Consider last week's West Side Story and teen sex episode a Bernstein-approved interlude because it was back to plots from two weeks ago in last night's Glee: lesbian angst, teacher-student relations, and a farcical campaign trail. All this, and plenty of mash-ups—Glee's first and still most enjoyable medium—made for an episode that had our jaws dropping (and someone's jaw smarting).
We open with Puck's pining over substitute teacher Shelby (Idina Menzel, for those of you new to the class). They shared a kiss two episodes back, which has the teen waxing rhapsodic about other May-December romances (we might add Mary Kay Letourneau to the list). Cue our first musical number, "Hot for Teacher." It starts in the classroom, where Puck wraps a bandana around his head and Shelby sports a skintight pencil skirt, then ends a bit more realistically in the music room, where Blaine and Mike provide some raunchy backup moves to Puck's David Lee Roth imitation. No one thinks this is an inappropriate song for a high school except Rachel Berry, who is immediately shot down when Mr. Schue gives Puck a dude-approved high five.
Meanwhile, it's time for sectionals, which means the New Directions and the Troubletones will be competing musical forces. Shelby and Mr. Schue inaugurate the first ever Glee Mash-Off by performing Gaga's "Yoü and I" melded with an '80s song of the same name: we didn't actually recognize the '80s song, but Popcrush did. It was a nice duet (and we continue to thank God and the Murphy-Falchuk duo for bringing Menzel and her pipes to the cast).
On the campaign trail, Sue Sylvester releases a series of negative ads implying that Kurt's adorable bear of a dad has a baboon's heart, and might be married to a donkey. We're baffled by the zoo references, but no one else finds them ridiculous. When Kurt tells Sylvester to lay off the mud-smearing ("Did you know 30% of the voters actually think my dad has a baboon's heart?") she waves him off, telling him that this isn't personal: It's about winning.
In McKinley's halls, there's plenty of verbal bashing going on as well, as Santana repeatedly throws Finn so much shade, so masterfully delivered, that we really can't fault her. Finn's weak rejoinder proves that they're on unequal playing fields, so they decide to settle things with a game of dodgeball. Of course. The kids play while singing a sporty mash-up of "One Way or Another" and "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." There are choreographed dodges and strangely enjoyable slow-mo shots of students getting hit in the face, followed a random pummeling of new guy Rory at the hands of the Troubletones. Kurt, who must hold a doctorate in bullying by now, is the only one to intercede.
Puck stops by Shelby's to assemble baby Beth's crib, but ends up cooing at his daughter while Shelby wields the screwdriver. After that adorable father-daughter moment, he lets slip that he and Quinn booby trapped Shelby's house to make her seem an unfit mother, which doesn't really provoke anything from Shelby except for a lot of nasty looks at Quinn for the rest of the episode. When Quinn and Shelby finally do speak, Shelby schools Quinn on what motherhood really means (giving up your life for a few years) and Quinn calls her a "cash whore" (actually, she was a surrogate mother). There's one girl who is never defecting to the Troubletones.
Santana tries to apologize to Finn for her trash talk, but her only idiom is trash talk, so instead she delivers the worst insults yet. Finn finally loses it in the crowded hallway and calls Santana out as a lesbian. While that's pretty much an open secret at McKinley, Santana doesn't take it well, and we were shaking our heads at Finn—in our book, there are few things worse than a forced outing, and not everyone is ready to be as fabulous as Kurt. Somehow (how?), word of Santana's orientation makes its way to Sylvester and Hummel's other campaign adversary, who broadcasts a commercial outing Santana and transitively claiming Sylvester has no family values. If they'd wanted to find a lesbian, couldn't they have just gone after Sue? Either way, Santana takes it hard ("My parents don't even know yet!") and runs through the halls crying...
...which makes it even more powerful when she shows up onstage for the Troubletones mash-up of Adele's "Rumor Has It" with "Someone Like You." Mercedes and Santana head up this excellent rendition, and Santana somehow manages to own the entire song, even with unrequited love Brittany dancing right beside her, and the looming prospect of explaining her sexuality to her parents before her. The songs, great alone, are even better combined, and Santana delivers a performance that had us breathless.
So when she immediately stepped off stage and gave Finn a serious slap on the face, it was time for a gasp. And a cheer. Santana, you might be a bitch, but we like that about you. And either way, a girl's got to come out her own way.
At least, that's our take. Do you think the slap was too much? Is dodgeball this generation's version of a fist-fight? When will Quinn exit stage left, in a straitjacket?