I say. Those casting people sure do know how to attract the talent.
There's a disease spreading through the halls of McKinley. Strangely enough, this new strain of "monkey flu" only seems to effect people who pose a threat to Sue. Maybe she bioengineered it to attain her goals, which is totally something she would do. Anyway, Will comes down with it and is forced to take a sick leave. Enter the substitute, the comically named Holly Holiday. Not only does she take over in Will's Spanish class, but she also takes the reins of the glee club, much to the chagrin of Rachel, who was hoping to lead the club in Will's absence. Holiday is a big proponent of letting the kids do the songs they want, a big change of pace form Will, who is still looking for a Journey song that the club hasn't performed yet.
As this power struggle plays out, we see Kurt and Blaine's relationship progress, albeit through the eyes of a ticked off Mercedes. It's nice to see Kurt finally have someone to relate to and chat with, but, God Damn, he was dick to Mercedes in this episode. Mercedes thing with the tater tots was pretty stupid, but, as with everything in this episode, was taken to such glorious heights of ridiculousness that it is easily overlooked. The plotline that saw Will and Terri briefly reconcile was also interesting, and handled better than any other plotline between the two so far in the series.
But, the main focus was Mrs. Holiday, and boy was it a good focus! Gwyneth Paltrow guest stars as the substitute, but it's not a just a movie star cameo designed to ring some extra viewers. I mean, the total viewing population of Glee is probably bigger than some countries, so, they aren't exactly starved for an audience. Paltrow is fantastic as this spunky, fun loving, but ultimately damaged woman. She's hilarious, but also heartbreaking. And damn, can that woman sing!!
The songs this week were also a big step up from last week. They were all exciting, interesting, and each brought something new to the table. The "clean" version of Cee Lo's "Fuck You", as sung by Paltrow, was great, as was her and Rachel's rendition of "Nowadays" from Chicago. Will's and Mike's reimagining of "Make Em' Laugh" from Singing in the Rain was hysterical, and the last song, a mashup of "Singing in the Rain" and Rhianna's "Umberella" was the best song so far this season, and the dancing on the number absolutely killed!
"The Substitute" is, hands down, the best Glee episode of the season, and certainly one of the best of the whole series, ranking right up there with "Dream On", "Journey" and the pilot as the strongest of the bunch. There's talk of making Paltrow's character a regular. I don't know how I feel about that, but, for the time we spent with her this week, it was absolutely wonderful.
Also, how awesome was it seeing Beiste burn Sue when she tries to disband the football team with a "But then who are your Cheerios gonna cheer for?" Priceless.
So, now that Paltrow is out of the way, who's next for big name guest star? Javier Bardem is on the list, and Stamos and Chenoweth are sure to make reappearances. I don't care about any of those; I only care about one of them. Please let the rumors about Bruce Springsteen guesting the show be true. Please let be true. If The Boss were on Glee, so many dreams would come true!