It's been said before that an episode of Glee can feel like ten shows rolled into one. Alright, maybe not ten, but this instalment rumbled along pretty unremarkably - a couple of small scenes apart - until the end suddenly exploded into something really quite heavy indeed.
Where to start? Well, for one thing, Puck is head over heels with Shelby after that kiss a while back, despite it being horrendously inappropriate - Shelby being his teacher and all.
He even fantasises about her in class, which turns into a glee club performance of 'Hot For Teacher' (Rachel thinks it's inappropriate, but Puck says he just digs Van Halen. Sure.)
Shelby's doing the sensible thing of resisting Puck's advances, but he's very persistent (and hey! He's 18! It's totally fine!). And it's not just a crush, either, honest. Puck wants to be a family. Shelby needs help with Beth, and what better person than Beth's father? He thinks Shelby's stopping him from babysitting because she's afraid of what will happen...
Quinn's still on her evil rampage, urging Puck to be nice to Shelby so that they can babysit and get closer to Beth (so when she gets Beth back, she won't freak out). She's willing to do anything to please Shelby, and offers to join the Troubletones - though Shelby doesn't agree to right away.
Anyway, Shelby lets Puck come over to make a crib and he's adorable with Beth. But Puck's feeling awful about Quinn's dastardly plans and reveals all to Shelby. He apologises and says he would love to be a part of Beth's life - adding that Shelby was always meant to be her mother.
Shelby's shocked, and when Quinn later invites herself in she admits that she knows the truth. They begin to argue, and eventually Shelby announces that she doesn't feel comfortable with Quinn being around Beth anymore. "Just because you take out your nose ring and dye your hair blonde again, it doesn't make you any less lost," she advises. Dianna Agron is great at fury and Quinn storms off. Say what you like about this storyline, but at least Quinn's been called out now.
Elsewhere, there's some talk of dirty fighting. Sue's been running insane campaign adverts against Burt (he has a baboon heart! Probably!) - but more of that later. Kurt's furious with Sue, but she says he should fight dirty in the class president race - everyone else is, after all. And what's more, he needs a proper cause to fight for. But Kurt refuses to go negative.
Meanwhile, Rachel goes to see Shelby to ask her to sign a recommendation letter for NYADA. Shelby does just that - and then begins speaking about how proud she is of Rachel (it's all quite heartwarming, really). But when Shelby begins praising Rachel's resumé - saying her list of extracurricular activities will beat anyone else - Rachel's face drops.
Yes, she's feeling guilty about joining the school president race, and is missing Kurt's friendship. But when she tries to talk to him, Kurt freezes her out. At the school debate, though, Kurt gives an impassioned speech about banning dodgeball (we'll get to that in a bit). And then Rachel stands up and withdraws from the race, telling everyone to vote for Kurt.
Afterwards, she explains that Kurt going to NYADA is part of her dream, and she forgot that. And she's hated him hating her. They make up, as Rachel promises to campaign for Kurt. I know it was a bit horrid of Rachel to join the class president race in the first place, but must Kurt always get everything he wants and his way? (Mind you, he didn't get the West Side Story lead...)
Elsewhere, Will and Shelby are worried about the competition between New Direction and the Troubletones, so they decide to channel it into something more healthy - a mash-off. Then they introduce this idea to the two groups by belting out a mash-up of 'Just You And I' and 'You And I'.
Finn suggests that New Directions do a 'Hall & Oates' mash-up, since they stayed together, unlike other acts that have split up. And, what's more, he thinks Rory should get a solo to help him prepare. But while it's all harmony in New Directions, Santana's doing her best trash talk to psych them all out.
The insults are flying everywhere, and Finn and Rory's attempts to insult her back just end up with Santana laughing. So Finn comes up with another plan - dodgeball. The teams meet after school for the game, and manage to sing a mash-up of 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' and 'One Way or Another' as they play.
The Troubletones win - with Santana hitting Finn smack in the face. But then the girls all start throwing their balls at Rory, making him bleed. Poor Rory! Kurt is furious - hence the campaign speech, by the way. Even Mercedes doesn't think it's cool.
In fact, Mercedes comes up with an idea for the Troubletones' mash-up - Adele - and nominates herself as the group's president. After all, Santana's too busy trying to insult Finn to actually do anything useful. Shelby agrees it should all be about the singing, so Santana agrees to play nice.
Of course, when she goes to see Finn to apologise she ends up insulting him more and more - seriously, she just burbles horrible (but hilarious) words for about five minutes. But when she walks away, Finn's had enough. "Hey, Santana - why don't you just come out of the closet?" he asks. He suggests that she's so mean to others because she's a coward and can't admit how she really feels about, say, Brittany. Naya Rivera's face is stunning - it's like Santana's choked and been punched at the same time.
We get the first mash-up performance - New Directions sing a mix of 'You Make My Dreams Come True' and 'I Can't Go For That'. Later, Santana is called to Sue's office, where she's met by Sue, Burt and Will. They begin talking about "bad news" and "counselling". Way to freak out a student, guys.
In fact, Sue's feeling responsible as she started the negative campaigning in the race for office. She's got a rival's campaign ad - his niece goes to McKinley and heard Santana's chat with Finn. And in the video, sure enough, Santana is outed as a "lesbian cheerleader" as part of a demolition of Sue's family values claim.
As much as Santana has been a truly awful example of a human being throughout this episode - a bully, cruel and unfeeling - watching her burst into tears and sob that she hasn't even told her parents about her sexuality yet is heartbreaking. She runs through the halls crying, but it's time for the Troubletones' mash-up - 'Rumour Has It' and 'Someone Like You'.
It's amazing, by the way, but Santana is visibly upset. And when she sees Finn whispering to Rachel, she's furious. All he was whispering was that she was amazing, but Santana thinks he's spreading news of her sexuality. Finn points out that everyone at the school knows - and doesn't care - but Santana yells that everyone else will know soon, too. As Finn asks what she's talking about, she slaps him. A proper, cheek-stinging, jaw-dropping smack.
So this was a confusing episode of Glee. For a while, it seemed pretty unremarkable - a standard instalment, meandering along enjoyably enough. But then, in the last few minutes, it suddenly got really rather dark indeed. I'm intrigued about what happens next.
- Puck is still ridiculously cute with Beth.
- I really could have done without the groin-grasping hip swivels in 'Hot For Teacher'. Shudder.
- Other Things I Could Live Without: Will Schuester saying "rock on".
- Puck gets Shelby a mini-pumpkin. Bizarre. (I love how the writers slipped in several moments for Puck to say he's 18 just to make this a little more OK.)
- Puck's list of reasons he should be with Shelby begins: "Number one, you're hot. Number two, I'm hot." Amazing.
- Shelby watching Quinn perform and knowing that she'd been trying to steal back Beth was a well-done moment.
- Sue's campaign adverts are paid for by "angry white people". Oh dear.
- "Winning is really about poo flinging."
- Brittany's list of campaign promises includes robot teachers, topless Tuesdays and a ban on tornadoes. Insane.
- I really, really, really loved the moment when Brittany sang a little to Santana to cheer her up at Troubletones practice. It seemed so genuine, as did Santana's laugh. I wonder if it was improvised.
- Glee still doesn't seem to really know what to do with Glee Project winner Damian McGinty (Rory).
- Kurt describes Rachel's "borderline sociopathic fight to the top". Fair.
- I'm going to miss Rachel's campaign posters. VOTE FOR THE BERRY BEST.
- "Scowling gives you forehead lines, and I'm way too young for Botox."
- I am really enjoying the animosity between Blaine and Finn - especially the moment when Blaine thought Finn was bigging him up for a solo, when in fact he wanted Rory to do it. Sometimes people just don't get on, and I hope that's all it is here.
- I love that Santana described the Troubletones as 3F - "fierce", "femme" and, um, "phenomenal". Oops.
- I kind of enjoyed Finn and Rory's weak insults. And Santana's retort: "That's the lamest thing I didn't understand a word of."
- This week's Gleek Out! could consist entirely of Santana's cruel but hilarious insults. What was your favourite?
- Oh, Will. "World War Glee". You're so witty.
- I love that the Troubletones have a couple of random cheerleaders among its ranks. Keep your eye out - they could be the next Santana or Brittany, after all...
- The next instalment of Glee is called 'I Kissed A Girl'. More Katy Perry, then? And, um, what on Earth could it be about...?