Following the Rocky Horror Picture show episode of Fox’s “Glee,” it appeared the one of the central characters, teacher Will Scheuster, was on his way to losing his grip on reality. His infatuation for school counselor Emma was reaching a point of no return, and the continuation of his crazy streak looked like it would continue when his estranged wife, Terri. In good form, though, Will runs from the crazy.
Over the past several episodes, “Glee’s” Will Schuester, played by Matthew Morrison, was written into this shame spiral of love as he tried to woo Emma. The strain of their on-again, off-again relationship drove Emma into her own mental health downfall, and she fell into comfortably into the arms of the resident dentist, Dr. Carl Howell, played by John Stamos. This, in turn, left Will to become this stalker-esque freak show that became less a rock for the emotionally fragile students, and more of the weird, old guy at the night club. You know that guy, and if you don’t…never mind.
But the episode The Substitute, which aired on November 16, 2010, brought Mr. Schuester back from the great beyond. It was a bit touch and go for a bit, when his ex-wife Terri seduced him with a menthol-rub (it makes sense if you watch the episode), but our man Schue pulled through, with the help of substitute teacher Holly Holliday, played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Paltrow’s performance in this episode was stellar. Glee looked like it might be going nowhere, despite reviews in magazines, like Rolling Stones article from the November 25th issue, which say that the plot lines in Glee are becoming less important. While it is great that writers and producers are allowing the music to tell more of the story than they had in the past, fans still need a plot to follow. And that’s where Paltrow’s performance fills the void.
Paltrow plays the aloof substitute that nearly all past, or present, high school students have ever met: for one reason or another, they think that the rules don’t apply to them and they can shake things up and make them fun. The plan works for a while before backfiring in front of the infamous Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), acting as a substitute principal. While it did not end well for the musical career of Holly Holliday at McKinley High, it set up a fantastic duet with Matthew Morrison and Gwyneth Paltrow performing the instant hit mashup of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Gene Kelly’s “Singing in the Rain.” They did, in fact, save the best set for last.
Welcome back, Mr. Schue.