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Glee - The Power of Madonna
Spoiler Alert!

Last night's episode of Glee was all about the music, specifically Madonna's music. You can actually buy a CD with just the music from this episode (minus the one actually recorded by Madonna herself, ironically). So, instead of a blow-by-blow recap, I'm just going to list the songs that showed up in the episode and describe the circumstances that lead to their performance. Glee fans have been anticipating this episode for almost the whole 4-month hiatus. I'm interested to know how it lived up their expectations. For me, I think it did very well. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a huge fan of Madonna. I recognize her talent and her cultural significance, but I don't seek her music out for my personal listening pleasure. So, I'm curious what the real Madonna fans thought.

"Ray of Light" (1998)--Sue Sylvester thinks Madonna is the greatest woman who ever lived. So, she's decided that the Cheerios will be using her as a role model. So, she forces Figgins to play Madonna music over the loudspeaker, which apparently inspires all the girls in the school to dress like Madonna in her various incarnations. She also tells the Cheerios to always ask WWMD (What Would Madonna Do). The answer: date a younger man (freshmen raid the middle schools; Brittany starts dating a 7-year-old) and lose the last names (Becky Jackson becomes just Becky). Also, she decides to use "Ray of Light" as background music for a routine for Nationals--using stilts. Of course, Sue isn't satisfied: "Sloppy freakshow babies,"

"Express Yourself" (1989)--Rachel asks the girls of New Directions what she should do when she feels pressured to have sex. This leads to a discussion about how badly they've been mistreated by boys lately. Mr. Schuester overhears the conversation and, having witnessed Sue's Madonna-themed routine, is inspired. As often happens, Will takes Sue's actions and turns them on their ears. He assigns the glee club the task of coming up with a Madonna number in hopes that it will help the boys treat the girls better. For instance, Artie has demanded that Tina change as a condition of their getting back together, and Puck is just a jerk, to put it nicely. Kurt, of course, loves the idea and volunteers to help Mercedes with a multimedia presentation to honor the . Finn and Puck don't like the idea. Puck says the music doesn't fit show choir, but Rachel shows them it does. She and the girls perform the song in costumes, black suits with bright-colored corsets, and choreography reminiscent of the original video. Will and Kurt are impressed. Puck is disgusted. The others look a little bored. I thought it was pretty impressive.

"Borderline" (1984)/"Open Your Heart" (1985)--"If this leads to something bad for all of us, don't expect any more friendship from me." Rachel and Finn meet in the practice room because Rachel realizes the boys need some help with the assignment. She convinces Finn to sing a mash-up with her to put the boys at ease. Unfortunately for her, Finn has found out that she's still dating Jesse (because the girls figured it out and told him), and he confronts her about it. She asks him to be her friend and trust him, and he agrees but warns her that this is her last chance with him. As they sing, the old attraction rears its head, and they part quickly so it doesn't lead to anything. She later meets Jesse in the library (the Sondheim biography section so he could "express his melancholia" over try to pressure her into sex. It seems like she had intended to once more tell him of her doubts about their relationship; instead, she tells him she's ready for sex after all.

"Vogue" (1990)--The multimedia presentation Kurt and Mercedes orchestrate is a shot-for-shot re-creation of Madonna's Vogue video (with a couple of Gleetastic touches thrown in), with Sue Sylvester in the lead role. Will had finally had enough of Sue's insults about his hair, and he had insulted hers. It turns out, she's very sensitive about her hair. She is actually jealous of Will's lustrous hair because she has to keep hers short because damaged hers by bleaching it to look like Madonna. She tells Kurt and Mercedes a story about using ammonia and napalm because she didn't have anything else. Her parents, famous Nazi hunters, had left her and sister alone, and that was all they had. So, Kurt and Mercedes offer her a chance to live her dream to be Madonna. Artie directs the video. Who knew Jane Lynch could sing?

"Like a Virgin" (1984)--This was the centerpiece of the episode. Three virgins, Finn, Emma and Rachel, all decided they would all have sex for the first time. Finn gave in to Santana's offer (she just wanted a younger, inferior man so she could please Sue and become head cheerleader)--Finn is three days younger than Santana. Emma decided to take control of her body and have sex with Will because Sue made her feel inferior by disconnecting her intercom so she couldn't hear the Madonna music played through the speakers ("foreplay shall begin at 7:30 sharp"). Rachel is still unsure. In fact, when it comes time to actually go through with it, none of them seem sure. During the song, we're left wondering, will they or won't they? It turns out, only Finn did, and he's not sure what to think about it afterward. Finn and Rachel lie to each other later. Emma really does take control of her body and says no. I really liked this scene because, while it could have turned into a predictable cliché, the audience didn't know until later how it all turned out. Emma decides to get help for her germophobia so that she can be able to be an equal participant in her relationship with Will (which they decide to put on hold until his divorce is final). Also, Naya Rivera (Santana) and Jayma Mays (Emma) can sing, too [Editor's Note:  Of course, Jayma Mays sang "I Could Have Danced All Night" in "Mash-Up."  I forgot.  Oops!). Musically, this episode was full of surprises.

"4 Minutes" (2008)--Kurt and Mercedes are Cheerios. After they helped Sue see that she didn't need to mimic Madonna to be like her, she just needed reinvent herself, they reinvent themselves as cheerleaders. Sue has decided that vocals would give them an advantage at nationals. Will is unhappy. I can't really tell how Rachel feels. Quinn, for some reason, is delighted. Kurt and Mercedes tell Will they joined the Cheerios because they're unhappy with their supporting roles in the glee club. They've decided to do both.

"What It Feels Like for a Girl" (2001)--Will helps the guys with their assignment. He decides he needed to learn the same lesson about gender equality because he was all too eager to go along with Emma's misguided attempt at control. He thinks he just wanted the sex; he didn't really want to help her. Finn and most of the other guys seemed to have learned their lesson, too. Puck, however, still doesn't get it. Finn says they need to make it right with the girls. Artre apologizes to Tina (nice reference to the "Push It" number from "Showmance"); she accepts and kisses him. Finn apologizes to Rachel; she seems conflicted still.

"Like a Prayer" (1989)--Finally, we come to the shocker of the episode. Jesse had told Rachel that she deserved epic romance, and he gave it to her by transferring to McKinley and joining New Directions. As far as the show goes, it makes sense, of course. It gives the producers a way to bring the Jesse character back every episode for a while without having to invent an excuse to bring back Vocal Adrenaline. But, I wonder where this is going. I don't think this is going to end well, but I do think this was a great way to continue this story line. Finn realizes he can't compete with Jesse for lead vocals or for Rachel, so he accepts Jesse as an equal member and tells him that he'll (try to) stay away from Rachel.

There were other allusions to Madonna in this episode. There were just too many to list.

Two big questions lingered in my mind after this episode. How will the whole Jesse/Rachel thing work out? Jesse is really committing to this elaborate scheme to destroy New Directions. I don't see any way that it can be anything but a scheme after the look he gave the Vocal Adrenaline coach at the end of last episode--my friend thinks he'll turn out to be gay.

The other is, still, what is with Quinn and Puck? Why are they still together? I don't get it. Quinn, especially, was puzzling in this episode. In the scene with Rachel asking the girls' advice, she was drawing another caricature of Rachel labeled, "Loser," and she vaguely insulted her, but she also seemed happy to go along with Rachel when it came to the music. She was also very happy with the turn of events with Kurt and Mercedes. What do you think?

The quotation section will reappear next week. There's already a Brittany quote in the running for my favorite.