Remember after the big Michael Jackson episode in season 3 when Ryan Murphy said they weren’t going to do any more tributes? It’s okay. Neither does he, since this is the third artist-specific tribute episode they’ve done since then. Not to mention the genre tributes to Latin music, disco, and movie music, as well as the Grease episode. Ryan Murphy, you are a liar.
Rachel starts off the episode by calling Will to let him know she has a second callback for Funny Girl. She tells him how she owes him everything because “Don’t Stop Believin'” was her first audition song. Will starts to tear up as he tells Rachel how proud he is of her. Will decides her news is wonderful, so that is the theme for this week. This is literally his thought process at this point. He might as well just open a dictionary, point to a word, and come up with an artist that loosely connects to it. Since wonder is in the word wonderful, this week belongs to Stevie Wonder. He tells the glee club about Rachel’s audition. He also tells them Brittany is at MIT for an early acceptance interview. Bullshit. I know someone who goes to MIT. I am offended on her behalf that the writers are even proposing the idea that Brittany could get in there. Along with that, Will also shares the news that he and Emma are engaged again. Tina raises her hand to offer the news she has been waitlisted for veterinary school. No, she hasn’t. You have to have an undergrad degree before you apply to vet school. You don’t just get a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. The writers aren’t even researching shit at this point. Will lectures everyone about how fantastic Stevie Wonder is.
Kitty chases Artie down the hallway to ask why he is so depressed. Kitty thinks Artie is upset because he has a crush on her, but he assures her that’s not it. He tells her he got accepted to the Brooklyn Film Academy, but he can’t go and he doesn’t want to talk about it.
Kurt is in New York, counting down the days to finding out about Burt’s test results. In voiceover, he tells us about the new rituals he’s adopted in order to ensure good news for his dad. He only wears light blue socks because they’re the color of clear skies. He taps his nose three times at the 14 and 28-minute mark of each hour. Essentially, Kurt has developed obsessive compulsive disorder. I would be far more invested in this development if I thought the writers would pursue it past this episode, but we all know they won’t. Regardless, Kurt is absolutely terrified and Chris Colfer does an amazing job portraying the fact that Kurt is barely holding it together.
Next thing we know, Kurt is back in the halls of McKinley with Mike and Mercedes. In the choir room, Kitty leads New Directions in a performance of “Signed, Sealed, Delievered.” She is literally crawling toward and shimmying at Artie by the end of it. After the song ends, she tells the whole glee club that Artie has been accepted into film school. Mercedes tells Kitty that the song was great for that occasion, but that caliber of performance will not win them Regionals. Kitty asks why she should take advice from someone who couldn’t make it work in LA, but Mercedes tells her that Mr. Schue asked her back as the new vocal coach for New Directions. Also, Mercedes is back in town because she is filming a video for her new album. Mike says he’s back to offer dance help to everyone. Tina goes on a rant that is supposed to be a nod to the people who complain that Glee treats its female characters horribly. Maybe instead of making fun of how people think you’re a sexist show, you could just not be a sexist show. I don’t even have the energy to get into that can of worms right now. Tina turns to Kurt and bitchily asks if he’s there to help them with fashion. In the most adorable voice, Kurt tells Tina his dad has cancer and shuts her down immediately. Artie rolls out of the choir room and Kitty follows him. He is not too appreciative of her actions. He tells Kitty his mom doesn’t want him to go because NYC isn’t very wheel-friendly. Kitty tells him he would be awesome in film school and he needs to pursue his dreams.
Kurt and Blaine are at the Lima Bean with Mike and Mercedes. Blaine excitedly talks about the advancement of marriage equality. He also tells Kurt that he looks “dirty cute” today. I don’t even understand what that means and it’s so awkward, but I love Blaine so much. Mercedes is talking about how she wants her new video to go because Mike is apparently choreographing it. She spouts off a bunch of LA-ese while Kurt obsessively sorts sugar packets. Mercedes says she’s sure Mike knows what she’s talking about. He tells her he does, but then turns to Blaine and shakes his head no. Mike Chang plays a bigger role in this episode than he has in the past four seasons. It’s kind of awesome. Mercedes wants to know what’s going on between Kurt and Blaine. Blaine says they’re not together. Mike starts to ask about what happened between Blaine and Tina, when Kurt loses it. He says that doesn’t matter because he’s too focused on his dad. They all hold hands and it’s such a sweet scene.
Rachel is walking down the hallway at NYADA when two random kids come up to tease her about the people she’s up against for “Funny Girl.” Apparently, the other women up for the role are “Bunheads” star Sutton Foster and Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer. The random NYADA kids also tell Rachel she needs a teacher to sign off on her audition and Cassie July wants to destroy her. Oh, they remembered Kate Hudson was on the show sometimes. They mess with Rachel’s head a second more and walk away. They head straight to Cassie’s office to tell her they’ve confirmed the news about Rachel’s audition.
Mercedes starts off another round of glee club lessons. She tells them they’re too afraid to really belt things out. She teaches Marley a little bit about breath control during runs and then the whole club breaks out into “Superstition.” In related news, that’s the most about the actual instruction of singing we’ve ever seen in this show.
After glee club ends, Mercedes and Mike corner Jake in the hallway. Mike says Mercedes wants him and Jake to be the featured dancer in her music video. At first, I thought Mike was saying that he was going to dance in Regionals and I was super confused that Mike thought he was allowed to compete with New Directions. But, no. They want Jake in the music video and they also think that Jake is New Directions’ secret weapon. Mercedes goes on a rant about how Jesus said not to hide your light under a bushel and asks if Jake disagrees with Jesus. Jake points out that he’s Jewish and Mercedes counters with the fact that Jesus was, too.
Burt, Carole, and Kurt are in the doctor’s office. Kurt starts yelling at his dad for wearing a dark-colored t-shirt and Burt loses it. He tells Kurt to knock things off and just sit down. The doctor walks in and tells them that Burt is in remission. Burt starts hugging everyone and starts talking about how he wasn’t ready to leave his kids yet. He tells them how excited he is to get to see Kurt get married and to get to have “old people sex” with Carole. I love Burt so fucking much. You have no idea.
Kurt heads straight to the choir room. Burt comes in and everyone cheers. He sits down and Kurt says the last time he dedicated a song to his dad was when Burt was in the hospital from his heart attack. He tells Burt they’re going to celebrate his second chance on life and he wants to dedicate a new song to him. Apparently, Burt used to sing “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” to Kurt and it always made him smile. Fortunately, it’s also a Stevie Wonder song, so he can sing it to him now. He gets Tina, Marley, and Kitty as background dancers. It might be the most adorable performance ever. Burt tries to dance along at one point and I love Mike O’Malley so incredibly much. The song ends and Burt gives his son a huge hug. I might have tears in my eyes.
Rachel is in an audition room at NYADA, practicing for her audition. Cassie comes in and messes with Rachel’s head a little bit. Apparently, Rachel’s dance midterm is at the same time as her callback. Cassie tells her Rachel’s midterm is now the next morning and goes on to tell Rachel how badly she’s going to choke at her audition. She’s extremely vicious in the scene and I kind of love it.
Back in the choir room, Mike says there’s someone in the room who is new to glee club this year, but just might be able to lead them to nationals. For some reason, Sam stands up, but he’s not new to glee club that year. It was just kind of weird. Anyway, Jake comes up and he and Mike perform an awesome dance routine to “I Wish.” Mike turns to Kurt and says how he thinks this could actually work. He also says he wishes Mercedes was there to see it. Where is Mercedes?
She is apparently in the auditorium, on the phone with someone. She angrily threatens to sue someone. We find out she’s talking to her producer. Apparently, he was pushing her to go for a far sexier look than she wanted and now, they’ve taken her off the release schedule. The producer said they would be willing to use another woman’s picture on her album, but Mercedes doesn’t want to do that. Mike and Kurt try to console her, but she just wants to leave and talk to her mom.
Artie heads home, only to find Kitty on the couch with his mom (the amazing Katey Sagal). Kitty apparently wanted to talk to Artie’s mom about him going to film school, only to find out that she had no idea about it. Mama Artie wants to know why he would keep something like that from her, and Kitty leaves, but not before calling Artie a wuss. Mama Artie asks why he’s telling people she’s afraid to let him go to New York. We find out that it’s actually Artie who is afraid. He knows his mom has made things easier for him, and he’s worried it’ll be too hard in New York. Mama Artie tells him that he’s adapted to everything and any changes came from his suggestions. She tells him that he’ll adapt in New York. He also tells her he doesn’t want to leave her alone. He thinks it would be ungrateful to leave her behind, but she tells him it would be the greatest present in the world. She also says that if Artie ever again implies that she’s an old hag, she’ll tip over his chair. I love Mama Artie. Can we have her back? After she leaves the room, Artie says he’s going to New York and then does this adorable spin in his chair. I want to hug Kevin McHale after that scene. So precious.
It’s time for Rachel’s dance midterm. Cassie warns Rachel she’s in a terrible mood and asks Rachel to at least make her laugh when she fails. They walk in to the dance room, where a ton of people are waiting for her. It’s all apparently been a ruse to throw a celebration for Rachel’s callback. There are signs and a full orchestra. The whole room proceeds to sing “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).” I guess it’s Stevie Wonder week at NYADA as well. I’m a little sad Cassie ended up being nice to Rachel. I loved how much she hated her. It was nice to see someone not treat Rachel like she was the greatest person to ever live.
The next day, Mercedes comes into the room telling them that today’s lesson is all about being prepared for the music industry. She explains what happened with her producer. Ultimately, she decided to sever ties with her producer and release her album the way she wants. She hands out copies of her album to everyone and explains that she’s going to figure out how to sell it on her own. Mr. Schue points out that she’s taking the higher ground. Fortunately, Stevie has a song called “Higher Ground,” so Mercedes proceeds to perform that for everyone.
Blaine is in the auditorium, waiting for Burt. He hands Burt a rainbow pin, hoping that Burt will wear it to show his support in Congress for marriage equality. Burt tells Blaine he’s proud to be on the “right side of history” and will proudly wear the pin. Blaine then proceeds to ask for Kurt’s hand in marriage. Burt just looks at him and asks if Blaine is totally nuts. Blaine says that Kurt is his soulmate and he knows he needs to do something bold to get him back. Burt says that Blaine has been like family, so Blaine thinks he’s getting his approval. Burt tells him he’s absolutely not giving his blessing. He reminds Blaine of the Finchel debacle and says they’re way too young to get married. Blaine says Burt has no idea what it’s like to finally be allowed to marry the person he loves, but Burt points out that Blaine doesn’t really understand what it means to be married. He sits down next to Blaine and tries to convey what a huge deal it is to get married. He tries to tell Blaine there’s a difference between marrying a person and an idea. Blaine asks what he’s supposed to do if Kurt meets someone else. Burt asks if Blaine truly believes he and Kurt are meant to be together. Blaine says yes and Burt tells him to stop worrying. Burt gets up to leave and promises Blaine things are going to be okay. He tells Blaine that everything works out for people who love each other as much as him and Kurt do. Every time Burt is on screen, I’m reminded why he’s the world’s greatest dad. Seriously. He needs all the awards.
Back in the choir room, Mercedes has them review that week’s lessons. Don’t be afraid. Embrace runs. Most importantly, have passion. Artie comes up to the front and goes into his weird gangsta rapper speak that always just makes me really uncomfortable.
Rachel goes to see Cassie July and brings her a gift. She gives Cassie the original dance stick that belonged to Debbie Allen in “Fame.” She also thanks her. Cassie tells Rachel the dance number from earlier is just NYADA tradition. They do it whenever someone gets a big audition. Rachel says she’s actually thanking her for being such a great teacher and being so relentless in training Rachel. Cassie says she saw something in Rachel from day one and wanted to make her a better performer. Rachel asks if that’s also why she slept with Brody, but Cassie said that was just because of his abs. Rachel tells Cassie how nervous she is. Cassie says she knows Rachel will get it and gives her a huge hug. I liked it better when she hated Rachel.
Blaine and Kurt are walking down the hallway at McKinley together. He tells Kurt he needs to ask him something and it’s going to talk a lot of courage. Kurt tells him to go ahead and also tells him how cute he is when he gets nervous. After a lot of stammering, Blaine asks Kurt to stay for Regionals. Kurt said he and Mercedes had already decided to stick around. He wonders why Blaine would have thought he’d say no. Kurt then says something about it being a wonderful week and Blaine says it’s a wonderful life with Kurt in it. I love these boys so incredibly much.
In the auditorium, Artie leads New Directions in a rendition of “For Once In My Life.” It should also be noted that everyone is wearing these horrible pastel yellow and orange outfits. It is the most sickly sweet color combination. They’re also against a backdrop of some weird 70s wallpaper thing. I don’t even understand what is on my screen.
Next episode: Regionals! A surprise wedding! Cliffhangers galore?