'Glee': Kurt and the football team give 'Single Ladies' new life
September 24, 2009 | 7:37 am
Who can wait to find out? Not me, especially when the twists and turns are handled as beautifully as Kurt’s brave, Beyonce-drenched coming-out. The episode began with the outcast glee clubber doing his best Sasha Fierce in a faithful homemade version of the singer’s Kanye-endorsed “Single Ladies” clip, complete with two backup dancers, black-and-white video, and the familiar booty-slapping, wrist-flicking choreography. That is, until Dad (“Yes, Dear’s” Mike O’Malley) came home early to catch “Deadliest Catch” on TV and halted the music.
Startled, Kurt immediately shifted into “I’m straight — no, really” overdrive, playing off the unitard he was wearing with “all the guys in football wear them. They’re jock-chic.” Fellow glee clubber Tina dutifully played the role of girlfriend, while Backup Dancer No. 2 piped up with the lie that Kurt was now the kicker on the school’s team. Now football -- unlike sporting sequins to lip-synch some Mrs. Jay-Z -- was a pursuit Dad could relate to since he’d played in junior college before screwing up his knee doing wheelies on his dirt bike. Naturally, he wanted a ticket to his son’s first game.
Conveniently, McKinley High’s victory-challenged team — the worst in the history of Ohio -- had an opening since the previous kicker, 0 for 12 in field-goal attempts, had been demoted to “hydration services” (a.k.a. water-bottle filler-upper). Even so, Kurt would need his quarterback-crush Finn’s help. “Thanks, but I already have a date to the prom,” Finn quickly replied when Kurt said he had something to ask him. He proved more helpful with the actual tryout, encouraging a hair-conscious Kurt to wear his helmet (“Red’s your color”), running interference with snarky teammate Puck (“You joined Acafellas — what’s the difference?”) and holding the pigskin in position until Kurt, buoyed by the Beyonce blaring from his boom box, miraculously sent the football soaring across the field and through the hallowed uprights.
More than one member of the team dropped his helmet in shock. Coach Ken wondered if Kurt might just have beginner’s luck; Kurt wondered if he could always play his music on the field. “If you kick like that, you can wear a tutu for all I care,” cracked the coach. He, along with fellow teachers Emma and Will, had just gotten an earful from Sue about their inability to think outside the box. What could be more outside the box than letting Kurt suit up as a member of the team? How about letting Will teach his jocks how to dance, in hopes of turning them into a winning squad of Walter Peytons? Coach Ken was desperate because he agreed to that too.
The suggestion of dance lessons originated with Finn who, reeling from Quinn’s preggers bombshell, confided to Will that he needed a football scholarship to assure himself a brighter future than the supermarket bagger/gas pumper existence of other local high school dads. Could a guy bright enough to make the Walter Peyton connection actually be dim enough to believe the girlfriend he’s never had sex with got pregnant simply from sitting in the same hot tub he got a little too excited in? Then again, this is the same guy who until recently apparently never grasped the concept of a library. “Did you know you can just borrow books from there? All of them, except for the encyclopedias,” a wide-eyed Finn said to Will as librarians everywhere surely shed a river of tears.
At least Finn’s heart was in the right place. (Dancing might not only help his team start winning, he told Will, but earn glee club some new recruits.) The same can’t be said of the manipulative Quinn. Girl wants more than anything to escape her small-town Ohio life and she’s savvy enough to know she has a better chance of that with sweet Finn –– who went so far as to give her the only gift he ever got from his dad, his beloved baby blanket — than Finn’s hot-headed, prone-to-urinating-in-public best friend, Puck. The mohawked Noah Puckerman can’t seem to decide whether he wants to sing or just sneer at those who do, but he showed no hesitation in offering to man up when he heard Quinn was knocked up. “I’d take care of it, you know. You, too,” he said in a moment of tenderness as he reminded her of his successful pool-cleaning business. “My dad’s a deadbeat, but I don’t roll that way.”
But could Puck’s company stay afloat if he stopped sleeping with the cougars who employ him? Maybe Quinn was thinking the same thing as she coolly blew him off. “I had sex with you because you got me drunk on wine coolers,” she said, “and I felt fat that day.” But that hardened exterior crumbled as she ran crying to the car her daddy had bought especially for her night at the chastity ball.
There, she found Will’s wife, Terri, lying in wait. Terri had had her own meltdown earlier when her sister— doubling as her Lamaze instructor — suggested Will learn how to rub the gas bubbles out of his wife’s stomach. There could be no touching of the tummy, Terri explained after sending Will out of the room to make BLTs and lifting her shirt to reveal a fake baby bump to her shocked sis. “He already has one foot out the door,” the desperate housewife cried. “This baby is the only reason he’s still here.”
For a moment, Terri seemed remorseful and genuinely terrified. But just when it appeared she was about to do the right thing and come clean, her sister shot her up with a fresh dose of crazy. “Dishonesty is food to a marriage,” Kendra insisted. “It will die without it.”
They’d just have to somehow get Terri a baby. With the once-a-week sex now out of the question thanks to that fake bump, how could Terri not wind up in Quinn’s car, steadily chipping away at the teen’s confidence? “Here,” she said, handing over a bottle of prenatal vitamins. “Three times a day or your baby will be ugly.” Will and Emma, and even Finn and Rachel, seem destined to get together, yes. But do any two “Glee” peeps really deserve each other more than Terri and Quinn?
Sue and Sandy, the former glee club coach, make for a pretty entertaining team too. Intent on keeping her Cheerios on top — which would ensure the continuation of her new “Sue’s Corner” segment on the local TV news — Sue was more determined than ever to snuff out glee club. So she paid a visit to a kimono-clad Sandy at his doll-filled home. “Isn’t this just lovely and normal?” she said, dryly surveying his creepy collection. “The only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies limed and rotting in shallow graves under the floorboards.”
A lonely Sandy, no doubt still stung by Josh Groban’s rejection, was just happy for the company — and even happier when Sue offered him entree back into the school as the arts administrator. But surely, Figgins would never allow that. At least until Sue unearthed embarrassing footage of the principal trying on anti-embolism stockings for a Mumbai Air ad. (Where does “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy come up with this stuff?!) One mention of circulating that clip around school and suddenly Sandy was employed again.
Eager to overthrow Will, whom Sandy believed was running glee club into the ground, he agreed to lure away Rachel — the linchpin that was holding show choir together — with the irresistible opportunity to star in a school production of "Cabaret." And whaddayaknow, the plan worked — at least for now.
As powerful as Rachel’s audition was, the football team’s ploy to distract their rivals by breaking out into the “Single Ladies” dance on the field was even better. Tell me you’ll ever listen to that song the same way again. And tell me how your heart couldn’t swell when Kurt Beyonce-d his way right up to the ball and kicked the game’s winning field goal.
But the best scene of the night was certainly the one where Kurt, feeling for the first time that he belonged, finally mustered up the courage to be honest with his dad. “I don’t wanna lie anymore,” he said in between shaky breaths. “Being a part of the glee club and football has really showed me that I can be anything. And what I am is ... I’m gay.”
Dad’s response was, in its matter-of-factness, refreshing: “I’ve known since you were 3. All you wanted for your birthday was a pair of sensible heels.” All Kurt wanted now — and what, thankfully, he received — was acceptance. “I love you just as much,” his dad said as he enveloped his son in a warm hug. “OK?”
Better than OK. Much, much better indeed.
-- Shawna Malcom
Photo credit: Fox