Guest star Ricky Martin helps Will realize he's totally unqualified for his job as Spanish teacher

By Joseph Brannigan Lynch
Updated February 08, 2012 at 07:39 AM EST
Adam Rose/Fox
S3 E12
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Livin’ la GLEEda loca! Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s proceed unencumbered.

Last night was the Ricky Martin episode of Glee! Much like Gwyneth, Martin played a vivacious Spanish teacher who swooped into the drab daily grind at McKinley to show up Will Schuester at his own gig. And just like Ms. Paltrow, it seems that Martin will become a recurring character on the show.

Those similarities aside, the threat facing Schuester in this episode had much larger implications: Just when he was hoping to snag a recently opened tenured spot at McKinley, an anonymous complaint threatened to expose his (apparently mediocre) Spanish-teaching skills.

Enter Ricky Martin as David Martinez, a night school Spanish teacher at McKinley. Realizing he needed to brush up on his skills, Will showed up at to Martinez’s Spanish 101 course. Sure, it would have made more sense for Schu to seek a refresher course from a nearby community college instead of a remedial night class, but hey, this way they didn’t have to build a new set.

In Martinez’s night class we learned that Mr. Schu doesn’t know some very basic Spanish words, which doesn’t seem to gel with the passionate Will Schuester I remember from season 1 (but why ask for consistency?). We also got Martinez’s backstory: He’s an Ohio-born son of illegal immigrants and he’s spent most of his life as a tooth model (nice touch) but eventually he decided dental perfection was hollow compared to the lasting contribution of teachers. (Question: With John Stamos cast as a dentist, what’s up with Glee’s fixation on teeth? Do people in L.A. think Middle America works entirely in dental-related fields?)

In Sue’s corner, things are getting weirder each week. This episode found her dead-set on becoming a mother (fair enough) and intent on conceiving her own child with the man-juice of someone at McKinley High. In a scene that I’m still trying to wrap my head around, she tried to convince the dudes of New Directions to start donating sperm, which I have to imagine didn’t help her bid for tenure.

After sexually harassing those boys, Sue dropped a bomb on Will: She wanted his Schuester juicester to conceive her child. If two years ago someone told me this would be a Glee subplot in the show’s future, I wouldn’t have believed it. Well, here we are. Later on, Sue explained to Emma why she wanted the child of a man she hates, but even Jane Lynch’s adept performance couldn’t erase the weirdness of the scenario.

Back to a normal plot line, Will made the big mistake of inviting Mr. Martinez to a glee club meeting. Schu seemed to think it would up his Spanish-language cred, but instead the comparison just made clear to everyone how superior Martinez is — as a hottie, a Spanish-speaker, a tooth model, and even as man-crush for Artie.

Will’s chances were looking grim for tenure and so were Sue’s — she had also received a complaint from the student body (It turned out to be from Becky, oddly enough, and not one of the five teen boys she had urged to jerk off into a cup). Smelling blood, Coach Roz (NeNe Leakes, who continues to impress) made her bid to take over the Cheerios.

NEXT: Schu’s bizarre matador dance and Mercedes, the two-timing ho

Although Roz’s spitfire offensive play against Sue was full of well-delivered jabs (“Maternity leave? With whose vagina?”), I couldn’t help but feeling the writers overdid it a touch. After all, Sue barely got in any retorts — where’s that Sylvester spunk these days? Still, seeing Roz challenge Sue’s supremacy was one of the episode highlights.

Another highlight, for me, was Kurt, Mercedes and Rachel sitting in bed, munching on popcorn and watching Twilight. The friendship between Kurt and Mercedes is sadly downplayed these days, and aside from that, it’s always nice to see the Glee kids just being kids sometimes (not that adults don’t eat popcorn and watch Twilight… I’ve heard).

The scene also gave Mercedes an opportunity to toy with the Bella Swan problem (how can you love two guys at once?) and Rachel a chance to spill the beans about her engagement to Finn.

Kurt managed to stay sworn to secrecy for the time it took him to leave Rachel’s house and find Finn in the weight room. Kurt argued that Finn was too good to consign himself to “holding Rachel’s purse” for the rest of his life: Finn should chase his star as well. Personally, I kinda see Finn growing up and following Rachel around like a puppy while she headlines regional theater productions, but that’s just me.

Although Kurt spoke some much-needed truth to Finn, I really hope that Kurt’s quickie screed didn’t actually change Finn’s mind. If he’s going to take back his marriage proposal, that realization should be the crux of an entire hour, not the sub-subplot of a celebrity guest star episode.

As for Mercedes, she and Sam went to Emma for some guidance. Ms. Pillsbury might have been short on good advice (“stop texting each other”?) but the pamphlet she handed Mercedes, entitled “So You’re A Two-Timing Ho,” should be framed and put in the Smithsonian.

After a glitzy performance of “La Isla Bonita” by Santana and Martinez (more on that later), Will Schuester took the stage to put the final nail in the half-buried coffin that was his Spanish-teaching career. Performing an ostensibly Latin-flavored version of “A Little Less Conversation” in full matador regalia, Schu — to put it bluntly — made a complete moron out of himself. Even with Brittany and Mike Chang charging around the stage like rabid little bulls, it was an unmitigated public relations disaster for Mr. S.

It was painful, but then again, it was supposed to be terrible: That opened the door for Santana’s detailed critique of why Schu isn’t qualified for his job. Santana was right to say Schu was too out of touch to even know when he should be embarrassed about the stereotypes he was perpetuating. Then again, you have to wonder why she couldn’t have spoken to him in person before complaining to Figgins, ruining his job, and dressing him down in front of his entire class.

With Will’s ineptitude on full display and Sue’s influence waning, the sought-after tenured position went to Emma (Marry her quick, Will, and ride that high school teacher money train!) I was questioning the wisdom in that decision (I love Emma, but all she does at school is distribute pamphlets and scrub grapes) until Coach Beiste informed the also-skeptical Schuester that Emma’s “Taint Misbehavin’” pamphlets have “revolutionized” the way her football players tend to their junk. With that kind of unnatural attention to teen boys’ privates, Emma couldn’t be more deserving of a tenured teaching position.

The episode wrapped with Will Schuester handing over Spanish teaching duties to David Martinez, telling his jubilant replacement that he was moving to the History Dept at McKinley. Will Ricky Martin become a semi-regular character? That would be awesome! Then again, given how long it’s been since we’ve actually seen Schu teach Spanish, there’s a good chance that we won’t see Ricky Martin on Glee again for a long time.

NEXT: Grading the songs and rounding up the best linesThe Songs:

“Sexy and I Know It,” LMFAO: Really? This was the best opening number they could think of for Ricky Martin? Even with half of the lyrics in a language I don’t speak, it was still idiotic. C+

“Don’t Wanna Lose You,” Gloria Estefan: With Estefan’s ’80s ballad recast as a tinkling Motown number, Mercedes stunned with another song directed at Sam. It’s been a treat to hear her develop the softer side of her voice. A-

“Bamboleo/Hero,” Gipsy Kings/Enrique Iglesias: Another Samcedes winner, this mash-up of the Gipsy Kings (who hail from France even though they sing in Spanish) and the inimitable Iglesias made me hope Chord Overstreet opts for a permanent spot on the show. B

“La Isla Bonita,” Madonna: More spectacle than technical, the dancing wowed but their voices just didn’t connect for me on this empty club version of the Madge classic. I would have preferred to hear a stripped-down acoustic duet between the two. B

“A Little Less Conversation,” Elvis Presley: Terrible, but then again, it was supposed to suck: It did its job well. Still, C-.

Choice Lines:

“In jail. Or dead. Or both.” –Puck on his future

“I had noodles with the President and a threesome with Michael Phelps.” –Roz on reaping the benefits of her Olympic bronze medal

“One day I realized I was spending so much time flossing that I was missing my life. I want to make a difference that lasts longer than a grin.” –David Martinez on the evils of flossing

“Mr. Schu, what’s with the shiny coat? I thought you were Kurt.” –Finn on Schu’s matador outfit

“Who’s more macho than Will Schuester?” –Schu to himself, in Spanish

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