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C’mon Down to Mattress Land

By Andrew J. Stride | Industry | December 7, 2009 |

By Andrew J. Stride | Industry | December 7, 2009 |

Open on McKinley High School’s teacher’s lounge, where the faculty busies themselves with primping and styling. The reason everyone is getting gussied up, Will Schuester learns as he joins Emma and Ken at their table, is that today’s the first day of yearbook photos. Will must have neglected to read this week’s school paper. He also missed the Save the Date for Emma and Ken’s wedding, which is now just a week from Saturday, the same day as sectionals. Emma is apologetic, but as the local VFW has replaced Hawaii as the setting for their special day, down payments are hard to cancel. Sue Sylvester then enters sporting two black eyes and a slightly higher brow line. Yearbook photos are such a special time for her and the Cheerios that she can barely contain her excitement (probably because her brows no longer lower). The same can’t be said for Will, as he also finds out Sue has stripped the Glee kids from their future high school nostalgia, and banned their group photo from appearing. Her reason for convincing Principle Figgins of this is to prevent another year of Glee Club defamation in the yearbook.

She’s not the only one who prefers this. It turns out the annual Glee Club photo has long since been a source for more severe forms of anti-Glee persecution. Kurt performed his own research and found that not long after the defamation of Glee Club photos, terrible fates have befallen the sharpie’d on victims. The students won’t fight Figgins’ ruling, but it’s not like Will Schuester to leave well enough alone. An ominous start to another episode of…


Will doesn’t believe that the Glee club should give in to the yearbook terrorists, but Figgins won’t sway. He will however sell them the advertising space, for $1,000 a page, or a quarter page layout for $325. Apparently the yearbook gets more readership than most papers; ad space is pricey. Rachel storms in and interjects, her two gay dads are well connected and Figgins is looking at a potential lawsuit. Diffusing the situation, Will tells her he has it under control, neglecting to inform her that it will now be a two person photo, placed below an ad for Chicken in a Waffle.

Feeling placated by this, Rachel skips off to the library to review her prior yearbook photo accomplishments. She has a tendency to join miscellaneous social clubs for the sole purpose being in the yearbook photo (the instance of the black student union was her “soul” purpose). The Glee Club photo is even more special, as it’s something she wants to be remembered for.

Unbeknownst to Rachel, several of her Glee Club teammates are reviewing the same photos, just two tables down. Quinn watches on as Santana and Britney add to Rachel an afro and ‘stasche. Quinn also has the same desire to leave a legacy through photos behind, something her children can look through when their old enough. Not the bastard one, the future better ones without pretend daddies. Reviewing former Cheerios photos, she’s angered about this denial of recognition. Sue Sylvester be damned, Quinn won’t be denied her photo.

That night at the Schuesters’, Will is fretting over his clothing choices for the yearbook (go with the green tie, it’s better with your complexion). He mentions to his wife Terri that in order for Glee’s hard work to be represented in the yearbook, he has to pay for advertising space. EN. OH. Terri is adamant that the money go towards food, which in turn goes to her baby’s belly, or at least the cost of fake pregnancy bellies. Will won’t be deterred, and the next day he still writes Figgins a check for $325.

Back at Glee rehearsal, Rachel has resorted to inventing new student unions for more face time in the yearbook. She pitches to Kurt a ‘Gay-Lesb-All’ (Gay/Lesbian Alliance). Will then enters with grand delusions that the Glee photo in the yearbook will soon become a collector’s item once they take sectionals. Glee is less than thrilled to be re-included in the yearbook, but at least it only means two of them are subject to humiliation and sequential torture. Two team captains need to be decided, and they will put it to a vote. With almost no deliberation, votes are cast and Rachel wins in a clean sweep.

Will confides to Emma that he’s hurt that the students are still embarrassed to be in Glee. She knows all will be OK once they take sectionals. In a rare moment of verbal clarity between them, Will brings up the fact that Ken likely scheduled the wedding the same day as sectionals to keep her from supporting Will. Emma states that there is no reason for Ken to be jealous; she’s done with her school girl crush on Will. Even though Ken may have his faults, 74 to be exact, he is also compassionate. She makes it quite clear that she will be married to him the following Saturday. Will apologizes, and walks away.

Returning to the Glee rehearsal room, Will then discusses with Rachel her new position of leadership. Not wanting to give full control of idea proposals to Rachel, he requests that she find a co-captain. This proves to be a challenge as no one is up to … the challenge. Desperate, Rachel turns to the one person who has displayed any sense of leadership in the past, Finn Hudson. She convinces him that he is a leader, and soon he and his very short a haircut agree to do it. I miss the puffy hair; it made him a more believable high school student.

In order for it to work, Rachel wants to strip Finn of his “steely toughness” and replace it with positivity and optimism. They perform a duet to a trippy dub version of Lily Allen’s “Smile” with the Glee Club musicians. It’s a fun and light duet, that highlights how cute of a couple Rachel and Finn could be as Finn’s “steely toughness” soon ends up melting into a pile of perfect teeth and cute dimples. Also, his hair spontaneously grew back.

It’s also cool to show some of the band members enjoying the performance instead of just being props, including Brad Ellis, a Broadway composer who doubles as the Club’s pianist.

Finn’s moment of happiness quickly dissolves as after football practice, he is assaulted by teammates Karofsky and Azimio. He fights them off as they attempt to fill in his dimples with sharpie’d on obscenities. That is only practice for what they will do when the yearbook is released. Also Finn yelling out “Screw you Karofsky” always makes me laugh.

When it’s time for the Glee photo, Rachel is distraught when Finn doesn’t show. It takes a minute and the nearest mirror for her to pull herself together. Through the help of Judy Garland’s “When you’re smiling” she takes her photos, but is remiss when the photographer doesn’t take more than four. He’s in a hurry to cast for a local commercial he’s directing, but look no further: Rachel Berry is multiversatile and will do anything to break into the biz.

Calling her first session of Glee as captain to order, Rachel breaks the big news: they have all been cast in the local commercial. Her reasoning is that no one messes with celebrities or defaces their pictures; just ask Tiger Woods. The class is ecstatic; everyone knows mattress ads are the first step to the silver screen. It’s true; mattresses have been an important part in starting many young starlets’ careers.

They sure do have quite the budget for a local ad, especially for one for a mattress store. The students excitedly prepare in their own staging area, trading stories of what they’ll do when they make it big. But they aren’t feeling the original direction. They might be performing off script, but as long as they can convey that mattresses are for more than sleeping and fornicating, they should be OK.

And what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think mattresses? That’s right, Van Halen (I know, me too!). The Glee kids jump into the part and onto some mattresses, with an all-choir rendition of “Jump.”

It’s pretty cool to see the Glee kids doing back flips off of mattresses; you can tell they had a lot of fun doing it. Although I’m not sure if it’s healthy for Quinn to be bouncing around like that and the commercial is definitely going to be longer than 30 seconds (ad space is expensive in Ohio!).

Tearing the bedroom apart, Will is desperately looking for his pocket square. He must have a cruise ship to wave off that evening. Digging through several of Terri’s drawers, he (finally) runs across a pregnancy pad, the exact same one Terri hid a few episodes back while still struggling with her deception. He quickly puts everything together and runs down to confront his wife. She can cover pretty quickly, but he will not take excuses anymore. He demands Terri pick up her shirt. In an instant, he is devastated. Ripping the belly from her waist, Will flies into a rage. She blames this all on the Glee Club, and how it makes him happy. The marriage is based on Will being defeated, and Terri did everything she could to see to that. After Terri admits her scheme to take Quinn’s baby, Will storms off. A great performance between the two actors, though I half expected Terri to still be dragging behind Will’s bumper as he drove away.

With no other options for a place to stay the night, Will returns to the one place he has left, the Glee Club practice room. Mysteriously, he runs across a stack of mattresses with a thank you note from the Mattress World owner. Stripping the protective cover off of one, Will throws it to the floor for a nights sleep. Luckily for him, that mattress is so comfortable you can’t even feel a kid dancing next to you on it; as least, that’s what the ads say.

On a ground-breaking new “Sue’s Corner,” Sue tackles the hard-hitting subject of uglies and fatties. A few dollars to look permanently surprised definitely gave her a greater boost in confidence. Walking off the set, Sue pauses when she hears a familiar voice. She stops in time to catch the latest Mattress World commercial on a station playback monitor.

At school the next day, Quinn approaches her old mentor Sue for her old spot on the squad. She hastily denies Quinn’s request. Sue also announces her intentions of getting Glee disqualified.

Apparently receiving payment for services rendered negates amateur status, and since they received mattresses as payment for their hard work, this counts. Returning them is also no longer an option as one had been opened and used. It’s true, check the tags. He also has to answer to why a used mattress is sitting outside his office (which was not for him and Emma), and he admits that he spent the night at school. Figgins can’t fight the scholastic board, it’s over. IT’S OVER!

Visiting her journal, Sue recant’s her latest victory over Glee. She believes it’s a total victory, until Quinn pays her a visit in full Cheerio’s uniform. She has proof that Sue is a hypocrite, and has been receiving gifts from businesses for many years. Sue relents and Quinn can come back to the Cheerios, but as far in the background as possible. Also, Sue will give one of her yearbook photos over to Glee. Leaving, Quinn decides she doesn’t want to be a part of a team where she appears to belong, but rather part of a group that is proud to have her, like Glee.

Will is remiss about the incident. He tells Emma that he blames himself. Giving more than her advice on the students, she also talks about his marriage. She is surprisingly sympathetic towards Terri, and suggests Will should take some time to figure things out. She can understand Terri’s intentions, even if the methods were a bit extreme.

Will devises a plan. If he accepts the gift of the mattresses, then only he can be disqualified from going to sectionals. They have worked too hard to give up now, and the group will have to do it without him.

In a montage to Charlie Chaplin’s (lyrics by Nat King Cole) “Smile,” the students prepare for the Glee photo. The vocals are pretty when sung by the group.

Other teachers prepare for their photos as well, and Will never gets to wear the green tie. The show ends with the football players defacing the Glee Club photo.

Next week the mythical SECTIONALS will finally happen! They can’t go unescorted, will Sue be taking them? It is also nice to finally resolve the faux-pregnancy plot-thread; it will be interesting to see if Will ever confronts Quinn for being part of Terri’s scheme. It’s also nice that McKinley wastes no time in delivering the yearbooks; Thunderclap must be in reference to the speed at which it’s published. Also, who names their yearbook the Thunderclap? That just makes me imagine that the school mascot is a burrito supreme.

Andrew J. Stride lives in Omaha, somewhere in middle America. You can email him or leave a comment below.

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