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Will Sing (and Dance) for Tater Tots – A Recap of Glee’s “The Substitute”

Question:  Which actress’ name first comes to mind, when you hear the words “tater tots?”

If your answer wasn’t Gwyneth Paltrow, you probably didn’t watch last night’s episode of Glee.  Kind of ironic isn’t it?  Here’s an actress that probably never ATE a tater tot in her life.  And now, she will be forever associated with a food that Sue Sylvester says looks like Deep Fried Deer Poop . . .

Bambi would not approve . . .

“My poop is WAY prettier than that!”

But enough about deer poop, let’s talk about “The Substitute!”

The Trouble with Monkey Flu . . .

“Hey!  What are you looking at ME for?  I didn’t do it!”

When the episode first opens, Poor Will Schuester is just minding his own business, and heading off to class.  Little does he know, that he is about to have the WORST DAY EVER!  It all starts, when Sue Sylvester announces that she has become interim principal of McKinley High School .  . .

Why, you ask?  Well, apparently, Principal Figgins has caught the monkey flu, because some student carrying the virus, sneezed on him, at Sue’s behest.

I’m guessing that McKinley High spends so much money on the Cheerios, that it can’t afford to hire a Vice Principal, for when these sort of situations occur . . .  Also, Sue conveniently has a “Principal Clause” in her “Cheerios Coach Contract.”  Whatever that means . . .

So, about five seconds later, this same girl sneezes on Will.  And then about five minutes minutes after that (or maybe it’s the next day . . . it’s always really hard to mark time passage on this show), Will is showing signs of “monkey flu sickness,” himself.

One second, his Glee Club looks normal (well, normal for them at least . . .)

The next second, they look like this . . .

I kind of like most of them better this way, actually . . .

Next thing you know, Will is home sick in bed.  Catering to Sick Will’s needs is . . . HIS EVIL PREGNANCY-FAKING SHREW OF AN EX WIFE, TERRI?

Except . . . Terri’s actually being kind of nice.  She’s doing things for Will, like feeding him soup . . .

 . . . and bringing him his favorite DVD to watch while he’s sick (Singing in the Rain), and rubbing menthol on his back, and . . . HAVING SEX WITH HIM?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I like a Shirtless Schuester just as much as the next girl.   But there’s just something about watching a sick, hallucinatory, feverish Will, screwing that disgustingly horrible witch Terri, that makes me throw up in my mouth a little . . .

My sentiments exactly, Emma . . .

When Will is not busy screwing The Evil One, he keeps his sick self busy, by watching Singing in the Rain.  As a result, he has a dream that he and Mike Chang are starring in the classic musical . . .

In the dream sequence, the pair sing and dance to that INSANELY OLD song, “Make EM’ Laugh.”  (Well, actually Will sings, and Mike just dances, which is what Mike does best, anyway.)  I’ve been told by those significantly more educated in show tunes than myself, that the number was an almost frame-by-frame replica of the performance in the film.  I don’t know if that’s true or not . . .

All I know, is that I really liked the part in it where they did flips off the wall.  That was very cool!

 Meanwhile . . .

Glee Club Gets a New Look . . .

In Mr. Schuester’s absence, Rachel tries to take over Glee Club . . .

But . . . basically, nobody likes Rachel not even most fans of Glee.  So Kurt, commandeers substitute teacher, Holly Holliday (a.k.a. SPECIAL GUEST STAR Gwyneth Paltrow) to run the club instead.  We know Holly is a “fun” teacher, because she teaches her Spanish class about how many times Lindsay Lohan was in rehab (It was five, in case you were wondering . . .) . . .

“I RULE!”

 . . . and sings Conjunction Junction (from School House Rock) to her English class  . . .

Right . . . because there are SO many high school students, who don’t know their “ands” from their “buts” . . .

Ms. Holliday’s manner of teaching Glee Club is also a bit untraditional.  Unlike Will, who can be rather set in his ways (“Come on!  There’s gotta be a Journey song we haven’t done yet?”),  Holly’s all about being “loose,” and going with the flow.  (“Let’s go to Taco Bell, and toke up!”)  She even goes so far as to  . . .  ask the kids what songs THEY want to sing for Sectionals.

Shocking, right?

Puck is the first to volunteer a song.

He suggests, “that new song from Cee Lo, ‘Forget You.'”

At which point, the ENTIRE Glee Club (except Rachel, because she’s lame), yells back, “The song’s called F*&K YOU . . .  MOTHERF*&Ker!”  (Or, at least they would have said that, had they been REAL HIGH SCHOOL KIDS, and not actors on a “family show” airing on Fox at 8 p.m.) 

(Come on!  I would expect “title neutering” from other Glee kids — like Rachel, for example — but NOT PUCK!  No wonder those kids in juvie kicked his ass . . .)

Puck’s Faux Pas aside, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Gwyneth and the Glee kids’ “Family / Female Oriented” (She switched all the “he’s” to “she’s” and vice-versa.) version of Cee Lo’s iconic song.

Sure, the removal of the explicit lyrics took away a bit of the original song’s edge, but Gwyneth’s interpretation was fun and funky, in its own way.  But for me, it was the kids’ dancing that really made the number for me.  Brittany’s Robot Moves, in particular, cracked me up . . .

from the Vegemaryam Tumblr

Rachel didn’t seem to enjoy it, as much as I did, however . . .

“Kurt, have you been putting garlic on your tater tots again.  Your breath stinks!”

Later, when Rachel spies Holly and Sue bonding over “Animal Hoarders (?)” and red wine . . .

 . . . she quickly becomes worried that someone ELSE might actually get a friggin solo at Sectionals Holly will permanently usurp Will’s role as Glee Club coach.  So, of course, she rushes to Will’s home to tell him as much. 

As it turns out, Rachel’s fears were well-founded.  Because, when Will returns to the school, Sue DOES actually FIRE HIM!

And if you believe this firing is going to last, I have a Grilled Cheesus I’m selling on E-Bay for $20,000.

Buy it as a Christmas Gift for your loved one!

Sue Gets Humiliated by The Beiste / Takes it out on THE TOTS

Firing Will wasn’t the only change “Principal Sue” tried to make at McKinley High in Figgins’ absence.  She also tried to ban chairs?  (Yeah, I didn’t get it either.) 

 However, the poo REALLY hit the fan, when Sue tries, once again, to oust her other nemesis (aside from Will), Coach Beiste, by disbanding the football team.

“Who are your Cheerios going to cheer for, then?”  Beiste inquires calmly.

Honestly, there were ANY NUMBER of things Sue could have said in response to this.  But the most obvious replies are:

(1) There are other sports teams at this school, aside from your STINKIN’ football team; and

(2) We are a NATIONALLY RANKED Cheerleading squad.  We compete in NATIONAL COMPETITIONS.  Haven’t you ever seen Bring it On, or any of its 85,000 straight-to-DVD sequels?

And yet Sue, the Queen of the One Liners, was suddenly at a loss for words?  (What’s a matter Sue.   Karofsky got your tongue?)

Anyway, Sue is so EMBARRASSED (as she should be) about being bested by The Beiste, that she decides to rile up the student population by REMOVING TATER TOTS FROM THE LUNCH MENU.

Mercedes — who has been having a hard enough time coping with the fact that her BFF Kurt has started “seeing” Harry Potter Blaine, and now he only wants to hang out with him, and talk about “gay stuff” . . .

Gleeks tumblr

“Oh my gosh!  Every time I open my mouth, a little pink purse comes out!”

 . . . is CRAZY PISSED about the whole “No Tots” thing.  And so, she confronts, Sue about it.  Sue responds by showing Mercedes this . . .

And, just in case you are curious, that thing that Sue is holding in her hand is neither a toilet brush (as Mercedes suggests) . . .

 . . . nor, is it part of the tree where the Gummi Bears used to live, in that adorable cartoon from the late 80’s / early 90’s . . .

 . . . as Brittany suggests.   It’s broccoli. 

(Actually, I’d have to agree with Mercedes on this one.  Although, not about the toilet brush thing.  She’s on her own, on that one.  As far as vegetables go, broccoli is one of the lamer ones.  It’s got a mealy consistency, and ALWAYS gets stuck in your teeth. )

Did I mention that when Mercedes comes to Sue’s office, the New Principal calls her “Jackee?”

“Oh HELL, NO!”

And yet, despite Mercedes starting of a Tot Riot, Sue’s ban on the “Deep Fried Deer Poop” stays.  In fact, so many parents like the idea of their kids eating healthy, they petition for Sue to become principal PERMANENTLY.  

Can they do that?  I’m not really sure they can do that . . . Wait, why am I pretending like this show is at all RATIONAL?

Holly Tells Rachel that She Sucks.  The World Nods in Agreement

Well, that Holly is damn near perfect, isn’t she?  When Rachel starts bitching to her about how the “gangsta rap” they did in class earlier, hurt her back, Holly responds by saying, “Rachel, you suck!”

Then Rachel proves precisely just how much she sucks, when Holly tries to win the girl over, by allowing the Diva to perform the song of her choice.  “I was thinking of something fun, upbeat and glamorous with a good dance beat,” says Rachel.

So what “fun, upbeat and glamorous” song does Rachel pick to perform with Holly?  You guessed it . . . another show tune . . .

The song chosen one of the lesser known numbers from the musical Chicago.  (“Hot Honey Rag”?)  And what I recall most about it, was Rachel’s not-so-hot-honey-rag attempt at doing a cartwheel.  (Don’t worry, Rachel.  I can’t do them either.)  The Glee Kids really seemed to like it, though . . .

Then again, they like EVERYTHING .  . .

Well . . . ALMOST everything.

Holly Gets Fired / Kurt Gets Threatened / Mercedes Gets Made to Feel Like Deep Fried Deer Poop

Back to that weird Tater Tots Storyline . . . apparently, with Holly’s OK, Mercedes stuck tater tots in the tail pipe of Sue’s car.  As a result, Mercedes got suspended, and Holly got fired.  Then, to add insult to injury, Kurt tells Mercedes that because she (1) eats tater tots; and (2) has a gay best friend,  she MUST really be hungry for a man . . . specifically, THIS MAN . . .

WAY better looking than Tater Tots . . .

Now, while I’d LOVE to see Mercedes date that sexy stud pictured above, as much as the next gal . . .  I have to say, I’m not really digging the message this storyline sends to overweight teens (or teens with gay best friends, for that matter). 

Contrary to popular belief, not EVERY high school girl needs a boyfriend to be happy.  And not every girl who occasionally indulges in unhealthy foods is “eating her feelings.”  Whatever happened to the days (Season 1), when Mercedes tried to starve herself, but ultimatelylearned to love her body, and sang “Beautiful” to the school auditorium?  Seriously!

Then again . . . I’d probably sacrifice a few tater tots for THIS GUY. . .

Actually, I hate tater tots.  So, the decision would be a fairly easy one.

But you know who I WOULDN’T give up tots for .  . .

Talk about mixed signals!  One second, Karofsky is creepily winking at Kurt, and shouting out, “Hey Homo,” the next he’s even more creepily threatening his life.  What gives, Scary Bully Dude?

Will’s Return / Holly’s Story / Yet Another Musical Interlude

Later in the episode, Sue gives Will back his job, after all the Glee kids come to her office, “singing” his praises.  My favorite “praise,” however, came from Brittany who says:  “Will taught me the second half of the alphabet.  M and N seemed so similar that I got frustrated, and stopped.”

You know . . . she kind of has a point.

Later, Holly visits Will at his home, to apologize for trying to steal his job.   She also explains to him (and us) why she’s been a substitute teacher for 10 years, rather than seeking out more permanent employment. 

(10 years?  Either substitute teachers get paid A LOT of dough in “Lima,” or Holly’s been eating A LOT of cat food, this past decade . . .) 

As it turns out, some student named Cameo, who, according to Holly, looked like “an attractive Biggie Smalls.”

For the record, Biggie, I always thought you were MAD studly . . . RIP Dude. 

 . . . punched her in the face?  Weird . . . 

When Holly’s and Will’s romantic(?) interlude is interrupted by the EVVVVVVILLLL Terri, Holly makes me like her yet AGAIN, by telling Will, “Your wife is kind of a b*tch!”  (You got THAT right, sister!) 

Then Will kicks Terri out, telling her the Monkey Flu Sex was a mistake.  (Good call, Mr. Man Slut.)

It’s a damn good thing you’re pretty, Will . . . Because you kind of suck at life.

The episode concludes with Holly inexplicably wearing a Mary Todd Lincoln costume . . .

 . . . which she THANKFULLY changes out of to perform a mashup of “Singing in the Rain” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella” with Will and the Glee kids . . .

And while I am Hella, Hella, Hella sick of the Umbrella, ella, ella song, I did enjoy all the “puddle jumping” the Glee kids did on stage.  It reminded me of playing in the rain, when I was young.  Although . . . you’ve really gotta wonder about the McKinley High School budget, when they can’t even afford to plug up the leaky pipes in the auditorium . . . That water bill must be INSANE!

[www.juliekushner.com]

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