This outstanding episode opens with Will reflecting on his newfound lifestyle as a result of being the well paid coach of Vocal Adrenaline. A fancy car (goodbye broken muffler) and perks such as massages, a nutritionist and lavish gifts are all part of the package. The motivated Vocal Adrenaline kids practice on their own accord, but can Will continue to tolerate their cutthroat ways? Has he sold his soul?
After Vocal Adrenaline eggs Blaine and Rachel, Will attempts to give the students a lesson about tolerance. His words are met with you-are-an-idiot eye-rolls and smirks. He brings Unique, a former Vocal Adrenaline and New Directions member, onstage for a duet of “Same Love.” The students, led by insubordinate and intolerant Clint, don’t care. Winning competitions is their singular focus. As a side note, the word tolerance alone seems like just the bare minimum. It would be satisfying to see the word acceptance added alongside.
The next scene brings the beloved Coach Beiste back to McKinley High. Coach, now Sheldon, has completed his transition to have his “outsides match the insides.” Coach returns to school and the surroundings make it feel as if it is just another day. Sue and Sam greet him warmly, and there is no gawking or discomfort from anyone. This scene could have been approached in several different ways, and I’m pleased with the choice made by the Glee creators. Because, in my interpretation, they portrayed it in the way that it should be in the real world. They gave us an example of what is possible to exist as a standard.
Rachel is devastated over the impending sale of her childhood home. She complains to Sam, who enlists Kurt, Blaine, Mercedes, Kitty and Artie to lift Rachel’s spirits and help her through the transition. Coach Beiste finds his car desecrated with hateful words as Vocal Adrenaline, arms raised in victory with cans of shaving cream, drives past. Sue summons Will to her office to inform him of the hateful act committed by his students. Will is devastated for his dear friend and promises that Vocal Adrenaline will not get away with such actions.
Kurt introduces this week’s lesson to the New Directions, and to the surprise of Rachel, as transitioning. It’s an attempt to help Rachel accept saying goodbye to her childhood home. They announce a party in Rachel’s basement (reminiscent of an older episode), complete with duets chosen by a spinning wheel. Will Kurt and Blaine be paired? Yes, as fate and Kurt’s manipulation of the wheel would have it. An awkward moment follows between Kurt and Blaine as they discuss doing an up tempo number - since obviously there are no feelings between them!
Will confronts Vocal Adrenaline about their lack of common decency and integrity. Clint accuses him of having a loser mentality and being too soft for the job. This latest show of insubordination and disrespect is the final straw. Will kicks him off the team. Back at home, a frustrated and angry Will talks to Emma about his concerns with being in a toxic work environment. Should he remain in a place that’s at odds with everything he stands for? He likes the perks and the fat paycheck. Emma, wise as usual, advises that Will needs to be at peace with whatever choice he decides to make.
Let’s get this party started! The final farewell to Rachel’s childhood home is a success, complete with duets (we need more of Roderick’s soulful voice), dancing and drinks with umbrellas! Rachel and Sam have a heart to heart about packing up her wall of memories– it won’t go away, it will just get bigger. Sam’s character has been infused with extra depth this season, and that has helped to create a genuine pairing and chemistry with Rachel. As they are leaving the party and reminiscing about the early days, Blaine gives Kurt a meaningful kiss and walks away. The celebration ends with Rachel and Sam performing a sweet duet of “Time After Time” while her memories are packed away.
Coach Beiste talks to Unique about trying to fit in, wanting to be treated as “one of the guys” and the difficulties of obtaining that since there’s no one else like him at McKinley. Coach feels that his transition and the relief it brought was the best thing that’s every happened to him, but he feels alone in his journey. Clint is reinstated to Vocal Adrenaline by the principal and Will claims that he will go along with the group’s devious methods. Vocal Adrenaline buys his story, but we know Will Schuester better than that…
Blaine, who is emotionally checked out of his relationship, comes clean with Dave about his feelings for Kurt. Dave is upset but not surprised, and handles their breakup like a gentleman. Blaine rushes to Kurt to profess his feelings, but discovers him about to leave the choir room with charming Walter for a date. Will “sneaks” Vocal Adrenaline into the McKinley auditorium for a supposed prank. To their surprise, Unique kicks off a spine tingling and heart warming performance of “I Know Where I’ve Been,” accompanied by a large transgender choir. Coach Beiste is escorted onstage and happily takes his place at home with the group. Vocal Adrenaline is not pleased that this consumed valuable rehearsal time. Will, no longer willing to be associated with an evil empire composed of intolerant troublemakers, quits as their coach. Sue commands Vocal Adrenaline off the premises.
Will joins Rachel and Kurt in the choir room where he reflects on his recent actions. They humbly ask Will to be an unpaid consultant for New Directions. He readily agrees, knowing that the McKinley choir room is his true home. A fitting end to an episode that was old school Glee great.
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