'Glee' recap: 'The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester'
Every show needs a villain and Sue Sylvester has proudly worn that label for six seasons. Glee fans have been shocked by her devious behavior, unforgivable insults, and uncanny ability to maintain a leadership position at school where shoving students into lockers is perfectly acceptable. But if there’s one thing we’ve all learned from fairy tales, it’s that the villain never gets a happy ending.
With that said, I was surprised to learn that Sue was not responsible for Dalton Academy burning down to the ground. (She must have been procuring her Apple watch that day.) Let the record show that Sue is annoyed. Not only is she overwhelmed by the smell of dry cleaned polyester uniforms, but she’s irate that Mr. Schuester went above her head to enlist The Warblers and members of the Glee Club in order to form a super group. Sue vows that The Warblers will be out on the street before the final bell. Mr. Schue, the New Directions, the homeless Warblers, and even Becky are all angry.
Sue attempts to smooth it over with the superintendent, but is thwarted by her own dungeon of doom. He knows about the hurt locker. He has seen the Klaine shrine, the Myron voodoo doll, and Sue’s very own centerfold in Penthouse. He has no choice but to terminate her employment at McKinley High. I have no choice but to wonder if Sue wore her medal in the photo shoot.
At this point, Sue does what anyone would do in her position—she makes an appearance on Geraldo Rivera’s show. Instead of giving Sue a chance to polish her tarnished reputation, Geraldo berates her for stretching the truth on numerous occasions. Guess what? Sue does not have Trinidadian roots, she was not the tambourine player for Wilson Philips, and she did not help in the extraction of Manuel Noriega.
Then Geraldo assaults her love life. He outs Sue for claiming to have romantic involvements with Dan Quayle, Matt Lauer, Johnnie Cochran, one of the Baldwin brothers, and the drummer of Jimmy Eat World. Michael Bolton even shows up via satellite to confirm that he is not the father of Sue’s child. For some reason, this revelation makes me sad. So long ThunderBolton69.
Sue reminds Geraldo that she has devoted her life to the students of McKinley High. Geraldo launches into another attack. This time he shows footage of McKinley students sharing horrendous acts, courtesy of Coach Sylvester. She slashed Artie’s wheelchair tires 17 times. She replaced Mercedes weave glue with mayonnaise. And she cut off the dreads from that kid in the God Squad. (Joe lives!)
Sue rants that these are all lies orchestrated by Will Schuester. Geraldo is eager to divulge that this character assignation was actually leaked by none other than Becky Jackson. The good news is that Sheldon did take up for Sue, but he is cloaked in darkness and his voice is altered to imply shady behavior. The only way to combat this defamation is for Sue to blame her parents. Since she was raised by Nazi hunters, she had to be tough.
Not so fast. Geraldo interviewed Doris Sylvester and the first thing out of her mouth is that she and her husband lied to Sue about being Nazi hunters so they wouldn’t have to be around her. She was a daughter they couldn’t love. And she was a biter. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
After punching Geraldo in the face, Sue leaves the room. Unfortunately, she misses the supportive interview Mr. Schuester gives on her behalf. She sneaks into the auditorium, demanding that the band geeks play melancholy music. It’s the perfect soundtrack for the conversation she’s about to have with her mother. Doris reminds Sue that she wasn’t an easy kid. Sue agrees, recalling that her earliest memories are trying to light her mother on fire. That’s still no reason for her mother to say that she didn’t love her. Pyromaniacs deserve affection too.
The moment takes a turn in the “let’s suspend reality” direction when Carol Burnett and Jane Lynch sing “The Trolley Song” together. Apparently, all it takes to remedy a lifetime of lying and unkind behavior is performing a beloved musical number. Rent seems like it would have been a more natural choice. I thought about “Seasons of Love,” but realized the lost cast of 2013 sang the song already.
While Sue is clang, clang, clanging in the auditorium, Rachel and some of the Old Directions are planning her future in the teacher’s lounge. Rachel recently returned to New York to beg Carmen Tibideaux to allow her back in NYADA. Mercedes and Blaine warn her not to get her hopes up. That plan is suddenly put on hold when Rachel gets a call from the producer for the Russell Simmons musical—she got the part! I barely remember her auditioning for anything, but hooray for Rachel! New York City, here she comes.
The next day, The Warblers kill choreography practice in the auditorium. The New Directions look like like a bunch of young kids. This has everything to do with the fact that on one side there are several young men decked out in matching snazzy blazers, while the other side has an actual kid in the lineup. Ironically, Myron is their best dancer.
Mr. Schuester encourages the two teams to be a unified group. It’s Jane who wisely points out that The Warbler uniforms are not helping their cause. Just as things begin to heat up, Sheldon interrupts practice with some terrible news. Sue Sylvester has just agreed to be the coach of Vocal Adrenaline. How did I not see that coming?
NEXT: The ‘80s called
Sue is a perfect cog in the Vocal Adrenaline machine. She runs her army of performers through a rigorous five-hour exercise program. Vocal Adrenaline channels their inner Tony Manero and do a lot more than strutting around the stage. Naturally, the team respects Sue’s willingness to push them harder than ever before. They welcome her with open arms and fantastic leg warmers.
Over in the choir room, Rachel receives a phone call from NYADA. After the longest silent pause in the history of television, Rachel announces that Madame Tibideaux is letting her back in. Sam is disappointed to hear that Rachel is going to do the musical instead of getting her degree. Something tells me Rachel will listen to Sam and return to school at the end of the season. We shall see.
One thing I didn’t expect to see is Sue playing the pipe organ. Will Schuster walks in on her banging out chords to a familiar tune as she promises, again, that the Glee Club will be destroyed once and for all. It’s the final countdown!
Quite literally, Piano Brad switches places with Sue and begins playing “The Final Countdown.” Will doubts that Sue can “out Europe” him as the air guitar battle begins. Once again we are transported back to the ‘80s. This time we are treated to a proper hair band salute. Plus, the writers choreograph the musical performance as a dream sequence, so it isn’t strange at all seeing Will Schuester with gigantic hair and leather pants.
Will apologizes to his fellow choir directors the next day for his embarrassing display in the auditorium. I can only assume he meant that part when he stuck his tongue out, because the rest was absolutely fabulous. He is promises to stop Sue from meddling.
As it turns out, Sue isn’t their biggest problem. The superintendent told Myron that if New Directions doesn’t win sectionals, all of the arts will be wiped from the school. What’s a Glee Club to do?
Why you perform of course. You combine your rag tag group of McKinley High kids with your clean-cut rich boys and make them all wear bright red blazers, while singing an original Darren Criss song.
Worry about sectionals tomorrow. Today, we sing.
“Rather Be” by Clean Bandit, Featuring Jess Glynne
I enjoyed the fact that the show started out with a fun musical number. I thought the New Directions did a nice job for the most part. I have to admit that I was disappointed when other soloists jumped in after Jane’s stellar opening. I also thought it was extremely random that Mason walked on his hands mid-song. Myron fighting for center stage was funny, and definitely lightened the mood.
“The Trolley Song” by Judy Garland / Meet Me In St. Louis
First of all, I don’t recall Jane Lynch’s voice being that high in previous episodes. I can only assume that her vocals were tweaked in post-production. Although she and Carol Burnett sounded okay together, I couldn’t get past the random song choice and forced storyline. I think a slower, more poignant song would have suited the moment.
“Far From Over” by Frank Stallone
I certainly agree with Sue Sylvester that Staying Alive is one of the best sequels of all time. This performance was full of leotards, hair scrunchies, and mini trampolines. Naturally, I loved it. The vocals were on point and the choreography was fun and nostalgic. I liked that they paired this performance with Sue burning the contents of her hurt locker. It moved that storyline along in a purposeful way.
“The Final Countdown” by Europe
Dressing Sue and Will in ‘80s garb was a genius idea. Making the moment a dream sequence was even better. Seeing Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison jump around the stage playing the air guitar in their street clothes was just as entertaining as seeing them in tight leather. It was a classic ‘80s video with a classic ‘80s sound. Both actors committed to the moment and sounded fabulous at the same time. It was a fun performance.
“Rise” by Darren Criss
Darren Criss is talented beyond words. I truly enjoyed his original song, and am blown away by The Warbler’s main vocalist. That guy can sing! The addition of The Warblers gives the New Directions a depth that they desperately need. Well done Darren.
Sue Sylvester: I wish you would have interviewed some of my more successful Cheerios. Quinn Fabray is currently enrolled at Yale. Brittany S. Pierce is a math prodigy at MIT. Santana Lopez was a Broadway understudy and now could have a very promising career as a high class prostitute.
Doris: We fell in love on a trolley.
Sue: You’d like to sing about it, wouldn’t you?
Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.