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Episode Recap: Glee S01E01 Pilot

Updated on January 9, 2011

New Directions

The pilot episode of Fox Network's hit show Glee started off by quickly plopping the viewers down into the midst of the drama at William McKinley High School. The Cheerios, the cheer leading squad of the school, were practicing on the football field. But their impressive performance was ridiculed by their coach Sue Sylvester.

"You think this is hard? Try being water-boarded, that's hard!"

~ Sue Sylvester

Meanwhile, Kurt, a small stylishly dressed boy, was being surrounded by football players next to the dumpster in the car park. Will Schuester, the Spanish teacher, walked past and thought that Kurt had made some new friends, oblivious to what was really going on. As soon as he was out of sight, the football players picked Kurt up and dumped him into the dumpster (though they did allow him to take off his Marc Jacobs jacket before throwing him in).

In the teacher's lounge, Will and Ken Tanaka the football coach discovered the coffee machine had disappeared. It turned out that the coffee budget was cut to pay for a nutritionist for the Cheerios, who appeared on Fox Sports Net last year.

Discovering that Sandy Ryerson, the Glee coach, got fired, Will went to Principal Figgins and asked to take over the glee club. Figgins was not amused and after some number-crunching, said that Will was allowed to take over the club provided that he pay for the upkeep of the club ($60 per month) and use the costumes and props they already had.

Lying awake in bed at night, Will was determined to make the club great again, even if it meant he had to hide $60 a month from his wife Terri. He also decided that they needed a new name to get the kids motivated. It was then he came upon the perfect name: New Directions!

Mercedes performing "Respect" by Aretha Franklin
Mercedes performing "Respect" by Aretha Franklin | Source

Auditions: Introducing the Main Characters

At the auditions for New Directions, five people signed up for Glee Club. Mercedes, the first to sign up, went onto the stage and belted out an impressive performance of "Respect" by Aretha Franklin. She was followed by Kurt, who sang "Mr Cellophane" from Chicago. Artie and Tina were shown to at the sign-up sheet together. Tina, who had a little stutter, performed "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry (Artie's audition was not shown).

Rachel Berry, who always signed her name with a gold star, was the last to audition and she sang "On My Own" from Les Miserables. During her performance, it was revealed (through her private revelation) that she was the one who turned the former glee coach in for inappropriate touching after he gave the solo "she deserved" to another student Hank. It was also revealed that she had two gay dads and she was born from a surrogate. Her fathers spoiled her in the arts and gave her all kinds of lessons ever since she was little. However, it appeared the one thing her talent couldn't bring her was popularity. Her MySpace clips of her singing only brought ridicule from the popular Cheerios, headed by the Queen Bee herself Quinn. Rachel's revelation and audition ended with the scene where she got slushied in the face at the sign-up sheet.

New Directions performing "Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat" from Guys and Dolls
New Directions performing "Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat" from Guys and Dolls | Source

A Rocky Start

New Directions' first rehearsal did not go very well. Rachel was upset, declaring that it was ridiculous to give the lead solo in "Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat" to a boy in a wheelchair. She then stormed out of the room. Will eventually found Rachel sitting in the bleachers and they had a talk. Rachel said she was tired of being laughed at and doesn't want to make a fool out of herself. She demanded a male lead that can keep up with her musically or else she'll quit.

At the same time, Principal Figgins informed Will that he needed the auditorium because Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to rent it for their meetings. Will decided to make a deal with Figgins: if New Directions place at Regionals, they stay; but if they don't, then they'll give up. Figgins agrees, on the conditions that Will runs detention for him free of charge.

While taking lunch to his wife, Terri, Will runs into Sandy the former Glee coach. Sandy says he was now making more money than before by re-selling medical marijuana. Despite Will's protest, Sandy slips Will a sample, declaring "first one's free."

At a loss of where to find new members, Will went to Emma, the career counsellor who has a phobia of germs, Sue and Ken for advice. Sue told him that high school is a cast system with kids falling into certain slots. Her Cheeriors were in the penthouse, invisible kids bottom floor and the Glee kids sub-basement. She advised Will against blurring the lines. Emma had a different opinion. She thinks that kids follow the leader so if Will can get a couple of the popular kids to sign up, the rest will fall right in. Ken agreed to let Will talk to his football team on the condition that Will put in a good word for him to Emma.

After his talk with the football team, a dejected Will was found in front of the sign-up sheet that was filled with joke names. But then, he heard singing coming from the boy's locker room. It turned out Finn, the star Quarter Back, was singing in the shower. Desperate, Will slips Sandy's medical marijuana into Finn's locker and blackmailed him into joining Glee. Finn agreed because he didn't want to disappoint his mother, who had single-handedly raised him up after his father died in Iraq.

Vocal Adrenaline, last year's Regional champion, performing "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse
Vocal Adrenaline, last year's Regional champion, performing "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse | Source

Facing Tough Hurdles

Rachel was thrilled that New Directions finally had a talented male lead. However, her thoughts of them becoming the star couple of Glee was dashed when it was revealed that Finn was dating Quinn, the head cheerleader of the Cheerios. For the first time, New Directions was actually sounding pretty good. Inspired by their improvement, they decided to take a field trip and go see last year's Regional champion, Vocal Adrenaline, perform on the weekend. They were blown away and overwhelmed by their performance.

Meanwhile, Ken was not amused with Will stealing his QB as well as Emma rejecting his advances. He walked off, warning Will that "the herd will take care of it." Sure enough, Finn's best friend, Noah "Puck" Puckerman was suspicious of Finn skipping Saturday's football practice. Finn told Puck it was because his mother had just had a surgery to remove her engorged prostate. At first, Puck bought it but when he discovered that chicks don't have prostates, he bought the football gang to paintball Finn.

Terri, Will's wife, found out she was pregnant. While overjoyed, Will felt that he couldn't provide for a family on a teacher's wage. He gave in his two weeks notice and began looking for a job as an accountant. Finn wondered if that meant he no longer had to be in Glee.

New Directions performing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
New Directions performing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey | Source

Don't Stop Believing

The football team welcomed Finn back with a surprise. They had trapped Artie in a porta-potty and offered Finn the first flip. However, Finn let Artie out and when Puck admonished him for "helping out a loser," Finn lost it and let out a tirade saying that they were all losers. Finn told the team from now on, he was doing both football and Glee. 

Rachel was determined to run the club without Will but was coming at odds with the rest of the team. Just then, Finn wheeled Artie in and with his leadership skills, quickly got the team together, telling them he got the music.

Meanwhile, Emma dug up a old video clip and showed it to Will. Will realized the video clip was of him winning Nationals back in high school. Will realized that was the happiest moment of his life. When he said he needed to provide for his family, Emma asked "but provide what exactly? The understanding that money is the most important thing? Or the idea that the only life worth living is the one you're really passionate about?" That seemed to give Will some food for thought.

As Will walks down the corridor, he hears music coming from the auditorium. Walking in, he discovered the kids performing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey and they were really good. Also secretly watching the performance was Sue with her top two cheerleaders Quinn and Santana as well as Puck. At the end of their performance, Will clapped and told them that it was a nine but they could make it a ten. It was then that Will made his decision to stay and coach the kids, saying that it would kill him to see them win Nationals without him.

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