Shelby shows off her 'Poker Face,' while Kurt and Finn reach a new understanding

By Tim Stack
May 26, 2010 at 04:00 PM EDT
Adam Rose/Fox
S1 E20
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Gaga-licious. Gaga-tastic. Gaga-ful. I think those completely made-up words best summarize my feelings of last night’s episode. If that doesn’t do it, then let me say that my keypad is stained with the many tears I shed during last night’s episode (clearly I’m a wimp). I mean I knew that I would love it because I love anything involving Lady Gaga, but I had no idea it would be so moving and so powerful. Bravo to Ryan Murphy who wrote and directed last night’s episode. It’s without a doubt one of Glee‘s finest hours of the first season, and that’s sayin’ something for such a blockbuster initial year.

The heart of this episode was the difficult relationship between Finn and Kurt. Burt invited Finn and his mom to move in which, of course, pleased Kurt to no end. He even pledged to redecorate the basement bedroom they’d both be sharing. I’m not sure I buy Finn’s mom just springing this on him as a surprise since it’s kind of a big deal. But it was a necessary push for Finn to learn an important lesson. You could feel the tension bubbling up inside Finn, especially after his football buddies teased him for being in glee and living with Kurt. But when he used a gay slur, it was incredibly shocking. The biggest surprise though was when Burt Hummel heard Finn and stood up for Kurt. We’ve always seen Burt’s tenderness with his son, but this hit a new chord: Burt had never had to defend his gay son before, and it was utterly heartbreaking and lovely. The thing that made it even worse was that you could tell Finn knew he had really messed up. But it was an amazing moment for Glee, capped off by the simple gesture of Burt grabbing his son’s shoulder in an act of support. Mike O’Malley is completely Emmy-worthy. We’ve never seen a character like this before on television or seen such a relationship between a father and son. Just thinking about it makes my eyes well up.

Who do we think made Finn that Gaga costume? His mom? That was quite a look. Very few men can pull of red vinyl shower curtain but he did it.

I love that Principal Figgins fears vampires. That subplot was incredibly amusing, especially the gang of crazies attacking the newspaper guy at the beginning of the episode. Plus, it finally gave Tina something funny to do! Loved when she was wearing that boring hoodie and said she ”felt like an Asian Branch Davidian.”

MIA during this episode: Sue and Jesse St. James. I understand Sue being gone, but isn’t Jesse still part of New Directions? Where was he?

The other big emotional powerhouse of the night was Rachel finally confronting her mother, Shelby. Of course, in true Glee diva form, the big twist was revealed while Shelby performed ”Funny Girl.” And, like a moth to a big musical flame, Rachel realized who gave birth to her. It was actually quite a nice moment for Lea Michele. Her face while watching Idina Menzel perform was fabulous. You had a great sense of what was going on in Rachel’s head. But I don’t really understand Shelby wanting to meet her daughter and then reacting so coldly. What happened to the lady crying in her car in the rain over her missed opportunities? Hmmm. In any case, it did give them some quite lovely moments together including a fabulous cover of ”Poker Face”…speaking of which….

NEXT: Grading the performances

”Funny Girl”

Idina Menzel finally got something juicy to sing, and boy did she deliver. It almost felt like watching an audition for something. In fact, it was like an audition for Menzel to star in a Funny Girl revival. Make it happen, Broadway folks! B+

”Bad Romance”

One of the most anticipated performances of the night, and for me it did not disappoint. I love that it actually looked like a high school performance of Gaga, complete with slightly janky costumes. The choreography was great, and it was fun to see various members of the cast take on parts of the song. I’ll bet it’s a performance that plays quite well on tour. A

”Shout It Out Loud”

Not surprising that the guys chose to do KISS for their lesson in theatricality. What did surprise was how good they were at it! I’m not even a huge Kiss fan, and I totally dug that song. Bonus points for putting Puck in a costume that shows off his arms. A-

”Beth”

Truth time: I had never even heard this song before. But it’s such a great tune. Now, I’m not sure Quinn should name her baby Beth just because Puck sang a song about it — that seems a little rando. But it was a nice little moment between the two of them and it was fun to see Puck take lead vocals. And the song oddly fit well for Finn too. A-

”Poker Face”

One of my all-time favorite Glee moments. Just having these two powerhouse voices tackling a duet was pretty incredible but they just pulled it off so well… although, I do admit, Shelby singing about ”bluffin’ with her muffin” was a tad weird especially since she was singing to her daughter. Still, the vocals win out over logic. A+

THE BEST LINES I’m giving the edge to Tina.

BEST: ”My parents won’t even let me watch Twilight. My mom says she thinks Kristin Stewart seems like a bitch.”

RUNNER UP: ”She changes her look faster than Brit changes sexual partners.” Kurt on Lady Gaga.

What did you think, Gleeks? Were you caught in a bad romance, or were you positively gaga over this episode?

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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  • 05/19/09
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