that is out of order, and looks very concerned. Good. Go chase him down, Emma!
But, no—in her office, she tries to make polite conversation about stains on a visitor’s shirt, and we see that the visitor is Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley). “In the shop, we just call it grime,” he says of his stains. Anyway, he says he knows why Emma has called him in, and she is relieved. “Is Kurt acting strangely at home?” she asks. “Since he was two,” Burt responds. “Look, I know he’s a little bit different, but I also think it’s a little early to be talking about it.” Kids grow out of stuff all the time, he continues, like how he was a Bengals fan once and is now a Browns fan. (What are the Bengals, exactly? Hockey? Volleyball? Professional tiger grooming? For that matter, what are Browns?) But Emma explains that Kurt is depressed, and Burt scoffs. “I walked in on him and he was reading this,” she says, handing Burt the pamphlet. Finally, Burt looks worried.
Chez Hummel! We haven’t seen this set in years! Kurt is working at a sewing machine as Burt comes down the stairs. Kurt asks if he should start dinner, but Burt wants to discuss what Emma said to him. “I’m fine, dad,” Kurt sighs. “She’s...she’s just overreacting.” Burt doesn’t want to talk about this any more than Kurt does, he says. “You do your thing, I do mine.” Way to take a vested interest in your child’s life, Burt. Sheesh. So glad the character developed positively from here. “But you’re all alone down here most of the time. You don’t have any friends.” “School is very complicated for me,” Kurt says. Burt is sympathetic, but orders his son to join some kind of team and make friends...or he’ll take away Kurt’s sewing machine.
In the cafeteria, Kurt seeks out an empty table, but is driven away from the only one available by the football jocks. Finally, he sees a table with just one person at it: Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), who is creating posters. “May I sit here?” he asks anxiously. She allows it, but warns him to be careful of the posters as he sets his tray of spaghetti down. “They take 20 minutes each to make,” she explains, brusque and businesslike. Kurt tries to make conversation. “I see you’re in the speech club!” he notes. She doesn’t look up. “Speech Club, Renaissance Club, Muslim Students Club, Black Student Union—it’s important for me to be immersed in all cultures,” she explains. “I’m an actress.” Kurt knows: He’s seen her videos on MySpace. Oh, God, this really is dated. (Also, wasn’t MySpace kind of dead already by 2009?) But he’s nice about it: “You’re very talented,” he says with a smile. She hesitates for a second, and then extends her hand. “I’m Rachel Berry.” He extends his own. “Kurt Hummel.” They shake hands, and a friendship is born. Kurt wonders if he should join the speech club. “My dad’s making me join something. And to be honest with you, I’m also toying around with a career in acting.” Rachel is insulted. “I’m not toying around with anything! The minute I graduate, I’m going directly to Broadway and I’m never looking back.” And besides, the speech club is full, anyway. Kurt looks sad, but Rachel gets an idea. “Can you carry a tune?” “Yes.” “Are you sure?” “Yes!” Rachel dishes that the Glee Club is starting up again, headed by that Spanish teacher “who looks like an old Justin Timberlake” (Ha!) She points out that when he was in the Glee Club, the team won at Nationals. “I’m assuming that you’re a contralto or a mezzo-soprano. We’ll explore your vocal range tomorrow after school. I’ll reserve the auditorium.” Kurt finally smiles.
Auditorium! Rachel plays a note and launches into “Popular” from Wicked, and the orchestra picks up even though (for once) we don’t see a full band backing the singers up. Kurt joins in and the song becomes an adorable duet as they use the lyrics to critique one another, but all in good fun and excellent harmony. Rachel stands center stage as a spotlight hits her, but when she walks away Kurt can’t get a spotlight of his own. (Foreshadowing his “Mr. Cellophane” audition?) Rachel snaps her fingers and the spotlight comes on. Okay, it’s silly but it’s adorable and I love it. By the end of the song, Kurt is striding confidently toward center stage and taking more solo lines (including “Well, are,” with a great little eye roll), and it’s a perfect character moment for both of them. (Also? Chris Colfer got seriously tall since 2009. He just towers over Lea Michele, and he didn’t back then.) The song ends and Kurt is giddy and excited and says that they should use the number for a joint audition. Rachel shoots him down, though. “Some stars shine brighter than others,” she says, “but they all shine on their own. I enjoyed singing with you today and I look forward to doing it again, but when it comes to auditions, it’s every man for himself on this stage. Eat or be eaten. This is show choir.” She stalks out and Kurt is left alone.
In the hallway, Kurt hurries to catch up with Mercedes (Amber Riley), calling her “Miss Jones” because she’s just that fierce. She smiles politely but asks him what he wants. “I heard you were a total star in your church choir and that you cracked a stained glass window when you hit a high note singing ‘Jesus!’” Mercedes says that this is how one gets God’s attention, and she’s not wrong. “I want to be just like you,” he says all in a rush, and she turns to look at him with an expression of pure pity. “Kurt. You’re adorable, but I just don’t think this pale, sexy Keebler elf look really fits in with my church choir. No offense.” “None taken!” Kurt clarifies that he wants to sing at school in the new Glee Club. “Why wait for Sundays to be Aretha Franklin and Beyonce and Donna Summer when you can do it every day right here at William McKinley High School?” His voice goes up to a squeal on the last line. Cute. Mercedes is intrigued, and Kurt explains that he knows nothing about performing and needs help from someone like her. “I’m this,” he says sadly. “But inside, I’m more.” That could probably have been the show’s tagline. Mercedes takes his arm and begins offering advice. “You have an incredibly loud sense of fashion, which, you know, respect. But I see the way that you slink around at this school. It’s time for your attitude to match your outfits.” “I feel safer if I let my clothes do all the talking,” Kurt muses as they walk up the stairs, still arm-in-arm. “It lets me feel invisible.” That gives Mercedes an idea for Kurt’s audition song.
And we get a moment from the pilot, with Kurt introducing himself and singing “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago while Brad the Genius Pianist (Brad Ellis) accompanies him. We only see Kurt from the back as he sings, though, since the difference between Kurt in 2009 and 2015 would just be jarring. But we do get to see Will’s notes on Kurt’s audition: “Excellent breath. Impressive range. Ear-piercing falsetto.” After Kurt holds that “knooooowwww” note and adjusts his hair, Will adds “Gay” to the list. Heh. Song ends, and Will adds one more: “Sweet kid.” Aww…
At his dad’s garage, Kurt quite literally skips up to Burt, beaming. He’s in a club! But Burt has no idea what a Glee Club is. “It’s amazing!” Kurt gushes. “We sing and we dance and it’s full of inducing community-based activities.” Burt says he wanted Kurt to bond with others over a shared goal, and Kurt explains the that the choir will compete against other schools. “So it really is like a sports team?” Burt asks. “Yeah, kind of, except with choreography and Beyonce.”
Burt: “Who’s Beyonce, is she one of the girls on the team?" Kurt: “No, dad, she’s, like, the biggest pop star in the world." Heh.
Despite not having a strong male lead for the choir (foreshadowing!), Kurt believes that it will be something special. Burt still wants his son to join a sports team, but admits that the boy seems happy. “Honestly, Dad, I don’t think I’ve ever been this genuinely excited to go to school. Thanks for pushing me to do this.” Burt looks pensive and chooses his next words carefully. “Thanks for showing up for yourself.” The Hummels look at each other for a long moment until Burt asks what’s up. Kurt voiceovers: “I’m gay, Dad. Please don’t stop loving me, but I’m gay.” And my heart breaks all over again. “We good?” Burt asks as he heads off to fix a car. “Yeah. We’re good,” his son says. Burt slaps his son on the shoulder as he walks by, and Kurt looks anxious. Someone’s chopping onions in here. Excuse me.
Back from commercial, and it’s Mercedes’ turn! As she walks down the hall, she voiceovers that she also doesn’t have many friends, but doesn’t get picked on like Kurt does. Still, there aren’t a lot of black students except for “that one black kid, but he’s real boring.” And on cue, there’s Matt Rutherford (Dijon Talton), who we haven’t seen since Season One! Aww, good to see you Matt! But that’s all the screen time he gets, ‘cause she just breezes by him, and I laugh out loud. Anyway, Mercedes continues in voiceover that her voice makes her a star at her church, but at school, she’s nobody. That, however, is going to change, because the school is “jump-starting the singing club” and she has decided to sign up. Her name is the first on the list, in fact.
Later, Rachel accosts Mercedes in the hallway and introduces herself. She’s seen Mercedes’ name on the Glee Club sign-up sheet. “I can tell from your sloppy signature that you have a very strong personality, and I can tell by the way you hold your torso that you have a very strong diaphragm, which means that you’re very talented, which is good, because I’m very talented, too.” She says all of this in about two seconds, by the way. In any case, she knows that they’ll be competing for the female solos, so she wants them to be friends. Mercedes shuts her down. “You’re trying to get all in my head and make me nervous like Ike Turner so you can swoop down and get all the attention. But let me tell you something: I’ve been dealing with this kind of nonsense for the past three years in my church choir, and I overcame it. And I’m over it.” “You go to one of those singing Black churches! That’s amazing!” Rachel says as Mercedes closes her eyes in dismay. Why do I have the feeling that this was the moment “Shaking My Head” first began forming in Mercedes’ brain. Rachel keeps trying to bond. “One of my dads is Black. See? Another thing that we have in common.” “What?” “A Black dad.” Mercedes walks away, but Rachel follows her and says that she’d like to hear Mercedes sing and wants to come visit her church.
Quick cut to a lovely church with stained glass windows. Rachel hurries through the largely empty pews and sits down just as Mercedes launches into Zella Jackson Price’s “I’m His Child,” backed by the full choir. Mercedes steps away from the microphone and continues belting from the front pew. Rachel looks worried. Later, outside of the church, Rachel hurries over to Mercedes and says that she saw something she would not have seen had Mercedes not invited her. “I’m pretty sure you invited you,” Mercedes replies, but not unkindly. “I saw Mercedes Jones, future R&B star. Your audience is going to love you.” Mercedes catches the “your audience” part of that. “Wherever you think your voice can go, mine will be there, too,” she snaps, as the camera focuses on one of the choir members behind them looking worried. Mercedes walks away.
McKinley Hallway! Another voiceover: “My name is Tina Cohen-Chang, and you don’t care,” Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) says. Aww, Goth Tina is back! Someone kicks her books down the hallway, and she continues that while she’s “wildly unpopular,” she loves it. “I’m trying to be unpopular, because I am goth. Goths have no time for cliche bougie high school cliques,” she declares. “We are the anti-clique.” And right on cue, Puck strides by and reminds me of why I hated him so much in the first two seasons: “What’s up, Wu-Tang Witch? Do you ride a broomstick or a chopstick?” He says that last line in a fake Asian-esque accent so “chopstick” comes out like “chop-a-stick” and I just want to punch him for the racism and general awfulness. “Eat m-m-my—” she begins to reply, but Puck interrupts her. “D-d-don’t stutter. It’s not n-n-nice.” He and Karofsky walk away, and Tina smiles and continues in voiceover. “The joke’s on you, Puckerman. My stutter is fake. Not even Meryl Streep could fake a stutter for three-and-a-half years.” ...Yeah, she probably could if she wanted to. Anyway, Tina believes that she could be a big star if she wasn’t so shy. “I need to work on that. And I also need to stop talking to myself. Oh, shut up, Tina, everybody talks to themselves.” Heh. She dismisses the jocks and cheerleaders as she passes them. “True power comes from non-conformity,” she declares. “That’s why I embrace the avant-garde and the unwanted, including a boy in a wheelchair.” And there’s Artie (Kevin McHale), who wheels up to Tina. “What’s shakin’, bacon?” he asks. “N-n-n-nothing,” she says with a smile, and walks behind Artie to push him down the hallway.
“My name is Artie Abrams, and I’m in love with Tina Cohen-Chang,” Artie voiceovers. “She’s not only sexy as hell, she also treats me like a real person.” The rest of the students treat Artie like his condition is contagious, he continues, but Tina talks to him like everybody else. “I love you,” he says out loud. “W-w-what?” “Nothing! Let’s go eat, woman!” I’m glad there’s a comma in that sentence.
In the cafeteria, several goth kids dump spaghetti on Kurt and Rachel, who are back in the scene where they first met. Other students around them laugh, and the goths return to their table—where they’re sitting with Artie and Tina, who apparently dared them. One of the goths is apparently mad at Rachel for insulting his “true form.” We get a flashback to Rachel in class complaining that “werewolf” is not a heritage and that she is allergic to whatever “roadkill” he used to make his tail. Artie is sympathetic. The girl goth tells Tina that it’s her turn to accept a dare. (Kurt storms by in the background during this.) “I dare you and Wheels to sign up for the new Glee Club.” The kids look worried but claim not to care.
After commercial, we see Tina’s audition, and I guess because with the goth makeup Ushkowitz looks very much like she did in ‘09, we actually see her face and how she dances. We also see Will’s notes: “Edgy.” “Good energy.” “Angry.” She finishes and leaves the stage. Artie wheels himself on and introduces himself to Will as Ginuwine’s “Pony” begins. As he sings, he nearly rolls off the stage but catches himself at the last minute. We see Will’s notes: “Great voice.” “Soulful.” “NEED RAMPS.” Heh. Coming off the stage, Tina hugs him. “That’s the best voice I have ever heard!” she gushes, barely stuttering in her enthusiasm. Artie looks thrilled.
In the choir room, all the kids sit awkwardly. Will hurries in and greets Brad (as everyone should) and gives them the sheet music for “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat,” by the “legendary” Frank Loesser. He wants Artie to sing lead, but Rachel protests since she was in Sandy Ryerson’s Glee Club and therefore has seniority. Mercedes protests Rachel’s protest, but Will puts his foot down and insists that Artie will get the first solo—but everyone will have plenty of opportunities. “In fact, for Sectionals, I was thinking we could do a medley from Grease. Who wants the Sandy part?” Mercedes and Rachel raise their hands high; Kurt lifts his slightly. Heh. Rachel is outraged that Mercedes would put herself up for the role. “I wouldn’t dream of being Miss Saigon or Black Dorothy from The Wiz,” she snaps, waving a finger and rolling her head on that last one, so no wonder she and Puck got along so well later on. “If we want to be taken seriously as a Glee Club then it can’t be about color or disability or whatever. It has to be about who has the best voice.” “Exactly,” Mercedes agrees, before turning to glare at Rachel. “That would be me.” Oooh! Everyone stares at Mercedes and Will tries to break the tension with a warmup.
In their apartment, Will has left the vacuum cleaner running while he jots down ideas for the Glee Club. Terri, wearing a pink negligee, walks out and turns it off, accusing him of shirking his household duties: “You do the cooking and cleaning and I will carry our children when we have them. Which might not be any time soon because I’m sure all this extra free work you’re doing for the Glee Club is tiring you out and making your sperm stressed.” Will, acknowledging both his and his sperm’s stress, complains about the in-fighting at the Glee Club. Terri suggests that he give the solo to whichever singer is the most pathetic. “It’s much harder to be jealous of someone when you think you’re better than they are, even if they get what you want.” I wonder if she’s talking about herself and Emma, here. Terri asks Will if he really feels the Glee Club is worth all the effort. “You know I’m a little bit psychic, and I have a bad feeling about this,” she says. “How could anything bad come out of a Glee Club?” Will asks. Have you seen the writing in seasons four and five, Will? C’mon. But Terri is worried that Will will become so focused on the club that he ignores her. “I don’t want to become one of those ignored wives who has an affair,” she says sadly, and if this were anyone else I would sympathize with her, but because it’s Terri and Terri is awful I don’t. Will assures her that she is the love of his life and that nothing will ever separate them. Oops.
In the school hallway, Rachel gives Will a list of potential candidates for the male vocal lead—and why she should sing the first solo. Will, prophetically, is on his way to the boys’ locker room, but Puck and Karofsky run by and throw a slushie in Rachel’s face. Will acts like he’s never seen this before, but doesn’t try to chase down the offending students or anything. Everyone else in the hallway is laughing. “I told you,” Rachel says with total self-pity. “Everyone hates me.” She walks away.
In the choir room, Will announces that the club is moving over to the auditorium. “Alcoholics Anonymous has the auditorium,” Artie protests, but Will says that Principal Principal Figgins believes in the club so much he’s letting them have it…“for a while.” He tells them to grab a copy of “You’re the One That I Want,” and Mercedes asks who will be singing Sandy. After a fractional pause, he gives it to Rachel, and Mercedes is (justly) pissed. “Her little bitty Jewish voice won’t make it past the third row!” she complains. “Racist!” Rachel screeches. “And untrue! I can belt just as good as you. Better, even!” Clearly, this is a setup for a sing-off, but Will kiboshes the idea. “Though it’s not a bad idea for a future exercise,” he acknowledges, then promises that they’ll all get a chance to shine. “Except the white girl goes first,” Mercedes says quietly. “The white girl always goes first.” Ooh, ouch. Not untrue at all, but ouch.
In her church, Mercedes sits in a pew and weeps quietly. The lady who looked at her earlier (April Grace) comes by to see what’s wrong. “I didn’t get the solo,” Mercedes says through her tears. “I lost it to that demented little beanie baby.” Foreshadowing Rachel’s Lady Gaga dress? Hmm...Anyway, Mercedes doesn’t think that Will will ever give her a solo and decides to quit. “No one in there is going to see me the way I see myself.” While I get your point, Mercedes, what if the way you see yourself is flat-out wrong? Hypothetically speaking, if you see yourself as a fantastic dancer but can actually barely move in rhythm, are your friends doing you any favors by giving you the lead in a recital and setting you up for future disappointment? I’m just saying, everyone has limits, and while working to improve is always good, polite lies don’t really help. None of this applies to Mercedes, of course, but it raises an interesting question about perception vs. reality. Anyway, back to the storyline. The lady promises Mercedes that she is a star, but being a star means learning to share the spotlight. “Maybe she’s going to get the solos because she needs it more than you do right now.” Rachel’s drive and ambition may make Mercedes into a better performer, the lady continues. “And I have a feeling that you two are going to become great friends. Stars have a way of finding each other. OK, even though it hasn’t been mentioned in the script, I’m just gonna say that the lady is credited as Mrs. Jones, so we can assume she’s Mercedes’ mother who we’ve never seen before.
In Principal Figgins’ (Iqbal Theba) office, Sue (Jane Lynch) receives a check from her boss for a rare silk trampoline mat imported from China. “The Cheerios are McKinley High’s number one priority!” he declares, and Sue thanks him for his generosity before asking why Will is taking over the show choir. “That’s nothing but a trifling,” Figgins says, and Sue emphasizes that the Cheerios are McKinley’s stars and will remain that way. Figgins assures her that she is his star. “You are on Fox Sports Net! And besides, the show choir won’t last. Will only has five students—one of them a cripple. And children these days aren’t interested in singing to each other. They’re too busy with their Friendster and MySpace and Blockbuster Video. These are things that are here to stay.” Sigh. Too much. Anyway, Sue is apprehensive. “I have a bad feeling about this Glee Club,” she says, and her voice gets demonic on the last two words. Sigh again. In the gym, Sue and Will play basketball while the Cheerios watch and cheer. During a break, Sue mentions that they’re best friends, and Will argues that they just play basketball once per week. “Yeah, like I said, best friends,” Sue agrees. Heh. “What are your intentions with this Glee Club?” she asks. Will wants his students to have the arts in their lives like he did. “Being a part of the Glee Club was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says. Sue argues that the McKinley students are not likely to become professional performers. “They'll be fry cooks and auto mechanics, and it’s really unfair of you to suggest anything otherwise,” she says. “Fostering unrealistic dreams in these kids will accomplish absolutely nothing but to make their lives that much more dark and depressing.” Will disagrees, and says that the arts are more important than cheerleading. This enrages Sue, but Will (of course) is oblivious, bragging that he got Finn Hudson to sign up. Um, Will? You planted drugs on Finn and then blackmailed him into joining. Don’t pat yourself too hard on the back, there. Sue gives Will an ultimatum: If he doesn’t drop the Glee Club, they will never be friends. “You do not want to make an enemy out of Sue Sylvester,” she says menacingly. Will walks away and tosses her the ball. “O Fortuna” begins playing as Sue’s face fills with rage.
In her bedroom, Rachel works out while noting that the Sun is not the biggest or brightest star in the sky, only the closest. “There are bigger, brighter, better stars,” she says, looking at a photo of Barbra Streisand. “That’s what I am. I will be the biggest star of them all.” She goes on about the wonders of MySpace and how it lets her reach a wide audience from the comfort of her home, and I’m still fairly sure MySpace was largely forgotten by 2009. Wasn’t it? She also invested all of her bat mitzvah money in the company—oh, dear. Well. Erm. Anyway, she notes the hateful feedback her singing videos have generated, but “has grown numb to the cruelty.” Still, she needs the Glee Club to reach her goals, but is afraid that with Terri “with child” (sigh), Will may quit for a better-paying job...like at Carmel, where they care about the arts. Anyway, she decides to go talk with Will’s boss about the situation.
At Sheets & Things, Terri sits on a display and explains that she can’t stock sheets due to her pregnancy. Hey, there’s Howard Bamboo (Kent Avenido), asking if she’s on bed rest. “Not officially, but I’m sure I will be soon enough,” she sighs. Howard says he’ll give up sleeping to do her job for her. Rachel comes running up and introduces herself, and Terri insists that she’s working. Heh. Rachel asks Terri to not guilt Will into becoming an accountant. ‘Here’s what I’ve learned since I left high school,” Terri says. “There’s who you are and who you think you are, and your level of personal misery is determined by how big the gap is between them.” Oh, God that’s almost exactly what I was saying earlier! I agree with Terri Schuester about something! Someone, send help! “It’s my job as a wife to help my husband see who he really is,” she continues, “rather than going after who he thinks he ought to be.” Um, okay, maybe she and I aren’t entirely on the same page, here. “But isn’t the point of life to imagine yourself doing something greater, then working hard to achieve all of your dreams?” Rachel asks. “Yes, if it’s realistic,” Terri agrees. For example, she wants to decorate her house with items from Pottery Barn, and she can’t have those things if she lets Will chase after her dreams. Okay, yep, back to being totally Anti-Terri again. That was a scary moment, there. Rachel argues that, as a teacher, Will can help students achieve their dreams, but Terri isn’t interested in anonymous kids and walks away. From the other side of a display case, Howard says that he always wanted to sing in an all-male a cappella group. “I guess my dream is dead, too,” he sighs.
At the Lima Bean, Kurt offers exposition about Finn joining the Glee Club and then returning. But Mercedes expositions that Finn is at the top of McKinley’s hierarchy, so they need him. And, she suggests, maybe he needs the Glee Club, too. “Oh, sure. The kid with the perfect life is going to hang out with the damaged goods,” Kurt snarks. “Who are you calling ‘damaged goods?’” Mercedes demands. “I’m just saying, I don’t trust him!” Kurt counters. “He’s gonna get some jocks and Cheerios to join him and then we are going to get pushed out.” Mercedes acknowledges that Finn is persuasive, noting that he got her to make their costumes. “If you need help with that, I’m more than happy to pitch in,” Kurt says, suddenly excited. “You can’t go wrong with red and denim.” Heh. Before they walk away, Mercedes asks the boy by the condiment stand to hand her some sugar. When he turns around, it’s Blaine (Darren Criss)! She and Kurt walk away, and Blaine talks with another Warbler, Joby (David Lewis) about coming out and asks when Joby will be coming out himself. Joby declares himself to be “straight as an arrow” and storms away. The camera follows him back over to Kurt and Mercedes at their table, where Kurt is complaining that the only reason Rachel wants Finn in the club is because she has a crush on him. He quickly has a war with himself in voiceover: “So do you!” “No, I don’t!” “Oh, get real, you do, too!” And I laugh out loud. Mercedes decides to call an emergency meeting to discuss letting Finn stay in the club.
At the meeting in the choir room, Kurt is listing Finn’s faults. “He wants us to do ‘Don’t Stop Believin’. Our audience is gonna think we’re doing a salute to the "Sopranos" finale.” Not wrong, there. Rachel storms in late, angry that they started without her and that an emergency meeting was called without Finn. Kurt explains that they’re having second thoughts about Finn (“Not all of us are,” Artie mutters), but Rachel insists that they can’t kick him out, especially not after she persuaded him to come back. Kurt points out that even if they do need a lead male singer, “he shouldn’t be an evil jock.” “I don’t think that Finn Hudson is evil,” Mercedes counters. “Now his girlfriend, Quinn Fabray, she’s a grade-A bitch.” Artie, for his part, reminds them that when the jocks locked him in the port-a-potty, Finn not only rescued him but wheeled him home, told his (Artie’s) mom what happened and apologized. Mercedes says that Finn has never called her fat. “That’s better than most of the jerks at this school.” Kurt begrudgingly admits that when the jocks tossed him into the dumpster, Finn let him (Kurt) take off his Marc Jacobs jacket. “He is awfully c-cute,” Tina suggests. “If we start excluding people, then we’re no different than the people who exclude us,” Rachel points out. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen with this club, but maybe it’ll be something special. Maybe it’ll be somewhere safe where we can learn from each other and be who we are, including people who are different than us. When we look back on our time here, we should be proud for what we did and who we included.” They vote on Finn, and even Kurt votes to keep their leading man in.
In Figgins’ office, Principal Principal argues that he can’t offer Will a raise to run the Glee Club. Emma points out that the school will lose all of its performing arts programs under his watch if they lose Will and the Glee Club. And while Figgins insists that he really can’t offer Will more money, he can help get Will back with the DVD of the old Glee Club’s winning performance at the 1993 National Show Choir Championship, with a “young, nubile Will Schuester.” His words, not mine. (Not that they aren’t true, of course, but it’s kind of risky to talk about a 17-year-old like that.)
In the faculty room, Will watches the video, and Emma rests her hand on his shoulder. Will looks emotional and pensive. A moment (or hours) later, walking down the hallway, Sue stops Will and congratulates him. “Terri and I are really excited,” he agrees. But that’s not what Sue meant: “Knocking somebody up isn’t difficult and hardly merits a congratulations.” Heh. No, she’s congratulating him for quitting teaching. “Teaching is for losers,” she says, and I know the show is being sarcastic, but once again, I want to throttle Sue. Anyway, offers him an abacus as a going away gift. “The Orientals say it’s better than a calculator, which is an obvious lie designed to make us feel inferior.” Oh, man, how much racism can they fit in one episode? Sheesh. “Oh, and here’s five years worth of receipts in no particular order. You’ll be happy to know that your first-ever client is way behind on her taxes and there’s an awful lot of bikini waxes in there you’re gonna have to somehow turn into charitable contributions.” Sue slaps his shoulder and walks away. In the hallway, Will hears the a cappella “Don’t Stop Believin’” that ended the pilot episode—
—And we see the scene again, with Finn (Cory Monteith) singing lead with Rachel and all of the actors six years younger and adorable and hopeful and who keeps cutting onions in here? Will watches from the door, Sue watches from the back with Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Santana (Naya Rivera). They end the song and the scene cuts to black before we see how Will rejoined the club.
Tomorrow: The end.
Episode 6.12: 2009 (Air Date: March 20, 2015)
Kent Avenido as Howard Bamboo
Jessalyn Gilsig as Terri Schuester
Jayma Mays as Emma Pillsbury
Dijon Talton as Matt Rutherford
Mike O'Malley as Burt Hummel
"Popular" by Stephen Schwartz (Chris Colfer and Lea Michele)
"I'm His Child" by Zella Jackson Price (Amber Riley with Church Choir)
"I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry (Jenna Ushkowitz)
"Pony" by Ginuwine (Kevin McHale)
"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey (New Directions)
"Disco Inferno" by The Trammps (The Singsations)