At least they didn’t take the easy route and cover Joan Jett.
In the aptly named episode “Bad Reputation,” everyone’s got one — or if they don’t, they’re desperately trying to get one. Unless they’re Will Shuester, whose about to get what’s coming to him for getting cozy with both Elphaba AND Galinda in the span of two weeks. But look who else is triple teaming her dating profile — Miss Rachel Berry, who gives those Puckleberry fans something to coo about and puts those Broadway-ready emotional facial muscles to good use in one of the better finale numbers in recent memory!
But the real unsung heroes of Episode 17 of “Glee?” They’re names are Olivia. Vanilla. Stanley Kirk Burrell. And the indomitable Miss Bonnie Tyler. Let these names not be left behind in the annals of pop culture… even if music in the ’80s and early ’90s did kind of suck.
[Full recap of Tuesday (May 5) night’s “Glee” after the break…]
Some of the Gleeks are gathered ’round a laptop, watching something called a music video. (Music videos — you know, those things they used to play on a channel called MTV back in the Stone Ages? Now you can watch them on your portable telephone-slash-digital writing tablet thingies.) Kurt’s swiped a homemade music video of Sue Sylvester lip-synching to Olivia Newton-John! Naturally, it’s destined for YouTube greatness; within hours it’s gone viral and Sue is steaming mad. She takes Will into Principal Figgins’ office to get the glee club in trouble, but Will defends his good little show choir kids. They’d never do something like this!
…or would they? Sue brings to Figgins and Shuester’s attention another act of glee club depravity that’s making the halls of McKinley High filthy with teenage sexuality: an unknown culprit has posted the “Glist,” a power ranking of all the glee kids’ sexual activities. Figgins orders Shue to find and expel whichever kid made the list.
“This is serious,” Shue tells his kids, demanding to know who did it. How serious is it? SERIOUS music plays in the background. Like, Angelo Badalamenti serious! Music you can’t even sing along to! Will’s worried because the Glist and the Sue Sylvester viral video are giving the glee kids a… wait for it… waiiiiit for it… a bad reputation! (YESSS! The name of the episode, worked in right off the bat!)
And so, to teach his kids to come back from the dark side, he assigns them this week’s lesson: Find the good in a sucky totally ’80s song and make it awesome! Shuester even leads by example with a rappin’, dancin’, cringe-inducing cover of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” the likes of which I haven’t seen since the last time I was in a karaoke bar. Best part? When Brittany pops her collar and everyone — well, everyone but Artie — gets in on the hip-hoppery.
Meanwhile, Sue’s realizing that her “Physical” video may have ended her reign of terror at McKinley High. Even the tubby substitutes in the teachers’ lounge are mocking her! New teacher Brenda Castle (Molly Shannon) takes the opportunity to introduce herself to a shell-shocked Sue. Even she’s seen the video! Molly Shannon gives good slo-mo cackle. Other than that, she doesn’t have much to do.
Kurt, Mercedes, Artie, and Tina are even worse off — they didn’t even MAKE the Glist! They plot to do something that’ll bump them from C-list status. Brittany joins in just because. Brittany is fast becoming one of the best things about “Glee.”
Sue visits her sister, who advises her to turn her reputation around by going to the one person who has it even worse than she does: Emma! Sue reveals that since she bugged Will’s house with baby monitors she heard him making out with Idina Menzel the other week and having a sleepover with Kristen Chenowith. Sue hounds Emma into standing up for herself, starting with the public humiliation of one Will Shuester. Sue coaches Emma on her big Will Shuester smack down, but they run into Brenda outside the teachers’ lounge. Aaaand now, ladies and gentlemen, the Sue Sylesterism of the week: “Don’t start with me, Castle, or I will kick you squarely in the taco!” Emma grows a pair and confronts Will in front of all the teachers. When he doesn”t deny her accusations, she calls him a man slut and says they’re through. Yay, Emma!
Burned by her last-place ranking on the Glist, Rachel hatches a plan to ditch her goody two-shoes image and become… “musically promiscuous!” She has Puck over as part of her plan to dirty up her image. She proposes they work together on a song to change both of their images. Or they can just make out! Rachel resists Puck’s advances.
As if this episode could get any bolder, Kurt, Mercedes, Brittany, Artie, and Tina walk into the library wearing gold lame Hammer pants. OH, YES. They are bringing the MC Hammer! Now these are some dance moves I can get behind. Artie takes the lead rap vocals and molests the school librarian with his eyes. Only problem is, instead of getting in reputation-boosting trouble, the gang is offered a gig performing “U Can’t Touch This” at a local church. Getting in trouble FAIL.
Will gives the glee kids the old private dick interrogation routine, trying to find out who made the Glist. Naturally, they all squawk on one another and all signs still point to Puck. Or Kurt, who calls to mind a young, gay, male version of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct when his turn in the chair comes. Someone’s having fun with noir this week in the writers’ room. Later, Kurt and Co., decide they only have one choice left: Admit to posting Sue Sylvester’s YouTube video and go down in McKinley High history as bonafide bad-asses! Sue, meanwhile, writes in her journal, still miserable. But just as she’s on the verge of realizing that maybe karma’s a bitch who’s punishing her for making everyone else’s lives a living hell, she gets a call. From Olivia Newton-John. Who saw her “Physical” video and loved it. Crisis averted!
Now it’s Shuester’s turn to walk the halls in shame. After Emma’s public outburst, everyone’s heard about his romantic shenanigans. As Sue strides down the hallway, Kurt elects to take one for the team and admit to posting the video. Like a calf heading to slaughter, he tells Sue he stole her tape. But now that Olivia’s called, Sue’s not angry — she’s grateful! Shocked at Sue’s reaction, they take to the internet for clues. Kurt finds a new “Physical” video on YouTube — Olivia Newton-John has re-shot her original music video and invited Sue to co-star in it! The new “Physical” is a duet between Olivia, Sue Sylvester, a crapload of autotune and tons of headless male bodies working out in a gym. It’s kind of MILFy. And a tad homoerotic. But not the kind of song we really, truly need an entirely standalone music video for. Take us back to the teenage dramarama!
Over at glee club, Rachel presents her “Bad Reputation” song project — a multimedia version of David Geddes’ 1975 one hit wonder “Run Joey Run” featuring Santana and Brittany as angels and Puck as her bad boy love interest, with Jesse and Finn also switching off as Rachel’s boyfriend. (It’s also got a cameo by disgraced former glee club director Sandy Ryerson as Rachel’s make believe dad!) But when the lights come up, all three boyfriends feel betrayed.
After starring in Olivia Newton-John’s new video, Sue’s regained her mojo in the teacher’s lounge. She shares another nice heartfelt moment with her sister Jean, and tells her she’s donating her share of the profits to her nursing home.
Back at school, Will brings Emma a beautiful bouquet of “I’m sorry I’m a slut” flowers, although what’s even more adorable is Emma’s outfit. She’s got a sweater with little Eiffel towers embroidered all over it! I WANT. We’re less envious of the apologetic Shuester that’s sitting on Emma’s desk, but it looks like New Emma is keeping that pair she grew in the teachers’ lounge — she accepts the flowers, but not the Shue!
As he leaves Emma’s office, Detective Will finally fingers the Glist perp: It’s Quinn! Of course! He realized it when he suddenly felt the same way she felt when she lost her uber popular reputation, or something. Doesn’t REALLY make sense, but whatevs. Quinn cops to making the list to boost her own sudden lack of status because in high school, “a bad reputation is better than no reputation at all.” Will gives Quinn a pep talk and covers for her when Figgins comes in to mete out justice, saving her from being expelled and living her life as a teenage mother with NO high school diploma. At least nobody got hurt, right?
Wrong. Jesse is still butt-hurt over Rachel’s video. He has a point. The guy totally transferred schools just to be with her (we think)! Jesse breaks up with Rachel, leaving her crushed but leading into the best song of the night: “Total Eclipse of the Heart!”
Rachel performs the Bonnie Tyler weeper in glee club, with all three of her angry boyfriends singing the “Turn around” lines. The scene cuts away to Rachel and Jesse in ballet club, where he goes through the motions unmoved by her ballad. Finn joins in the song with Rachel, prompting Jesse to break in with his own distraught rejoinder, and the two of them roll around the ballet floor in beautiful agony. Finn walks out of class as Rachel and Jesse sing their goodbyes, and Jesse walks out leaving Rachel standing in the empty classroom, alone.
Next week: Where Puck’s hair? Where’s Rachel’s voice? And why in the heck is Kurt making out with a girl??