WaPo Team TV’s Emily Yahr blogs:
“Glee,” finally returning to the air after a five-week hiatus, is all about neglect. And what better way to start the last six episodes of Season 2 than by bringing back characters, two of whom viewers will barely remember, one who is super creepy, and another who fans despised?
These, poor, ignored characters, squeezed into the episode for reasons we only assume have something to do more with contracts than plot consistency, include:
* Sunshine Corazon, otherwise known as YouTube sensation Charice, who last showed in the Season 2 premiere in September, in a strangely brief appearance for a heavily-hyped guest star.
* Dustin Goolsby, played by the hilarious Cheyenne Jackson, the sly coach of glee club rival Vocal Adreneline – also last seen in the season premiere for a regrettably short amount of screentime, given his ability to steal every scene he’s in.
* Sandy Ryerson, the uber-weird former glee club director who is currently selling medical marijuana.
* Terri Schuester, glee club director Will Schuester’s evil ex-wife, and the most memorable of the neglected characters. She had a major role in messing up Will’s in the first season, but fans pretty much hated her, given that she was seemingly just there as an obstacle for Will and adorable guidance counselor Emma. Therefore, Teri has been barely seen this year while Will has romanced Gwyneth Paltrow (more on that later), though it’s been reported she’ll be in almost every episode next season to screw things up for her ex-husband. Hooray for plot contrivances!
And what’s the excuse for having all these characters back under one roof? Well, it’s about what you would expect — evil cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester and her passion for trying to destroy the glee club. Sue’s still furious that the glee club was awarded her cheerleading team’s money to go to Nationals. Thanks to Sue’s penchant for hiding funds offshore, the glee club doesn’t actually have access to that cheerleading money, and still needs $5,000 to go to Nationals. Instead of having Sue arrested, or some logical plot advancement — this is “Glee” after all — Will decides the club should sell salt water taffy, but that idea gets nixed, and the club decides instead to have a “Night of Neglect” benefit concert, to a) boost their egos, b) raise money and c) pay tribute to “neglected” artists.
Like Aretha Franklin.
That’s Mercedes’s talking. The other glee club members seem dubious as to Aretha’s “neglected” status, as are we. But, you know how it is with “Glee” — it gets pointed in a direction and there’s no stopping it.
Sue recruits Terri, Dusin, and Sandy to form a League of Doom. The League will try to bring down the club’s spirits, and form a group of hecklers to ruin the benefit.
Sunshine randomly appears in the hallways of McKinley High, ready to earn herself a spot in the Night of Neglect benefit – because, she says, she also feels like an outsider. Of course, she’s also a member of the glee club’s nemesis, Vocal Adrenaline. And there’s a chance she still holds a grudge from that time jealous glee club leader Rachel Berry sent her to a crack house instead of the glee auditions.
But Sunshine wears a spunky beret to earn their trust. That does the trick. Plus, she belts out a version of “All By Myself” that seems wildly out of place for a high schooler, wowing everyone except Rachel. Sunshine also promises her 600 Twitter followers will all show up to the benefit. The glee club can’t resist.
Poor Sunshine’s plan is foiled, however, when her devious glee club director, Dustin won’t let her perform. Dustin decides to make a play for Will’s current love interest, substitute teacher Holly Holiday, a.k.a. Gwyneth Paltrow, who apparently is on “Glee” whenever she feels like it. Dustin cuts to the sexy chase, and tells Holly he wants her to have his babies. Will barges in and is furious with Dustin, but Holly isn’t so thrilled with Will at the moment, because she spotted Will and Emma having an intense conversation earlier.
(Turns out, Emma’s husband, Dr. Carl (John Stamos), has filed for an annulment, mostly because Emma wouldn’t “consummate the marriage” — or more likely, “John Stamos’s contract was up.”)
While Will and Holly have their problems, the glee kids get ready for their big concert. And by get ready, we mean sniping at each other about feeling underappreciated, especially Mercedes, who feels Rachel always gets the best solos. This leads to Mercedes insisting on having bowls of green M&Ms (iconic celebrity demand) and puppies in her dressing room.
Finally, the night of the benefit arrives, and with Sunshine out of the race, there are a total of six people in the audience – mostly Sue’s hecklers. Poor Tina is in tears after she tries to sing “I Follow Rivers.” Luckily, Holly Holliday is there to deliver “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy’s Lesson of the Week: bullying and how it’s wrong.
The hecklers leave in shame, or, more likely, boredom. Holly gets up and soulfully sings a song to Will, something about not letting him get close enough to hurt her (“Turning Tables” by Adele), and Mercedes gets a pep talk from Rachel and performs “Ain’t No Way” — by the neglected Aretha Franklin.
In the end, League of Doom member Sandy is so moved by the Aretha song, he decides to fund the glee club’s trip to Nationals. And Holly tells Will she got a job in Cleveland, so she’s outta there — plus, she knows he loves Emma, so it doesn’t really matter. (But, she adds, the job probably won’t last more than four months, which, hey...is right about when Season 3 will start!)
Another of her plans foiled, Sue tells Will’s ex-wife, Terri, it’s up to her to take down the glee club. And luckily, Terri will reportedly appear in lots of episodes the rest of this season and next season, so it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of forced glee club/Will Schuester destruction in the future.
“Turning Tables” -- Adele
“All By Myself” -- Eric Carmen
“I Follow Rivers” -- Lykke Li
“Ain’t No Way” -- Aretha Franklin