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Recap / Glee S 3 E 6 Mash Off

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And here it is. The most infamous moment in Glee's entire run. The episode where everyone, even people who loved him, hated Finn Hudson and, until he died, everything he did thereafter was tainted by these events.
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We start with a Puck V/O, talking about how he suddenly has a thing for Shelby, who walks by him not exactly thrilled to see him. See, it's unclear whether Puck wants another cougar, or whether he feels he has a responsibility to be in Beth's life. Granted, the camera focusing on Idina Menzel's ass seems to swing things toward the former, but most likely it's a bit of both; Puck gets the hot chick while being the responsible father. Unfortunately for Puck, it's pretty clear Shelby thinks the former as well, and is not thrilled. We cut to a geometry class that Shelby is subbing, the normal teacher having ate a bad cantaloupe and apparently Shelby was smart enough to get a backup degree. In any case, Puck fantasizes about Shelby becoming a "sexy" teacher and the Van Halen is of course obvious. Afterwards, Rachel questions the appropriateness of the song, and since ND has done much worse ("Push It", anyone?), this is clearly so she can inadvertently protest Puck wanting to hump her mother. Puck lies that he just digs Van Halen, though Finnegan seems to suspect otherwise as we hit the Title Card.

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We cut to Sue running an attack ad against Burt; it's as outrageous as you'd expect, the gist of it being Burt has a baboon heart. Yes. Will sees the ad and is naturally appalled, Emma calming him down and saying that they have to play nice because winning dirty is not winning. Um, all well and good Em, but you can only stand so much and if provoked, they can lash out. We'll of course get a hideous example of that later on. Cut to Sue's office where Kurt tells her off and she of course responds by saying it's politics, nothing personal, and that Kurt should know on account of Brittany whipping him in the McKinley polls. Kurt needs a cause to fight for, and he agrees, but maintains that he'll win with a clean campaign. Yeah no. In the lounge, Shelby approaches Will and, after placating his lamenting that he's the reason Brittana and Mercedes left for the Troubletones, reveals that she and Will (plus a group called the Unitards) will face off at Sectionals. Will then says that while he and Shelby get along, the competitive natures of both groups will equal chaos. He then points out that this is usually the time for mashups, like the previous two episode sixes, and this ignites the braincells as we cut to both groups on stage. Finn tries to act magnanimous, though it's magnanimous arrogance designed solely for Santana to lob her most vicious insults solely at him, the tension between the two clearly building up. We then get an attempt to defuse said tension in the form of both directors indulging in a unique mashup; two different songs with the same title, the idea being two conflicting things can create something totally unexpected. Will and Shelby then call for head-to-head mashups, declaring a Title Drop.

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Cut to geometry class, Puck giving Shelby a pumpkin as they were out of apples. Shelby remains pensive, knowing Puck's basically becoming a lovesick puppy and she wants no part of that, or him. Puck then gets very blunt with his intentions, straight up saying he wants her, Shelby calling him sweet but saying the kiss was a mistake. Puck disagrees, and then drops the L-word; again, it's probably a mix of wanting her and wanting to be in Beth's life. He basically says as much, and when Shelby tries to dismiss him, he remains stubborn. After the break, we're in the choir room with suggestions for musicnote , all of which are rejected due to being bands that broke up. Finn specifically cites Hall & Oates as a group together for the long haul. He then suggests his pet Irish for the solo because he's a generous lordmaster. Cut to Psycho Lucille, dormant the last episode, but rearing her ugly head again. She demands to know why CPS hasn't taken Beth, reiterating her futile plan. We then see another phase of said plan as we cut to her finding Shelby and, clearly putting her love for Shelby's other kid aside for the moment, asks to join the Troubletones. Shelby contemplates as we cut to Finn and Rory, Rory basically pledging his loyalty to his superior. Finnegan complains about the insults, saying Santana's been extra vicious in order to get in his head, and he wants to fight back. We'll get his obscene retaliation later as said Lopez approaches and lays down more smack. The two ND boys try to retort with token insults that are so very lame. Santana replies that insults are what raised her; her grandmother in particular was especially nasty. We'll see her later in the season to confirm this. Finn then offers a duel: dodgeballs at fifty paces, ND vs. Troubletones. Santana seemingly agrees as we cut to the auditorium, Rachel finding Shelby and asking her to rubberstamp a self penned letter of recommendation because Rachel. Shelby signs, then says she's proud of her kid. Rachel is understandably taken aback by this, Shelby expressing wonder at what's to come for her offspring, Rachel so overwhelmed by emotion that she puts the ego aside and asks her mother to write her own letter.

And now, dodgeball. And while the page image above is the sadly appropriate one for the main thrust of the episode, it really could've been any face that Quinn pulls during this event because they're priceless; there's a reason she earned the nickname "Lion Quinn". Rachel approaches Kurt and says NYADA applications are due and she needs one more letter of recommendation. She then laments her estrangement, only for Kurt to remind her that said estrangement is of her doing. Both teams stand ready, the Benetar & Blondie providing the soundtrack and the lyrical trash talking. Dodgeballing ensues, Artie with goggles on while Rachel protects the nose. While this all seems fairly tame, Santana, who as established is a victim of extreme Flanderization for hideous purposes, sees a special target: Rory, who's never played dodgeball before because he's not from North America (what? no, they do have dodgeball in Europe) and thus gets quite easily damaged. Everyone else out, Santana and the Troubletones go over and pummel him. This is a jerky thing to do, especially because he bleeds. Finn, who we've established has decided that he's lord protector of the Irish boy because he needs to be in charge of everything and make himself look like a good guy, now hates Santana even more. Of course, nobody could really find a way to justify the possibly-xenophobic bullying, except for the fact that certain members (Finn) of New Directions haven't been the nicest to the girls, and Rory was an easy target representative of Finn who knew what he was getting into playing such a dangerous game as dodgeball. Santana's taking the competition that she was told to take seriously a little too seriously. This is another microcosm of what's to come.

Cut to the Troubletones rehearsing as Mercedes approaches and suggests Adele for their mash up. Shelby agrees as Santana puts priorities in improper order. Mercedes tells her to stop going after Finn, only for Santana to attempt dominance. The rest of the group put her to heel, unfortunately, it turns out she was only placating them.

And here it is. We knew the tension between Finn and Santana would eventually reach a boiling point. This is when it spills over.

Santana goes to "apologize" to Finn and Rory, but mostly Finn because he is Finn Hudson, lord and master of all he sees. She instead says that he's chubby. And this is all the excuse Finn needs, though there is no excuse for what happens here. This boy is no longer sensitive about weight issues, and nobody is going to care about Santana saying it, if they even heard her because it was in close quarters. This is the moment when Finnegan Christopher Hudson shows his true self. He wanted a reason, and here it is, the most infamous Wham Line in the entire series, and he delivers it with the purest anger and hatred you'll ever hear from him...

"Hey, Santana, why don't you come out of the closet?"

Santana freezes, eyes going wide at the words and the realization that Finn just hit her with the one thing that would hurt her where she lived.

"You know, I think I know why you're so good at tearing everybody else down. It's because you're constantly tearing yourself down, you can't admit to everybody that you're in love with Brittany... and she might not love you back. That must hurt, to not be able to admit to everyone how you really feel. You know what I think you are? A coward."

...You. Complete. Bastard.

Now, in Ohio, nobody cares if you're chubby - but gay? You're dead. There are no words. This was malicious in a way that Santana at her most caustic wasn't, and if he doesn't realize how dangerous it was he's truly in every sense of the word an idiot. Only few fans (VERY few) thought that he could be reasonably excused as being riled up and because she (and 12 others...) hurt his poor pet Irish. The truth is, again, he was waiting for his moment, and got it. He wanted a psychological advantage over her. This wasn't about the Troubletones, or New Directions. This was a piece of shit being a piece of shit, and since Will Schuester has a hardon for him, plus Santana's own reputation, he knew he could get away with it and twist the blowback on her.

And on top of that, saying Brittany might not love her. Brittany Susan Pierce would lay down her life for her, and despite Murphy being a moron next season, she is Santana's soulmate in every sense of the word. So for the son of a bitch to even imply otherwise, not to mention outing her by proxy as well, is not just salt in the wound, it's salt followed by nails.

...bastard.

As we go to break with Santana emotionally shattered, we return with a chance to give the new batch of Finn-haters (which at this point, is about everyone with a soul) a moment to cool off, another outlandish Sue attack ad against Burt. These ads serve another purpose, which we'll see later. Burt is at Will's house incensed, and insists it's time to fight back. Will contemplates as we cut to Shelby's where she's fixing a chair while Puck entertains Beth. She looks torn, between Puck's feelings for her and the fact that he really is a good parent. As Puck hands Beth to her mom, he then realizes that if he's gonna man up in whatever way possible, he has to come clean about Dear Lucille. So he does, ratting her out and revealing everything. He then says that at first he thought Beth was an accident, but then realized that he may have punched Q's V-Card, but Beth was always supposed to be Shelby's, and all he wants is to be in her life. From there, we cut to the auditorium for a Hall & Oates mashup, half the ND men in fake wigs and mustaches. And so far, the bastard has suffered no repercussions for his actions. The longer it takes, the more everyone hates him. Hell, he performs the mashup like nothing happened, no remorse. Afterwards, we cut to defaced campaign posters as things take another ugly turn, like we haven't had enough of them. It's time for a debate, and it turns out that there's another candidate: lesser McKinley boogeyman Rick "The Stick" Nelson. We don't care. Then it's Brit-Brit's turn, and she goes into a spiel about making tornadoes illegal. Standard Brit-speak, but she does end with a flourish by pledging topless Tuesdays. Won't be very effective on account of Santana castrating everybody. Next up is Kurt, who originally wanted to campaign against obesity, but between certain tactics from his opponents, plus what happened to Rory, he instead pledges to eliminate dodgeball. This causes Rachel to reevaluate and go My God, What Have I Done?. Thus, when it's her turn, she instead withdraws, telling everyone to vote for Kurt because he's the only candidate who's played fair. Glad Rachel's come to her senses.

Anyway, we cut to her taking down her posters as Kurt approaches, Rachel admitting she missed the friendship, and that while she has her dreams, she wants someone to share them with. They embrace, friendship renewed. And from there, Mood Whiplash as we cut to Quinn at Shelby's. She's there to drop off a gift, only for Shelby to reveal Puck ratted her out. Shelby gives a somewhat deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech, saying it doesn't matter who gives birth, it's about making sure the kid's needs are met. Of course, Quinn spins it back by saying Shelby gave Rachel up for money, calling her a "cash whore". Ouch Lucille. Shelby dismisses her by saying she doesn't want Quinn in her daughter's life, telling her she can change her look but it won't make her any less lost. Q leaves, looking like she's going to have another breakdown and, honestly, both are to blame here. Shelby should've called ahead of her return to let Q know, while Q should've accepted that she made the choice to give Beth up.

And now, since Glee occasionally likes to have its despair in layers, we cut to Becky summoning Santana to Sue's office. Will and Burt are there, and Sue looks guilty, a rare look for her. She takes some responsibility for what's happened. What has happened is that one of her and Burt's opponents has a niece who goes to McKinley... and overheard Finn out Santana. So we now we have some random girl to hate as well as Finn, because she decided to tell her uncle that there's a lesbian cheerleader, and that man made his own smear campaign, looking like the page image. And of course, this is a televised spot that's going to run regionally, FYI. We can now hate this guy, too, because he's an adult who thinks that giving the entire population of a largely homophobic country the name, photo, occupation, and location, of a teenage lesbian is a good idea. No, even the bastard couldn't have known that this would happen, but even he would have known that people would talk - especially when the gossip is what it is - and the outcome is the same but on a Ohio-sized scale. There's still a lot of Russell Fabrays who would be happy to try and cleanse either her, or America of her. She's already Hispanic and a woman, she's already hated enough, she's already disadvantaged; you need to be punished, Finn. (SPOILER: Next episode, Santana's the one who gets in trouble!) No, actually, the writers need to be punished because Finn seemingly isn't supposed to be that stupid or evil. Seriously, it was genuinely evil, writers, and vastly outweighs whatever you think Santana did to deserve it, and make no mistake about it: SHE. DID. *NOT*. DESERVE. IT. Besides, it's not even like she's played by Dianna or anything. Santana is broken further, saying she hasn't even told her parents yet. She runs out like her life depended on it, and at this point, it just might.

From there, we begin the emotional home stretch with the Troubletones and some awesome Adele, mashing up two of her most famous songs. And the emotions are there as well, Santana's wailing of the line "...don't forget me, I beg" being particularly effective. It's clear her head isn't all there, but she soldiers on, pouring all the emotions into the performance. We then see ND in the crowd looking on. As the song ends, we see Brittany, wild-eyed; seems she, in her ability to sense Santana's emotions, somehow worked out what happened. We cut to the bastard whispering something in Rachel's ear which causes her to laugh. In Santana's slightly fractured psyche, they're laughing at her, her believing that that the only people she thought were actually nice and could like her as a person instead hate her (in this context, very easy to believe). She hops down from the stage and rightfully gets in the bastard's face, saying everyone's gonna know. The bastard, in a revolting attempt to save face, claims everyone knows and doesn't care. This is clear Blatant Lies as we'll see next episode. Santana has had enough, and ends the episode with the most deserved Armor-Piercing Slap you'll ever see in your life.

Next Time: A very misleading title, and we see what happens when the producers decide to favor a Karma Houdini bastard character over one whose life was just shattered.

Songs performed:

  • "Hot For Teacher" by Van Halen, performed by Puck and the boys
  • "Yoü and I/You and I" by Lady Gaga / Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, performed by Shelby and Will
  • "Hit Me With Your Best Shot/One Way or Another" by Pat Benatar / Blondie, performed by Santana and Finn with the Troubletones and New Directions
  • "I Can't Go For That/You Make My Dreams" by Hall and Oates, performed by Quinn and Finn with New Directions
  • "Rumour Has It/Someone Like You" by Adele, performed by Santana and Mercedes with the Troubletones

Tropes include:

  • Armor-Piercing Question: see image caption
  • Ass Pull:
    • Finn being so Easily Forgiven.
      • Finn being evil enough to out Santana in the first place.
    • Shelby being so harsh with Quinn after bringing Beth back to Lima but refusing to let Quinn see her, completely unconcerned with the girl's already-unstable mental health.
    • The Salazar pizza guy even considering outing a random teenager on National TV without so much as telling her first.
  • Contrived Coincidence: That all the people running for Senate have relatives at McKinley, and that the girl decided to tell her uncle about Santana.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Only the director knew that Santana was going to slap Finn before it happened - really, he mouthed it to Naya Rivera during the filming. After the first take, Cory Monteith told Naya that for the re-takes she should continue actually slapping him, rather than use a stage-slap.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Many fics emerged from this episode, most featuring Finn getting proper comeuppance for his actions, while some, sadly, feature Santana and/or Brittany getting "straightened" out.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Santana by Finn, and then on TV by Salazar.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Upon Finn's death, fans found ways to forgive him. Mostly this was reasoning that Santana forgave him, and after the event (even though it was shitty) was out and proud and didn't care who knew, as well as providing the viewership with Brittana (albeit mostly in the background).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Some viewers, fans of Santana and Finn included, wanted Finn to die because of his outing Santana. While most had wanted him to be imprisoned or something equally deserving for the crime that would hurt him in life, and make it maybe as shitty after a period of years as he made sure Santana's would be every day in Lima, the few who had called for his blood went back on this when Cory died. Finn still had other traits, and Santana didn't condemn him because she knew she'd have to come out eventually, and he was a person who Santana evidently cared for.
  • Jerkass: Finn is usually a Jerkass who still has overarching good intentions. If there is a Jerkass2, though, he becomes it in this episode with his both malicious, egotistical, and careless outing of Santana without true justification and consequences both possibly endangering and ruining her life but celebrating him.
  • Dodgeball Them While They Are Down
  • Wham Line: "Hey, Santana, why don't you come out of the closet?"
  • Unwilling Suspension Of Disbelief: Have we noted how implausible some elements of pretty much every plot line in the episode seem?

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