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Cheering Impaired

By Andrew J. Stride | TV | November 16, 2009 |

By Andrew J. Stride | TV | November 16, 2009 |

Before we begin, I would like to take a moment here to address several of the comments that have surfaced on the last couple recaps. With the large cast and numerous story lines “Glee” contains, A LOT happens in each episode. So to be fair, if you have ADD here’s what you missed. Singing, dancing, creepy watching, very bad behavior from the female cast members, and they are still no closer to Sectionals then they were the week before. There, for those of you who complained that these recaps were too in depth, go borrow an encyclopedia from your nearest library and complain to the librarian that it has too much information. Others who wish to have a refresher before next week’s episode, read onward. (Is that snarky enough for you, Empress of All the Russias?)

Glee Season 1/Episode 9 “Wheels”

Open on cheerleading dance practice. The Cheerios are coordinating a dance routine with jump ropes and flips as Quinn Fabray watches from the bleachers. She’s distracting herself from the fact that having a child is expensive, and if she wants to continue to hide the pregnancy from her parents, she’ll need money fast. Finn joins Quinn to console her for being ousted from Cheerios, but is assaulted with threats and medical bills. He’s tried to find work, but in this economic climate, no one is hiring.

A few feet away, Jacob interviews Sue regarding the Cheerios’ chances at Nationals. He inquires if Quinn was booted because of the pregnancy, which due to the nature of cheerleading really shouldn’t be that shocking. Sue seems to be the only person who’s made any proper decisions regarding the future of Quinn’s baby.

Further down the hallway, Will is asking Principle Figgins for school funds to get a wheelchair accessible bus so the entire Glee club to travel to sectionals together. Things are tight, and if Will wants that bus, he’ll have to find another alternative. A not very glee-full opening to a much delayed episode of…


Later at Glee practice, Tina Cohen-Chang checks out Artie as he ties his shoe. He does have a nice set of rims. Quinn also continues to badger Finn for a financial solution to hide her pregnancy. Her parents must be insanely strict or have a large gun collection to warrant this much trouble. Will Schuester then enters, changing the number to sectional for the umpteenth time. This week he chooses “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. Kurt doesn’t seem to oppose show tunes this week as Wicked is one of his favorite plays. He seems crushed that Rachel has already been selected for the lead. He and Mercedes will have to find something else to dip in chocolate (REALLY?!?). Will also informs them that the school won’t pay for a special bus so Artie can travel with them. A bake sale is his solution, but the students deem it to be too much work. Artie is left out without much thought.

After the bell rings (is this a class or after-school activity?) Artie practices guitar and sings vocals in the auditorium to an acoustic version of Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” In a word, Awesome.

A few of the wheelchairs spins probably were the work of a stunt double, but much of his audio escaped the clutches of the heavy auto-tune for the most part. It’s also revealed in his performance/music video that he’s attracted to Tina as well. Anyone else find Will watching from behind the curtains creepy?

Next day, Kurt takes a stand; he wants to audition for the Wicked solo. He’s shot down by Mr. Shuester because he won’t be able to hit the high F at the end. Also, since the group hasn’t learned from the past several episodes about diversity and unity, Will takes things to a whole new level. They will have to spend the next week in Artie’s shoes, or in this case, his chair. On top of that, they will be performing a dance routine in wheelchairs. Next week a Muslim student joins the cast and they all wear Burqas.

If the members of Glee thought they couldn’t be hated anymore, they learn differently while spending time in the wheelchairs. Finn getting hit in the face never gets old.

In the school’s Home-Ec room, Quinn and Puck spend a little time playing house. Puck tries to do the right thing by giving what little money he has to help support their baby, which Quinn makes very clear is HER baby (actually, it’s Terri’s baby for that matter). Things get a little out of control, as the two express their deep unbridled passion for each other through a food fight. Little known fact, that’s how Tom and Roseanne started dating. Entering at the wrong (or right) time, Finn catches the two moving in close, and for once someone finally intervenes instead of watching things go idly by. Go Finn!

Later at Mr. Hummel’s automotive shop, Kurt and his father discuss his disappointment in not being considered eligible for the Wicked solo. As a fan of “Yes Dear,” I’m happy that Mike O’Malley is back on the show. He does a great job straddling the line between conservative Midwestern morality and loving widowed father, and at least he doesn’t have to worry about Kurt getting someone pregnant. Kurt says the magic words, lawsuit, and it’s enough to get him fired up.

After some debate between Will and Kurt’s father in Principle Figgin’s office, Will agrees he was wrong. In order to be fair and practice what he preaches, he will hold a competition between Rachel and Kurt for the lead. To be fair, the class will vote for their favorite. Upset by this, Rachel does her best drama queen but it’s to no avail. To attest to the commitment of the actors to their characters, even in a wheelchair Kurt is still fabulous and Rachel can still make a dramatic exit.

Later, Figgins calls Will and Sue into his office for a pow-wow regarding diversity within the extracurricular activities. Fairness is not in Sue’s vocabulary. “As soon as a cheerleader rolls herself out onto the field in a wheelchair, she has become decidedly less effective at cheering people up, just a fact.” Thanks to Sue Sylvester, I will for now on refer to wheelchair ramps as ‘lazy makers.’

Not much luck at the bake sale for the Glee club; being in wheelchairs don’t seem to help much either. Seeing another side of Brittany that doesn’t involve her being borderline learning impaired, she buys her friend Becky who has Down Syndrome a cupcake. Maybe they’re friends because they ride the same bus to school. The lack of sales also continues to escalate the tension between Finn and Quinn, causing him to storm off, sans wheelchair.

Open auditions for Cheerios with Will and Sue don’t fare much better. Apparently McKinley High must be located fairly close to a nuclear power plant, beware the Spider-Monkey man! Becky Jackson, Brittany’s friend with Down’s, also auditions, and it strikes a chord with Sue. After a few missed jumps with the jump rope she’s in. Will suspects foul play.

Rollin down the halls of McKinley, talkin’ with Finn bout news, laid back; Puck gives out his best fatherly advice. No one in the 21st century with a Mohawk should be allowed to give advice on anything other than which stores carry the best ironic T-shirts. Tensions between the two escalate leading to a full on brawl. If not for Mr. Shuester breaking things up, my money would have been on Finn. High school can be rough, and Finn has yet to catch a break.

Back at Glee, Artie is teaching dance moves for the class’s new number. Afterward, he steals some alone time with Tina. A note to Artie, never remind a woman of her faults in every single conversation you have with her. Letting her know your penis still works, however, was a solid move. Kudos.

Kurt’s training to reach a high F is juxtaposed with his father receiving a prank by some bigot with too much time on his hands. Kurt’s ecstatic he hit the note, but his father could be less thrilled. He’s confused about how all of this makes him feel, and it in turn upsets Kurt.

Rachel and Finn spend a little time together in the rehearsal room. She’s nervous she’ll lose the diva-off as no one likes her; Finn admits that he does. The moment is quickly spoiled by an angry Quinn. Help pay off the past due notices before they go to collections, or it’s over, she threatens. Rachel, however, has a plan involving a wheelchair. Is a lawsuit in their near future?

The bake sale is suddenly off to a raving success. Puck has the right idea. High-schoolers these days like their Gatorade spiked with vodka and their cupcakes laced with pot. Single ladies take notice; Puck will sell drugs to support you and your bastard child. Plus, he can cook!

Sue meanwhile is riding Becky pretty hard at practice. Will takes time from spying on his students to spy on Sue. Sue makes a good point, if you treat most people like crap, you should do it equally. Will doesn’t know the first thing about her, which might mean more than that she was in the Falklands.

After a brief public moment of encouragement from Finn, Rachel starts her solo in the diva off against Kurt. Though the song “Defy Gravity” was not written as a duet, it works well between these two. It’s refreshing to have a performance that’s grounded in reality as well. Unfortunately at the end Kurt butchers the high F.

Watch Defying Gravity

Puck the lima (Lost in Middle America) loser comes through with a fat stack of cash for Quinn. Pot must be quite lucrative in Ohio seeing as it is fairly decriminalized. He proves to her that he has ambition and the keys to the cupcake lockbox. Nothing says “I love you” like selling pot to support a crippled friend and then stealing the revenue. Unfortunately for Puck, Finn has come through and landed a job at a faceless nameless company, but who cares; his boss is Vork from “The Guild.” Thanks to Mr. Shuester, Finn and Rachel learn a valuable lesson. Be nice to the disabled as you might someday also be in a wheelchair, exploiting fair practice laws in order to get a job. Quinn chooses Finn again, and Puck is left teary eyed with a bulge stuffed with bills.

At rehearsals Puck hands Will over the $1,200, enough for the bus and 2 cases of Natty Lite. Me, I’d go with a wheelbarrow and 500 cases of Natty Lite, but I have no ambition. Artie generously turns down the offer because he’s either he’s a compassionate guy who wants wheelchair ramps for the school, or because the money smells of Puck’s ball sweat. After little mediation it’s decided; a lazy maker will be installed in the auditorium.

Sue, surprisingly, has already beaten them to it. They will get to keep the $1,200. A glimpse into Sue’s private life reveals the motives behind her generosity. As it turns out, her older sister also suffers from Down Syndrome. It’s a genuinely touching moment played lovingly between the two women. If Sue hadn’t knocked an old lady down the stairs a few episodes ago, she might get a few sympathy points. Who knows, maybe the old school nurse was Satan.

Artie and Tina race through the empty hall of McKinley on a very cheap date. After he points out her stutter yet again, she seizes the moment and kisses Artie, making him blush. But she has a horrible secret: her stutter was fabricated. Most people might be understanding in this situation, but it turns out Artie isn’t into Asian women; he likes the impaired. He actually dumps her after this revelation. Creepy Artie, creepy.

Back at Hummel Tires & Lube, Kurt admits to his father he threw the high F. He did it for them, as he’d rather keep his father happy than subject him to the hatred and bigotry that would follow his performance in a woman’s role. He loves his father more than he loves being a star, and the moment is not lost on Kurt’s father.

At another rehearsal practice, not that it matters because the number will be changed next week, the members of Glee perform “Proud Mary” complete with a choreographed wheelchair dance number (full episode below: “Proud Mary” at 41:00).

Artie and Mercedes blow it away. Her powerful voice and complete dedication to each song she sings is quickly making her my favorite performer on this show. We also get to hear briefly from Tina, whose voice is too often lost in the background.

Overall it was another great episode and a fantastic way to come back after a two-week hiatus. I prefer when the focus is on the diversity of the students and how they learn to embrace individuality, rather than when the show focuses on baby swapping and false pregnancies. It humanizes the characters instead of stereotyping them as one-note caricatures so that they can easily be identified. My favorite examples of this humanization were Brittney’s sensitivity and Kurt’s willingness to accept who he is rather than try and force others to accept him. Artie’s “Dancing With Myself” and the final number were also very well executed.

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

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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