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Glee Recap "The Substitute"

Glee-Ful Highlights From Episode "The Substitute"

She may not play herself, but this week's episode of Glee will be forever known as "The Gwyneth Episode." Paltrow plays Ms. Holliday, a substitute who fills in for Mr. Schue while he's off putting the "bed" in "bed rest" with Terri's help. Back at school, the kids try to fight against Sue's reign while the gleeks flourish under Holly's methods.

This just might be one of my favorite episodes of the season. I appreciate that they do a few show-stopping musical numbers instead of a ton of lackluster songs, and Holly is a breath of fresh air. I was even happy to welcome Terri back! There's lots to get into, so just


  • Mr. Schue is sentenced to confinement when he gets feverish in school, but how adorable are those mini-gleeks? My favorite is the Mike doppleganger who comments, "I just wanna dance!" Priceless. Anyway, Terri gets called in from a neighbor to help "take care" of Will, which is really code for playing some creepy game called "sick baby." Ew. It's actually good to have Terri back for a bit, especially since she's acting (relatively) normal. It feels like forever ago that Will and Terri were a couple, but Terri hasn't forgotten — and she uses her in-depth knowledge of Will's sick day style to seduce him.
  • Of course Singin' in the Rain is Mr. Schue's comfort movie, but the theme actually works well here because Matthew Morrison gets to show off his Broadway skills! You can tell that he's in his element with his entertaining performance of "Make 'Em Laugh" alongside Mike. (Sidenote: who rocked the number harder: Mr. Schue, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Saturday Night Live?)
  • And now for the main event: when Mr. Schue is ill, Kurt calls in a memorable substitute named Holly Holliday (loved when Terri asked if she was a porn star or a drag queen) to help the glee club loosen up. One rousing rendition of Cee-Lo's "Forget You" later, and most of the club is on board with a new teacher. Paltrow doesn't have the strongest voice or even the best dancing skills, but I love that Holly is a misfit just like the rest of the glee club. That said, I have to agree with Mr. Schue that some of her methods to get the kids to like her were just plain ridiculous. (Not to mention, I find it hard to believe that any kid would be psyched to get a tweet from a teacher).
  • Speaking of teachers, Sue manages to score Principal Figgins's job while he's on sick leave. It's mostly nonsensical that she gets to take over when he's gone, but it's really over-the-top that she has him fired and replaces Schue with Holly. (Did anyone else think this scene was another one of Will's hallucinations at first?) Though Will is back in place by the end of the episode, Principal Figgins has yet to return. . .
  • Kurt's much happier now that he has Blaine in his life, but Mercedes is feeling left out. Without her BFF, she pours her energy into bringing down Sue's new "war on junk food" and tries to get tater tots reinstated to the cafeteria. As much as I am loving Kurt and Blaine's new rapport, you can't help but sympathize with Mercedes during that scene at Breadsticks (especially since Kurt ditches her not once but twice). Kurt, I know you're excited to have a gay buddy, but don't forget about your old friends too.
  • Though some of Holly's methods are cringe-worthy (I'm looking at you, Mrs. Lincoln), the fact that "Conjunction junction" is covered in any capacity is amazing.
  • Once Terri sees Will with Holly, the former Mr. and Mrs. get into a fight and Will tells Terri to leave. There's a loaded moment where Terri tells Will that he's going to regret dumping her a second time, and for some reason, I believe her. I doubt this is the last we've seen of her, but the more important question is whether it's the last we've seen of Holly and Will's potential romance. She certainly seems more suited to him than Emma does (what happened to her, by the way?).
  • While I loved the closing number, Holly isn't the right choice to take on Rihanna, (would it have been so bad to give the part to Rachel?) That said, the songs meshed pretty well, and the choreography makes up for Gwyneth's singing in my book.

How did you feel about Gwyneth's performance? Would you welcome her back to the show? How did you feel about Terri's return? Chat in the comments below, or head to the Glee Club group in community for more!

Join The Conversation
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 6 years
I thought GP was actually pretty good. The singing was ok, but it's hard for me to wrap my head around Gwyneth singing. I'm not a huge fan of her in general, but she did a great job. I did like the "Forget You" number. And like what Mc Fearless said....Cee-Lo released the clean version (because how else would it get ANY play whatsoever) so I don't see what the problem is. I thought the auto-tune on the Umbrella/Singing in the Rain number was a bit much though.
cibele cibele 6 years
@MashiaraQCS Thank God you're here. It's been a while I see some Kurt loving and felt a little alone. I don't like him at all. Glee is a show about tolerance and strikes me as funny how the gay character is one of the most intolerant of all. He wasn't very respectful in that episode about faith, he's a bully himself several times (see the way he treats Rachel). Like you said he's selfish and self centered. The way he handled the whole Mercedes thing was so insensitive. And her reaction was baffling. She just agreed with him. It was so out of character. But I have to say I love Blaine. He's a cutie. And I hate how Glee is now Kurt's show. People complained how the show was all about Rachel, now is all about Kurt. Rachel has no story line, the same can be said about other characters.
MashiaraQCS MashiaraQCS 6 years
Is anyone besides me getting completely annoyed with Kurt's character? He acts as if he's the center of the world and the only one that matters, like his problems are the most important and therefore everyone should just conform to him. I don't like how the writers have developed him and the message that they are conveying. Like others said, the first sign of discord in Mercedes life and he just bowls over it. Can we please focus on some other characters? As for GP, I'm not a big fan of hers, but her character was a refreshing addition to the show (lack of exceptional talent aside). And I really hope that there isn't a romantic development between Schue and Holly, because he is turning into such a whiney man-whore. Can't there be just one female adult on the show that Will hasn't kissed? Time to find some new things to script Glee writers.
Pistil Pistil 6 years
This episode made me realize that they really should cut the Glee club budget. What a waste of water!
Burkina Burkina 6 years
Phoodie: "Instead of doing a horrible and awkward job censoring a song with the f-word in it" Seriously? Cee-Lo released forget you himself. That version is on tv and radios every day..
Burkina Burkina 6 years
Lol it was an amazing episode. She was the amazing part. Usually I think shes a frigid betch but she can really act. I mean how uptight can you be when you're best friends with beyonce and jay z?
stephley stephley 6 years
M'eh. It's become so random I don't care.
Rwandawithlove Rwandawithlove 6 years
While i adored Gwen's acting, I did not like her singing! Sorry. "Forget you" was okay but the Chicago number was poor, I felt like she brought down Rachel Berry's vocal abilities. And the Umbrella number just did not work for me. Otherwise it was an okay episode, B-
redchick152 redchick152 6 years
Sunday, I was just wondering b/c he was doing flips off the wall and stuff like that. I much prefer him doing numbers like this though, rather than stuff that looks awkward with the kids (Thong Song, Britney Spears, etc)
Go2Girl Go2Girl 6 years
Gwyneth nailed this spot on! Loved, LOVED it!
care0531 care0531 6 years
Is Principal Figgins really not coming back?! I wasn't blown away by any musical numbers....I feel like the 2 that were good were ones that were leaked before the show aired...I find that I can't stop myself from watching the musical clips before the show airs but it ruins the episode for me a bit.
Sundaydrive Sundaydrive 6 years
I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance better... @Redchick I don't see why Matthew Morrison wouldn't have been the one dancing. He has done Broadway after all. And if Joseph Gordon-Levitt can do those moves on SNL, I don't see why Matt couldn't on Glee.
phoodie phoodie 6 years
I thought that this was quite possibly the WORST episode EVER. "Make 'em Laugh" was good and the duet from Chicago was decent, but the other songs were TERRIBLE. Instead of doing a horrible and awkward job censoring a song with the f-word in it, just DON'T SING THE SONG on network TV. Jeez. And the mashup at the end was just dreadful. It was more like a music video and I don't want to see overproduced garbage and special effects and quick cuts. I want to see talented people singing and dancing. Period. The Principle Sue subplot was one stupid contrivance after another. I actually didn't have a problem with Gwynnie's performance. She did fine, I think. What I do have a problem with is stunt casting for stunt casting's sake.
Mandi-Villa Mandi-Villa 6 years
A. Sick baby MIGHT be my new favorite game - Kiiiiiidding! B. I totally think Mr. Schue is going to want Terri back in the near future. C. My favorite part of the whole "junk food revolution" was when Sue said Brittany thought broccoli was a little tree where gummi bears lived. I laughed out loud. D. I definitely agree that Rachel should have sang the Rihanna part. I like when the end song has everyone singing not Mr. Schue (and Ms. HH). Really? This is glee club for students - not "live out your dreams of being a singer by getting a teaching job so you can perform" club for adults. Overall I like the episode but I really wish the last song was a group effort.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 6 years
I happen to love this episode of Glee. I think GP was good as this subs teacher although yes, she's not the best singer/dancer. But man, it was enjoyable to watch. I agree w/ redchick when it comes to Mercedes storyline, oh C'MON. But yah... Am I the only one who senses some tension (romantic/sexual) between Will and Holly? I mean they look so cute together! I like the routine they did together in the end, but not too keen on the song choice, Rihanna's sung by GP..hmm..but it was ok.
cibele cibele 6 years
I really don't like Kurt and don't think him telling to get over it was so out of character. Anyway, it's been a while I don't enjoy a Glee episode.
redchick152 redchick152 6 years
first thing: GOOPy is trying really hard to take over the entertainment world. country music and now tv. 2nd: i really loved this episode and thought she did a pretty good job. its funny seeing her as this wacky, carefree character b/c she never plays that (and seems rather stuffy in real life too!). no, she is not the best singer/dancer, but her character actually fit into the story line and so did the musical numbers! i loved the last mash was amazing! i also enjoyed will and mike's cheesey dance number. was that a stunt double or is matthew morrison really that good?? why did they choose to have the one overweight character (who has not had a story line all season) fight for the tator tots?? i thought that was kind of a sh*tty move. mercedes is a much better character than that. sue was just ridiculous and i felt the same about kurt. he's struggled for SO LONG and at the first sign that one of his friends is struggling, he tells her to just get over it??
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