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Gleecap: “Born This Way”

I’m going to be honest with you, Persephepeople. I thought I was going to hate this episode, and I ended up really, really liking it. It was not without its cheesy, over-the-top moments, its clunky dialogue, or even its creepy Will moments, but as a whole, I think this episode achieved a lot of what made Glee so much fun in season one.

It goes without saying that Glee is not a show for people who like consistency or continuity. It’s a show for people who like cartoons, showtunes, and earcandy on iTunes (weird rhyming unintentional, but oddly fitting). Tonight we were without our favorite cartoon villain, Wile E. Sylvester, but the Glee kids were still facing the real enemy to their teenaged dreams: their own crippling self-hatred.

We start the show with the Glee kids ready to go to “booty camp” (Creepy Schue +1) so they can dance like they mean it at sectionals. Finn immediately elbows Rachel in the nose, and she’s down. Finn rushes her off to the doctor, who tells her it’s broken and recommends she take the opportunity to have a nose job. I’m not even going to wonder why Finn is always taking Rachel to the doctor instead of her dads, who I’m sure would have to sign some sort of something, but this is Glee – it’s best not to dwell.

Santana is the clear star of this episode, from her opening monologue to her “Lady MacBethian ways.” Santana may be promoted to Junior Goddess, right under CJ, if she keeps up her awesome. Sparked by a need to give Quinn a run for her money in her race to prom queen, Santana launches a plot to reform Ham Hock, get Kurt back, get herself elected prom queen, and keep her own conflicted sexuality from becoming gossip fodder all at the same time. Santana can multi-task like nobody’s business. After catching Ham Hock checking out Sam’s posterior, and putting two and two together from the conversation she overheard between Hock, Blaine, and Kurt last week, Santana calls him out for being in the closet. The Hock is swayed to Santana’s side pretty quickly, because even The Hock is afraid of Ms. Lopez.

After hearing about Rachel’s potential rhinoplasty and seeing Emma continue to struggle with her OCD (after a scene where I thought Will was going to force feed the poor woman unwashed grapes. CHILL, WILL. JEEZ.), Will decides to solve everyone’s problems by making them face the thing they hate about themselves the most, in song, and by invoking the Power of Gaga. He pulls Emma in on his plan, and she brings along a letterpress to make the kids cool shirts with their flaws in Helvetica Bold. Will pushes her to reveal her own shirt, which he wants to be embellished with her mental illness, but instead it says “GINGER.” Will is sad.

Finn breaks the ice on the flaw numbers by doing an interpretation of “I’ve Gotta Be Me” while dancing with Mike Chang. I enjoy Finn, I really do, but this number was much better on mute with all my focus on Mike. I’m most familiar with Sammy Davis Jr.’s version of this song, and that’s a pretty high bar. Especially for Finn.

Santana is not the only Glee lady who wants to give Quinn a challenge for prom queen. Lauren, recalling her days as a toddler beauty queen with a specialty in baby pull-ups (the gym class exercise, not the diaper), wants a piece of the tiara action as well. I can’t really blame her – I’d wear a tiara every day if I could get away with it. Lauren isn’t futzing around; she goes Woodward and Bernstein on Quinn, thanks to the advice of her dad’s business associate, G. Gordon Liddy (HA!), and discovers Ms. Fabray used to be known as Lucy Fabray, aka Lucy Caboosey, overweight, pimple-dotted, glasses-wearing brunette. Quinn gets Zised as Lauren plasters Lucy’s school picture all over McKinnley high. Her plan backfires, however, when most of the school loves Quinn even more for being one of the people.

Santana and The Hock form an anti-bullying league as part of his reformation process, and Kurt and Burt come in for a meeting with Principal Figgins, The Hock and his dad, and oddly, Will. The Hock has convinced Figgins he’s on the right track, but neither Kurt or Burt is buying it. Kurt asks for a moment alone with The Hock, where Kurt makes The Hock spill the real details behind his change. Kurt lays down a few ground rules of his own, and he triumphantly returns to McKinnley. The Glee kids welcome him back by inviting Blaine and the Warblers to come sing Kurt a proper goodbye, “Somewhere Only We Know.” This song has been nearly played out, but I like the low-key version the Warblers do, even when a surprise piano shows up in the courtyard.

Rachel and Quinn tackle a duet mashup of “Unpretty” and “I Feel Pretty,” which worked out much better than you might expect. As soon as I recognized TLC, I was a little worried at what Rachel and Quinn would do to it, but it worked out to be a nice little number.

On the task of helping Rachel learn to love herself again, Kurt and Puck put together a flash mob to dance the pain away. Mostly it’s beats and someone saying “Barbara Streisand” while a bunch of people dance. I don’t think I get flash mobs.

Kurt does a big showtune “As If We Never Said Goodbye.” It’s great, if a bit long, and it’s nice that the stage crew gets to pull out the fancy stuff again now that Kurt’s back.

Will convinces Emma to seek therapy, and her therapist (is that Vera from Alice?) puts her on an SSRI and recommends weekly therapy. One pill, instead of the two week’s to a month’s worth of doses it would take non-Glee people, is apparently all it takes to give Emma a new lease on life. In the final scene she’s dancing and singing to Gaga with the glee kids and Creepy Will in a white tee with OCD in letters twice as big as anyone else’s.

Brittany meets Santana at her locker before the big, final performance to give her a shirt that says “LEBANESE.” Santana lashes out at her a little, still angry and hurt at being rejected a few weeks ago. Santana ends up wearing the shirt, but she doesn’t join the Glee kids to sing Gaga; she sits and watches in the audience with The Hock. The rest of the kids have some cute shirts. Brittany’s says “I’m with Stoopid” with an arrow pointing at her head. Puck’s says “I’m with Stupid” and an arrow pointing at his crotch. Artie’s says “Four Eyes.” Mike’s says “Can’t Sing,” and Finn’s says “Can’t Dance.” Mr. Schue’s says “Butt Chin,” which is about the twelfth most appropriate thing the costume department could have picked. (How about “Disregards Boundaries”?) Quinn’s says “Lucy Caboosey,” and Rachel’s says “Nose.”

All in all, I had fun with this episode.  There were some genuinely funny moments, and the emotions felt more real than they normally do for characters who aren’t Santana or Kurt.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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