This episode was half "Glee" PSA and half uncontrolled insanity. Let's get down to it:
Girl power is back. Brittany's campaign for student body president rests on her firm grasp of the economic crisis, and a rejection of the patriarchy (no, really). She wins votes by dancing all over the place. It seems to be a pretty good strategy.
Rachel takes this to mean that she should run for president too because she is also a girl and also because this lets her be more like Tracy Flick than ever before. Kurt, however, is pissed, because he wants to change the world too. Poor Kurt also lost the part of Tony to Blaine, but he gives him flowers because he is being a good boyfriend instead of the psychopath who forced Blaine to switch schools because he just couldn't handle being his competitor.
Matthew Morrison's Schue is all dramatic shouting and pauses these days. He yells at Mercedes this episode, yelled at Quinn last episode, and yelled at Sue the first episode. He is a ball of rage and everything in his pathway will have its self-esteem destroyed.
Schue foolishly decides he'll invite Emma's parents to dinner despite her clear discomfort with the idea (and it is a great idea to spring unwanted surprises on your severely OCD girlfriend, by the way). It turns out they're Ginger supremacists, which despite the sillifying factor of being a bias based on having red hair, is really just racism. Emma remembers the birth of her illness back to when her parents, after a latino waiter touches their glasses, wipe them down: That's not just anti-gingerism, it is purely racism.
Schue accuses them of such. Emma has a quiet breakdown. They pray together a little bit and then Schue sings Coldplay while Emma cries.
Mike Chang gets his own storyline, which is a great use of his sad eyes and status as a "fleet footed dance ninja," as Tina says. Unfortunately that storyline is basically the most cliche storyline you could give an Asian teen on a show: He has an Asian dad who is upset by his Asian F (an A-) on a chem test and wants him to quit his dreams of dancing to the stars!
According to Mike Senior, "Coca cola, Kiss my grits and Harvard university" are the only phrases grandma knew back in China.
But mom, catching Mike anger-dancing alone while seeing visions of Tina and Dad encouraging and discouraging him in the mirror, says she'll support him because she dreamed of dancing too. He tries out for Riff, and gets it.
In the meantime, Rachel and Mercedes are having a diva-off, which means one of them belts while the other one looks upset backstage. Mercedes, driven by new football player/ evil manager boyfriend has become a seriously high maintenance glee club member. She complains of illness at booty camp as an excuse not to dance, then has a meltdown, yells at everyone, and then walks out on Glee club to join Shelly's club.
Rachel sings. She and Mercedes both get the part of Maria -- it's double-cast -- but that's not enough for Mercedes, who turns it down.
Schue lived off a box of porn because it "kept him off Craigslist." Emma has a signed photo of Vera Wang, that reads, "Always marry up!"
Watch out for Coach Bieste. Ryan Murphy has been faulted in the past for taking his characters and transforming them into the most monstrously exaggerated freaks he could (see: "Nip/Tuck") and from the way Bieste is shoveling creamy pasta into her mouth and dropping references to her prized donkey, she's either the goon of the moment or we have a healthy eating episode coming up.
The football team is dancing again. This can only be good.
"Run the World (Girls)" -- Beyonce: The music is basically just a cover of the Beyonce version, but that's not the point here. Brittany dances and it is amazing. She also wears a leather cheerleading skirt (guess "Glee" doesn't care anymore about angering parents who say the show's oversexualized?).
"Cool" -- "West Side Story": More dancing! Mike Chang has a voice! It's not, by any means, a wonderful voice, but he still pirouettes with the kind of easy grace that makes each move a joy to watch. From the Blaine school of dramatic singing, this number involves a lot of anguished looks, staggering back, and raising fisted hands.
"Spotlight" -- Jennifer Hudson: Mercedes does her standard stand and belt, and it sounds good, but I didn't remember the song when it was over.
"It's Over" -- "Dreamgirls": Oddly enough, they cut this song off right before the famous "And I Am Telling You." It's one of those utterly weird numbers where they replace the names of everyone in the musical with the names of people on "Glee." Unfortunately, this song is basically just speak-singing dialogue, and the parallels don't make any sense.
"Out Here On My Own" -- "Fame": The duet-duel of the century! But not really. It's not clear whether Rachel or Mercedes is doing better here, because they are both stand-and-belting, which, at this point, we know they can do.
"Fix You" -- Coldplay: I'm not sure whether "Glee" is better when it's actually good, or when it descends into levels of cheese so stinkily absurd that you literally can't believe that what you're watching is happening and you feel like you should rewind to make sure but you don't because if you see it again it might kill you. This is the latter, and the song does not fit Morrison's range comfortably.