The costumes may have been gleefully ridiculous, but “Glee’s” Lady Gaga episode didn’t exactly capture the same kind of magic that Madonna night did a few weeks back. Blame it on the limited catalogue Gaga’s unleashed upon the world in her brief reign over pop culture. (What else is there besides “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face?” Not much, according to this episode.) Or blame it on the crippling lack of Sue Sylvester, sorely missed this week.
In what promised to be the most outrageous episode of the season we got a lot of the same old stuff, starting with Rachel and her mommy issues, represented via Idina Menzel’s sweet but snooze-worthy rendition of “Funny Girl” and later with a Rachel-Shelby duet of Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Also familiar was the “Kurt and Finn as stepbrothers” subplot, which brought their family drama — and Finn’s latent homophobia — to an unexpected breaking point. If anyone’s previously overlooked Mike O’Malley’s contributions as Kurt’s dad Burt, you won’t forget him after watching him lay into Finn in one of the tensest, most emotional scenes of the series so far.
But the question remains: was this the episode that Lady Gaga fans deserved, or the episode “Glee” needed to move its characters’ arcs along?
[Full recap of Tuesday’s (May 25) “Glee” after the break…]
Tina’s been called into Principal Figgins’ office to be reprimanded for her Hot Topic Goth look, which OF COURSE is just a small part of the rampant, destructive movement of the Twilight-obsessed Robert Pattinson fans haunting the hallways of McKinley High. (Tina: ” My mom won’t even let me watch Twilight! My mom says it seems like Kristen Stewart’s a bitch.”) Shuester explains that for the super shy Tina dressing up in what Figgins calls “lacy demon clothes” is a means of expression, but Figgins threatens to suspend her if she continues. Meanwhile, Finn comes home to find out that his mom wants them to move in with Kurt and his dad — and what’s more, he and Kurt will be sharing a room.
The next day, the now de-Gothed Tina is a sad, fashion-less fashionista looking for a new, more acceptable look. In barges Rachel, who’s been spying on Vocal Adrenaline and has a hunch that they’re going for the Big One: They’re covering Lady Gaga. But if Vocal Adrenaline can do it, so can the Gleeks!
Over at Vocal Adrenaline practice, Shelby Corcoran’s got her kids bedecked in head to toe red Chantilly lace and blonde wigs. Rachel, Mercedes, and Quinn sneak in to spy on the competition. Rachel takes notice of Miss Corcoran as she demonstrates true theatricality to her students by powering through a solo version of “Funny Girl,” which is when she recognizes Miss Corcoran’s voice from her mother’s tape. Really, is “Funny Girl” so theatrical a number? Or is it just a Barbra throughline to connect the dots for Rachel? Whatevs. Rachel descends from her hiding spot and approaches Miss Corcoran to tell her she’s her daughter.
After the commercial, Rachel and Miss Corcoran sit awkwardly in different rows of the theater and get to know each other. Shelby wanted to contact Rachel as soon as she heard her sing at Sectionals. Shelby drops a Fisher King reference that I’ll look up later because seriously, The Fisher King? Then she panics and leaves poor Rachel sitting alone.
Finn comes complaining to Will about doing the Lady Gaga numbers, which he and the other non-Kurt guys aren’t really that into. Will looks up from Wikipediaing Lady Gaga long enough to realize that the boys deserve a say in the ridiculous musical song and dance they perform, too.
Tina and Kurt arrive at school in full GAGA mode — Tina in Gaga’s bubble dress and Kurt looking like a 19th century nobleman from space. When a couple of jocks push them into the lockers per their usual routine, an outraged Kurt Gaga admonishes them and defends his right to dress theatrically, no matter how tired it makes other people’s eyes. One of the meatheads addresses Kurt as “Homo,” which as far as I remember hasn’t really happened on “Glee.” Worse, he says that not everybody in the world loves Lady Gaga, which is an OUTRIGHT LIE! Shit just got real.
I’m not sure whose Gaga outfit I like best. Mercedes has a purple bow made of hair, big bowling ball shoulder pads and a dress made out of aluminum foil. Quinn is holding a ball of spikes and is bleeding from the eyes. Santana is wearing head to toe black lace with a giant gift ribbon hat. Brittany has a giant lobster on her head. All of which gives everyone out there NO excuse not to have an awesome costume this Halloween.
Mercedes spills the news about Miss Corcoran being Rachel’s mom, and right on cue, in sulks Rachel wearing a dress made out of stuffed animals. The girl Gleeks (and Kurt) put on their first Gaga number: “Bad Romance!” It’s a little lip-synchy, but highlighted by Santana’s evil delivery. She’s the only one who comes close to Gaga’s level when it comes to looking like she’ll literally render a man’s flesh from his body and eat it.
Rachel goes back to Vocal Adrenaline’s rehearsal to speak with her mother. Since neither of her dads can sew, her Lady Gaga outfit with stuffed animals stapled on is falling apart… so Miss Corcoran makes her an awesome new Gaga dress! Rachel waltzes into Gleek practice just in time for the boys to perform their “Theatricality” numbers dressed as Kiss! The only problem is, under all of that Kiss hair and makeup the only boy I can make out is Artie. (He’s the one in the wheelchair.) For all I know, Mike Chang is soloing. I will say, the guy I’m fairly sure is Puck looks pretty good in tights and platform shoes.
In their shared bedroom, Kurt and Finn commiserate over being bullied by the football jocks. Finn doesn’t understand why Kurt always wants to make a spectacle of himself — and furthermore, is he trying to put the gay moves on him with his moist towelette? Finn slaps Kurt away when he tries to help him remove his KISS makeup, and the almost-stepbrothers have their first domestic spat.
Will calls Shelby to meet to discuss Rachel. He warns Shelby that Rachel is as talented as her mother, but way more fragile. Shelby admits that when she reached out to Rachel she really wanted to reconnect with her baby girl, and now that she’s met Rachel the teenager it’s a little more than she expected.
Back at the Hummel home, Kurt surprises Finn with a peace offering: he’s redecorated their shared bedroom with a masculine-feminine Moroccan theme! But the décor isn’t what bothers Finn; he’s freaked out at the thought of changing in front of Kurt, because he’s noticed what we all know — that Kurt has a major crush on him. Finn loses it over Kurt’s “faggy” décor and Papa Hummel runs in to lecture Finn about using the “f” word. Finn and Kurt are both taken aback by Burt, who gives Finn an intense paternal smack down before telling him he can’t live in the Hummel house, even if it jeopardizes his relationship with Finn’s mom.
KUDOS, Burt Hummel! The tears stream from Kurt’s eyes (and mine) as Finn quietly leaves and Burt gives Kurt a tender pat on the shoulder. A beautifully executed scene by all. Someone up Mike O’Malley’s contract so he doesn’t have to do those cable TV commercials anymore.
At glee practice, Finn wants to make amends with Kurt, but Kurt’s not having it. Puck takes the floor to share a revelation with Quinn and the whole class: he’s been thinking about his own crappy absentee dad, and it’s made him realize he doesn’t want to be the kind of crappy dad who names his kid after a brand of liquor. With his fellow KISSmates, Puck sings the tender Kiss ballad “Beth” to Quinn, while Finn sings a verse to Kurt as an apology. Quinn’s ridiculous hot pink 6-inch feather eyelashes give her facial expressions an added layer of emotion. She nods yes when Puck asks to be there when their baby’s born and suggests naming her Beth.
Miss Corcoran finds Rachel backstage prepping a song. Shelby’s come to say goodbye because it’s too late for her to play mommy, and starting now will just make things confusing for Rachel. They agree to keep their distance for now, but before they say goodbye Shelby gifts Rachel a glass with a gold star on it — it’s her signature. And before they part, Rachel and Shelby duet — to Lady Gaga!
Rachel calls Brad the piano player over and begins the pretty piano version of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” trading verses with her mom. Lea Michele and Idina Menzel singing together has got to be one of the very best gifts “Glee” has ever given us — although the pseudo-sexual nonsensical lyrics to “Poker Face” make for some bizarre stuff. Like when Idina Menzel is singing about her muffin.
Tina strolls into glee wearing her normal Goth clothes again, having gone the Sue Sylvester route and threatened/tricked Principal Figgins into letting her dress freely. Meanwhile, Kurt’s about to be pounded by the jocks when Finn steps in, wearing a full-length red latex dress and eye sparkles. He thanks Kurt for showing him he’s got a lot left to learn, and when the jocks threaten to beat the both of them up, the entire club of gleek cos-players show up to back Kurt and Finn. The jocks leave after promising to bring more help next time.
Next week: Jesse and Vocal Adrenaline have the Gleeks worried, and Will gets funky — inappropriately funky — with Sue Sylvester.