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Glee Season 3-02 ‘I Am Unicorn’ Recap

Glee returned last week with its usual uneven narrative and strong musical chops. Now, in season three’s second episode, "I Am Unicorn," our attention turns fully to plots that will dominate the early season.

Glee returned last week with its usual uneven narrative and strong musical chops. Now, in season three’s second episode, “I Am Unicorn,” our attention turns fully to plots that will dominate the early season.

The big plots include: Kurt’s (Chris Colfer) run for Class President, a second show choir at McKinley, Quinn’s (Dianna Agron) self-destruction, West Side Story and, unfortunately, Sue Sylvester’s (Jane Lynch) run for office.

Kurt needs extra-curricular activities beyond glee club if he is going to get into the arts school of his choice in New York. So, he decides to run for Class President. And guess who has a great idea for Kurt’s campaign? If you guessed it was Brittany (Heather Morris), you clearly have been watching the show since it began because, honestly what would be funnier? Mercedes (Amber Riley)?

Britt’s big idea for Kurt’s campaign is to celebrate his status as a ‘Unicorn.’ What is Brittany’s definition of a unicorn? It’s almost too wonderful to write as the written word can barely do justice to Heather Morris’s glorious delivery. Nevertheless, here it is; try to imagine Brittany’s obliviousness:

“When a pony does a good deed he gets a horn and becomes a unicorn and he poops out cotton candy until he forgets he’s magical and then his horn falls off.”

More succinctly, and actually relating the unicorn thing to Kurt, Brittany explains that a unicorn is someone who knows they’re special and isn’t afraid to show it; a sentiment that resonates with Kurt enough that he allows Brittany to join his campaign. There is a hint of depth to Brittany’s ludicrous conception of both the unicorn and her idea for Kurt’s campaign, which is to simply go gay, very, very gay.

If we go back to last season and Brittany’s conflicted feelings for Santana (Naya Rivera) and combine it with her extremely out and proud idea for Kurt’s campaign–complete with pink posters and Judy Garland themed gift bags–you almost get the impression of actual subtext in Brittany’s actions.

Welcome back Shelby Corcoran! Idina Menzel returned to Glee with a surprise for Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison): McKinley High School is getting a second Glee Club. After Will boldly booted Glee wannabe Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies), she called on her dad who donated just enough money to the school to start a second show choir and hire Shelby to run it.

This is a pretty dopey subplot considering A: there must have been a dozen or so better ways to bring Shelby back to the show. And B: How can there be a second Glee Club when the series is built around the notion of how much everyone at the school hates the Glee Club? I understand, most logic is not welcome here, but it begs mentioning.

Shelby was eager to return to Lima as she hopes to involve Quinn and Puck (Mark Salling) in the life of their baby, Shelby’s adopted daughter Beth. She will not however, allow Skanky Quinn to see the baby until she gets cleaned up. Puck, on the other hand, passed a drug test to get to meet his little girl. Yes, we actually got to see a little of Mark Salling this week after he was left with nothing more than chorus duty in the season premiere.

Quinn does eventually give up the Skanks and her pink hair but not before starring in one of Sue’s anti-arts campaign commercials. But, don’t for a moment think that Quinn has reformed, she’s only doing the good girl thing to get her daughter back. Again, I understand, logic is unwelcome here, but Quinn revealing her plan super-villain style to Puck during dance rehearsal was rather ludicrous.

Auditions are underway for the student musical, West Side Story, but Mr. Shuester doesn’t have time to direct. So, Ms. Beiste (Dot Jones) Emma (Jayma Mayes) and, just to give him something to do in this episode, Artie (Kevin McHale) are directing. They will have to choose Maria and Tony and the battle is more emotionally charged than you might expect.

Rachel (Lea Michele) is the front-runner for Maria but a newly confident Mercedes is ready for a fight. Kurt has the charisma to play Tony but can he play tough? Blaine (Darren Criss) doesn’t want to step on his boyfriend’s toes but his audition clearly shows that he is the better Tony.

We are promised more on the West Side Story battle in next week’s show but here again we have unexpected metaphors emerging. We have a Jets vs. Sharks battle for the lead roles and, in Rachel’s audition, singing along with Beth on “Somewhere There’s a Place for Us” a brief revisit of Rachel and Shelby’s mother/daughter issues.

The music in this week’s episode stuck strictly to the musical theater genre with Kurt’s take on Funny Girl, singing Streisand’s “I’m the Greatest Star,” only after getting Rachel’s permission, as the show’s stand out. The song served to inflate Kurt’s ego while demonstrating his greatest pitfall: he doesn’t excite Coach Beiste’s lady parts.

Kurt is… not manly and Glee has gotten a great deal of mileage out of that fact. That will not change any time soon as demonstrated by Kurt’s notion of butching up for his second audition: performing Romeo and Juliet with Rachel in full Shakespearean garb, right down to the tights.

Finally, in the weakest of the continuing plots, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) resumed her Congressional campaign by shooting a commercial with Quinn, who, according to Sue, turned Skank because of the arts. Sue claims to be winning her campaign for Congress which leads to a horrifying turn of events: Will Schuester running for office.

As if having Jane Lynch mired in this go nowhere, unfunny subplot wasn’t enough, now Will is going to challenge her? We get it; the arts are embattled and struggling to stay in schools. Having Will battle Sue is the show’s thesis statement in the argument to keep the arts in schools. We get it!  All that I ask is that the writers make this plot funny rather than merely polemical before they add to and expand upon it.

On the bright side, Glee will have at least one funny political subplot. Brittany joined the race for Class President in the closing moments of I Am Unicorn:

“The last 16 Class Presidents have been guys and look where that’s got us; teetering on the brink of a double dip recession.”

About the author

Sean Kernan

I have been a film critic online and on the radio for 12 year years. I am a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association as well as a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association.