Recap / Glee S2E7 "The Substitute"


No, there won't be a substitute recapper.

We start proceedings with some of Sue's minions carrying a new piece of hardware; Will notices as he is intercepted by Sue, who, in a Foreshadowing of Seasons 5 & 6, reveals that the Tracksuit Tyrant Takes the Helm; seems Sue came across an ill Lauren Zizes and that inspired her to engage in germ warfare by having Zizes sneeze on Figgins. Thus, with some blackmail to certain people in power, she's in command and three guesses what her crosshairs are trained on. Now, since Will's misery seems to come in pairs, when he turns to walk away, he gets the Zizes germs as well. Will stands stoic and flummoxed as we hit the Title Card.

We're in the choir room where Will, clearly feeling the affects, V/O's about how exposure is part of the territory, his regular voice starting to echo as a sign of the virus taking effect. His V/O feels like he's going under, but he feels he must power through it. Now this whole time, Will was writing on the board, his back to New Directions. You then know there's a reason for that and sure enough, when he turns around, he gets an hallucination of ND looking literally half their age. Admittedly, they did cast some rather cute kids for this, young Brittany even pulling out a nonsequitur. In any event, this confirms Will being under the weather. Cut to Will neck deep in tissues, looking worse for wear. We then look up to see Terri and sadly, this is not an hallucination; seems the neighbors got concerned. She cleans up the used tissues and tucks him in, then tosses him Singin' in the Rain, the film that he always watched when he was sick.

Cut to the cafeteria, where Kurtcedes stands, Kurt pissed because like clockwork, with Will gone, Rachel's ego asserted itself and she attempted a coup of New Directions, asking what solos plural she'll be singing. Santana, suddenly, decides to try and assert herself and it takes nearly all of ND to hold her back from making Rachel sing alto permanently. Cut back to Mercedes saying not to worry about it, Kurt turning down an offer of bowling to hang with Blaine. Mercedes asks if they're dating, Kurt accurately denies, citing Jesse as precedence; that and his feelings are too new. He's just happy to have a fellow out boy to talk to, regardless of anything else. After Kurt offers a raincheck, we cut to Mercedes and what looks to be an out of place O-Face; we cut to a tray of tater tots to explain it. She promptly makes a beeline for them, while Kurt says he has a suggestion for a temp glee director. Cut to Spanish class as a new V/O laments how hard it is being a substitute. We pan to reveal one Holly Holliday, and yes, played by Academy Award Winner Gwyneth Paltrow. After some somewhat Gratuitous Spanish about Lindsay Lohan, we hear her V/O about trying to relate to make it more fun for the students. Kurt arrives to ask Holly to take over Glee, turns out she prefers a more visual style of teaching, as a cut to Kurt's English class the previous week demonstrates, complete with some jazzy Schoolhouse Rock. Cut back to Holly accepting with her Catch-Phrase, "I'd thought you'd never ask".

Choir Room. Seems word is out about a sub, so a proper welcome is prepared, Noah buttering the floor while the rest of ND plan to swap names. Now the buttered floor serves basic comedic purposes, so it should shock no one that Kurtchel takes the slide; when Holly does arrive, she simply slides with grace while in the background, Noah stares at a possible conquest. Don't even think about it; she'll cross your eyes and numb your lower torso permanently. Anyway, she saw ND's Regionals performance and blames their loss on the song choice, saying they were someone else's songs, not theirs. She then reveals her being an eclectic sub, saying it's on them to have fun, giving them creative freedom while Rachel sits unamused at this new challenger. When she points out they haven't got a set list for Sectionals, Holly asks what would ND like to do and this Armor-Piercing Question causes ND to freeze. Turns out, as is wont to happen, Flanderization is in play as we cut to Puck suggesting Cee Lo Green and getting a refusal due to Will wanting to mine the entire Journey catalog. When Santana questions how Holly would know anything about modern music, Holly responds with Cee Lo's Signature Song, though the version rich in Bowdlerization because bleeps are expensive. All but Rachel dance and rejoice. Afterwards, we cut to the locker room where Beiste is lambasting players for putting athlete's foot spray in a teammate's eyes. Sue arrives to announce that, in a clear bit of posturing, the Titans are disbanded. Beiste points out the illogic; namely, what relevance will she and her minions serve? Sue clearly didn't think that far ahead; seems with Will gone, she's starting to fall out of sorts. We then see her write down in her journal how she needs a focus for her power. She then gets an answer as we cut to the more heavy set members of McKinley, Sue summoning Becky to memo that tater tots are off the menu.

Cut to the auditorium, where Mike and Will go into a performance that is designed solely to show off Harry Shum and Matthew Morrison's moves; this is too set up not to be another fever dream, and indeed the ringing of the doorbell wakes him up as we reveal Rachel coming over to complain about Holly, surgical mask in place. When Will expresses a lack of concern, Rachel reminds him of who's ultimately pulling strings; cut to Sue and Holly bonding as Rachel observes death glare in place. Cut back to Rachel saying that if Will doesn't return quickly, he won't need to return at all. Cut to Kurtcedes again in the cafeteria, and again Kurt blowing Mercedes off for Blaine. Compounding her troubles, as per Sue's orders, Brittana arrives to remove the tater tots from the cafeteria; we cut to Mercedes in Sue's new office complaining. Sue produces a head of broccoli, which Mercedes dismisses as a "toilet brush" and which caused Brittany to tremble due to it being a gummy bear tree. Lines are drawn as we go to break.

We return to Holly at Rachel's locker; after Rachel complains about a bruise due to one of Holly's "games", Holly calls Rachel out on her general demeanor, in between giving Puck the answers to a Spanish class pop quiz. She says Rachel has ideas, but basically Will won't loosen the reigns enough for her to do any of them, hence why she tries to fight for control. Rachel does have a song in mind, but the Steve Perry fanboi won't hear it. Holly will, and says Rachel and a partner will perform it. Cut back to Will's house where Terri continues to fuss over him, her chemically induced state putting aside the insanity long enough to help. Will laments that with Emma being with Carl and now Holly with ND, he's still searching for something. In the meantime, Terri decides to speed up the healing process with rub-in menthol. Will lies on his stomach shirtless and prone; this seems to stir up Terri's libido and thus... coupling ensues. Yay. Back to the cafeteria where Mercedes sits displeased. Kurt arrives to inform her that since Blaine is monopolizing his time, he's taken the liberty of setting her up on a blind date. Thing is, it's with one of only five guys in the whole school that match Mercedes' skin tone. Hummel, you mean well, but no. His day gets worse when Karofsky walks by to remind you that this is not a Breather Episode. Mercedes then decides to go Norma Rae and hold up the word "TOTS", nearly the whole cafeteria standing up with her. Cut to Sue declaring tot war.

Cut to Holly and Rachel with an upbeat Chicago mashup; afterwards, we cut to a still dilapidated Will arriving to take his job back; unfortunately, guess who he runs into? Yep. And thus, for the first of two occasions, Will is terminated. After the break, we head to Klainecedes at Breadstix, where Klaine espound on matrimony and the lack of avenues for same-sex couples while Mercedes sits bored. We then see how bored: we cut to a POV shot and it's literally Klaine saying the word "gay" while making proper sentence structure. Fortunately, Mercedes is saved by a tot-friendly waiter, though it's clear she's still losing her BFF to his new possible BF. Cut to the glee band members painting the walls as ex-employee Will arrives to clean out his desk and chew Holly out for taking his job, saying she's not around to deal with the fallout that comes from the fun elements of glee club. Holly believes in creative freedom, while Will wants controlled elements, a classic debate. She then admits a partial financial motive, citing the economy as a reason she needs the job. Unfortunately for Holly, we see that ever her looser methods have fallout too; cut to Sue's office where Mercedes shoved tots up the tailpipe of Sue's car. Hey, she asked Holly, who sits stunned at her own blowback and then admits she's clueless.

Cut to Holly at Will's place, sharing beers. Will tries to apologize, only for Holly to break down, admitting she's in over her head. We then get backstory; a decade prior she was like Will, only to become jaded, especially when a Mercedes-like pupil accuses her of witchcraft, then charges her. She admits a nomad lifestyle may work for her, but not at the expense of anyone else, therefore she's quitting. And because we can't seem to get rid of her, Terri returns, sees Holly and attempts to stake territory she has no business staking. Will will have none of it and dismisses her promptly. Cut to Kurt at his locker where Mercedes reveals she snuck tots into the school. Kurt figures out she's eating her feelings away due to his growing feelings for Blaine. He assures her she will find someone and she figures she might as well give the Titan with the matching skin tone a try. Unfortunately for Kurt, his personal boogeyman arrives to threaten and torment. Seems Kurt has understandably not blabbed to anyone about both Karofsky's unwanted oral violation and his self outing. Karofsky then decides to raise the stakes, warning Kurt that if he doesn't continue to keep his silence, he will be silenced permanently.

We start the home stretch with Will ready for groveling at Sue's Adidas. He need not bother, as testimonials from ND plus Sue clearly needing an adversary give cause for Will to get his job back, though ND will repair Sue's car as a condition. Cut to ND applauding Will's return, him saying that yeah Holly was fun, but the focus needs to be on Sectionals, and with him watching "Singing in the Rain" on loop, it inspired him. Thing is, ND's still iffy about song choices so we cut to Holly in a history class as Will approaches and asks her to help with some modernization; turns out we need only mash up some Rihanna to make it work. And thus, we conclude with ND doing some "Singing in the Rain" under the "Umbrella".

Next Time: A wedding, a viral dance craze, and a major shake up in the status quo.

Songs from this Episode

  • "Forget You" by Cee-Lo Green performed by Holly Holiday and New Directions
  • "Make 'em Laugh" from Singin' in the Rain.
  • "Nowadays/ Hot Honey Rag" from Chicago, performed by Holly Holiday and Rachel Berry.
  • A mashup of "Singin' in the Rain" and "Umbrella" by Rihanna, performed by Holly Holiday, Will Schuester, and New Directions.

This episode contains examples of

  • Ascended Meme: the glee version of "Forget You" became one of the best selling songs in the show's run, and Gwyneth Paltrow sang "Forget You" with Cee-Lo Green at the Grammys.
  • Berserk Button: Do not take away Mercedes' tots.
  • Bowdlerization: The song "Forget You" was originally "Fuck You".
  • Comfort Food: tater tots for Mercedes.
  • Flanderization:
    • All Will wants to do are Journey songs
    • Kurt and Blaine have their Camp Gay traits taken Up to Eleven.
  • It's All About Me: Rachel, when she takes over Glee club.
  • Spoofing in the Rain: "Make 'Em Laugh" and "Singin' in the Rain" are danced.
  • Token Minority Couple: Kurt sets Mercedes up on a date with one of five black guys in the school.
    Mercedes: Any non-black activities?
    Kurt: I don't know. My google search was a little...
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Sue takes over the school.
  • Artistic License - Biology: Mercedes and Brittany do not know what broccoli is.
    Sue, holding up broccoli: Do you know what this is?
    Mercedes: A toilet brush.
    Sue: This is broccoli. When I showed this to Brittany, she started to whimper because she thought I had cut down a tree where a family of gummy bears lived.