Greetings, Gleeks! We kick off the third post-hiatus episode of “Glee” with a return to some of the best, underappreciated things about this show: namely, Kurt, Mercedes, and storylines about family, home, and self-confidence. Kurtcedes fans (that’s Kurt + Mercedes, natch) are treated to an episode headlined by the fab twosome while Schuester is reunited with an old friend: Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes! Just how meaty is this episode? Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, AND the lady who plays Finn’s mom get to cry! Dig in and tell us what you think below.
[Full recap of Tuesday (April 27) night’s “Glee” after the break…]
Mercedes and Kurt, proudly wearing their Cheerios outfits, are getting an earful from Sue; they’re performing well, but Sue’s got issues with Mercedes’ refusal to wear cheer skirts. It’s not that she’s embarrassed, says the sassy Mercedes. It’s that she doesn’t want to cause a sex riot!! And we open with a future classic quip from Sue Sylvester: “How do you two not have a show on Bravo?” We don’t look forward to the day these two graduate from McKinley High, but when they do, they’d BETTER have a show on Bravo.
Sue gives Mercedes an ultimatum: lose ten pounds and don a gender-appropriate cheer skirt by next week, when a reporter from Splits Magazine comes to interview Sue, or she’s off the team. Kurt’s not immune, either: “You could stand to lose a few too, kiddo. You have hips like a pear.” Sue leaves the dynamic duo in self-doubting shock in true Sue Sylvester fashion.
Elsewhere, Sue’s shenanigans have gotten Will upset yet again. She’s taken over the gym for Cheerio practice and padlocked it at all other times. Will threatens to go to Figgins, but Sue reveals that it’ll be no use since she’s blackmailing him.
Schuester breaks the news to the New Directions that the auditorium is off limits for a week, meaning they can’t use it to practice for regionals. He promises to look for a new practice space, and the kids break at the bell. Kurt seizes the opportunity to ask Finn for color matching advice, since he’s redecorating his bedroom — “Hunting lodge meets Tom Ford’s place in Bel Air.”
At lunch Kurt reminds Mercedes that eating chicken and a salad is no way to lose ten pounds in a week. She should try a tray of celery sticks, which is what Kurt’s chowing on for lunch! (“And for breakfast, I had Splenda.”) Kurt doesn’t want Mercedes to blow it for them in Cheerios. So Mercedes goes straight to the source for skinny-getting advice: Santana and Brittany. They reveal their secret weapon, The Sue Sylvester Master Cleanse – lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and “a dash of ipecac, a vomiting agent.” That’s what Beyonce drank to get bootylicious! Minus the ipecac. Probably.
“That can’t be healthy,” Mercedes replies. (Note to young women reading this: It’s not.) She takes their advice anyway and leaves her chicken behind while across the room, Quinn stands alone watching, missing her cute Cheerios uniform.
At home, Finn watches in protest as his mom sells off her old furniture. He stops her from getting rid of his dad’s recliner, but something more is going on — and why does she have a new haircut and new fancy clothes? She tells Finn she’s seeing someone — Kurt’s dad! And she’s in love!
Shue shows up at the local roller rink to see about renting it out for rehearsal, where he runs into… April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth)! She’s MCing the couples skate, but interrupts it for an impromptu duet with Will! They switch off on Springsteen’s “Fire,” taking it to the floor for a couples skate, then cut back for some real talk and April fills him in on where she’s been since Episode 5: turns out she was so excited to get sober that she went into a bar for a celebratory drink, and emerged months later as the new mistress of a local strip mall king! Which means she’s on top of the world! Will’s disappointed that April didn’t go straight after all, but she’s resigned to being a “washed up dreamer” — and her new deal as the owner of a cabaret roller rink is pretty sweet. Luckily for the New Directions, it’s also pretty darned convenient, as April offers up the rink for the club to practice in.
April also happens to be in the market for a sublet, which is perfect since Will’s showing his post-divorce digs to potential renters. With a not-so-subtle flourish, April leaves to get a bikini wax, because with his divorce in progress Will’s now free for casual hook-ups. (Will he bite??)
It’s weigh in day for the Cheerios, where Sue cheers on Becky for keeping traumatically-aware of her weight. Mercedes, on the other hand, has gained two pounds. Elsewhere, a panicked Finn learns from Kurt how their parents met and started dating after a parent-teacher conference night, which Kurt incidentally orchestrated. It’s Kurt who gave Finn’s mom her makeover and encouraged the relationship so that he and Finn could get closer — literally. He plans on having Finn and his mother move into the Hummel house in no time. Suddenly, “hunting lodge meets Tom Ford” décor makes much more sense…
At glee club, Kurt sings the Burt Bacharach-penned Barbra Streisand classic “A House is Not a Home” in an effort to encourage everyone — but mostly Finn — to embrace home, wherever it may be. Finn takes up the next verse at his own house, singing to his dad’s empty recliner. Back in the practice room, Kurt finishes the song with a tear, leaving everyone thinking about wanting to be with their loved ones.
April shows up at Will’s to scope out his apartment with an overnight bag, planning to spend the night to feel out the sublet, partly because she’s lonely. And partly because she’d totally go for a Schuester hook-up. Will bids her goodnight and as April bunks down on his couch, she sings a little more Burt Bacharach — “One Less Bell Answer.” In the next room, Will joins in, thinking of how sad he is himself now that Emma’s called things off. The two lonely hearts wind up spending the night in Will’s bed, both thinking wistfully of the ones they love as they duet Streisand’s medley of “A House is Not a Home” and “One Less Bell to Answer.” Nicely done, “Glee.”
Also spending time together as friends are Kurt and Finn, who have a family dinner with their parents. A sullen Finn resists calling their foursome a family yet, but finds himself bonding unexpectedly with Kurt’s manly man dad. Suddenly, Kurt finds himself feeling a little left out. Back home, Kurt tears down his color swatches and his plans for the Hummel-Hudson family merger, prompting some real talk with his father. Kurt takes offense that his dad’s “guy talk” doesn’t include him because he’s gay, and throws a tantrum insinuating that his father maybe shouldn’t date Finn’s mom yet; in his nautical-themed shirt and ascot, he looks like a little wounded boy. Chris Colfer is a crying machine in this episode, which also marks the first time he feels like a child in his relationship with his father.
The next day at lunch, Mercedes is starving herself using Sue’s patented Master Cleanse. Girl gets C-R-A-N-K-Y when she doesn’t have enough food to eat! (Don’t we all?) Tina and Artie try to encourage her to be healthier, but when Artie suggests that those cleanses don’t really work in the long run, Mercedes loses it. Suddenly, Tina appears to her as a giant ice cream cone and Artie is a delicious wedge of chocolate layer cake. Mercedes faints from hunger.
In the nurse’s office, Quinn approaches Mercedes to offer her help. She knows what Mercedes is going through, because before she went all Juno on McKinley High she starved herself, too. (I bet those pregnancy food binges are heaven!) Mercedes doubts that any pretty blonde “with a white girl ass” could understand, but Quinn explains that the moment she stopped being bulimic for the sake of her unborn child, she learned to taken care of herself. So… yay for teen pregnancy? As Mercedes admits how ashamed she is to have become so unhealthily body-conscious instead of her normal sassy, confident self, Amber Riley gets her chance to cry! Who’d have thought Mercedes and Quinn would share the most moving and sweet scene of the episode?
At April’s rink, Will has second thoughts about having glee rehearsals at a roller disco. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that all of the kids are roller skating instead of singing and practicing. Or maybe it’s because Will’s coming to his senses about being so close to April, who kind of wants to make their snuggle habit a regular occurrence, and way less platonic. He’s also concerned that she’s settling for a life as a rich man’s mistress. April reconsiders her life in about ten seconds and decides he’s right. They part ways.
In the hallway, Kurt proposes that he and Finn break their parents up. Finn agrees, and wages a campaign at home to dramatically erase his dad’s memory, but it blows up in his face as he realizes how lonely his mother has been for the last 16 years.
It’s finally pep rally time at McKinley, and Sue Sylvester walks confidently into her bleacher-side interview with the writer from Splits, a humorless male writer who doesn’t seem to find her very amusing. He’s unconcerned with her clever bon mots since he’s a recent Pulitzer candidate and serious journalist, although come on! What kind of person DOESN’T find Sue Sylvester insanely entertaining?
The Cheerios trot out to blow the crowd away with their routine, but something’s off. Mercedes walks out to her marks, still clad in her track pants, and takes the microphone as Sue, and Kurt, listen on in horror. “How many of you at this school feel fat?” she asks. “Like you’re not worth very much? Or you’re ugly and you have too many pimples and not enough friends?” In the crowd, Quinn, Tina, and Jesse raise their hands. (Rachel, sitting on Jesse’s lap, doesn’t — who is she kidding?) Mercedes breaks into a beautiful rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” inviting all of her fellow self-conscious classmates onto the floor to join in. For some reason, I cry more when Mercedes has a solo, and this number is no exception. There’s no question about it. This episode belongs to Amber Riley.
As Mercedes belts it out, the Cheerios turn and sing the chorus behind her and various New Directioners fall in line in support behind her. (Am I the only one who kind of loves this new Mercedes-Quinn BFFship?) The whole gym comes to their feet, including Schuester. Kurt makes his way to Mercedes and admits he was wrong and they hug. The Bravo show is a lock!
Sue’s important magazine interview continues in her office, where for once she’s not the one in charge. Tracy Pendergrass, Pulitzer Candidate sits her down with a delightfully no-nonsense authority. “When I first met you, I instantly disliked you,” he begins, before admitting that he was wrong. (He wasn’t.) He loves the visionary inclusive philosophy that Mercedes’ number encouraged, and Sue goes uncomfortably along with it for the sake of her cover story.
At home, Finn finds Kurt’s dad in his kitchen. He’s come to have a mano-a-mano chat with Finn. He tells Finn he loves his mother and that he doesn’t want to replace his father, and Finn invites him to watch some sports together. He even offers him a seat in his dad’s recliner! They tentatively bond over a shared hatred of Duke (go Tarheels!) as Kurt watches literally from outside the window, his face full of hurt.
Back at school, April’s shown up to give Will yet another update. (We knew it wasn’t the last of April!) Turns out when she went to break up with her sugar daddy, he died on the spot — after giving her $2 million in hush money! She’s going to use it to finally go to Broadway and mount the first all-white production of “The Wiz,” AND she bought the auditorium from Figgins for the exclusive use of the glee club! To inaugurate the new purchase, April leads the New Directions in a glitzy-jazzy performance of “Home” from — what else? — “The Wiz.”
Next week: Olivia Newton-John and Molly Shannon guest star, Sue gets physical, and Puckleberry returns!