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"Glee" Recap: "I Am Unicorn"

Alexis Driggs |
September 28, 2011 | 1:38 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


Keeping with the promise of a simpler season, “I Am Unicorn” delivered a powerful emotional punch with some glee clubbers continuing to question their futures, and the return of Idina Menzel as Shelby Corcoran and a storyline that had all but disappeared since the end of the first season.

Last week, Kurt announced his campaign for student council president. This week, Brittany declared herself Kurt’s campaign manager, with a plan revolving around some of the more flamboyantly gay stereotypes, including the likening of Kurt to a unicorn that leads to pink posters befitting an eight year old girl. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Schuester has some big announcements for New Directions. He wants the club to focus on winning Nationals this year, so he is making some changes to the way he runs the club. First, Finn and some of his fellow glee clubbers will take part in a mandatory “booty camp” to improve their dancing abilities, with the help of dance pro Mike Chang. Second, he is stepping down as director of the musical and his shoes are being filled by an unlikely trio: guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury, football coach Bieste, and New Direction’s own Artie. 

(Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company)
(Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company)

Sugar Motta is back with a vengeance after her rejection from the glee club last week, but her involvement in this episode only seemed to serve one major function: facilitating Shelby’s return. Back in season one, Shelby Corcoran was the coach of Vocal Adrenaline, New Direction’s biggest show choir rival. She’s also Rachel’s long-lost birth mother, but they failed at forming a mother-daughter bond. In the season’s finale, Shelby stepped down as Vocal Adrenaline coach to adopt Beth, Quinn and Puck’s baby. Now, she’s back to coach a second glee club at McKinley, funded by Sugar Motta’s father. Shelby has her own reasons for returning, though, which include allowing Quinn to be involved in Beth’s life. 

Shelby has one condition for allowing Quinn to see Beth: Quinn must change her attitude and say goodbye to the Skanks. Quinn has a plan of her own, though. Sue, in her Congressional campaign platform to cut funding to the arts, has enlisted Quinn to be the center of a video called “A Day In The Life Of A Girl From Whom The Arts Stole Everything.” Essentially, Sue convinces Quinn that New Directions was the source of her misery. 

In a refreshing break from Sue’s destructive tendencies, this story was pushed to the background, and a large portion of the episode instead focused on Quinn’s struggle with being involved in her daughter’s life.

Bad boy Puck got the chance to show his heart of gold when he dropped by Shelby’s house unannounced to see Beth. In a touching scene, he gives his daughter a hand-drawn picture of a clown, and assures Shelby that he will do whatever it takes to prove he can be a part of her life. He then tells Quinn about their daughter, and she returns to Shelby once again, refusing to change but wanting to see a photo of her daughter. Shelby obliges, reminding Quinn that the decision to be a part of the family rests on her decision to change. 

A few scenes later, Quinn shows up at a session of “booty camp,” without pink hair and nose rings, and is welcomed warmly by New Directions. In one of the twists that closed out the episode, Quinn revealed her motives to Puck: she wants to gain full custody of their daughter, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. 

While Rachel has her heart set on playing Maria, she gets some motherly advice from Shelby, in the form of help with audition preparation. Neither is sure where their relationship stands, and although their duet of “Somewhere,” from West Side Story, was nothing less than what you’d expect from the powerful voices of Menzel and Lea Michele, the song does nothing to change the uncertainty between the two. With Menzel slated to have a major story arc this season, hopefully Shelby’s relationship with her real daughter will be explored more. 

Kurt is equally determined to land the role of Tony, but his audition song gives the director trio the wrong impression. He chooses “I’m the Greatest Star” from Funny Girl, and although his death-defying stunts as he climbs on and swings off of a metal structure prove some degree of masculinity, the directors still label him “a little delicate” for the role. Kurt is desperate to prove he can play the leading man. He gets Rachel’s help in performing a scene from Romeo and Juliet. The directors found the attempt laughable. Even though Kurt’s acting was decidedly not Kurt, the attempt didn’t merit the ridicule, and could have actually been a good audition had the directors taken it seriously. 

A conversation with his father leads Kurt to accept the fact that, for the time being, he is stuck being typecasted because of his sexuality. He tells Brittany that he supports her “I Am Unicorn” campaign, but she delivers some harsh news: she’s entered the race for president, and is determined to win. 

The final scene spells trouble in paradise for Kurt and boyfriend Blaine. With Kurt’s heart set on Tony, Blaine decides to audition only for supporting roles. He goes before the director trio singing “Something’s Coming,” a song Tony sings in West Side Story, and stuns the directors. Kurt is watching from the rafters when Artie asks if Blaine would consider reading for Tony, and the episode ends before Blaine makes his decision, torn between being supporting his boyfriend and taking the opportunity to star in the show. 

“I Am Unicorn” was another much-needed, return to the heart of Glee. Shifting more focus to New Directions and putting less emphasis on flashy performances, this episode shows promise for the rest of the season, carrying over the stories set up in “The Purple Piano Project,” and lost storylines from season one. Perhaps this season will succeed where season two frequently failed, and actually follow through with these promising storylines. The twists that finished out this episode will be impossible to ignore, so hopefully next week’s episode doesn’t lose steam. 

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