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Recap / Glee S 4 E 20 Lights Out

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This is so much cuter than the rest
Welcome to what happens when you take a key element of the plot (I.E. coming up with money for performance tools), and take it to it's logical conclusion. Yes, we said logical, take a breath.
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We start the first post-Cory episode in the choir room, where Ryder, after being stood up by his catfish girl "Katie" twice now, is determined to figure out "her" identity. After again accusing Kitty because he clearly has no memory, Will enters to reveal the star player of one of their opposing teams. Namely, Frida Romero of the Hoosierdaddies, played by American Idol Season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez. This is not only Foreshadowing for another AI vet to appear next season, but it also leads to Real Life Writes the Plot, as Murphy was so determined to get her, he affected the shooting schedules in a way we'll elaborate on in a few episodes time. Anyway, as you'd surmise, Will is rattled, saying New Directions has to be huge. As in, "stadium" huge. However, before the word "Journey" leaves his lips (cause you KNOW that's where he was heading), the lights go out. As we see a background couple take advantage of the lights going out to engage in pre-coupling, we hear Figgins over the still-working PA announce that, because he is but a cheapass extraordinaire, he is keeping everyone at school with the power out. Will, proving he pulls the ideas out of his ass whilst keeping his ears warm up there, immediately decides it's "Unplugged" week as we hit the Title Card.

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As ND disperse flashlights, we see Ryder tell Jake that he likes "Katie" so much he's been sharing his deepest darkest secrets with her. Face Palm. He's Too Dumb to Live. Jake says that maybe if he wants help with this secrets, he should talk about them with real people. We'll see him do that later, and cringe when it happens. Ryder ponders as we head to Bushwick, where we see Santana drag in a dubious easy chair before being put in front of Kurtchel. They've discovered that Santana is working three jobs: a strip-dancer/bargirl at Coyote Ugly, a bouncer at a lesbian beer garden, and a cage dancer at a strip club. They want her to stop wasting her talents, because she really is worth a lot more than sticky-beer dollar-bills. Obviously, Rachel put in a call to Dear Lucille and got the advice in between the phone sex. Anyway, Santana says she's still trying to figure out what she wants and she'll do fine when she's got there, but needs easy cash right in the meantime. All well and good, but you have to imagine the clientele's hands going where they shouldn't and her trying very hard not to unload on any of them. All in all, Santana could do better. Cut back to the choir room, where lanterns are handed out and Trouty volunteers to sing first... to the song he was supposedly conceived to. And no, it's not "They're Coming To Take Me Away", though that would still be very appropriate. After some Righteous Brothers, we see Artie try and reject the concept, everyone following his lead, but Trouty (who is clearly trying to be the real "new Finn" and the old one's not even dead yet sheesh), persuades them all to do it because acoustic music sounds awesome: he did it all the time when his family couldn't afford power to keep everyone entertained. He then slightly rants about how everyone is into their electronics so much that they can't have real conversations. Granted, this is coming from a man who's spent the bulk of the season having his own lips occupied by someone who prefers the lips of the fairer sex, but the point is sound. Cut to Vogue.com and Sarah Jessica Parker's last episode as Isabelle Wright. She's summoned Kurt not to fire him for spending his time at NYADA, but to ask him for help finding celebrity guests for Vogue's NYC (not-MET Ball) Ballet Gala. Even though he's now a full-time student, he's still the best staff at Vogue-dot-com, so he can keep the job on massively reduced hours. He agrees as we go to break.

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We return to a V/O by the temporarily-deposed Tracksuit Tyrant. In the interim before she inevitably returns to McKinley, Sue has become a personal trainer for trophy wives and TBH it kinds fits her. As we see Glee's take on the video for Eric Prydz's Signature "Song", we see an Anderson amongst them, and we need not guess why. He tells Sue that Roz Washington is a terrible cheerleading coach; we get a cut to her ordering the Cheerios! to get ribs removed as proof. Sue, as you'd guess at this stage, dismissive, not wanting to get heat on Becky but also not wanting to return. We of course know she will. Blaine is dismissed as we cut to Trouty's locker. Artie arrives and is suddenly now on board with Trouty's plan after a cut to a student throwing a bottle away but missing the can and he had to roll over it. But, since he still needs to top the guy, Artie suggests that they do Unplugged Squared. This means they won't even use real instruments, instead improvising with pots and pans and anything else. Trouts approves as we cut back to Bushwick where Kurt asks Rachtana to help them organize the gala, remembering the ballet lessons his mom took him too and Rachel remembering how she owned ballet. He points out to Santana that it is a quick pay check, and she can wear anything from the Vogue vault but she says she isn't in love with ballet like they get to be or sentimental: not everyone was so lucky. This turns out to be a steaming pile of crap. Kurt then bribes Santana by saying she can keep any Vogue dress of her choosing. Mama needs swag... and we need therapy. Why? Because we cut to ND with acoustics. Ryder wants orchestration in order to express himself; we then cue up some REM as we get shots of Tina and Jarley coming across the one element not seen since the start of the season, and that of course is the Big Quenches. Afterwards, we find out that dyslexia wasn't the only thing Ryder kept to the vest. His big secret (the things you can only admit happened with the lights out) is that when he was eleven, his babysitter saw him in the shower... and her hands went where they should not have gone. Oh dear god in fucking heaven, Glee, you had best know where you're going here and how to handle it well. The lack of a discretion advisory suggests that you may actually do good. We are immediately proven wrong as usual, while Jake seems to be understanding, Trouty and Artie immediately wonder why in the hell that could be a problem and they wish they were him, so he says he was just joking. Trouty, Artie, you're a pair of idiots... or at least, the writers are, as neither of them have seemed to be THAT insensitive before. However, as we go to break, we see Kitty with a look of sympathy.

We return at Breadstix, where we see her and Ryder at a table. After some expected snark, we get her secret. As we've said, her intial characterization was an amalgamation of the Unholy Trinity's more dubious traits. Thing is, while there are some who are cruel for cruelty's sake, Kitty was born of a fight or flight mentality. When she was younger, she was at a sleepover with a friend, and said friend's older brother crawled into her sleeping bag. She had to pretend to be asleep in order for him to leave. She ultimately changed schools when nobody understood and eventually ostracized and bullied her for making a big deal out of a boy liking her, probably also insinuating that she was a lesbian and bullying her for that, too, and thus explaining why she has a need for control in all aspects of her life. She's telling Ryder this so that he knows she sympathizes and so that he doesn't move schools because they need him for Regionals. And now, Mood Whiplash as we cue up Queen on what is basically the stage for Stomp. Afterwards, we see Sue on the bleachers as Becky approaches. She begs Sue to come back to the Cheerios!, because Roz is horrible. She also keeps calling Becky "Robin", Sue's newborn's name. Sue doesn't wanna get Becky expelled, that and she falsely insists that she is over babysitting all the bitchy girls she let be cheerleaders, imagining hurting them to the most perfect song from Annie, the evil orphanage mistress Hannigan's solo. However, the longing gaze she's picked up from Quinn and Santana staring at their ladies too often shows that she really wants to be back with them. They want you back, too, Sue! We also want you back, you entertaining Magnificent Bitch.

After the break, we're at the NYC Gala. After Isabelle decrees that HummelBerryPez will watch with her, and we get the expected denial from Santana about her liking ballet, Isabelle mentions every little girl wanting to be a ballerina. Eh. Santana then of course owns up and admits that she did ballet, too. Even though it was an attempt to make her less of a tomboy, she loves dancing and wants to dance but doesn't know how to even begin. This of course cues up a piece from A Chorus Line, with actual live singing and HummelBerryPez seeing visions of themselves as kids; afterwards, Kurt seems to stop Rachel from proceeding to ask "when were you a tomboy?" (we're still laughing at the image of her dressed as Carl Howell with a mullet) by grabbing onto her in the background as Isabelle tells her that she can take baby steps as long as she's moving forward. We move forward with a break.

We return to see Becky and Roz in Figgins' office, Becky telling him that she's only been misbehaving during cheerleading practice so that she can have a break from Roz. Figgins, obviously, does a complete fuck all in response, though we can see it was a Batman Gambit designed to get Becky to Figgins so she can confess to bringing in a 9MM. Cut to the power coming back on, praise Cheesus. Cut to the auditorium where Will takes the lesson to it's conclusion: an acapella number. Cut to Ryder telling "Katie" that he knows "she"'s in ND, and that he's opened up somehow. "She" says their thing is working, only for Ryder to forget the physical friend over the virtual, as Kitty arrives with an offer to hang out. He of course turns her down therefore Ryder, you're an idiot. "Katie" pings as we go to break.

We return for the home stretch with Santana arriving at the NYADA dance studio, having signed up for NYADA extension classes that she can take around work, in ballet. Note that the woman who plays her ballet instructor (Jane Lanier) gets higher billing than the glee kids. She arrives late, but says she likes to make an entrance and the dance teacher seems to appreciate this - though she was actually scared about going in and really actively taking a step towards her future. Then Santana's spot as class favorite becomes known when the teacher tells them that this class is not a way into NYADA, and Santana tells her that she's just there because she loves to dance and needs to reconnect with herself. All the old people start to prepare and Santana has a dream conversation with mini-Tana before smiling and getting up to join in. And since Will wanted a capella, we end with a touch of Billy Joel. All well and good, but where the hell is Naya's Emmy, hmmm?

Next Time: The most wonderful of tributes.

Songs:

  • The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key, performed by Frida Romero.
  • You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' by The Righteous Brothers, performed by Ryder and Trouty.
  • Call On Me by Eric Prydz feat. Steve Winwood
  • Everybody Hurts by R.E.M., performed by Ryder
  • We Will Rock You by Queen, performed by Artie, Blaine, Jake, and Ryder with New Directions, including Will and the band.
  • Little Girls from Annie, performed by Sue.
  • At the Ballet from A Chorus Line, performed by Santana, Isabelle, Rachel and Kurt.
  • Longest Time by Billy Joel, performed by New Directions

Tropes:

  • 30-Second Blackout: The episode manages to use aspects both of this and Big Blackout.
  • A Cappella: One of the few times New Directions does it (successfully, with "The Longest Time").
  • Actor Allusion: Sue singing a song from Annie when Jane Lynch was at the time rehearsing to play Miss Hannigan on Broadway, and the actress who played Sue's mom on the show had already played the role.
    • Naya Rivera also worked at Hooters, like Santana works at Coyote Ugly.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Sarah Jessica Parker was the one who wanted to do "At The Ballet". The idea to play music with instrument-substitutes came from Cory's audition tape once he couldn't be in the episode any more.
  • Adorkable: The young Kurt, Rachel, and Santana doing ballet and the reactions of adult Kurt, Rachel, and especially Santana to it.
  • Big Blackout: Well, throughout the school, anyway.
  • Call-Forward: If you break Kitty, she is unlikely to give you another chance. She tells this to Ryder this episode, and it will serve as a main part of the final season.
  • Double-Meaning Title: the blackout, and several elements of the rape sub-plot.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: The guys' reaction to Ryder's secret is that it must be awesome for an older girl to have been interested in him. When they're asked that if Ryder were a girl would it be a problem, they say that two chicks is hot - so if Ryder were a girl and the babysitter were a boy. Well, they say that that is a different and very serious situation altogether, but not what happened.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Taken Up to Eleven when the students form a Trash Can Band for their rendition of "We Will Rock You."
  • Kids Are Monsters: How Kitty was bullied and forced to change school (to McKinley, so the event was also really recent). With this revelation, all major glee club kids now have backstories worthy of The X Factor.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Kitty's sexual abuse story. To get him to leave her alone, she just had to stay still.
    • Ties into an Alternate Character Interpretation that Kitty's gay, but the trauma caused her to retreat deeper into the closet and reinforce the door. Her behavior towards Marley is almost note-for-note the same behavior Quinn had towards Rachel. Future events could be seen as Kitty accepting that she's at least bi.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Lights Out" sounds like someone might die in the episode, but it just refers to the blackout. Of course, with where Glee has been going, the first option was actually more likely.
  • "Not Important to This Episode" Camp: Beiste, Sugar, and Brittany. As we've mentioned, Heather Morris was pregnant with her first child. Therefore, she needed to cut the workload, so she gets this and the next episode off. She'll return for the season finale.
  • Shown Their Work: The girl who plays young Santana isn't Latina, she's African-American. Though this could have been because you can't always be highly selective with child casting, it reflects the fact that Naya Rivera is half black and looked distinctly more African-American than Hispanic as a child (well, up to 2006 and beyond, really).
  • What Could Have Been: Before going into rehab, Cory Monteith recorded some parts of this episode and the music for it (including a solo in WWRY). However, due to the aforementioned rehab, his parts were cut because his US work permit was revoked and they couldn't even broadcast what they already had filmed. Finn was completely edited out.

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