The episode opens with Jacob Ben Israel interviewing Puck, who tells him that he's still confident in his and Lauren's chances of winning prom king and queen note
using intimidation and fear. Jacob then asks him where Lauren keeps his balls, because gossip has it that she's castrated him and she's wearing the pants in the relationship. Puck doesn't take this too well. Title card.
Figgins announces to Will and Sue that his favorite band (Air Supply) canceled on performing for prom, and that he's in need of a last-minute replacement. He offers Will four hundred dollars for New Directions to perform songs at prom, and Will agrees despite the fact that Nationals is coming up fast because they could use the money. As prom coordinator, Sue vehemently disagrees, but agrees as long as Will doesn't perform the worst numbers they've ever done in her opinion ("Run, Joey, Run", "Crazy in Love/Hair"...).
Glee club room. The girls are already talking about prom. Mercedes says she's not going because she's dateless. After Will announces that they're performing at prom (and Rachel, poor girl, immediately suggests Run Joey Run
) and mentions dates, Mercedes walks out. Rachel offers to follow her, and when she does confront Mercedes, the latter reveals that she's bummed because of her lack of a date. Rachel is quick to organize a "Prom on a Budget" - she, Sam and Mercedes go as a group while keeping expenses at a minimum. Sam agrees. In the meantime, Kurt asks Blaine to prom. The latter is reluctant because of a bad experience with a Sadie Hawkins dance. But since he loves Kurt so much, he agrees to go.
We see Tina, Brittany, Santana and Lauren dress-shopping. Santana takes Kurt aside and offers a full security deal from the Bully Whips because she could really use the votes. Meanwhile, Artie's clearly bummed about his breakup with Brittany. Puck asks him to help him spike the punch since his bad-boy rep hit a rut. Artie declines because it's not badass enough to impress Brit.
Auditorium. After asking the A/V club to give her their opinion of this potential prom number, Rachel sings the first couple of lines of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". Her singing's then interrupted by one Jesse St. James, who steals the next verse. They then continue singing it as a duet. When the scene cuts to a shot of them talking it out, Jesse reveals he's flunked out of college and is back in Ohio to make amends. And just like that, Rachel's off the prom date market. Well, he's joining "Prom on a Budget," but you get the idea. And
Finn's apparently heard about this, and is not too happy about it. Rachel says he lost the right to have any sort of say over who she dates after he broke up with her, and just wants him to be supportive. She suggests a corsage for him to give to Quinn, and walks away with tears in her eyes.
Home Economics class. Brittany doesn't want to crack the egg because it's a baby chicken's home
, but she is saved from doing so with the timely intervention of Artie, Puck, Sam, Mike, and Finn, who serenade her with Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely", to which Mercedes immediately replies "I thought this song was about a baby"
. Artie apologizes and asks Brittany to prom, but Brit still declines. Artie decides to take Puck up on his offer to spike the punch.
Casa Hummel-Hudson, where Kurt shows off his hand-made prom outfit (it's got a kilt) in contrast to Finn and Blaine's plans to go simple. Burt and Blaine talk about how it might not be appropriate considering the bullies out there, but Kurt won't be swayed. We next see him with Karofsky, being escorted to his next class. Kurt says the bullying seems to have stopped, and he's only letting Karofsky do this because it makes him feel better. The scene ends with a heartfelt apology from Karofsky.
Quinn's house, where Quinn's mom goes gaga over her daughter and Finn. Finn notes that she's the most beautiful girl he's ever seen. Quinn, in powder blue, notes that the corsage matches her eyes - score for Rachel, who'd told Finn what to do in the first place.
Breadstix, where we get banter and chit-chat from Sam, Mercedes, Rachel, and Jesse. Finn and Quinn arrive, and Finn makes an offhand comment about eggs to Jesse note
. Jesse responds in kind by stealthily insulting Finn's dancing. Mercedes tells the both of them to get lost, and soon, the quartet leave for prom.
First number of the night is Rebecca Black's "Friday," performed by Artie, Sam, and Puck. Brit does live up to her promise of dancing with people's dates, as we see her dancing (or jumping on) Mike. Next up is a slow dance to "Jar of Hearts," sung by Rachel. She's obviously singing it to Finn, as we see with the constant glances between them. In the meantime, Sam asks Mercedes to dance, telling her exactly what she'd dreamed of hearing; that she looks beautiful and he'd love to dance with her
. Afterwards, Puck attempts to distract Sue, and it works for two seconds after which she catches Artie trying to spike the punch. We then cut to a room where she interrogates
him to try and see who put him up to it (and fails).
Back to the gym, where Blaine's starting a rendition of "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You." Despite the fact that he's dancing with Quinn, Finn grows increasingly jealous of how comfortable Jesse and Rachel seem to be, and when Jesse starts kissing Rachel's neck he picks a fight with the former. Well, it's mostly pushes and shoves and a single punch (which Jesse nicely dodges) before Sue throws them both out. Good thing, too, because she was about to pull Artie's teeth out
Figgins announces that Karofsky won Prom King, and Santana, along with the student body, is delighted. It turns out, however, that Kurt
won prom queen, which devastates Kurt, Quinn, and Santana. We then get a nice montage composed of the following scenes:
- Rachel follows Quinn into the bathroom, where Quinn says it's all Rachel's fault because everybody knows Finn would rather be with her before slapping her. Rachel tells Quinn she's the prettiest girl Rachel's ever met but she's more than that, and Rachel offers her a tissue as the Faberry shippers are once again whipped into a frenzy.
- Brittany follows Santana into a classroom, who wonders why Karofsky won and she didn't. Brittany says it's just a crown. Santana says she'll move to a lesbian colony (or Tribeca), and asks if it's that obvious she's a lesbian. Brittany reveals that she voted for Santana and tells her that they have to be in the gym to support Kurt.
- Blaine follows Kurt into the hallway. Kurt is the most upset, saying that all this time they were just hiding their hate. Blaine offers to bail, and Kurt resolves to go in there because he doesn't want the bullies to win.
And he does. He accepts the crown with a witty comment note
. Figgins is obviously proud of him, and says that the king and queen must dance. Kurt asks Karofsky to come out and make a difference, which he can't do. Karofsky bails, and Blaine steps in and offers to dance with Kurt. People stare at them for a bit before Rachel twirls onto the dance floor. People start dancing, and the episode ends with everybody dancing to Mercedes and Santana's cover of "Dancing Queen."
Tropes present in this episode:
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Eat your heart out, Kate Middleton, indeed.
- The Bus Came Back: For Jesse.
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: Mercedes even lampshades it.
Mercedes (about "Isn't She Lovely"): I thought this song was about a baby.
- Dance Party Ending: The end of prom.
- Duet Bonding: "Rolling in the Deep," sorta.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Finn and Mike use plastic containers and cheese graters.
- Freudian Slip:
Kurt: Go with God, Satan. [handwaves] Santana.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Finn, judging from the reason why he picked a fight with Jesse at prom.
- Heel-Face Turn: Karofsky, who is genuinely sorry for what he did to Kurt.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Mercedes.
- Invisible Backup Band: Averted with "Isn't She Lovely," where after the first verse Puck, Sam, Finn, and Mike come in (the first two are playing guitars while the latter two, are, well, using plastic containers and cheese graters.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Rachel giving Finn advice on what corsage to give Quinn.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Sue almost gets around to pulling Artie's teeth out when he doesn't tell her who put him up to spiking the punch, but thankfully Finn starts a fight with Jesse before Artie loses any molars.
- Lady in Red: Santana. Kurt lampshades it by saying it goes with her personality.
- Man in a Kilt: Kurt's prom outfit incorporates a kilt.
- Oh, Crap: The look on the ND members' faces after Kurt wins prom queen.
- Poke the Poodle: Artie spikes the punch with lemonade.
- Prom Is for Straight Kids: Blaine is reluctant to go because some guys beat the crap out of him and his (male) date at a Sadie Hawkins dance. But it's (mostly) averted, as they do get their dance and Brittany is seen to be dancing with a girl at one point.
- Serenade Your Lover: "Isn't She Lovely," sorta.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Rachel comforting Quinn even after the latter had just slapped her hard across the face.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Figgins even reading out Kurt's name could count as this.
- Torture Technician: Sue threatens to pull Artie's teeth out if he doesn't tell her who spiked the punch.
- Woman in Black: Tina, as per usual.
- The Woobie: It's easier to list the people who don't need a hug in this episode.