Episode 2 – I Am A Unicorn
Episode two opens with Kurt fine tuning his image in a bid for student body President. Brittany decides she should be Kurt’s campaign manager because she believes Kurt is the biggest unicorn at the school. A unicorn, of course, “is someone who is magical, and isn’t afraid to show it.” Also, says Brittany, “black unicorns, they become zebras.” Mr. Schuester decides he needs to put all of his focus into Glee Club so the musical gets new directors: Coach Beiste, Emma, and Artie, as a student director. Guess who else is here? Shelby Corcoran – Rachel’s birth mother, the woman who adopted Quinn and Pucks baby, Beth, and ex-coach of Vocal Adrenaline. McKinley High commissioned her to start a competing Glee Club that will feature Sugar Motta. Kurt is concerned Brittany’s campaign ideas, like goodie bags called “Kurt Hummel’s Bulging Pink Fun Sack” are too standoutish. He pictures something more regal, and mainstream. Shelby approaches Quinn to say she wants her in Beth’s life. To kick off reinvigorating Glee Club, Mr. Schue puts some of the members into mandatory “bootycamp” for dancing. Shelby reunites for a moment with Rachel, coaching her on an audition song, which spirals into a duet of “Somewhere,” from West Side Story. Is this to suggest that Rachel and her mother will also never find that “someplace” where their relationship works out? Later, Puck pays a surprise visit to Ms. Corcoran’s home to see Beth. For Shelby, he brings a slip to prove he’s clean from drugs, and for Beth, a drawing of a clown that turned out more like a pig, a “clown pig.”
Now back to the school musical: West Side Story. Kurt auditions for the male lead Tony, performing Barbra Streisand’s “I’m the Greatest Star,” from Funny Girl. The song goes well, but the directors want a Tony who is more masculine, which Kurt takes to heart. In a fit of unfortunate timing, he then discovers upon leaving that Brittany carried on with the campaign without him and he yells at her, tearing down her posters. It upsets Kurt that he won’t be able to get any classic roles in theater because of who he is. This is where his father, Burt, in one of the great Glee father son moments, remarks: yes, you’re gay, that’s fine, and if you don’t see the right roles for you, then make them. So Kurt apologizes to Brittany, but too little, too late. Thanks to some encouragement from Santana, Brittany decides to run for President herself. Blaine decided to audition for the supporting role, Bernardo, so as not to compete with Kurt. His performance of “Something’s Coming,” also from West Side Story, was a simple, yet spirited staging. Blaine’s solo (one of only three total songs in the episode, all of which are from theater) was the best sung, performed, and actually entrancing on film. This leads the directors to ask Blaine to play the lead. The biggest surprise in the episode and most suspense-inducing moment comes from Quinn, who returns to her old self but declares to Puck that it’s a ruse, and part of her new plan to regain full custody of Beth! Really puts her past performance of “Papa Don’t Preach” into a literal light again: she is gonna try to keep her baby.
Episode 3 – Asian F
The start of episode three delivers, in an instant, the promise for more character development and a focus on plotlines. Mercedes shows up late to bootycamp, off her game, and Mr. Schue gets frustrated that she’s not giving it her all. Later at home, Will finds bridal magazines Emma has been hiding and decides he wants to meet her parents. Best of all, finally, Mike Chang starts to become a real character in the show! We meet his father, who has come to school worried over Mike’s A-, also referred to as an “Asian F.” His father pressures Mike to stop messing around with Glee Club and the arts, and Mike promises he’ll get a tutor to bring up his grade. It doesn’t take long to break into the first song of the episode. Shane adds a boost to Mercedes self-confidence and she performs a strong rendition of Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight” for her Maria audition. This is just the start of Mercedes stepping things up, making Rachel nervous about securing West Side Story’s lead. Speaking of girl power, the next song to follow is a Beyonce cover of “Run the World (Girls),” by Brittany in her campaign for President. The song is a nice touch, picking a current, popular number that fits in with the plot. As it turns out, it’s been a long time since McKinley High has seen a female President and Brittany is looking to change that. In the battle between Mercedes and Rachel even the musical directors can’t decide on a winner and they make callbacks. This upsets Mercedes who believes she had the top audition. Mike is stuck, even worse off, torn between starting his tutoring and trying out for the musical, which he has been practicing for all summer. Mike breaks out into dance that expresses his frustration and is faced with visions of his father putting him down, and Tina expressing “when I see you dance, that’s why I fell in love with you.” After that heartfelt moment, Mike decides to invest in his passion with a song and dance performance of “Cool,” auditioning for the part of Riff. Not only does he break out his dance moves with other football players as backup, but he follows through with solid vocals.
As bootycamp continues, and Mr. Schue pushes harder. Mercedes accuses Will of giving everything to Rachel and sidelining her. Mercedes gets angry, and Schuester threatens that if she leaves, she’s out of Glee Club. This turns into the opportune moment for Mercedes to echo Effie White of Dreamgirls, an iconic figure for the underappreciated singer who Mercedes has been paralleling all episode long. Accompanied with full-out period costumes and dramatic lighting, Mercedes and New Directions blow through a performance of “It’s All Over” from Dreamgirls. This moment is so invigorating, fueled with battling emotions, solos for many members on stage, and carried out in true musical theater fashion, yet staged for film. I don’t know about you, but after that number, I say Glee is back! Sadly though, the consequence of the song is that Mercedes is now out of New Directions; for her, it is all over.
After Mike skips out on his tutor, his mom shows up to school to find out what’s going on. When Mike expresses his love for dance and ambition to be in the musical, his mother relates that she too loved dancing and has always regretted not following her dreams. She reassures Mike that they will talk to his father together, and Mike makes the adorable gesture to lead his mother in a waltz lesson. Back to the diva action, Mercedes and Rachel face off in performances of the ballad “Out Here On My Own” from Fame. Both pull off great performances, but even Rachel admits that Mercedes was better. Meanwhile, Will has been up to his own mischief, and invited Emma’s parents over for dinner despite her explicit wishes against it. It turns out that Emma’s parents are, humorously, “ginger supremacists,” but also, seriously, the source of her OCD. They mock Emma about her behavior, prompting Will to burst out in a rage against her parents, in support of Emma.
In a panic, Rachel signs herself up to run for President without regard for Kurt and naturally, he’s upset. Though as far as the musical plays out, Rachel ends up winning the role. The directors decided to double cast Mercedes and Rachel for Maria, but Mercedes, knowing that she outshined Rachel, is unwilling to share the spotlight and declines the part. Glee concludes with another touching, but not excessively cheesy moment, this time between Will and Emma. After the disastrous dinner Emma turns to prayer for relief, and Will, though not religious, joins in for support. More than this, he sings a lovely cover of “Fix You” by Coldplay which plays out over a montage of characters with the casting list revealed (Blaine is Tony, Rachel is Maria, Mike is Riff, and Santana is Anita). The entire Glee Club joins in for the final chorus of the song and after the final note, Mercedes asks to join Ms. Corcoran’s Glee Club. With this episode, a lot of drama went down, and Glee is clearly picking its momentum back up.