Welcome back to the fantastical world of Lima, Ohio, where we were just renewed for a fourth season and some things are hard, but mostly everything will work out – or you’ll forget about it by the next episode. Also, Quinn is alive! Seven weeks after a winter finale cliffhanger, we find out Rachel and Finn didn’t get married and are still hemming and hawing over doing the deed that they’ve been more indecisive than certain about. As for Quinn? She’s in a wheelchair after her major car accident – in case you didn’t get last night’s heavy-handed PSA moments, don’t drive and text, kids. But none of that really matters (though Quinn’s kids-in-wheelchairs bonding scenes with Artie are the second best thing about the episode) because this episode is really all about Blaine’s mystery brother. We’ll get to that in a bit. But first, Quinn:
“I’m Still Standing”
Quinn immediately marks her triumphant return to McKinley by duetting on Elton John’s survivor tune with Artie. “I could have easily become one of those creepy memorial pages in the yearbook, but by the grace of God, I’m here,” she happily tells an overly emotional Rachel and Finn. The number is marked by enthusiastic wheelchair choreography through the halls of McKinley and into the choir room, and Quinn’s sweet harmonies pair well with Artie’s vocals. While we’re glad they didn’t waste any time letting us know Quinn’s fate, the whole number comes off feeling more subdued than we’d expect. Also unsettling: Quinn is a little too matter of fact, almost clinical, about the accident, as she tells the New Directions that she can’t feel her legs or feet at the moment – but she’s regaining feeling, so she stands a good chance of a full recovery with some intensive PT. She pledges to be back on her feet for Nationals.
“Hungry Like a Wolf/Rio”
Despite talking for what we assume is all day, every day, Blaine neglects to tell his boyfriend that his brother is in town until he and Kurt are walking down the hall to their lockers. Kurt is excited to meet the mysterious older bro Blaine never talks about, but Blaine is less than enthused and confusingly tells Kurt that he does, in fact, actually know what the elder Anderson looks like. How is that possible? Because, in a brilliant move, Team Glee cast White Collar‘s Matt Bomer as Cooper Anderson (bonus points for the wordplay on the name) – “the guy from the FreeCreditReportToday.com ads!” Kurt hyperventilates, and so do we, but it’s from laughing at Cooper’s over-the-top ad that puts a boy band spin on the indie band FreeCreditReport.com ads that actually grace your TV.
Cooper’s commercial is on hiatus, so he’s back in town to do some character research for the more intense commercial work ahead of him next season (we can only imagine). Cooper super fan #1 is one Ms. Sue Sylvester, who both has him sign her breast and commit to assist in getting the New Directions in shape for Nationals (Figgins appointed swim coach Roz Washington co-coach of the Cheerios to thwart concerns Sue’s pregnancy would harm the Cheerios’ chances of a Nationals win and, propelled by her newfound belief in the New Directions, Sue asks Figgins to let her keep the Cheerios if she can promise a Nationals win for the glee club. Of course her first attempt at coaching was a pregnancy hormones-fueled disaster.). And so, Cooper becomes the latest talented pretty boy guest star (see also: Neil Patrick Harris and Ricky Martin) to get the glee club in a tizzy. After Rachel eggs them on, Cooper pulls a reluctant Blaine up to show off their “dueling Simon Le Bon impressions.” It’s a tight competition as they blaze through a Duran Duran mash-up that includes slick vocals and a weird slo-mo bridge. Blaine nails the footwork, but we’d have to hand it to Cooper for overall heartthrob status. Also, someone get us a .gif of Santana’s reaction, stat, because that open-mouthed look is pretty much what we had going on.
At dinner, Blaine tells Cooper, “you waste no opportunity to remind me how much I suck” after Cooper pretty much immediately critiques Blaine’s performance, a lifelong habit we see in a flashback of younger Cooper critiquing Blaine as he grooves to Hanson’s “MMMBop.” The next day, at his master class in acting, Cooper advises the New Directions to “buckle your seatbelts, ’cause I’m going to pour you a tall glass of ‘this is how it is.'” He tells them to skip college, bypass New York because Broadway is dead and film and TV are where it’s at, and the most important thing is your head shots. “Turn into your pose,” he advises and demonstrates with a series of Blue Steel looks.
Other valuable advice includes to not to be afraid to ask your director if a scene is comedic or dramatic (it’s hard to tell sometimes!) and that the secret to a dramatic scene is pointing (which he demonstrates emphatically). Bomer is nailing Cooper’s egomaniacal actor behavior and the New Directions are mostly eating it up – even Rachel and Kurt, despite exchanging some glances that indicate they maybe know this is going against everything their gut is telling them – but Blaine isn’t on board. “I’m sorry, are you talking to me? I can’t tell because you’re not pointing,” Cooper tells his younger bro, and the New Directions eat it up because… we’re not really sure why.
Blaine can’t find it in himself to be happy for his brother, even with news like this: “I just got an audition for a Michael Bay movie… Michael Freaking Bay. The movie’s untitled, which you know is code for Transformers 4.” He’s fed up, and he channels his aggression into Christina Aguilera’s hit, down to a reference of the boxing scenes in the music video, even though Blaine has never boxed before. Vocally, Blaine doesn’t achieve Christina’s power, but what he lacks in his voice he makes up in angry faces.
“Up Up Up”
Rachel isn’t over the guilt she feels over Quinn’s accident, though Quinn has made peace with dealing with her present and whatever the future brings. She tells Rachel she’s not standing in the way of senior ditch day, and decrees they should go to Six Flags. But that changes when Artie persuades Quinn otherwise after a genuinely sweet scene in which he mentors her in conquering Lima’s steepest accessibility ramp. “It’s just like having a baby,” Artie tells Quinn as she struggles to push herself up the ramp. “You wouldn’t know!,” she laughs.
As the rest of the crew heads to Six Flags, Artie and Quinn head to a skate park full of other kids in wheelchairs. They launch into the peppy single from Louisiana quintet Givers as Artie helps Quinn conquer another fear – the big ramps at the skate park, in a wheelchair – as the rest of the New Directions ride a giant roller coaster. The sugary vocals work well for Artie and Quinn even though the song seems a bit too whimsical for the scene unfolding, which abruptly ends when he asks her what she’ll do if her situation isn’t actually temporary and she wheels off in a huff.
Back at McKinley, Samuel pops up to help Quinn reach her locker and tell her that he’s praying for her to handle whatever comes her way. She ultimately finds him inspirational and asks him to join the New Directions in hopes he’ll inspire them, too. Off to booty camp they go! Newly sobered by the news that irregularities showed up on tests for her daughter, as well as Becky‘s advice to be more patient, Sue apologizes for her previous actions: “I promise to be nicer if you promise to work your talented little butts off until they hand you that first place trophy in Chicago!”
“Somebody That I Used to Know”
At Kurt’s urging, Blaine goes to the auditorium for one last attempt at communicating with Cooper. It was initially disconcerting to envision Gotye and Kimbra’s hit about a former love reimagined as two brothers working through years of rivalry. But the whole thing was less weird in context, and we finally got some emotional depth to Cooper, who apologized for being tough on his baby bro. “It’s only because I’ve always seen how insanely talented you are,” he says by way of explanation and encouragement. They end up poking fun at each other (mostly at Cooper) and confirming their status as brothers and friends. Everyone together: Awwwww.
Why Didn’t They Sing About This?
Puck draws on “the Apple guy, the Facebook guy and ‘Abroham’ Lincoln,” – all dudes who weren’t taken seriously in high school until they got “the big idea” – to plot his future: follow the outdoor pools West, to Los Angeles, where his business is guaranteed to explode. And he wants Finn to be his business partner, despite Finn’s plan to follow Rachel to New York. “Think about yourself,” Puck advises. Sure enough, by episode’s end, Finn finally realizes he’s been blindly following Rachel and tries to convince her to go out West. On the eve of her NYADA audition, she’s adamant about going to New York and taking him with her – but he isn’t so confident she’s actually in love with him, and not who she wants him to be.
Bottom Line: Once again, Glee‘s brightest moments come from guest stars and/or bigger than life circumstances. Cooper Anderson’s charms compensated for a lot of overall meh moments in what Glee execs promise was a big ramp up to the end of season three. We can only imagine where next week’s disco fever will take us.