Episode 6.10: The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester (Air Date: March 6, 2015)
We open in the auditorium. “All right, let’s see what you guys have been working on,” Will (Matthew Morrison) says from his usual seat at the table in the middle of the room. And without any further preamble, Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” begins with Jane (Samantha Marie Ware), Kitty (Becca Tobin) and Madison (Laura Dreyfuss) beginning before the rest of the New New Directions joins in. In the middle of the song, though, newlyweds Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) walk in and take seats in the auditorium. Blaine looks devastated and Kurt is comforting him, and even Mason (Billy Lewis Jr.) performing some nice backflips and shoving Myron (J.J. Totah) back into place doesn’t seem to cheer our favorite Warbler up. After the song, Will thanks the kids before asking Kurt and Blaine for their thoughts, completely ignoring Blaine’s shell-shocked face and Kurt’s protective arms around him. Great observation skills there, William. Blaine finally explains: There was a fire at Dalton Academy, and the school has burned to the ground. Will looks stunned, and Kurt (quite rightly) glares at Will, presumably for his insensitivity.
Quick cut to the choir room, where Will thanks the New New Directions for gathering so quickly. The room looks pretty crowded, though, and we see that the Warblers have joined them. While the New New Directions and the Warblers were once competitors, Will announces, they are now friends and allies. The two will join forces as a Show Choir Super Group, and I want that to be the name of a new Saturday morning cartoon series. It would be awesome! Ahem. Right. Anyway, Will reminds the New New Directions that they need the Warblers to fill out their numbers as much as the Warblers need a place to practice.
Kitty notes that Rachel isn’t in the room, and Will expositions that she is in New York “on business” (would that be the business we call show?), but will be back soon and is “totally on-board with this plan.” The kids all cheer...except for Jane, who looks confused and pissed. After all that, she’s singing with the Warblers. Blaine comes over to thank Will with the most rehearsed speech ever: “It is in times like these that we can find comfort in the kindness of our friends.” I’m pretty sure I read that on a 99-cent Hallmark card once. C’mon, episode writer Jessica Meyer, you can do better! Anyway, Will says that the Warblers’ “passion for show choir” (is that a thing?) is stronger than ever, and they’ll need that strength and commitment to win the upcoming competitions.
Everyone claps—including Sue (Jane Lynch), who walks in applauding sarcastically, announcing that she was drawn in by the “aroma of overly dry-cleaned polyester uniforms.” Heh. “The Glee Club is hosting the Lima Gay Men’s Chorus!” she says happily, looking around. Mmm, she’s not entirely wrong there, but the Warblers don’t find it funny. Blaine informs the principal of the merger...and, wait, is it just the choir that will be practicing together, or will all Dalton students start attending McKinley, or…? Now I’m confused. Anyway, Sue rejects the idea outright and tells the Warblers to get their “freshly scrubbed cherubic faces” out of her school. Will informs her that the superintendent has already cleared the merger, and Sue is pissed, vowing that she will get it un-cleared with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who she recently met at a turtle hunt on the Cayman Islands. The two begin yelling alternate orders at the Warblers: “Leave!” “Stay!” And since Sue is principal and Will is...a volunteer who’s allowed in the building by her good graces, I’d say her orders carry more weight. Kitty mutters that they won’t be rehearsing today, because nothing gets past Kitty. Sue begins her threats again, but Will is unfazed. “Bring it, Suzy-Q,” he growls, which makes her even angrier, so Will keeps repeating the nickname in a whisper like he’s some second-grade bully. Sigh. “What’s the 'Q' stand for?” Sue finally asks, and Will makes a biting move toward her that would absolutely be considered a physical threat in any circle. Another quick cut to Sue’s office, where Becky (Lauren Potter) is screaming right into the camera. “You monster, coach!” She wants the Warblers to join the New New Directions and is mad at Sue’s refusal. Becky is screaming so loudly that she’s nearly incoherent, but Darrell (Justin Prentice) translates. (Nice to see that relationship is still going strong.) Sue says that Senator Orrin Hatch backs her up: “The Utah republican agrees with me that the Glee Club is stupid and the notion that two rival show choirs would suddenly just join forces out of nowhere is both morally repugnant and convenient.” Becky keeps screaming, but Sue warns her to not to stand in her (Sue’s) way, “lest I brand you a traitor.” “I’ve performed unspeakable acts of loyalty for you,” Becky wails, listing shoplifting and perjury among her sins—but refusing aid to kids from a burned-down school is her “moral limit." Becky has a moral limit? Who knew? “You’re evil, Sue Sylvester, and you’re not my friend anymore!” Sigh. So Becky was perfectly cool with kidnapping and brainwashing, but insisting that students find other schools to attend is suddenly wrong? I give up. Becky runs away weeping, and Sue blames Darrell for turning Becky to the kinder, gentler side of life. “She turned on you all by herself,” Darrell replies, and Sue knocks the pages he was holding out of his hand. He walks away, and Sue is left alone, looking both angry and a wee bit concerned. Foreshadowing, maybe?
In New York, Rachel (Lea Michele) is walking the halls of NYADA, where she hasn’t been for a year. Looking at the current students (yes, unlike McKinley, NYADA still has current students, not just alumni who hang around because they don’t have anything better to do), she voiceovers that she used to be just like them: naive and eager. Used to be, Rachel? Anyway, she has “been through the fire” (a Broadway and Hollywood career that she sabotaged herself) and is on her way back, and is looking for a second chance at NYADA. She sits outside of an office door, and we all recognize the name: Carmen Tibideaux. “She might laugh in my face and I don’t even care, ‘cause I know one thing for sure,” she continues in voiceover, then says out loud: “I can do this.” An assistant opens the door and says that Madame Tibideaux will see Rachel, but that the aspiring student shouldn’t get her hopes up: “She’s been looking forward to this.” Oh, dear. Rachel bites her lip. How very Anastasia Steele of you, Rachel.
In another office, Sue, wearing some light makeup (and one of her medals as a necklace), applies lipstick and is welcomed in to meet the superintendent—but Will has beaten her to the punch and is already sitting with Mr. Harris (Christopher Cousins). “Butt Chin!” she gasps, then corrects herself. “William! What are you doing here?” Harris invites her to sit, and he does not look friendly. He encourages her to take the meeting seriously, and says that Will is not only here as a witness, but as an “aggrieved party.” Uh-oh. Are the chickens coming home to roost? Looking very upset, Superintendent Harris says that he has seen Sue’s hurt locker. Gasp! We get a quick flashback to his horrified expression as he looks over her corkboard of revenge fantasies. Even worse, he saw a voodoo doll Sue made of Harris’ nephew, Myron. GASP! “He’s just an innocent bystander!” he says to an as-yet-unseen companion. And even worse than that, he sees her Klaine shrine. “I am all for young love, but this is wrong, right?” he asks. Yes, Bob. Yes, it is. “I could have overlooked oh-so-many things, but what I saw next left me no other choice.” In a flashback, someone tosses a polybagged copy of Penthouse to the superintendent, who opens the centerfold and gasps, recognizing the McKinley High principal as the model. GASP!! In the present, said principal looks terrified and very uncomfortable. “I don’t see how my personal forms of recreation have negatively impacted my job performance,” she chokes out. “I inspire people by stoking my own...embers, if you will.” Oh, he will. “And I stand by, and am very proud, of what good I have done for this school.” But after seeing her magazine, Harris is standing...um, firm. “I cannot allow you near the students of McKinley or any other young people anywhere ever. It is with profound regret that I terminate your employment.” Sue stares, stunned, and hesitantly asks him to clarify what he just said. “You’re fired.” GASP!!
Back from commercial: “Hello, America, I’m Geraldo Rivera.” Well, hello to you, too, Geraldo. How’s spending Al Capone’s buried treasure going for you? Oh, wait… Anyway, the Fox News icon introduces Sue as an “American Treasure,” and while I agree with the description for Jane Lynch, I can’t see the that title applying to Sue. Anyway, he expositions that following a trophy-filled career, the former coach and principal is now being battered by the “loser stick.” Sue, in turn, expos that she has lost her job, her money and her legacy. “Today, I intend to set the record straight,” she continues. But Geraldo points out that when his fact-checkers looked over the list of Sue’s accomplishments, they found that many were fabricated. Wait, Geraldo has fact-checkers? Does Fox News even allow that? “We found that you were not born in the Panama Canal Zone, you did not fight in the Falklands War, you did not play any role in extracting the dictator Noriega, nor is there any evidence whatsoever that you were ever waterboarded.” Woah. That makes Sue’s very first line in the series a total lie. I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. But Sue has an explanation for that: “I waterboarded myself.” ...That is actually more believable than anything else Sue has done over the last six years. Geraldo continues. “You did not direct the TV movie ‘The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders,’ you don’t have Trinidadian roots, nor were you ever—even for the shortest time—the tambourine player for Wilson Phillips!” Carnie Wilson, in a quick video clip, reminds us that she, in fact, played tambourine for Wilson Phillips. Ha! Sue tries to defend herself, but Geraldo keeps going, noting that the former coach has claimed romantic involvements with Dan Quayle, Stephen Baldwin, Matt Lauer, Johnny Cochran, David Boreanaz and the drummer from Jimmy Eat World, all of whom have denied the relationships. (To paraphrase the late Mandy Rice-Davies, “Well, they would, wouldn’t they?”) Sue claims that she has, in fact, dated all the members of Jimmy Eat World, but Geraldo asks her point blank if she is a compulsive liar. Before she can answer, he offers a video clip of Michael Bolton denying paternity of Sue’s child and denying that he’s even met her. “I honestly think she has some sort of mental illness,” Bolton says, because he has eyes and ears that work. Sue admits that she can’t prove that Bolton is not the father of her child (never heard of DNA, Sue?), but Geraldo brings up another one of her alleged lovers before she can say any more. And hey, it’s Rod Remington (Bill A. Jones)! Nice to see you again, Rod. “I don’t blame Sue for falling head-over-heels for me,” the anchor says. “I mean, she’s got eyes.” Sue makes a face at that. “But she mistook a little grab-ass in a condo for true love.” Rod’s wife, Andrea Carmichael (Earlene Davis) yells that Sue is crazy (calling her some choice names from behind the anchor desk, which is just fantastic). “She had me kidnapped! And then she signed me up for these dating sites: Farmers Only. BlackPeopleMeet.com. And the only thing she put in my profile was that my boobs are like elephant ears.” So with all that said, Geraldo asks Sue if she has a history of “profound mental illness.” Sue declares that her history is of total dedication to the students of McKinley High...you know, those students who she regularly hit and shoved into lockers. “You know, when I graduated from the Sorbonne, I was recruited by every one of Wall Street’s top investment banks. Haliburton wanted me for their COO! One time, a very drunk Boris Yeltsin called to tell me that if I wanted Russia, he would just give it to me! I could’ve had wealth and power beyond my wildest dreams! But instead, I chose a career filled with service and sacrifice in order to nurture and enrich the delicate minds of America’s children.” These kids, she continues, are her number-one priority, but Geraldo doesn’t buy it. In fact, he visited McKinley himself to ask the students about Sue’s reputation. In a video montage we get some statements from students.
Artie (Kevin McHale): “She slashed the tires on my wheelchair 17 times.”
Mercedes (Amber Riley): “She swapped out my weave glue with mayonnaise.” Kurt: “She made a fake elevator which she trapped us in and then pumped airborne drugs through the vents and built a small robot that forced us to kiss while it watched and made noises.”
Blaine: “She put a live bear in my house.” (That’s technically true, Blaine, but you brought a live bear home well before that. Heyo!)
Rachel: “Sue Sylvester came all the way to New York City to see me in my opening night on Broadway—Funny Girl—just so that she could walk out halfway through and have sex all over my apartment!”
Joe Hart (Samuel Larsen—looking much less scruffy than when we last saw him): “She cut my dreads off.”
So why does Sue hate Glee Club so much, Geraldo asks? Artie expos that she’s “had it out” for the Glee Club since the
“very beginning,” noting that the Old New Directions threatened Sue’s place in the school hierarchy. That pushes Sue over the edge, and she gets to her feet, roaring that this interview is “an outrage” and “slander” (not a scandal and an outrage? C’mon, you could have gotten one easy Broadway joke in this scene, Meyer!). She claims that Will has orchestrated these lies, but Geraldo reveals that Sue's Judas was, in fact, Becky. The video switches to a soft-focus montage of Becky at her sweetest, and Darrell reminds us of some of Sue’s more unbelievable actions (the convict secretary, the violence, etc.) Becky explains that while she supported Sue unconditionally, not allowing the Warblers to join the Glee Club drove her to “blow the whistle” on her former coach. “I am so much happier now that I am free from Sue,” Becky continues. “And all those Cheerios out there—quit being such basic bitches! Don’t let Sue Sylvester control you! You deserve better.” Sue, for her part, sinks back and looks just crushed as she watches the video, and it’s a testament to Lynch’s skill as an actress that I actually feel some sympathy for the character. However unevenly Sue was written by the different members of the script team, Lynch has always thrown herself into the role 110 percent, and she deserves nothing but praise for her performance over the years.
We’re back from commercial, but the Geraldo broadcast isn’t. Makeup people are dabbing away Sue’s tears until she shoves them off, and Geraldo apologizes that the show isn’t going the way she planned. Sue asks if they’re rolling, and Geraldo makes a gesture as he assures her that they’re still on commercial. Gee, think the Fox News darling is lying? That’d be a first. Anyway, Sue declares that the foundations of her entire life have been destroyed. She wanted to be a champion and inspire others to the same greatness, and to succeed by watching her cheerleading students succeed. “It’s a tough world out there, Geraldo,” she says quietly. “I wanted them to be tougher.” She notes that some of her Cheerios have been very successful, like Quinn Fabray who is currently at Yale, or Brittany at MIT. “Santana Lopez was a Broadway understudy and now could have a very promising career as a high-class prostitute.” Mm, I doubt that. High-class prostitutes generally have to know lots about wine and haute cuisine and classical music and other snobby things in order to impress their clients. But never mind. Geraldo turns to a camera and says that his team reached out to all three members of the Unholy Trinity, but none of them would comment. Sue finally realizes that the cameras have been rolling this whole time. “I lied,” Geraldo laughs. “We didn’t go to commercial.” Sue calls this a character assassination and that the interview is not worthy of the name “Fox News.” That’s true, Sue. This segment involved actual research and fact-checking, which is certainly not in the Fox News ethos. Sue begins listing Geraldo’s own memorable moments, including his shirtless selfies, getting chaired in the face by a white supremacist and “not finding anything whatsoever in Al Capone’s vault!” Geraldo just smiles through this.
Sue continues that McKinley High was “a cesspool of hate” before she took the reins, but her “tough love” turned the place into a bully-free zone. Geraldo agrees with this last point, at least, and runs a video clip of someone who credits Sue with some measure of kindness, even though this person has requested anonymity and the voice has been altered. But when the clip runs, Sue’s defender is clearly Sheldon Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones), who recalls his abusive marriage and Sue’s support in leaving his husband. Beiste also acknowledges Sue’s support during his transition from female to male identity. Beiste asks why the lights are off, and denies trying to hide his identity. The lights snap on, but the distorted voice continues as he declares that he is “proud to stand up for Sue Sylvester.” Sue’s face fills with gratitude as she watches, and then turns to Geraldo with a little smirk. Uh-oh. “I am as I am,” she declares, but does not launch into a Jerry Herman song, much to our regret. “I refuse to apologize to you or anyone else.” Maybe the people you hit and kidnapped and screwed over, Sue? Just a thought. She acknowledges being tough, but says that’s how she was raised: “As you may or may not know, my parents were Nazi hunters!” But this, Geraldo says, is also a lie, and we get a clip of him walking with Doris Sylvester (Carol Burnett, always a welcome presence in any show), who denies that they were Nazi hunters. “Her father and I just told her that so it would give us a good excuse not to be around her.” Sue looks stunned as she watches. “Little Susan was a biter,” Doris continues. “She was nasty from the day she was born. She even bit my lip on her way out. It was weird. What kind a newborn has a full set of teeth?” Heh. “From the minute I laid eyes on her, I knew that Susan would always be the daughter that I just couldn’t love.” Wow. Ouch. That’s going to the dark place, even for this show. And Sue clearly agrees me, judging by her stricken face.
Geraldo repeats those last words several times, acknowledging that it must be hard for Sue to hear. Sue, for her part, gets to her feet—and promptly slugs Geraldo across the face, knocking him to the floor. (And probably knocking a few teeth from his jaw in the process.) Violence is wrong, of course, but in a fictional context...man, watching Geraldo take one on the chin is kind of awesome. Sue removes her microphone and storms out, kicking Geraldo in the process. With a bloody nose and broken glasses, Geraldo gets back in his seat and addresses the camera. “So who is Sue Sylvester really? Is she a lying, vindictive psychopath?” Um, yes. “Is she a career criminal who has endangered the lives of countless children and actually deserves to be behind bars?” Again, yes. “For the final word, let’s go to one of Sue’s coworkers and show choir director William Schuester.” We get a final video clip as Geraldo tries to stop his nose from bleeding all over his expensive suit. Will says that Sue has made his life miserable for as long as he can remember, and I didn’t know that they were infants together, but whatever. “But that’s because she’s a fighter, and someone who refuses to betray her own values,” he continues, and that would all be fine if her values didn’t include kidnapping, brainwashing and violence. Anyway, Will continues that Sue’s “cutthroat spirit” keeps the McKinley team on its collective toes, and makes them work harder and be better. She’s not a nice person, he continues, but she’s an outstanding teacher, which is an out-and-out lie because we’ve seen how she physically abuses her students. “McKinley High is a worse place without her,” he adds. “She deserves a second chance, and that’s exactly what I told the superintendent. I’m going to bat for you, Sue!” Great, Will. When she finally gets a student killed, can we thank you for saving her job? Whatever. Next scene!
In the McKinley auditorium, the band is playing some dark, dramatic music as Sue rests her head on a grand piano. Doris walks in, and Sue dismisses the band, thanking them for providing the soundtrack for her melancholia. (Heh.) Mother and daughter greet each other coolly, and Doris admits that she and her husband were working for the accounts receivable department at Ma Bell rather than chasing Nazis. “You never loved me,” Sue says, and Lynch manages to make the line heartbreaking rather than whiny. “I never really told you that I did love you,” Doris argues. But Sue has spent the last several days attending Oprah’s “The Life You Want” weekend, and now believes that relationships are a two-way street. “I realize I wasn’t the easiest kid,” she sighs. “My earliest memories are of trying to light you on fire. I want to apologize for all the booby traps. And the biting.” Doris says that she had Sue’s father really did love their daughter. “We just had an odd way of showing it, that’s all,” she says. She and her daughter were just different and didn’t share any interests, and when Doris tried to bond with her child over classic movie musicals, Sue would start biting and trying to set her mom on fire, so they had to leave.
Sue repeats the age-old arguments against the fantasy world of musicals: “How do people just burst into song? How does everybody just magically know the lyrics?” Changing the subject, Doris apologies for the lies and deceit and for missing out on her child’s life. Sue asks if her parents were ever in love, and Doris says that it was love at first sight...when they met on a trolley. “And you would like to sing about it, wouldn’t you?” Sue asks. Doris most certainly would. Sue offers to sing with her. “But you hate musicals!” Doris says. “But I love the sound of my own voice!” Sue counters, and having heard her in Annie, I love the sound of her voice, too. Sue calls the “band nerds” in: “Trolley Song, A-flat!” They launch into the Meet Me in St. Louis number with full lights and choreography and harmony and it’s just adorable. After the song, Sue suggests they make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. Doris promises. Heh. Faculty Room! Sam (Chord Overstreet) brings us up to date on Rachel’s storyline: Carmen Tibideaux ordered Rachel out of her NYADA office, but Rachel is still optimistic. Sam, Blaine and Mercedes, however, are a bit more realistic (even though Sam believes that NYADA is a school for witches, because the name is so much like Hogwarts.) Blaine reminds everyone that he got kicked out of the school, too. “Carmen cut me herself."
Sam: “Like, with a knife because she wanted your blood for potions?"
Blaine: “No, because she’s not a witch."
Rachel, however, thinks that she still has a chance, and can picture herself back at NYADA, “back on track before my life got completely derailed.” Nice use of passive voice to absolve yourself of responsibility, Rachel. Didn’t everyone tell you to stay in school? Didn’t everyone tell you to stay in New York? And didn’t you choose to ignore them? Your life didn’t get derailed by some random quirk of fate. You derailed it. Big difference. Anyway. Rachel is going to write to Mme. Tibideaux and enclose her theater reviews (the good and the bad) as well as Glee Club reviews (what reviews?) and she intends to get back in. Mercedes, who was coaching Rachel and encouraging her to return to New York a few weeks ago, tries to reason with the girl but Rachel gets a call from a New York number and runs out to take it. Alone, Blaine looks through Rachel’s papers and sees that her reviews for the Glee Club are posts from Jacob Ben Israel’s blog. (Ha!) Sam suggests they just support her, and Rachel returns: The call was from the Russell Simmons musical that Rachel, at Mercedes’ insistence, auditioned for a few weeks ago. “I totally forgot about it,” she says, because everyone forgets taking a nine-hour bus ride from Lima, Ohio to New York City, auditioning in a Broadway theater for the first time since a humiliating career implosion and then a nine-hour bus ride back to Ohio. Who can remember little things like that? Anyway, she got the role (no callbacks?) and is expected to begin rehearsals in a few weeks. Mercedes hugs her, but Sam is more concerned with Rachel’s education. Rachel, of course, has changed her tune and no longer feels the need to go back to school. She runs out of the room to tell Kurt and her friends all look worried.
Auditorium! Will is teaching the New New Directions and the Warblers some choreography. The Warblers nail it on first try, but the New New Directions are slower to learn. Jane, dressed in an informal copy of a Dalton Academy uniform (black skirt and blazer, red turtleneck, fierce all the way, glares as the Head Warbler (Myko Olivier) rips on them, but Will encourages camaraderie and teamship. Kurt hurries onto the stage, acknowledging a “disconnect” between the former rivals, and the conversation descends into an argument about the merits of uniforms. The Dalton uniform, Head Warbler reminds the McKinley students, elevates anyone who wears it to sex-symbol status, and the boys all strike an awesome pose and snap their fingers in unison. Well-done, show. You made me laugh out loud. “I’ll take one!” Myron peeps. “Women love these!” another Warbler declares. Kitty, in a cheerleading uniform of her own, casts some shade with a single elevated eyebrow. “Do they?” she asks sweetly. Will declares that now that the Dalton students are attending a new school, they need to lose the blazers. Head Warbler acknowledges the generosity of the McKinley kids, but reminds them that his friends loved their school as much as the New Directions kids love McKinley. “And then we watched it burn to the ground!” one Dalton kid wails. “These jackets aren’t just uniforms,” Head Warbler Who Doesn’t Get a Name continues. “They’re a tribute.” But Beiste enters to announce that the joined teams have bigger issues than their uniforms: Sue is the new coach of Vocal Adrenaline. Dramatic chord!
Over at Carmel High, Clint (Max George) sums up the situation: “You get fired from your old job, and despite hating show choir and never having coached it before, you’re our new coach?” You forgot the part where Sue got your principal’s twin brother demoted to janitor, Clint. But beyond that, yeah. Sue corrects him, however: She may be their new coach if she deems them worthy of crushing the New New Directions. They will only prove themselves worthy, meanwhile, by surviving the Barf-tron 200: “A single consecutive five-hour workout routine designed to invoke maximum nausea.” The workout will be set to Frank Stallone’s “Far from Over” she continues, made famous by John Travolta in Staying Alive—“The best sequel of all time!” I dunno, Sue, have you seen Grease 2? Anyway, the kids launch into a cheesy 80s-esque workout montage as Sue hurls abuse at them. Way to redeem your tarnished reputation, Sue. Interspersed with the dancing, we see Sue burning pom-poms and her trophies. She cannot bring herself, however, to burn a knit Cheerio doll that Becky gave her several seasons ago. Aww. The song ends, and Sue tells her students to take a break before they start over again. Clint, who may well get his name in all upper-case letters again, speaks on behalf of the team and tells Sue they’d be honored to have her as their coach.
Back at the McKinley choir room, Rachel is in crisis mode, still stressing about what the united choir will wear. Sam, however, is more concerned about Rachel completing her education, but Rachel has pulled a 180 in just a few hours and now believes that trying to go back to college is pathetic. Her phone rings, and we get a long silence as she listens to the other end of the conversation. Her face crumbles, and as she tries to say something, we hear the beep of a disconnected line. The call was from Carmen Tibideaux, and Rachel has her place back at NYADA if she wants it. Sam is elated, but Rachel is determined to return to New York as a winner, not with her tail between her legs. All of her other friends are happy for her, she continues, and Sam’s opinion matters the most. Why can’t he support her, too? “I’m telling you the truth,” he replies, “not what you want to hear.” Sounds like a damn good friend to me. Rachel argues that a Broadway career is what she wanted, but Sam reminds her that she also wanted a second chance to make things right. “Carmen just gave that to you.” If she throws her education away again, she’ll be making the same mistake twice. “Me going back to my life and who I was is not a mistake,” she counters angrily as she walks out. Um, Rachel, your previous life and who you were got you kicked out of both New York and Hollywood, so I wouldn’t be too eager to repeat that journey were I you.
In the hallway, Sam and Will do a walk-and-talk shot as Sam (who skipped college to become a model and then a football coach) rants about the need for a college education. “I don’t want Rachel to make my mistakes!” he wails. They are interrupted by an organ playing Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” and hurry into the auditorium to see Sue at the keyboard. Sam runs away in terror, but Will confronts his nemesis. “I’m making a statement!” the former principal declares. “You’ve crossed me for the last time, William Schuester!” “Do you have any idea how many times you’ve said that?” he deadpans. “And it still feels good!” she counters. Once again, for the millionth time, she vows to destroy both Will and the Glee Club once and for all. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sigh. Will reminds her that only two interviewees stood up for Sue, and she steps away from the organ so that Brad Ellis the Genius Pianist can take over. The song’s intro resumes, and Will laughs. “Don’t even think you can out-Europe me, Sue!” he says, and since he’s playing a Scotsman in Finding Neverland, he probably does have the upper hand on her here. Anyway, he claims to have seen the band perform in 1993, and we cut to Will and Sue in full early-90s wigs and costumes and eyeliner as they perform the song like they’re on an arena tour. (And it looks like a bewigged Brad is still on keyboards, which is awesome.) They grab guitars and riff with tongues wagging and steam erupting from the stage—and we cut to the Old and New New Directions walking into the auditorium to see Will, Sue and Brad alone on an ordinary stage, playing air guitar (and a real organ, in Brad’s case) and jumping around, looking hilariously silly. “They’ve gone crazy,” Rachel whispers to Kurt. “We can’t let this happen to us,” he replies. In the fantasy, Will and Sue smash their guitars. In reality, they mime the same. The song ends, the fantasy fades, Sue storms out and Will finally realizes that his students have been watching him for the past five minutes. The look on his face is priceless. Kurt just shakes his head. Commercial!
Okay, final scene. Will is humiliated, but promises Blaine that they’ll beat Sue at Sectionals—but Rachel walks in and says that Sue is the least of their problems: Myron told her that Superintendent Harris told him that if the New New Directions don’t win at Sectionals, all arts funding for McKinley is off, even though Rachel is paying for the club out of her own pocket. It’s not just about money, but allocation of resources, Harris explains, and the choir room should go back to being a computer lab. (So...Sue was right all along?) Will reminds his coaches that they’ve survived greater challenges than this, and Kurt declares that they’ll fight this like they fight everything else. “We never give up, and we never will.” Rachel laments the costume/uniform dilemma, and Blaine announces that that problem is solved.
Quick cut to the auditorium, where the New New Directions enter from one side and the Warblers from another. They are all wearing black pants, white button-down shirts and plaid ties, and a song we haven’t heard before begins to play. It’s called “Rise,” and it was written by none other than that future Hedwig, Darren Criss himself. As the united choir sings, Blaine wheels out a rack of bright red blazers that the students put on during an instrumental break in the number. Fully dressed, they continue the song:
“Baby, we will rise! We are young! We are the dreamers we will fly!
When the world will not believe us,
We will rise above the ashes
Before this whole life passes us by--
You and I, we will rise!”
Watching the kids from the audience, Blaine, Kurt and Rachel embrace.
Next week: “We Built This Glee Club”
“The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester” Air Date: March 6, 2015.
Michael Bolton as Himself
Carol Burnett as Doris Sylvester
Bill A. Jones as Rod Remington
Justin Prentice as Darrell
Geraldo Rivera as Himself
Carnie Wilson as Herself
Brad Ellis as Brad the Genius Pianist
"Rather Be" by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne (New Directions)
"The Trolley Song" by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane (Carol Burnett and Jane Lynch)
"Far From Over" by Frank Stallone (Vocal Adrenaline)
"The Final Countdown" by Europe (Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison)
"Rise" by "Glee" (New Directions)