Glee Recap: S03E05: The First Time
“How do you expect to convey the human experience to the audience when you haven’t even opened yourself up to one of humanity’s most basic and primal ones?”
And so it begins. With a single inquiry, the insightful Artie lays all of the cards on the table. This episode? It’s all about sex. Specifically about having sex for the first time.
Kurt's Bucket List
5. Have relations on a dewy meadow of lilac with Taylor Lautner before he gets fat.
The Title Players
Artie really wants to know why Blaine and Rachel are not emoting as they should. They sing "Tonight" beautifully, but the delivery lacks the passion behind the words. Little does he know until he raises the question; the reason his stars are not expressing sexual awakening is because neither star has experienced it for him or herself. And now Blaine and Rachel are left thinking about that next step they could take in their respective relationships and whether or not the time is nigh.
Rachel, being Rachel, decides to take matters into her own hands immediately. She zeroes in on Finn in the hallways as he hangs one of her campaign posters. She starts innocently enough, asking if he has decided where he will cast his vote. When he admits that he is undecided, she gives him an incentive and kisses him.
Rachel: You can’t do this with your brother…
Finn: Unless you live in Kentucky.
Apparently this innocent kiss is a signal of some kind. Finn invites Rachel over while Burt and Carole are out of the house, and the expectations are quite clear.
In contrast, Blaine and Kurt have a very realistic and yet sweet talk about boundaries. They have been taking things very slow, despite having urges to the contrary. Even Kurt, who covered his ears at the mention of sex just last year, admits to wanting to tear his boyfriend's clothes off. But they both decide that they need to wait for the moment when they are both ready for that step.
Blaine: And besides, tearing off all of your clothes is kind of a tall order.
Kurt: Because of the layers?
Blaine: Because of the layers.
So while one couple prepares to take the next step, the other decides to wait, at least for now.
Opposition and Changing Plans
Blaine gets a little inspiration when he visits Dalton to catch up with his old friends and instead meets an up and coming soloist who has heard everything about him:
“I was like, I don’t know who this Blaine guy is, but apparently he’s sex on a stick and sings like a dream,” Sebastian Smythe praises over coffee after staring at Blaine during the Warbler rendition of "Uptown Girl."
Despite some outrageous flirtation (to which even oblivious Blaine is not completely immune), Blaine is loyal. When Sebastian asks why he would leave Dalton, Blaine replies endearingly, “Let’s just say that I miss Dalton everyday, but McKinley is where my heart is.”
Even if Blaine will not give in to Sebastian's flirtations, he is inspired to be adventurous. “Don’t you think now is the time to be adventurous?" he asks Kurt, "While we’re young?”
At another coffee date, Sebastian turns on the charm even more and does not care that Blaine has a boyfriend. Luckily, said boyfriend is there to assess the possible threat situation and take a dare. Sebastian offers a night out in West Lima at the only gay bar in town, Scandals.
Drunken (Or Not) Stupidity
The stage is set for some adventure. Finn goes to Puck and asks for a good condom brand. His response assumes that Rachel is the same girl he once dated: “Are you cheating on Rachel, dude? Because if you are, that is not cool, and that’s coming from me." Then, once Finn makes it clear that he is planning on it being Rachel, Puck changes his tune. "I always thought it would be me, but secretly I hoped it would be you," he offers, "As for the condoms? No idea, never used them. It’s worked out for me about 99% of the time." Ah, how I love Noah Puckerman.
Finn must have winged it with condom choice or found someone else to ask because the night in question arrives and he has everything planned perfectly. He sets the music to “Rachel Berry’s Special Mix.” He prepares dinner with meat substitute, because she’s “a vegan, which [he] remember[s]. Because [they] know each other so well.” Little did he know he needn’t try so hard, because Rachel does not need to be wooed. All is going smoothly until Finn decides to be the perfect gentleman. He needs to make sure Rachel is changing her mind for the right reason. After all, Finn has been saving money so they could get a room somewhere nice. Rachel instantly "calms" his fears with the exact wrong response: “I can’t wait a couple weeks! I have to get this done before opening night.” Mood killer.
On the other side of Lima, another virgin is about to make a huge mistake. Kurt sits and watches from the bar as Sebastian dances with his increasingly drunk boyfriend. Blaine appears to have a bit of a drinking problem and sees nothing wrong with anything that is going on, so Kurt tries to have a little fun too, finally joining him on the dance floor. When they finally leave the club, Blaine is nowhere near sober and decides to get a little handsy. He pulls Kurt down on top of himself in the back seat of the car and tells him how much he wants him. Now. Kurt yells at him, and Blaine walks away. Another wrong way to go about becoming intimate with someone you love.
Finding the Right Time
What to do when you have screwed up so royally? Rachel does what Rachel is wont to do and calls an emergency meeting about her sex life. The attendees? Santana, Brittany, Quinn, and Tina. The initial consensus? Wait.
Quinn: “Do you want my advice? Just wait. Look what happened to me… I’m not just talking about getting pregnant, I’m talking about losing something you can never get back. It changes you. It makes everything more complicated.”
Santana (on why not to sleep with Finn specifically): “It was like being smothered by a sweaty out of breath sack of potatoes that someone soaked in body spray.”
Brittany: “I lost my virginity at cheerleading camp. He just climbed into my tent. Alien invasion.”
But it is Tina who sways Rachel the most. She tells the tale of her first time; how Mike and she talked about it together; how it was perfect because she was connecting with someone she loved. Rachel may have realized that she had done something wrong, but the look on her face during Tina's speech shows her realization that she actually is ready, and for the right reasons.
The night of the first performance dawns, and the stars are still virgins. But it still goes off without a hitch. Kurt comes to find Blaine on stage after the performance and they have another heart to heart. Blaine apologizes for his drunken advances, and Kurt accepts (but not without a quip about his drunken relationship with Rachel). Sweetness abounds, and then Kurt makes the executive decision to skip the after party and go straight to Blaine's.
Back at the Hummel-Hudsons, Rachel visits a depressed Finn. He had been waiting for Cooter to recruit him for Ohio State, but Cooter had only been visiting to scout Mercedes' boyfriend Shane. Rachel displays her ability to be empathetic despite her usual self-centeredness:
"Your dreams are not dead. You've just grown out of them. You have to find new ones now... We'll figure it out together. You're special. You know how I know that? Because I'm going to give you something that no one else is ever going to get... The point is is that I was wrong and stupid and immature and probably not for the last time lost in my ambition. Now I'm just a girl, here with a boy that she loves, wanting to remember this moment for the rest of her life."
We cut back to the musical to when Tony and Maria are exchanging their vows. Interspersed with their vows are scenes of Rachel and Finn and Kurt and Blaine, sharing longing glances and sweet embraces. They finally found their moments, and they have strengthened their commitment to their relationships by waiting until it was right.
Other "Happy" Endings
1. Artie talks to Beiste about sex, having witnessed how quickly she left the auditorium (on Emma's heels, as it were) after he broached the subject. She opens up and tells him about Cooter, the recruiter from Ohio State and her perfect guy. Of course, she assumes he would never be interested in her, because as we have learned in the past, Shannon Beiste has low self-esteem when it comes to the dating world.
But when Artie takes the reins in hand and brings Cooter to the auditorium to talk to him about Beiste, we realize the exact opposite is true. Cooter does like Beiste; she has just been oblivious to all of his advances. Artie tells him to try again, and this time, make it obvious. So Cooter goes to the weight room, roses in hand, and after much confusion, comes out with it: “A real honest to god date. Where you dress up like a lady and I dress up like a gentleman.” And just like that, they have a date Friday after the game. One very happy ending.
2. Mike’s father comes to school to order Mike to quit the musical. “Grow up, Michael. You need to learn the difference between grown-up dreams and kid dreams.” He threatens to disown him and Mike calls his bluff. He does not want to be a lawyer; he wants to be a professional dancer. His father walks away, leaving Mike without support, but he has stood up for his dreams. This ending is open ended, as his father did not show up for the play, but his supportive mother was in attendance. Come college application time we shall see where Mike ends up and whether his father supports his decision.
3. Kurt runs into Dave at Scandals. He transferred to another school in fear of rumors flying that he was gay (which despite Kurt's promise not to tell were clearly inevitable given Karofsky's nomination as Prom King with Kurt as his queen). Apparently Dave comes to Scandals frequently. They call him "a bear cub," and he feels accepted there. To each his own. It is a bittersweet ending for Dave, as he has come to accept himself as he is, but there are very few places left to him where he can find that needed acceptance.
Grading the Songs
This edition of "Grading the Songs" is brought to you by the musical "West Side Story," with a generous side helping of prep school boys in flashy uniforms.
Tonight - B
This song opens the episode, and it pales a bit in comparison to its successors. As always, Criss and Michele sound pitch perfect, but as Artie complains, the performance lacks passion. Without the excitement of play staging (as this is simply a rehearsal, where sheet music is available for reference... as if these two would need it) or enhancement through juxtaposition with other related scenes (more on that later), this song falls a bit flat.
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Uptown Girl - A-
I don’t care that this performance is completely pointless. I missed my Warblers so much! And it looks like their swaying choreography got a peppy upgrade! The teacher was ridiculous (-ly hot, am I right?), but the whole performance was just too cute! And although I have already read some complaints online about giving screen and vocal time to guest stars, I for one am glad to hear the vocals of Curt Mega and absurdly attractive newcomer Grant Gustin. While I have a love/hate relationship with any storyline that involves Kurt drama, I welcome any opportunity to see more of my Warblers. Grade marked down slightly for complete irrelevance.
A Boy Like That - A
Santana as Anita makes my heart soar. And Rachel’s voice is simply angelic on this one. And they sound so good together. Be still my Broadway loving heart! Extra kudos to the writers for gorgeously interweaving this number into two key scenes: Sebastian's propositions for Blaine and Tina's heartwarming retelling of her first time with Mike. The fact that this rich song is the perfect highlight to both scenes is a testament to Sondheim and Glee script writers.
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America - A
The obligatory group number of the episode, "America" is a a showcase for Naya Rivera with small supporting parts for Mark Salling and Jenna Ushkowitz. It is the only number in the episode that we see from the play without inter-cut scenes. For this you get all the joy of the stage movement and choreography, full of bravado and swishing full skirts. Basically, I love it, and could not have asked for anything better (except, perhaps, for the Glee cast to actually produce an entire recording of West Side Story for mass consumption... that would be nice).
One Hand, One Heart - A-
Just hearing the song, it does not immediately scream out "perfect ending." It is sweet,though, and Michele and Criss sound beautiful. What really makes this ending perfection is the pairing of this song with images of Klaine and Finchel having quiet intimate moments alone. In an episode dealing with the topic of teenagers having sex, emphasizing commitment and love is the best way to end it.