Damian McGinty arrives; Burt stands up to Sue; and Mercedes encourages New Directions defections. Plus: Grading the songs

By Abby West
Updated November 02, 2011 at 08:55 AM EDT
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Adam Rose/FOX

Glee

S3 E4
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  • Fox
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Glee had a pretty solid return last night after its baseball hiatus, thanks in large part to Glee Project co-winner Damian McGinty’s debut as foreign exchange student Rory Flanagan. The show was heavier on story than on song but having Burt Hummel mix it up with Sue added welcome spice, and watching the gelling of Mercedes and company’s Troubletones was fun. But the Quinn/Puck/Shelby story line left me feeling all queasy. We’ll get to that.

Sue hit the glee club hard on Sue’s Corner by reading out loud the budget for the high school’s production of West Side Story (a whopping $2.004 that I sincerely hope is not the actual annual salary of a math teacher in Lima). She then rallied her supporters to lobby McKinley High to change course and not spend that money on the play.

Turns out that Principal Figgins is not really the friend to the arts that Shuester thinks he is. (And why would he think that?) Figgins, caught between a rock and a different hard place, caved to public pressure and canceled the musical. I loved the cameo by General Hospital‘s Sonya Eddy as the angry mother who threw a brick through Figgins’ car window and who was standing outside the office window with the “ANGRY” sign. I had to rewind that scene twice to savor it.

Burt Hummel came to the rescue by getting Lima’s three funeral parlors (even the crematorium that has delicious brick-oven pizza… mmm, pizza) to completely fund the play. I couldn’t help but smile at the glee with which Burt baited Sue and met her putdowns. Or the steely, Clint Eastwood-esque way in which he told her that “Bullies don’t have a very good track record of messing with the Hummels.” Go, Burt! Even better than that, Burt decided to run against Sue as a write-in candidate. Yes! Now, I might not want Shue and Kurt as my campaign managers but it’s a start. Sue let it be known she’ll be playing up her special education concerns, hammering that arts budgets should go to that instead. Though, Burt’s point when he took his turn at airtime on the news (thanks to campaign regulations) seems to stand even with Sue’s new strategy: She spends an obscene amount of money on the Cheerios and that could be reduced and used to pay for other things, like say special education. Okay, I won’t let that niggling logic get in the way. Moving on.

Meanwhile, the very Irish Rory was staying with Brittany, who fully believed he was a leprechaun. He gladly played along, happily “granting wishes” in the hopes of losing his virginity to her. He made sure she got her box of Lucky Charms that only had the marshmallows and that her cat Lord Tubbington seemingly pooped candy bars. (BTW: Ewwww! to the fact that the two of them ate a candy bar that had been sitting in cat litter.) But by the time he tried to capitalize on the third wish, Brittany was thoroughly disillusioned.

I know it may have been a little heavy-handed to have Rory wearing green for most of the episode to really drive home the fact that he was an Irishman, an outsider, in this sea of red-wearing natives. But it also just worked, especially during his “Bein’ Green” solo as we followed him around the school and felt his isolation. His eventual entrance to the glee club (now wearing red) has the potential for beautiful songs (and a possible rivalry with Kurt). I am anxious to see how he’ll do in more upbeat, pop songs, too.

NEXT: While Quinn schemes, Puck gets closer to ShelbyAnyone else tired of watching Finn fight/ignore his leader tendencies and succumb to his doucheyer nature? First, he didn’t stand up for Rory as he got knocked around by every jerk in school (and there are lots), and later Finn by blasted Brittany’s simple, goofy belief system by telling her leprechauns don’t exist and calling her an idiot. Sure, he’d step up eventually, defending Rory and taking him under his wing, then apologizing to Brittany. But it’s beginning to be annoying to continually watch him play out that arc. (Though, was that a gleam in his eye when Burt brought up the possibility of Finn taking over at the garage?)

At the beginning of the episode, the New Directions ripped at each other in the wake of Mercedes departure, snapping and snarling as they despaired at the loss of one of the best singers in the group. Quinn blamed Schuester for being too hard on Mercedes in booty camp, Tina blamed Artie for not giving Mercedes the lead in the West Side Story. Finn lashed out at Blaine when he tried to help with the pep talk.

And of course Mercedes was looking for company over in her new club, pressing on Santana, who in turn pressed Brittany, to join her. And thanks to their lucky little leprechaun, Mercedes and Brittany got their way. And now the New Directions is down three members, whose new Troubletones really will spell trouble for the original club.

Gotta say that I find the whole Quinn story line abhorrent. I know her earliest incarnation on the show was as a queen bee who would often act out her insecurities by being a bitch, so I guess we’re not supposed to be surprised that she’d be willing to go all HAM on Shelby to get her baby back. But for some reason I find the level of treachery and callousness — playing on Shelby’s sensitivities to get into her house to babysit (“You’re a single mother, you’ve relocated, you have a new job, it’s no wonder you’ve stopped working out”) and setting her up for a visit from child welfare officers by planting baby botulism, hot sauce labeled “Beth’s,” and child sacrifice books in her apartment — just a wee bit too much to accept. Call me crazy.

And somehow Puck’s conscience and true love for baby Beth is far outpacing Quinn’s, which is wrapped up in her lack of a plan for her future and her need to possess something, anything, uniquely hers and perfect. Thankfully, Puck understood that possibly sending Shelby to jail unjustly was a little extreme and he went in and scooped up all the stuff that Quinn had planted. But by later making out with Shelby, who was admittedly in a vulnerable place as she felt the full weight of single motherhood, Puck may have taken Shelby out of the equation even more effectively than any of Quinn’s scheming. Kissing a student and possibly getting a child molestation charge? Yeah, that’s enough to get her kid taken away. (Note: I know there are no real consequences in this McKinley High world. I remember Sandy Ryerson — fired for touching a student but back peddling pot soon after. But I’m just saying. It’s a possibility.)

Santanna’s joy at having Brittany confirm that they are, in fact, dating was kind of nice to see. And yes, the bath together should have been a tip-off.

Question: Shue told the kids that “I don’t care what Sue does or who leaves us, everyone’s dreams are going to come true this year.” That’s a tall order, Shue. Are you sure you’re up to it?

Interesting note for the night: Brittany had a throwaway joke line denying “Selena Gomez pregnancy rumors.” Then overnight news broke in the real world that Gomez’s beau, Justin Bieber, has been hit by a paternity suit. Weird.

NEXT: We grade the performances and check the night’s best lines.

Performances:

“Bein’ Green,” Kermit the Frog Rory’s simple, clear-voiced ode to being an outsider rang true and was hauntingly beautiful. A-

“Friday Night,” Katy Perry Blaine really did remind us that glee club is about having fun with this light little ditty. Though it wasn’t the best showcase for his voice, it was exactly the playful little interlude it needed to be. B+

“Waiting for a Girl Like You,” Foreigner Puck’s lovely little guitar solo was just the right lullaby for Beth… and maybe for Shelby too. B

“Candyman,” Christina Aguilera The first big song by the Troubletones (Mercedes, Santanna and Brittany) screamed girl power. The ladies got to dress up in period outfits to perform the cut, off of Aguilera’s excellent Back to Basics album. A

“Take Care Of Yourself,” Teddy Thompson Rachel was right. This performance by Rory was magical. You could tell by Kurt’s jealous mau that he saw the challenge in Rory’s beautiful range. A+

Quotables:

Brittany to Rory: “You look magical and amazing. But I can’t understand a thing you’re saying.”

Brittany to Rory: “Your magical race makes my favorite cereal: Lucky Charms.”

Sue about West Side Story: “A musical about a race war that glorifies violence. It still seems extraordinarily gay.”

Sue on the budget for the musical: “Two thousand four dollars, people. That’s a year’s salary for a public school math teacher, wasted on fake switch blades and the soft packing of teen dance belts.”

Sue: “The arts are going down. Today the musical, tommorow the glee club. Next week NPR and opera and brunch and Tom Bergeron.”

Santanna to Mercedes: “Someone’s gotta look out for Brittany. I mean, that special place where she lives? Sure, it’s beautiful but someone’s got to help her across the street.”

Roy to Finn: “I love everything about America. Especially NASCAR, your half-black president, and Victoria’s Secret catalogs.”

Finn to Rory about Brittany: “Yeah, she’s kind of like Rain Man with boobs.”

Finn when Roy asks to be his friend: “In America dudes don’t ask dudes to be friends. Except on Facebook, but even then it could take years. “

Sue to Burt: “You mess with me, I will Temple of Doom my way through your chest and pull out your still-pumping artificial heart, which I will then hook up to my car to power us down to the lumber jack convention for some deep discounts on the midwest’s largest selection of ill-fitting flannel.”

Sue to Burt after he stood up to her: “I’m literally horny with fear. You might want to sneak a handful of Will Shuester’s patented butter flavored follicle cream. Put some on your melon. That way you don’t have to keep wearing those baseball caps that are fooling ab-solute-ly no one.”

Brittany to Rory after he asked her out to dinner: “You’re not supposed to eat anything but four-leafed clovers anyway.”

Brittany to Santana when she asked to talk about that “thing we talked about before”: “What? That Sour Patch Kids are just Gummy Bears that turned to drugs?”

Puck: “Global warming is awesome. All those melting ice caps keep my pool-cleaning business open from March through Thanksgiving. I do my part by revving my car’s engine every day and never getting a smog check.”

Santana to Rory: “Here’s the deal, Pixy boy. You’ve got a crush on my girl Brittany. I understand. She’s beautiful, she’s innocent. she’s everything that’s good in this miserable, stinking world. Do you agree? Nod. Good. Also, she thinks you’re a sprightly green mythological creature. But I know you’re a potato-eating poser. But since Brittany likes having a pet Irish, I’m not going to explode you.”

Santana to Finn: “That’s right, double stuffed, fatty, gassy, McGravy pants. We’re just one big happy happy family. You are such a bacon-wrapped bug-eyed hypocrite. It’s friggin’ hilarious how jealous of Blaine you are. Every time he opens his dreamboat a cappella mouth, you’re just itching to kick him right in the Warblers.”

Santana to Sugar: “I did not just leave one diva-driven glee club to join another. Let me write you a reality check, Richy Bitch. I’ve seen what you can do, and what you can do is stand in the back, sway, and sing very, very quietly.”

Hockey team bully to Rory: “Say U2 is overrated!”

Rory: “No, never!”

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Glee

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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