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Glee: Bad Reputation

Rating:  PG for language

Spoiler Alert!

Well, kids...if you thought last week's episode was a downer, you were probably downright depressed after last night's episode.  I think that if the fans of Glee made a list ranking the episodes (taking a page from the episode itself), this one would be either in the top five or the bottom five.  For me, it was a very flawed episode.  The story wasn't moved along much (in fact, it was confused a little, which may or may not turn out to genius in the long run), and the music was mostly, to use a word my brother would, craptastic.  But like many things that have flaws, it turned out to be better in spite of them in the end.

For the third episode in a row, a scene involving Sue Sylvester opens the show (seriously, it must be in Jane Lynch's contract that her character begin a certain percentage of the episodes--or maybe the character is just that good).  This time, the gleeks are watching a video on Kurt's laptop.  It's Sue dancing to Olivia Newton-John's "Physical," and the kids are finding it hilarious.  Finn decides he's going to post it on YouTube, and everyone except Rachel thinks that's a good idea.  Rachel is convinced when Jesse says the glee kids "need to stop being such asses and start being bad-asses."  Thus, the theme of the episode.

Finn's prediction that it would go viral by lunch comes true, and Sue finds out quickly while walking down the hall hearing students taunt her instead of the other way around.  At first, she just thinks she's had a "good" influence on them, but then one of them mimics her dance moves, and she knows the glee club has her video.  Of course, she drags Will into Figgins' office to threaten a lawsuit "as soon as I figure out the difference between slander and libel."  Will isn't buying it because his kids were good kids.  To prove that they're not so good, Sue produces a list of  glee kids ranking them with a promiscuity (or "hotness") quotient.  The list was made on a library computer using the password "glee club" so it's obvious one of the gleeks did it.  Hence, in Sue's twisted mind, they stole the video.  It's not good logic, but as often happens with Sue, she happens to be right by accident.

Next we see the "glist" itself.  Quinn's at the top followed by Santana, Puck, and Brittany (followed interestingly by Jesse).  At the very bottom is Rachel (with the only negative score).  Rachel finds the list posted on a wall and tears it down.  It's clear to her, also, that it was made by a fellow gleek, and she's not happy.  Back to Figgins' office, and Sue brings the conversation back to her humiliation.  She wants the thief punished, and she uses the list to get what she wants.  Figgins threatens to shut down the glee club if Will doesn't find and suspend the person who made the list.

In the practice room, Will holds up the list and demands that the person responsible step forward.  Santana accuses Puck because, well, he's the obvious choice.  He's just the kind of person who would do it and, as Tina points out, his girlfriend is first on the list and Rachel thinks he did it because she "refused to put out" for him.  Puck sticks by his denial.  Will warns them that they're getting a bad reputation, but Artie asks why that's bad.  Maybe they need a reputation for danger to keep his glasses out of the toilet.

To get his point across that "becoming what you despise is not the answer," Will's assignment for the club is to turn a bad song into something good.  His example?  "Ice, Ice Baby."  Apparently, the gleeks get the point, although I'm not sure I did.

Sue enters the teacher's lounge to stares and "slow motion laughter."  She's humiliated, and she's thrown for a loop.  A new teacher, Brenda Castle (Molly Shannon), approaches her.  She informs Sue that she transferred from Indiana where she can't any longer because she had a "drug problem" that involved "students." (I think that's what she said; correct me if I'm wrong)  When even she makes fun of Sue for the video and calls her an embarrassment, Sue knows she's in trouble.  More slow motion laughter.

Cut to Rachel asking Artie to help her rehabilitate her reputation.  She's still not happy about being so low on the glist, and she wants to make a music video showing that she can be just as bad as everyone else.  She thinks that "bad boy athletes and celebrity sex tapes" help certain careers; so, she's going to dirty up her own reputation a little.  Artie says, "You had me at sex tape.  How can I help?"  I guess she doesn't really have it in her to do anything really bad because she only wants to be "musically promiscuous."  Artie looks vaguely disappointed.

Commercial break

The gleeks that didn't even make the list, Kurt, Tina, Mercedes, and Artie, gather in the practice room to decide what they're going to do to get on the list.  Artie notices that Brittany is there and wonders why.  The answer is that she took all her antibiotics at once and can't remember how to leave.  Also, she wants to help.  She doesn't understand why she's only fourth on the list--she's made out with boys, girls, and the janitor.  She wants to get into the top 3.  Kurt lets her in.  Kurt announces that the worst thing a student can do at the school is to "be a disruption in the library."  So, they decide to wreak havoc in the library by "getting [their] glee on in the stacks."

Cut to Sue's sister's room.  Sue is telling Jean that she's sorry she was ever teased.  Jean reminds Sue that when she used to get down, they'd help at the animal shelter.  Sue decides she needs to do something for someone else "because there's always someone who's got it worse than you do."  In classic Sue fashion, she picks Emma to "help."  Because she has a masters degree in counseling, she convinces Emma that she should be the one to help her and also that she should confront Will publicly for making out with the Vocal Adrenaline coach and spending the night with April.  She found out about those things by bribing Will's landlord to bug his apartment with baby monitors.

Cut to Rachel's room where Puck is there helping her with her video project.  He's there because a girl invited him to her room, but she convinces him to help her with her song project so he can keep his reputation.  He asks her if she thinks he made compiled the list, and she basically says yes.  He at least pretends to be upset about it.  This is the scene that's been hinted at in spoilers in which Puck/Rachel (or Puckleberry) shippers convinced Ryan Murphy to put them back together again.  Rachel even uses the portmanteau (or word mash up, if you will) to describe them.  They don't actually get together, or even kiss.  She ultimately decides that she's still in love with Jesse.  What I want to know is, why wasn't Quinn mentioned here?

Commercial break

Sue's dragging Emma to the teacher's lounge to confront Will.  Emma is freaking out, but she goes ahead with it in the end.  Will is humiliated and chastised, and a random teacher is insulted.  In the library, the glist rejects (hereinafter called "the rejects") enter in vintage MC Hammer-style costumes to pull off their prank.  The song, obviously, is "Can't Touch This."  The result?  The librarian invites them to perform at her church--not what they had in mind.

Commercial break

Will is in his office interviewing everyone individually.  He reminds each one of their reasons for making up the list trying to get them to break, and they all deny it.  Finn says he's angry, but he didn't do it.  Mercedes says she has nothing against Santana, and she likes Brittany so she wouldn't try to destroy them.  She accuses Quinn, ironically.  Artie makes the very good point that the list posted too high for him to have done it.  Tina and Artie tell Mr. Schue that they saw Puck putting up the list.  Puck says he was moving it from Rachel's locker, "doing the right thing."  He points out that he wouldn't put himself at number 3.  He's the number 1 bad-ass.  Brittany doesn't know how to turn on a computer.  Quinn, predictably, accuses Rachel.  Kurt makes Will feel pathetic and denies making the list.

The rejects decide to risk expulsion and confess to Sue that they stole her video.  Maybe that will make them seem less like muppet babies and more like bad-asses.  Sue is journaling her humiliation and need to be nicer when she receives a phone call from none other than Olivia Newton-John herself.  The singer has heard about the video and, after Sue hangs up on her and she calls back, asks her to rehabilitate the reputation of "Physical"  because the original video was over the top and took the song with it.

Brenda Castle introduces herself to Will in the hallway and comes on to him.  He breaks away and runs.  Now everyone has heard of Will's indiscretions, and he's unhappy.  Ken Tanaka helps him realize that even if he didn't mean to hurt Emma, he did.

Commercial break

In the hallway, the rejects are preparing to confess their theft.  After a pep talk, Kurt strides up to Sue and tells her everything.  She thanks him.  He's devastated.  The rejects try to figure out what happened, and they find an online music video of "Physical" starring Sue and Olivia Newton-John herself.  It's a revamped version of the original music video with all the fat men removed and replaced with more muscle men.  The rejects like it.  I don't.

In the practice room, the gleeks are getting ready to watch Rachel's film.  Mr. Schue gives them one last chance to confess to compiling the glist.  No one does, and Finn says they might as well get ready to take their punishment.  Will isn't convinced so he calls on Rachel to show her project.  She introduces the film with some not-so-veiled insults.  The film is another music video, this time starring Rachel alongside Jesse, Finn and Puck.  It's set to "Run, Joey, Run," a particularly hideous 1970s song about a pregnant girl whose father wants to shoot her boyfriend but shoots her accidentally.  The three guys are not amused.  They each thought they were the only one involved.  Finn accuses her of trying to rehabilitate her reputation at his expense.  Jesse storms out.

Commercial break

Sue is back in Jean's room basking in her restored reputation.  She thanks Jean for helping her see that she would be rewarded for an attitude change.  The only time she's ever completely sincere is when she's talking to her sister, and she tells Jean that she realizes that the only person she wants to impress is Jean.  But, because Sue is Sue, even this isn't completely true.  She did gloat to the teachers about her musical success ("top 700"), but she donates her profits to Jean's nursing home.  Somehow, these scenes are always heartwarming.

Will goes to Emma to bring her flowers and apologize.  She accepts his apology but tells him that he's fallen off the pedestal she had put him on.  But, that was ok because if their relationship is ever going to work, they need to see each other for who they really are, flaws and all.  Jayma Mays (Emma) is really good in this scene.

As Will leaves Emma's office, he spots Quinn at her locker and has an epiphany--the person behind the list was the one who lost her reputation like he did.  He sits her down and tells her he knows she was behind the list.  She confesses.  The stress of her fall down the social food chain had broken her, and she was desperately trying to get back.  He reminds her that she didn't need the Cheerios uniform or the Celibacy Club (we hadn't heard about that in a really long time) to go places in life.  She was Quinn Fabray, and the students didn't "part like the Red Sea" because of her position but because she was a formidable person in her own right.  I know a lot of people probably saw this coming, but I let Quinn's unselfish act last week distract me.  So, this took me by surprise.  It wasn't a total reversal though.  She didn't mean to hurt anyone else; she was simply trying to regain her former status.  Figgins comes in as they're finishing their discussion, and Will convinces him to let it go because the glists have stopped.  Quinn thanks him for not turning her in.  I think this is another solid acting performance from Dianna Agron (Quinn) rivaling last week's.

Jesse breaks it off with Rachel after he gives her a speech about how he asked around and found out that the people who actually knew who she was said that she was selfish but would never lie.  He tells her that he understands her need to be the best performer, but he didn't expect her to use him after he gave up everything to be with her.  This leads to the final song, Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."  Rachel is trying to convince the guys to forgive her and Jesse to take her back, but they don't.

As a friend of mine pointed out, this seems to be a turning point episode, and when you're turning you don't go very fast.  In other words, the story wasn't advanced much in this episode, but there were some significant shifts.  Most significant was Jesse found a reason to break Rachel's heart--to further convince her that she wants him?  I'm not sure what the reason behind this is, but I'm quite sure it's not because he's really heartbroken.  I don't see this coming down to a confession that he originally intended to spy on New Directions but fell for Rachel in the end.  That would be too obvious, and I also don't think he's going to completely succeed in his plans.  I also think Jesse put the gleeks up to the gleeks up their bad behavior on purpose to try to get them all in trouble.

Also, obviously we haven't seen the last of Quinn this season.  We found out that Will at least assumes she will give up her baby, and she didn't deny it.  However, I think she's still unsure.  She's with Puck now, and I think there's still some drama in store there.  In the language of this episode, he is not a bad-ass.  He's just an ass, and I just can't see them staying together.  Also, during the scene with Puck and Rachel, Rachel could have easily mentioned that Quinn was living with him if that were true.  I'm not sure it is.  Stay tuned to find out.

Musical numbers
"Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice--Epic fail on this song.  Matt Morrison is usually at least entertaining when he raps, but this did not resurrect this song's reputation in my mind.  They looked like they were having fun, but it just made my stomach turn.

"Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer--The rejects actually did a good job here but again didn't reclaim the song from the trash heap.  It's still pretty bad.

"Physical" by Olivia Newton-John--Jane Lynch is a pretty good singer, actually, and so is Olivia Newton-John, of course.  But, this song is terrible.

"Run, Joey, Run" by David Geddes--Let me be clear, the song is horrendous, but I really enjoyed this film.  The singing performance were really good for such a (again) hideous song.  Maybe it's my Lea Michele bias is showing through, but the guys did great, too.  And, the film (with a cameo by Sandy Ryerson in a wonderfully ironic role) was brilliant.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler--This was also a great song.  It was by far the best music in the episode.  If this was meant to be a good song with a bad reputation, this was the only successful rescue.

Favorite Sue lines
To Figgins:  ...as soon as I figure out the difference between slander and libel, I'm filing a lawsuit.

He cannot have these shenanigans at this school.

Repeated several times:  cruel slow motion laughter

Voice over:  WaitWhat's that smellDear God, that's coffeeIt's usually masked by the smell of fearSweet merciful Lord, this is happeningYou're being laughed at in slow motion by a room full of inferiors whom you used to terrify.

To Jean:  I never really understood how hard it is to be laughed at, particularly in slow motion.

To Olivia Newton-John:  That's a ridiculous accent.  Immediately, in voice over:  Journal, I've learned my lessonSue Sylvester's gotta start playing nice full time.

Favorite line:
Figgins quoting a video comment:  The man in this video looks like the champion cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester.

Honorable Mention for favorite line:
Artie:  Excuse meWhy is she here?
Brittany:  I've been here since first periodI had a coldI took all my antibiotics at the same timeNow...I can't remember how ot leave.