As a singing substitute teacher, the Oscar-winning guest star proves a genius addition to McKinley High's roster
I am in love with Gwyneth Paltrow (somewhere my parents are shrieking with most likely an equal amount of shock and delight). She. Was. Ridic. Like soooo good. If Darren Criss is my new faux boyfriend, Gwyneth Paltrow is my new faux girlfriend. Yes, EW readers, I’m a faux bisexual bigamist when it comes to Glee.
Seriously, how good was Paltrow? Give the gal an Emmy now. I honestly would hold this TV guest stint up against some of her best performances ever. There was just something so easy and fun and loose about her portrayal of substitute teacher Holly Holliday. Someone needs to greenlight Gwynnie in a romantic comedy…and I’m not talking about Shallow Hal 2. All this AND Matthew Morrison had a shirtless scene! It’s like the producers projected my id on Fox. Who knew Rupert Murdoch and I would have such similar tastes?!? One of the best Glee episodes of this season…and maybe ever.
So monkey flu swept through McKinley High and took out both Figgins and Will (Looooved when Sue set up that girl to sneeze directly ON Figgins. Pure Sue.). So old Mr. Schuester was put out of commission but not before he hallucinated that the entire New Directions group was a bunch of adorable toddlers.
Enter Paltrow’s Holly Holliday, who had been substituting for Will’s Spanish class. (This scene showed off Paltrow’s Spanish-speaking skills, which came as no shock to fans of her PBS travel show with Mario Batali.) Holly’s big thing was that she wanted to make it fun for the kids to be at school and she wanted them to relate to her. So how better to spice up Spanish class than to have the kids discuss La Lohan’s rehab stints in a foreign language? Then, after Holly performed “Conjunction Junction” (my FAVE Schoolhouse Rock of all time!!) while subbing for his English class, genius Kurt decided to see if she would take over New Directions duties in Will’s absence. And thus Glee history was made…
Immediately, Paltrow had great chemistry with the rest of the cast as evidenced by the “Forget You” performance which I have now seen approximately 500 times. (More on the performances — complete with letter grades — at the end of this recap.) But who would ever have guessed we’d get a chance to see Gwyneth talk about smoking weed and going to Taco Bell (“Let’s go get some tacos!”)? That is the brilliance of this episode and her character. Another awesome moment? Holly totally taking down Rachel (“Rachel you suck!”). Despite that bluntness, she actually befriended the glee club diva in the end. In fact, EVERYONE loved Holly—even Sue. Well, at first she liked her. The pair bonded over their love of Hoarders (another stroke of genius).
With glee club under control, Will kept himself mostly at home and under the care of uber-beast Terri. Ugh. Me no likey. Terri has pretty much been MIA this season and I gotta say her return was not exactly thrilling for me. She’s just such an unlikable character.
NEXT: Let’s get a storyline for Mercedes that doesn’t revolve around her weight, shall we?
I totally get the idea of having a villain but we have Sue—I’m not sure we need Terri (although she was the one who instigated the shirtless Will moment, which I appreciated). In the wise, wise words of Will, “Don’t come back.” And, another reason why I feel like this episode was written FOR ME: Will watched Singin’ in the Rain to feel better, which is totes one of the movies that always makes me happy!
Meanwhile, Sue took over being principal and immediately attempted to wield her power to little effect, particularly with Beiste. So she instead decided to ban junk food from McKinley, which angered most of the students, who were apparently obsessed with tater tots.
Now I love Mercedes and I always want her to have major storylines. But I’m kinda all set with plots about her weight. I get that Kurt having a new pal might be depressing for her, but the tater-tot rampage was kinda out of control. Also, tater tots? Really? All that being said, I totally thought her dinner scene with Kurt and Blaine at Breadstix was both hilarious and completely accurate. When two gay dudes get together, the conversation does almost always become hijacked by gay stuff. I will admit to being guilty of this conversation theft. I will also admit to laughing my ass off when the tiny purse fell out of Kurt’s mouth. High-larious. And that’s the thing that I appreciate so much about Glee: Last week, Kurt’s sexuality was the central emotional storyline of the episode, and this week it was played for laughs. Kurt’s character has to walk that fine line between being a role model and becoming too saintly. I think the writers are navigating that tightrope quite, quite well.
Best of all, the door was left open for Paltrow to return to Glee and the New Directions gang. It’s cool by me as long as she does her Mary Todd Lincoln impersonation again. Again, Paltrow + Glee = Emmy. Yes?
This will go down as one of the most memorable and energetic Glee performances ever, thanks in no small part to Paltrow. It was like a burst of sunshine…yes I’m starting to sound cheesy and saccharine. And you know what? Forget you! Okay, I have to go watch it again… A+
“Make ’em Laugh”
This dream sequence totally showcased the amazing dancing abilities of Matthew Morrison and Harry Shum Jr. (Bonus: Don’t miss my ab-tastic interview with Shum on EW’s PopWatch blog!) It’s hard to compete with a classic like Singin’ in the Rain but these dudes, especially Morrison, came quite close. B+
An almost-scene-for-scene recreation of the climax for 2002’s Chicago, but that’s not a slam. It was glamorous and full of energy, although it did seem like McKinley’s theater hired a new, very talented set designer. B+
“Umbrella/Singing in the Rain”
Could a local high school pull off such elaborate water effects? Probably not. Do I care? Definitely not. Glee is a musical—it’s not reality. So in terms of a musical fandango, I loved this mash-up of the two songs. It’s worth it alone to see Gwyneth dance around in rain boots. A-
NEXT: The best lines from this week’s episode!
THE BEST LINES
“You make the underflaps of my breasts burn like when I used to rub them with poison sumac.” –Sue to Will
“I suggest selling yourself on Craigslist under the heading of ‘Men seeking Men with butt chins.’” –Sue to Will on how he should pay for her car
“Her name was Cameo. She was like an attractive Biggie Smalls.” –Holly describing a nightmare student
“Are you a porn star or a drag queen?” –Terri questioning Holly Holliday’s name
“Wow, your wife is kind of a bitch!” –Holly to Will
“Hoarders and red wine? I’m buzzzzzzzed!!!” –Holly bonding with Sue
“They look like deep-fried deer poop.” –Brittany describing tater tots
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