Episode 6.3: "Jagged Little Tapestry"
Kurt (Chris Colfer) rummages through a sheet music store (...in Lima, Ohio? Okay...) and grumbles about the store's lack of songs from "Smash." Ah, we've all been there, Kurt. Blaine (Darren Criss) and Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) are there as well, and Dave quips that it's like "pulling teeth" to get Blaine "Off-Broadway" when choosing songs for the Warblers. "Or Off Off-Broadway!" Ah, we've all been there, Dave. It's awkward and sad and (not at all symbolically) Blaine and Dave move on while Kurt stands still and watches them walk away together. He begins singing Carole King's "It's Too Late" (is this a Beautiful shout out? I'm gonna say "yes," because otherwise this is two episodes in a row without any showtunes), and Blaine joins in. The two look at each other from across the room and the scene dissolves into a flashback from their time together at Dalton, and wow, I'm not sure if it's makeup or CGI or what, but put Chris Colfer back in that uniform and he totally looks 17 again. In split screens, they go back to their choir rooms, sit at pianos, and sing the last lines of the song, looking wistful.
The next morning, Kurt tells Rachel (Lea Michele) about the run-in with Blaine. "I spent the rest of the night having a fantasy about singing 'It's Too Late' all over town," he grumbles. Oh, show, you're so cute when you're meta. Since Will is no longer there to dream up the Theme of the Week, Kurt suggests they use Carole King's album "Tapestry" as the week's lesson. Rachel suggests Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" instead, and just like that, we have our episode title. Kurt argues that many of the students probably don't even know what "Tapestry" is, "and that's just wrong." Hear, hear. While Will was obsessed with rap and Journey (there you go with that meta thing again, show—you're so cute!), he educated them about a wide range of music styles, Kurt continues, and it's their job as coaches to educate the kids as well as win competitions. As a compromise, they'll do a mash-up week teaching the New New Directions about both albums.
The McKinley locker room. Sam (Chord Overstreet) is ironing jockstraps (...is that a thing athletes do with their jockstraps?) as Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) walks in complaining about some gastrointestinal problems. (Because that's how everyone begins conversations.) They chat about sports-related sportsiness and how Sam may take over for Beiste when she retires. When Sam asks if Beiste is feeling okay, however, she explodes that people should mind their own business, before (more quietly) saying that she may need to have her knee replaced again and will likely be out for a few weeks. Spencer (Marshall Williams) interrupts to ask if he can be made quarterback (and Williams' Canadian accent is adorably strong when he says "about"), and Beiste begins yelling again. Spencer looks irked. Choir room! Old and New New Directions are gathered together again for their first rehearsal. The alums have, apparently, decided to stay an extra week because none of them have colleges or lives they need to get back to, but Brittany (Heather Morris) explains that she makes it possible because she can bend time and space with her mind. I don't doubt it at all, Brit-Brit. For those of us who have never seen an episode before, Rachel explains the show's tradition of focusing on a theme this week that explores "every musical genre under the sun." "But mostly Katy Perry and showtunes," Quinn (Dianna Agron) quips, and shut your mouth, Quinn, 'cause there isn't a single Katy Perry song or showtune in this entire episode. "Not this week!" Kurt says, reading my mind, and Rachel interrupts him to reveal this week's theme and title: Jagged Little Tapestry. (Kurt looks a bit miffed at being upstaged.) "Oh, look, some songs about Rachel's hair extensions," Santana (Naya Rivera) mutters to Brittany. Alternating lines, Kurt and Rachel explain the significance of "Jagged Little Pill" and "Tapestry," and it's cute and awkward, but mostly awkward. The students and alums choose teams—Alanis or Carole—and Jane (Samantha Marie Ware) asks what, exactly, they are expected to do. "Just sit and smile like I did for three years," Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) suggests. Rachel tells them to pick singing partners from opposing teams to create mashups, but she and Kurt dissolve into a whispered argument and Santana and Brittany volunteer to go first.
In the Alumni Hallway (since no current students seem to be walking there), Tina and Quinn bicker about Brown University's credentials and are accosted by Becky (Lauren Potter), who is back from college (like everyone else) and distressed that her new boyfriend will find out that she wasn't, as she told him, president of every club in high school. (We get a quick cutaway to her fantasy of participating in several clubs, including the CPR Society of America, the McKinley Artificial Intelligence Bureau and the Junior Astronauts of Ohio, and it's adorable.) "That's an insane web of lies," Quinn says, not unkindly. "I know, whore," Becky snaps, very unkindly, and then confesses that she told her boyfriend that she was in Glee Club since he was in his own school's Club. She wants to impress him with her singing when he arrives tomorrow, and asks for the girls' help. (Maybe you shouldn't have called Quinn a whore if you wanted her help, Becky?) But Quinn is magnanimous and promises to help Becky out. "Thanks, Kitty," Becky says. Heh.
"I am pretty sure that our fish ancestors crawled out of the ooze and got legs just to be able to scissor," Santana says as she cuddles in bed with Brittany, and wow, once again, Fox Network—I'm impressed you went there. "Actually, scissoring was invented by the ancient Egyptians, which is weird because actual scissors weren't invented for many centuries after that," Brittany replies—and while I'm not sure if I prefer Smart Brittany to Dumb Brittany, Heather Morris' delivery is always spot-on and hilarious, so I'll just sit here and smile as Tina suggested. Over champagne, they debate what songs to sing for their mashup. Santana wants to sing "I Feel the Earth Move" and "Hand in my Pocket" and Brittany just wants to sing "You Oughta Know." Santana explains that a mashup needs to involve two songs, but Brittany refuses to be restrained by the laws of man and insists on thinking outside of the box. Still, she acquiesces to Santana's "giant, generous heart," and Santana suggests that they move to New York together. "My life with you is one of the few things that's actually as good in real life as it is in my imagination," she says. "You make me so happy." "And I'm never going to stop doing just that," Brittany replies. "As a math genius, I am one of the few people who understands the concept of infinity, and I will love you until infinity, Santana Lopez." Aww! Someone's chopping onions in here. Excuse me. **sniff**
drying my eyes
commercial! Becky is lamenting her deceitful relationship to Sue (Jane Lynch), but Sue assures her that all healthy relationships are based on lies. Becky gets a text and begins screaming that her boyfriend has arrived. Quick cut to Sue's murderous glare as the boyfriend looks at Becky's photoshopped pictures of her high school career, and she (Sue) demands to know what the boy's "intentions" are with Becky. We finally see what has Sue so angry: The boyfriend, Darrell (Justin Prentice) does not have Down's Syndrome as she (and, probably, much of the audience) had assumed. Darrell goes to bring a car around to take Becky to lunch, and Becky squeals with joy as he leaves. Sue just glares.
Choir room. Brittany and Santana sing their mashup, and maybe it's the autotuning (maybe?) but their voices are barely distinguishable from one another. It's a weird effect, in spite of how much fun the combined songs are together. When the mashup is done, Santana asks Brittany to sit and says that she wants to "mash-up" with her forever. "Some people love someone because they make them a better person. But that's not why I love you, because you've always just wanted me to be myself." Aww again! One of the band members (not Brad Davis—where is he?!) delivers a small jewelry box, and Santana gets down on one knee. "Brittany S. Pierce, will you marry me?" she asks. Brittany gasps. "Wait, what's happening?" Roderick (Noah Guthrie) asks. "This kind of thing happens in here all the time." Puck (Mark Salling) advises. "Just go with it." Brittany accepts, everyone applauds, and Kurt rises to speak now or forever hold his peace: "We're too young to get married! All of us!" he says. But even Tina defends the engagement. Santana glares at her former roommate as the students and alums surround the couple in a group hug.
Back to Sue's office. Spencer is ratting out Coach Beiste's "weird" behavior to the principal, noting that Sam has been running practices due to Coach's absences and that Beiste has been yelling "aboot" random things (and there's that adorable Canadian accent again!). "I can't fire someone for yelling," Sue says. "I'm teaching a class in pedagogical screaming over at the community college. I'd look like a hypocrite!" But Spencer has saved the best for last: He hid in a laundry basket in the locker room (shout out to Annie?) while Beiste was changing out of her work clothes and saw the coach taking numerous pills. Sue praises his snooping skills ("It's like you're Batman, only gay," she says, then reconsiders. "I guess it's like you're Batman.") Spencer protests (too much) that he doesn't want Beiste fired, but he thinks Sam would make a great coach and could lead the team to another championship. That piques Sue's interest.
In the hallway (with nary a current student in sight), Kurt argues with Rachel about Santana and Brittany's engagement. Speaking of Satan herself, here's Santana, who, at first, claims to agree that Kurt and Blaine broke up because they were too young to be engaged. And then she launches into a tirade so awesome it must be reproduced in full: "Maybe it didn't work out because you're a judgmental little gerontophile with a mouth like a cat's ass. Maybe Blaine got tired of hearing a shrill, self-aggrandizing lecture about how you felt the two of you were at the very apex of the gay rights movement every time you so much as cooked macaroni and cheese together or farted. Maybe Blaine didn't want to be with someone who looks like they just removed their top row of dentures every time they smile or someone who doesn't dress like an extra out of one of Andy Dick's more elaborate wet dreams. Maybe Blaine grew weary of dating a breathier, more feminine Quinn Fabray. Maybe he finally got freaked out by your strange obsession with old people that causes you to skulk around nursing homes like one of those cats that can smell cancer. Maybe he got tired of watching you drape yourself on every piano you happen pass to entertain exactly no one with some song that Judy Garland choked on her tongue in the middle or some sassy old Broadway standard made famous by another dead, alcoholic crone. Maybe Blaine woke up one day and said 'You know what, I don't want to marry a sexless, self-centered baton twirler. Maybe I need someone who knows more than three dance moves: the finger wag, the shoulder shimmy and the one where you pretend to twirl two invisible, rainbow-colored ribbons attached to your hips.' So maybe that's why it didn't work out. Maybe it has nothing to do with me and Brittany. Maybe it's just that you are utterly, utterly intolerable. Maybe that has something to do with it." With that, she stalks off, walking under an electric sign that reads, "Get Your Crap Together." And, scene.
Tina and Quinn teach Becky some basic dance moves, but after 10 minutes, Becky is off to get ready for her dinner date with Darrell, who arrives just as Becky insults Tina about her weight. (Not sure if it's Becky or the writers being bitchy, but either way—that bit could have been cut. This show has had episodes about body image before, and if people are going to rip on La Ushkowitz for not being a Size 00, I'm gonna call hypocrisy.) "I'm morally outraged," Quinn says. "Thank you," Tina agrees. "I gained five pounds, max!" But Quinn is referring to Darrell, of course, so off they go to Sue's office.
In the auditorium, Brittany is filling a large plastic heart with mini-Mounds bars ("The lesbians of candy," she says) as a gift to Santana. Kurt, who is helping her, apologies for his negativity and acknowledges that he's gotten bitter since his breakup. "You remind me of Blaine and me," he tells her. "Except that Santana and I are still together!" she cheerfully agrees. Kurt says he wants to think that he and Blaine are on a hiatus. "And I'd like to think that Lord Tubbington isn't secretly videotaping me in the shower and selling it on Craigslist," Brit-Brit replies. "Doesn't make it true." She then tells Kurt that Blaine and Karofsky have moved in together and that she helped decorate their apartment (with all rainbow colors, of course, and with no bed, because when she pictures them having sex, she imagines a U-Haul mounting a moped). She tells Kurt to get over Blaine, but he isn't ready to admit that it's really over.
In Sue's office, Coach Roz (NeNe Leakes, late of Broadway's Cinderella) yells at Darrell for dating Sue's daughter. Sue corrects her that they're talking about a different character with Down's Syndrome. ("Your sister, your daughter and your best friend all have Down's Syndrome?" Roz confirms. "What?") Tina begins quizzing Darrell about his relationship with Becky, and he defends himself (and Becky) nicely. Sue finally asks if they're sleeping together, and he says that they're not...yet. He accuses them of being uncomfortable because he and Becky don't fit people's preconceived notions of what a relationship should be. In fact, he says, when they started dating, he called the National Associations for Down's Syndrome ("NADS?" Sue asks) and made sure that there was nothing wrong with their relationship. He gets increasingly angry and says that they should defend their prejudices before he has to defend his love for Becky, and walks out. "That didn't go at all the way I pictured it," Sue mutters.
Auditorium. Jane and Mason sing a mashup of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Head Over Feet," and it really works beautifully. Kurt looks sad as they sing, remembering running through the halls of Dalton with Blaine, their first kiss, flirting, holding hands and generally being cute together. His eyes fill up as he flashes back to the marriage proposal and the breakup, and he wipes away tears as they finish the song. (Incidentally, Jane and Mason are looking deeply into each other's eyes as they end the song—think they'll be a couple soon?) Rachel cheers the new singers on, but Kurt is more critical, noting that they'll need to step it up for competition. As the argue in the theater wings, Mason and Madison gesture to one another, communicating across the stage. Hmm… Rachel sends Kurt home and says she'll cover the Club for the day.
Locker room! Sue walks up to Beiste's desk and says that they need to talk, but first asks that the coach not pick her (Sue) up "by the throat and crotch" and fling her into the wall—"which I believe is well within your abilities." Sue says that several people have commented on changes in Beiste's behavior, and says that she (Sue) has already rifled through the coach's desk drawer and found many pills, including steroids. She asks, bluntly, if the pills are for cancer, and Beiste says that they are. Sue promises to do everything she can to help, and Beiste looks scared. Back from commercial: In the choir room, Quinn and Tina sing "So Far Away," and Becky looks terrified as she sits between them, trying to work up the courage to sing and glancing at Darrell in the audience. Sue, also sitting there, nods encouragingly to her protege, but Becky suddenly jumps up and runs out of the room. Sue blames it on the girls' being "pitchy." In a science room, Becky says that Darrell will know she was lying about being a member of Glee Club if he hears her sing. All of the girls share lies that they told their partners going back to Season One. ("I once told a guy I had three vaginas, and he was pretty bummed when he found out I only had two," Brittanys says.) Quinn says that the "getting to know you" phase of a relationship is usually about keeping people from knowing the real you, and that the real relationship begins when people stop pretending to be who they think the other person wants them to be. When Becky continues whining about her situation, Santana points out that it's her own fault for lying and that if she had made an effort in high school, she could have accomplished things worth bragging about. She'll have to hope that Darrell likes her for "real reasons" and tell him the truth, Quinn adds. "Thanks, guys," Becky sniffs. "You're mostly stupid bitches, but you're pretty cool, too." Group hug!
Kurt comes back to the choir room and apologizes for his comments earlier, acknowledging that he should have left his baggage at home. "Heartbreak poisons the brain," he says, but Rachel says that Jane and Mason came to talk with her and asked her to push them to greatness rather than let them feel comfortable with mediocrity. Rachel says that she needs Kurt to keep her honest, and their teaching styles complement one another. "Holy crap," Kurt says, slumping down at the piano bench. "We're teachers!" "Between the two of us, we make a pretty good one," Rachel acknowledges. I could argue that, Rachel, but whatever. Commercial break.
In Sue's office, a very uncomfortable Beiste tries to tell Sam that she's been seeing some doctors, and Sue cuts her off to bluntly tell the assistant coach that his mentor has cancer. "You have cancer?!" he gasps, and Beiste says that she doesn't. Now it's Sue's turn to gasp. "I told Sue I did, but it was a lie," the coach admits. Sue is furious (and rightly so), and Beiste hands her a letter from her (Beiste's) doctor: The coach, it seems, has gender dysphoria. "Holy mother of God!" Sue exclaims, but Sam (bless him) doesn't understand the diagnosis. "It's when your outsides don't match what you feel you are on the inside," Beiste explains gently. The letter is her first step to a legal transition from female to male identity.
"When you think about it, it's not that big of a stretch," Sue muses, and Sam asks if this means Beiste is a lesbian. "This isn't about who I want to go to bed with," Beiste explains. "This is about who I want to go to bed as." Nicely put. She has always been attracted to men, she adds, and that won't change. So Coach Beiste is a gay man. ("I thought I'd heard of every conceivable notion of a gay man coming out!" Sue exclaims.) Beiste says that for all his life, he never felt feminine, and felt most comfortable in sports. "I started coaching football and wrestled hogs in my free time, but no matter what I did, I never felt at home in my own skin." He doesn't regret his time as a woman, he adds, because it made him confident enough to get his body in alignment with how he sees himself. So Beiste will need Sam to take over as coach while he begins procedures to remove his breasts and become more physically male. "Please spare us the details of literal sausage-making," Sue says, not understanding what the word "literal" means but getting a good dig in nonetheless. She assures Beiste that his job will be waiting if he wants to return to the school when the procedure is done.
And I have to say, cheers to the show's writers for tackling one more issue before they lose their platform. Before it turned preachy, "Glee" used its popularity to raise awareness of many people who all too often get dismissed as caricatures or ignored entirely, and it did a lot of good for a lot of marginalized groups. So while it will be interesting to see how the show depicts Coach Beiste's transition, I'm just grateful that this new man is a character at all rather than a mere punchline.
On a date at Breadstix, Becky comes clean to Darrell about her lies. "First of all, I have Down's Syndrome," she says. He's figured that part out. She also wasn't president of all those clubs in high school. "And I can't sing." Darrell acknowledges that he suspected some exaggeration when she said that she was the fifth member of 98 Degrees. Heh. "You don't have to impress me," he says. "I already like you!" He warns her that people will be doubtful about their relationship and that they'll need to have each other's backs. "It's going to take me some time to get used to a guy having my back," Becky muses. They sip from a milkshake together, and Becky knocks it off the table after declaring that it sucks. I hope the waitress makes them clean it up with their socks. In the auditorium, Rachel says that the mashup lesson has taught both her and Kurt that different teaching styles can yield important lessons. "That sounds like you were congratulating yourselves," Madison says. "You'll get used to it," Tina says, entering the room. Heh. Mashups aren't always pretty, Kurt says, but Rachel finishes his sentence and declares that they are worth the risk. A band appears on the stage (had they just been hanging out back there?), and the group sings one final mashup of "You Learn" and "You've Got a Friend" as Santana joins in (holding Kurt's hand before hugging Brittany—did she and Kurt reconcile offscreen or are we supposed to believe that what she said to him wasn't amazingly hurtful and that he's okay with it now?) and Puck and Quinn appear on the stage to serenade the new members.
And seriously, Ryan Murphy. I know you have to include pop and classic rock songs to keep the non-theater people watching this show, but the only reason a lot of your audience tuned in way back in 2009 was to see Link Larkin and The Little Girl sing showtunes together. This is two episodes in a row without any theater music. Please, we've only got 10 episodes left! Get back on the game!
Next week: The Hurt Locker—Part One. Is this the musical that closed on opening night so Hedwig could take over the Belasco? Find out on Saturday morning!
Jagged Little Tapestry (Air date Jan. 16, 2015)
"It's Too Late" (Chris Colfer and Darren Criss)
"Hand in My Pocket"/"I Feel the Earth Move" (Heather Morris and Naya Rivera)
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow"/"Head Over Feet" (Samantha Marie Ware and Billy Lewis, Jr.)
"So Far Away" (Dianna Agron and Jenna Ushkowitz)
"You Learn"/"You've Got a Friend" (Old and New New Directions)