Glee has spent a lot of this season letting real life bleed into fiction, whether it's mixing in hints of what its real life actors are doing in real life (Chris Colfer writes a screenplay=Burt suggests Kurt write a screenplay) or bringing an actor's real life skills into the show (Chord Overstreet is famous for impressions=Sam doing a lot of impressions since he returned to Glee).
This week Glee let real life bleed into the show when it referenced one of the major talking points of Glee fans - the lack of storyline/solos/anything for Tina this season. And rather than beat about the bush, Glee decided it would just have Tina say what everyone has been thinking all season.
Since she said it so well, I'm going to use her words to outline her storyline:
"I have sat, for three years, in the back of the choir room, holding Mike's hand, or crying, or smiling and swaying while everyone else was up there singing solos.
This week, Tina, it's your turn this week. After storming out of glee club rehearsal and shouting at Rachel, Tina does what Tina does best - she sucks it up and gets on with it, although she's still angry.
"Maybe I say something, most of the time I don't. Team player all the way.
"I am tired of being silent. I am one of the original glee club members and I was singing Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat when Finn and Puck were still throwing slushies at us.
"So when is it my turn?"
At the mall getting fabric for the glee club's costumes for nationals, Tina trips and falls into a water fountain and bangs her head, starting one of the funniest sequences Glee has ever done.
Having bumped her head, Tina has a strange episode where all the glee club members morph into each other. Puck and Finn swap with Blaine and Kurt, Santana and Artie become each other, Quinn becomes Sugar and vice versa, and so on.
And most importantly of all, Tina and Rachel swap bodies, with Tina finally getting to find out what it's like to be Rachel. Yes, she's adored and gets all the solos, and Tina enjoys the standing ovation she gets as Rachel. But it also makes Tina realise Rachel puts a lot of pressure on herself.
The sequence is hilarious, right up there with Glee's spoof Christmas special in the Christmas episode. All the actors brilliantly portray their alternative characters - Matt Morrison has Sue's walk down pat, Dianna Agron shakes her head just the way Sugar does, Chris Colfer has Finn's mannerisms down. You have to give props to these guys for really knowing the characters they're portraying, even though they've spent the last however many months or years being other characters.
When Tina comes back from her "dream" (she didn't fall asleep so dream isn't entirely accurate), she seems to have let go of her previous anger at Rachel, which I don't completely agree with.
Even Rachel pointed out that Tina had a point with everything she said, but Tina seems happy to step aside for Rachel, and is content to wait for her turn. I still think Tina's point should have been acknowledged as correct by more people, but mostly I hope having done this episode Glee's writers take Tina's speech on board and treat her better next season.
Also standing up for herself this episode was Coach Bieste, who we thought had ended her relationship with Cooter after he hit her. When this storyline first came up a few episodes ago, I thought it was too easily resolved with Coach Bieste summoning the strength to leave her abusive husband after just a couple of pep talks.
It turns out Glee was playing a long game, and Coach Bieste was still with Cooter this episode, although from flashbacks he's not been treating her well and she's now so scared she's considering using a knife in self-defence.
Her storyline ran on a parallel with Puck's this episode, who was also being beaten, by his peers rather than his loved ones. Down but not out, Puck pulled a knife on Rick 'The Stick', but was caught by Coach Bieste just in time.
Although Puck and Coach Bieste found themselves in very different situations, they both felt like they were in the same place emotionally - broken, beaten, unsure of where the future was going to take them, and not certain of their own worth.
Seeing her feelings reflected in Puck - and seeing him pull a knife - gave Coach Bieste the strength to leave Cooter, for real this time. And in one of the best moments this series, when Cooter asked Coach Bieste who would love her if she left him, Coach Bieste shouted back: "Me." Glee is about loving yourself for who you are, and Coach Bieste discovered that in this episode.
Puck too, discovered that he's not worthless when Coach Bieste stood up for him, and arranged for him to take his geography test again. She and his geography teacher were impressed when he put on a dress for glee, showing his commitment to his teammates. All it took was for someone to show Puck he does matter.
Alongside the more serious storylines were some lighter moments, although these still hinted at some deeper plots. There was Sue trying to get Kurt to wear a dress so New Directions could compete with Unique and Vocal Adrenaline. It started with an amusing scene with Kurt saying he never wore dresses - cut to Kurt dressed as Snooki for Halloween with Blaine as The Situation.
Still, Kurt had a good point - just because he's gay doesn't mean he has to wear a dress. It was something he constantly pointed out to Sue as she tried to get him to wear a dress throughout the episode. And although Sue seemed like she was being insensitive on the one hand, on the other hand every time she referred to Wade and Unique she did use both pronouns, showing respect.
Rachel showed she was still determined to get into NYADA, and in true Rachel style was calling and leaving message after message for Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg). But in the end Rachel showed why her being annoying is a small price to pay - she has a true passion for performing, and in a moving speech to Carmen she showed that. Now it's a case of waiting for Carmen to turn up to Nationals.
Speaking of which, although the next episode focuses on Nationals, this week's episode showed the glee club had already chosen their numbers for the competition. This is surprisingly early - usually New Directions waits until the last minute.
A quiet episode musically, but that's because New Directions are going to come out all guns blazing at Nationals in the next episode.
I thought Rachel singing Jason Mraz's I Won't Give Up was an odd choice as a song for herself, since it's a love song. Still, Rachel's ego is that big that if anyone's going to sing a love song to themselves, it's going to be Rachel.
Jenna Ushkowitz showed why Tina should get more screen time when she sang Because You Loved Me. She was singing as though she was Rachel, but the vocals were all Ushkowitz, and fabulous they were too.
Coach Bieste and Puck singing Mean was moving, and Rachel and Tina doing Flashdance...What A Feeling was a fun bonding number.
Technically, next week is this week, since we got a double bill of Nationals focused episodes.
Glee recap/review masterpost