Well? Worth the three-week wait, right? Coming off that momentum-muffling fall break — thanks to the jocks who hijacked Fox with the World Series — Glee offered up the fittingly titled ”Wheels.” Not just because that was Sue’s un-PC name for wheelchair-bound Artie (the focus of the episode), but because the musical comedy quickly got back on a roll. For the second straight episode, we were treated to a new side of Sue. We watched Artie stick up for himself, Rachel save father-to-be Finn, and Puck turn into a criminally good baker and turn on his best bud, Finn. We also witnessed a dandy of a ”diva-off” between Kurt and Rachel. (More of these in coming weeks, please.) Clearly, this emotional episode gave us lots of material to recap, so stop dancing with yourself and start scrolling.
Sue Sylvester… Super Sister?
Last week we saw the romantic side of the Cheerios’ marvelously militant leader, and it was like someone opened a window on this character just a crack. This week, though, it was if someone punched it out entirely, allowing a gust of humanity to come rushing in.
The episode began, however, with Sue as her usual merciless self. Her response to Blog Boy Jacob’s assertion that she booted Quinn off Cheerios because Quinn was preggers? ”If I have a pregnant girl doing a handspring into a double layout, the judges aren’t going to be admiring her impeccable form, they’re going to be wondering if the centrifugal force is going to make the baby’s head start crowning.” (Okay. And ewww.) She was less than enthused about Figgins’ order to hold open tryouts for the vacant Cheerios spot, noting that ”as soon as a cheerleader rolls herself out onto the field in a wheelchair, she becomes decidedly less effective at cheering people up. Just a fact.” Not surprisingly, during tryouts, she Simon Cowell-ed the candidates, calling one hyper-limber hoopster a ”freak.” (Crab-dude, you made my fictional squad.) But when the last hopeful, a girl with Down Syndrome named Becky, demonstrated feeble jump-rope skills, Sue gave her the thumbs-up. Wha? ”I’m just following orders,” she shrugged to a highly skeptical Will.
Cut to Becky in boot camp. ”Those better be tears of joy, Becky! Faster! Harder!” barked Sue, a ”Bring It On” poster hanging in the background. When Becky shared that this was hard work, Sue shot back: ”You think this is hard? Try auditioning for Baywatch and being told that they’re going in another direction.” (No cut-away to that failed audition? Boo!) None of this tough stuff sat well with Will. ”You’re asking me to treat this girl differently because she has a disability,” said Sue, ”when actually it seems to me she just wants to be treated like everybody else.” Will was consumed with figuring out Sue’s angle, especially when he learned that she cut a check to buy new wheelchair ramps for McKinley. (His crusade came off as more grating than noble.) Of course, when Sue told Will, ”You don’t know the first thing about me,” we were being set up for a major Sue-prise: Turns out she’d been visiting an assisted living facility to spend time with her big sister, Jean, who has… Down Syndrome. She sweetly gave Jean a pom-pom, pulled out Little Red Riding Hood, and asked ”Want to start at the beginning?” Oh, yes, Jean did. As they held hands, Sue warmly read to her. POW! Sentimental sucker punch!
A little manipulative? Probably. But I didn’t care in that glorious moment. I’ll be curious to see how Glee handles Sue in coming weeks, though. It’s a rush to get a breakthrough moment like that, but hopefully the writers won’t yield to tender temptation too often or our Sue might lose her dictatorial swagger.
NEXT: Daddy love