SummaryFor today's wankyness, we're going to explore certain facets of one Arthur Abrams. Yes, time for Kevin McHale to have A Day in the Limelight as we see how he struggles through day after day as well as how he relates to the rest of New Directions.
But first, we set the mood with some Red and White. Yes, Sue's whacky bunch of Polyester Pirouetters start proceedings with some double dutch based routines and GODDAMMIT WHY IS BEN ISRAEL HERE?! 35 seconds in and I wanna weep like a small child. As it turns out, I'm not the only one as we pan up to see a certain newly ex-Head Cheerleader in the bleachers staring at her now former colleagues. Finn joins her and says she shouldn't torture herself, only for her to reveal why she's distracting herself; a sonogram worth $685. Ouch. Quinn knows this is the beginning; meds, clothes, all the basic elements for when the baby arrives. Finn makes the mistake of asking what "we're" gonna do, Quinn correcting accordingly. Finn is looking for a job, almost got Olive Garden but evidently they don't like 6'3' busboys. Quinn insists somewhere in that cavernous space between Finn's ears is a man, and wants him to prove to her she chose the right guy to have a kid with.
And we go back to Ben Israel. It's like they want me to hate this show; (un)fortunately, they still have at least three, possibly four more seasons to get me there. Anyway, JBI proves there is just as much of a gaping hole between the eaxwax by daring to suggest to Sue that with Q gone, so go her chances at Nationals (and just so there is no confusion, cheerleading competitions share the same overall structure as show choir competitions). Sue naturally says otherwise, also naturally, a strong routine by normal standards is mediocre by Sue's, as the team is told to hit the showers. JBI presses about Q getting kicked out and Sue confirms, stating the obvious reasons, then declaring the info off the record to cover her tracks lest someone starts a ruckus.
Meanwhile, we see Will complain to Figgins about how none of the buses have wheelchair ramps. Figgins, who never met a dollar he didn't shield with his very life, says McKinley has a specific budget; when Will calls the Double Standard on the Cheerios!, Figgins demurs by saying Sue's money comes from outside boosters. Will's nostalgia kicks is, saying the bus ride was the best part of the experience. Well, with April Rhodes around, I have no doubt. Figgins tells Will to get the money himself as we hit the Title Card.
Land of Room and Choir. We see Tina stare forlornly at Artie tying his shoes, panning over to Finn telling Quinn he struck out again. Quinn says another bill came to her house, then tells Finn the bills have to be paid lest they go to collections and if the parents Fabray find out about their unknown grandchild, they will unleash hell on Earth. We then cut to Puck behind them subtly glaring at Fuinn as Will comes in with a new number. Turns out certain judges like standards, Broadway (which of course makes a certain member most pleased), et al. Said member says she can defy some gravity. Unfortunately for Rachel, she's not the only one who enjoys some Wicked music, as the competitive Hummel puts on a Death Glare.
Mercedes complains about the strictly formula thus far, saying she'd kill it better than Hummelberry could. She'll get her chance 91 episodes from now. Will of course hears none of it and Berry gets the bid. He then announces a bake sale to raise money for a wheelchair bus; Santana declares bake sales "bougie" as Brittany declares recipes confusing. And thus Brittany drops her first non sequitur; this will of course not be the last. Rachel's dads love their takeout as Finn says kids are busier now than when Will was in school whereas Will declares insensitivity. He's not entirely wrong on this one. After they leave, Will finishes tying Artie's shoes, Artie saying they just don't get how he lives.
And now we get Artie on the six-string, with the most famous ode to A Date with Rosie Palms. Actually, this context is more benign, as it's more about Artie's disability isolating himself from the rest of the group, and in this case, Tina. As he's in the auditorium lamenting, Will's in the wings; ND's insensitivity plus Artie pouring his heart out igniting the cells within the curls. In Gleehaven, Kurt wants to audition for the Wicked solo, Will refusing as he tends to other matters, namely, ND's treatment of Artie. The rare forceful Will declares the bake sale; either Artie goes, or they withdraw. And to drive the point home about Artie, a fleet of some of a local nursing home's finest transportation is revealed. New Directions will spend a week living how the Abrams lives. And of course, a number is thrown in.
With the actual Idol in the background, we see ND struggle to adapt to their new method of moving around; Rachel in particular dealing with the height difference. And since a pariah is a pariah, she also gets a faceful of dubious stroganoff. Hey, the Big Quenches have to take a breather. In the home ec room, Quinn and Puck are baking the cookies, Puck deciding to try and step up by giving Quinn the $18 he earned cleaning pools. Quinn, apparently preferring the jobless and dim over the self-employed and less dim, rejects it. Eventually, eggs and flour are thrown around, passions are stirred up and cue the Mood Killer. Yes, Finn enters, sees the dirtied Quinn and Puck and wonders if they know the eggs and flour are supposed to wind up in the bowl. Then again, knowing Finn, he probably didn't know either.
Burt's Tire Shop. Burt, after not seeing his favorite donut in the box, then sees a distracted Kurt who laments about how Will won't let him sing "Defying Gravity" because it's usually sung by women. Burt wonders why can't he, stressing about how there's more crossover between "established" gender roles. We then see a visual of that in the form of McKinley's newest member of the wrestling team, Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink). We'll get back to her in due course. Cut back to Kurt, who's ennui is enough for Burt to go right to Figgins, who goes right to Will who capitulates quickly. We'll debate his guts later. We cut to between Choir Room and Figgins' office where it's decided there'll be a "Defying Gravity"-off; ND will judge. Rachel, after hearing the news, reacts in predictable style, saying it'll be a popularity contest. Kurt gets ND to swear to judge on the voice, not the looks. Rachel, of course, invokes Diva Storm-Out #25, though it is harder to stage a diva storm-out in a wheelchair.
Figgins praises Will for the wheelchair idea, only for Will to then ask for another ramp. Naturally, like a siren song, the Adidas Archangel swoops in and declares ramps "lazy makers". Figgins then decides to have the Cheerios! in wheelchairs as well. Sue naturally objects, leading to the above quote and the unintentional Foreshadowing for Q therein. Figgins also decrees that with Quinn out, there'll be an open call to fill the slot, with Will overseeing for fairness.
Bake Sale. They're hard enough, throw in a school that sees you as less than nothing and it takes everything in you not to eat your sorrows away. We see Brittany, not in a chair and leading a student towards the baked goods. This is Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter), a Downs student who will become important in due course. Brit-Brit buys Becky a cupcake as Quinn blows up at Finn for his general ineptitude, asking how he'll take care of the kid when he can't sell a cupcake. Finn sends it right back, kicking his wheelchair in the process and starting a Running Gag that'll become a part of his character. Quinn storms out, leaving Puck with a smug grin. Again, he has a job, just saying.
Gym. We see Will and Sue with the auditions. Among them are Mercedes, Kurt (we will follow up on this in a few episodes), Lauren Zizes, JBI (WHY?!). Sue's about to bail when Becky shows up. Will and the rest of us expect her to unload with both barrels, but in one of the first examples of Sue being a wildcard, she let's Becky onboard. Smart move, as Becky will become Sue's right-hand woman and personal minion all the way until the halfway point of Season 5, ultimately becoming head of the Secret Service for VP Sylvester.
Cut to Puck reading Finn the riot act for how he's acted lately, his own anger at being left out of the situation bubbling to the surface. When Finn complains about how no one's hiring, Puck says that's no excuse, and that Finn's spent so much time bitching and whining that he's hasn't taken the time to see how it's affecting her. Finn says Puck's out of line, only for Puck to declare Finn a punk who doesn't deserve to have Quinn as his girlfriend. That's enough to hit Finn's Berserk Button, and fighting ensues. Will tries to play peacemaker, goes about as well as you'd expect.
After the break, we see Artie trying to teach moves for the wheelchair number, complete with Brad Ellis in a chair as well. Tina stays behind, saying how hard being in the chair is. Artie says it's like Tina's stutter, after a while you don't notice it. We then get some backstory for Artie; car wreck at 8, numb from the navel down, genitals remain functional. That last bit of info was a bit too much for Ms. Cohen-Chang, and she wheels off. We then cut to the choir room where we see Kurt go through vocal runs, with piano accompaniment. This serves as dramatic music as we intercut with Burt getting a phone call about Kurt, referring to him as the standard slur. Burt is naturally pissed and tells Kurt as such, saying he wishes the missus was still around. This rattles Kurt's confidence as we cut to Finchel, Finn fixing a wheel on Rachel's chair. Rachel expresses her nervousness about the "Diva-Off", saying as much as she wants the solo, the fact that it's ND, who tolerate her on a good day, pretty much seals her fate. Finn of course is the exception. Unfortunately, possibly, Quinn arrives with another bill, saying if Finn doesn't pay, he'll pay. Finn says he's screwed, Rachel disagrees.
After the break, we see the bake sale jumping, apparently Puck found an old family recipe and the cupcakes are flying off the shelves. We then get the V/O: No recipe except the basic one, Noah gots his bake on, his love for Quinn and desire to be a family kicking into overdrive. Of course, the appearance of one Sandy Ryerson should tip off what the "secret ingredient" was, Noah even adding a sob story so Ryerson lowers the price. Hell, he didn't even go overboard, just added enough to trigger the munchies. Like I said, comparatively speaking, more brains than Finnegan. We then cut to Sue putting Becky through drill, Becky quickly tiring out as Will looks on from the sidelines. He tries to complain about Sue "bullying" her, only to say she's not like everybody else. Sue of course pounces on that, saying Becky wants to be treated like everybody else.
And now, Welcome to Diva-Dome. Finn offers Rachel his support, natch, while we see Kurt and Rachel alternate. However, Kurt's rattled confidence, coupled with a need to spare Burt any supposed embarrassment, causes him to tank the highest note in the song. Afterwards, we see Quinn at her locker as Puck arrives. Seems he got his Robin Hood on, robbing from the "rich" (ND) and giving to the "poor" (Quinn). When she calls him on it, he says he may be a team player, but his family comes first. This in turn causes Quinn to remove the tag of "Lima Loser" from him, calling him romantic. Admittedly, we will say they aren't too bad as a potential couple, and we weren't that surprised that they officially got together near the end of the series. Quinn does however see that taking the bake sale money was wrong and does plan to return it.
And naturally, this brings in Finnegan, who got scheming with Rachel to con a restaurant into hiring a "handicapable" person. Finchel, you're a pair of idiots. Nonetheless, Quinn seems to at least appreciate the effort, sitting on Finn's lap as he wheels away, her eyes locking on Puck's. After the break, we see Puck hand over $1200 to Will, a damn good take for any bake sale. Artie, after being told to give it to Figgins and apparently still rattled over Tina, says he'd rather the money go towards a ramp for the auditorium. Turns out, Artie need not worry, as the Chaotic Neutral with the bullhorn wrote a check to cover three ramps. We then see the reason why Sue's got a soft spot for the disabled; her older sister, Jean, has Downs herself and is in a nursing home. Sue comes to visit every week. Even the most tyrannical despots have that one side of themselves.
We cut to Tartie having a wheelchair race, which of course Artie wins. Tina rises to give him a kiss, then reveals something we've suspected since the start: the stutter's fake. Turns out, Tina was shy (no really) and figured if it made people think she was weird, she'd be left alone. Artie, as you'd expect, doesn't take this well. Cut to the tire shop where Kurt tells Burt he blew the "Diva-Off" because winning it would bring more calls and more threats to the Hummel family and he wanted to protect Burt. We conclude business with a little Rolling on the River, some "Proud Mary" to roll us out for the week.
Next Time: False revelations come to light, as we'll see a former Cheerio! broken by her demon father.
Songs in the episode include:
- "Dancing With Myself" performed by Artie Abrams.
- "Defying Gravity" performed by Kurt Hummel and Rachel Berry.
- "Proud Mary" performed by New Directions.
Tropes appearing in the episode include
- A Day in the Limelight: Some of the focus shifts to Artie and Tina, who are usually background characters.
- Dancing with Myself: Artie performs the Trope Namer song, wheelchair-dancing by himself in the auditorium after he's hurt by the rest of the group's indifference toward him.
- Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: The introduction of Robin Trocki as Jean Sylvester and Lauren Potter as Becky. Averted with Kevin McHale, who doesn't actually use a wheelchair.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Rachel's attempt to storm out in a wheelchair, bumping into the door frame.
- Food Fight: Quinn and Puck.
- Foreshadowing: Mercedes tries out for the Cheerios.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: The series notably averts this trope, as Sue states that disabled people want to be "treated like everybody else."
- Odd Friendship: Quinn and Artie, possibly from bonding over her pregnancy and his being paraplegic.
- Pet the Dog: Sue with her sister and with Becky.
- Romance-Inducing Smudge: Puck wipes batter from Quinn's nose.
- Wheelchair Antics: The New Directions' performance of "Proud Mary," which features wheelchair dancing. The episode has the entire Glee club spending part of their day in wheelchairs to help them relate to Artie, a wheelchair-bound member of the club, topping it off with a musical performance of Proud Mary while in the chairs. Complete with wheel-chair choreography.