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"Glee" Recap: "The First Time"

Alexis Driggs |
November 9, 2011 | 4:56 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

The first time "Glee" took on sex, it literally did so to the tune of Madonna’s hit “Like A Virgin.” The second time, the heart of the matter was overshadowed by Gwyneth Paltrow’s return as Holly Holiday. “The Power of Madonna” and “Sexy” were undeniably standouts of their seasons, but the third try for “The First Time” finally got it right. 

With the opening of "West Side Story" days away, director Artie fears Rachel and Blaine lack the sexual experience necessary to convincingly portray Maria and Tony. Though their performance of “Tonight” moves co-director Coach Bieste to tears, Artie still believes it lacks passion, and his brief story of his “first time,” the two leads think they know what they must do.

(Photo courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company)
(Photo courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company)

Blaine and Kurt begin to question whether their “safe” physical relationship is too boring, but decide it is best for now. Blaine gets a glimpse of the wild side when he returns to Dalton Academy to invite his former Warbler brothers to see "West Side Story." He finds the group in a rehearsal of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” with Warbler Nick (Curt Mega) tackling the lead vocals, and catches the eye of a new member, Sebastian (Grant Gustin). The very forward Sebastian doesn’t keep his attraction a secret in a scene intercut with one of Santana and Rachel, in character as Anita and Maria, singing “A Boy Like That,” serving to remind Blaine that Sebastian is bad news.

Kurt isn’t enough to scare off Sebastian when they first meet. Instead, Sebastian dares them to be adventurous and invites them to join him at a local gay bar called Scandals. Despite Blaine’s initial apprehension, Kurt agrees to go. 

While the very drunk Blaine and Sebastian dance at the shady bar, designated driver Kurt has an unexpected run-in with his former tormenter Dave Karofsky. We learn Karofsky has transferred to another school, and frequents Scandals because he feels accepted there. Kurt decides to take his relationship with Blaine into his own hands, all but destroying the threat of Sebastian as they dance. When the time comes to take Blaine home, though, things take a turn for the worst. Blaine drunkenly proposes they have sex in the back of Kurt’s car, and an argument ensues. The boys leave the bar separately.

Rachel, on the other hand, is much more forward with her sexual agenda, and Finn is quick on the uptake. With his parents out of town, he invites Rachel over for a romantic dinner. They decide to skip dessert to cuddle by the fire, but it doesn’t take long for the moment to be ruined. Finn asks Rachel why she chose now to lose her virginity, and she accidentally admits she needs to “do it” before opening night. She tries to save herself by saying it is also because she loves Finn, but it’s too little too late. 

Rachel gathers the girls of New Directions to ask for advice. Everyone has a reason for why she should wait, from Quinn’s struggle with losing her baby to Santana’s assertion that Finn is too inexperienced, save Tina. The scene is intercut with a reprise of Rachel and Santana’s performance of “A Boy Like That,”/“I Have A Love,” this time with Maria’s solo about her love for Tony serving to illustrate both Rachel’s feelings for Finn and Tina’s story of her first time with Mike. 

Although his relationship with Tina seems perfect, the same can’t be said for Mike’s relationship with his parents. His father returns to confront Mike upon discovering he is still in the play, and the two argue about Mike’s future. Mike finally finds the courage to stand up to his father and assert his dreams of being a dancer, but they fail to see eye-to-eye and effectively disown each other. 

When opening night arrives, it seems the only relationship going well is the budding romance of Coach Bieste and Cooter Menkins (Eric Bruskotter), a football recruiter from Ohio State University scouting Finn as a potential quarterback. After spending the first half of the episode trying to woo the insecure coach, Cooter proves his feelings and the two attend the show together. 

Opening night includes a revised version of “America,” with Santana and Puck singing the leads as Anita and Bernardo, and the non-traditional incorporation of the Jets, including Mike as Riff. The audience loves the show, including Mike’s mom, but his father is nowhere to be found.

In the wings of the stage, Blaine and Rachel admit to each other their failed attempts at a sexual awakening, but realize they relate to Tony and Maria on a different level: they both know how it feels to find a soul mate.

After the show, both couples make up. Blaine apologizes to Kurt for his flirtation with Sebastian and the Scandals debacle, and they agree their first time needs to be special. They decide to skip the post-show party at Breadstix, and instead go to Blaine’s house. Rachel arrives at Finn’s house, where she discovers an upset Finn: the recruiter told him he is not good enough to play college football. In a selfless moment, Rachel reassures her boyfriend that he can find new dreams, and admits she was wrong as they, once again, find themselves alone in Finn’s house.

The episode ends with another intercutting of a "West Side Story" song with the actual events of the actors’ off-stage lives, as Rachel and Blaine take the stage to sing “One Hand, One Heart,” in a later performance of the show. Shots alternate between the song and the two couples, lying intimately tangled together. What happens next is left to the imagination, but there is no question of the love in each relationship, implying the perfect “first time.”

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