Glee aired its mid-season premiere Sunday night immediately following the Super Bowl. The episode titled “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle” broke records as the most expensive post-Super Bowl episode in television history as well as the most expensive episode of the show costing between $3 and 5 million.
The money spent was not lost on the viewer either. “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle” opens with Sue’s cheerleading squad The Cheerios performing Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” complete with synchronized bicycle motocross stunt performers, fire breathers and jugglers as well as references to the Perry video including blue wigs and fire-shooting boobs. However, the spectacle fails to impress Sue Sylvester.
Sue is bored. She’s constantly trying to outdo herself, and early in the episode we find her at a loss as to raise her spirits. “Is it the raccoon hormones my new doctor gave me?” she writes in her journal. “Maybe.” However, before long she finds the answer to all her problems in the form of a cheerleader-launching cannon that she is dead-set on using with Brittany as her human cannonball.
Meanwhile, the football team divides between the jocks and the guys of the New Directions glee club. After discussing the rivalry, Coach Beiste and Mr. Schue decide that the only way to bring the contention to an end by requiring the jocks to participate in one week of glee club so they can see what it’s all about.
Rachel and Puck sing a duet of “Need You to Know” by Lady Antebellum to give the football players a taste of show choir, but as to be expected the performance doesn’t sit well with them. To be honest, this is the weakest performance in the episode. It’s not bad, but nothing about it really stands out about it, and it feels kind of out of place.
Later, Puck reveals the reason behind the duet was Rachel’s idea of making Finn jealous giving the number some connection to the overarching romantic plot but not enough to really make the scene more interesting. Too little, too late, I suppose. Afterward, the two decide to become allies in the conflict with their teammates. “Like Maverick and Ice Man at the end of Top Gun,” Puck says.
After Principal Figgins vetoes Sue’s cheer-cannon, she seeks revenge by scheduling the regional cheerleading competition on the same day as the football championship preventing the Cheerios from performing at the halftime show. Schue and Beist decide that the glee club and the football team will fill in by singing a mash-up of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll.”
The two school organizations prepare for the halftime show by practicing choreography and learning how to do their make-up affectionately dubbing the rehearsal “zombie camp.” As a warm up, the glee club guys and the football team cover The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” in full zombie make up in one of the more fun Glee performances in recent memory. It took me by surprise and was a great choice considering the costumes but doesn’t come off as cliché.
Karofsky, who has become an increasingly dangerous antagonist over the course of this season, starts to actually enjoy glee club until the hockey team starts asserting dominance as the coolest kids in school. He leads the rest of the jocks in a movement to quit the team, leaving the glee guys hanging. The rest of the girls in New Directions join the football team so they don’t have to forfeit the game.
The first half of the game doesn’t go so well despite their best efforts. At halftime, Finn convinces the Quinn, Brittany and Santana to quit the Cheerios to help out the glee club while Finn persuades the rest of the football team to join as well. The result is halftime show of Super Bowl proportions with a Michael Jackson/Yeah Yeah Yeahs soundtrack to boot.
The team takes to the field in their zombie makeup for the second half and narrowly wins the game after freaking out the other team with their cries of “Brains!” Sue loses her first regional competition in seven years, and we get a nice little guest appearance from Katie Couric who interviews Sue after her loss.
It seems that all is well in the world until Fin tries to recruit Karofsky as a permanent member of the club which he angrily refuses. “This is high school,” he says. “People’s memories for good stuff last about as long as their facebook statuses.”
The big shocker of the episode comes when Quinn, dressed in her street clothes since quitting the Cheerios, tells Finn that his recent actions remind her why she was in love with him in the first place and surprises them both when she kisses him. Although the show has just started up again after its midseason break, it seems like the drama is already kicking into high gear.
The biggest disappointment of the episode however was the significant lack of screen time for Kurt. Although we did get to watch The Dalton Academy Warblers perform an a capella version of the song “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s child in the vocally impressive number of the episode, his absence was quite noticeable.
One of the best aspects of “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle” was the dialogue. This episode was full of hilarious lines.
• Finn: “We’re in Glee club. What’s the big deal?”
Other Football Player: “It’s embarrassing! We’re dudes. Getting all hot and bothered about singing a Ke$ha song? It’s freakin’ weird.”
Puck: “Well maybe you’ll think it’s cooler when I go all ‘Tik-Tok’ on your face.”
• Schue: “Do you trust me?”
Beist: “You’re not gonna try and kiss me again, are you?”
• Puck: [to Finn] “We used to be best friends . . . before I got your girlfriend pregnant, and then made out with your other girlfriend.
• Football Player: “Who are The Yeah Yeah Yeahs?”
• Brittany: “Zombie Camp was funner than I expected. And the Glee Club together with the Football Team? It’s like a double rainbow. A zombie double rainbow.”
• Schue: “Rachel, have you actually seen a tackle football game? When they tackle you, it hurts.”
Puck: “Yeah, and not in the good Mellencamp way.”