On last night's Glee, guest star Gweneth Paltrow made us wish she'd sub for Will every week, Kurt and Blaine bonded over their mutual interest in stereotypical gay stuff, and Mercedes tried to drown her feelings in tater tots.
"The Substitute" begins with Sue Sylvester launching a biological attack on her enemies at McKinley High by encouraging a student infected with monkey pox to sneeze in Principal Figgins' face. With Figgins incapacitated, Sue takes over as principal. It's a highly unusual career move for a cheerleading coach, but the writers clearly didn't feel constrained by the bounds of reality in this episode.
Will realizes he's coming down with the flu too when he hallucinates the entire glee club as adorable little kids:
Schue goes home and his heinous ex-wife Terri shows up to take care of him. Naturally, they wind up having hot Vicks VacoRub-covered sex.
Back at McKinley, Holly Holiday (Gwyneth Paltrow) is subbing for Schue. While most of Schue's lessons revolve around teaching his students to believe in themselves (or helping him score with their guidance counselor), Holly tries to relate to the kids on their level. This includes discussing Lindsay Lohan's numerous rehab stays in Spanish class, performing Schoolhouse Rock songs during English, and singing Cee-Lo's "Forget You" during glee rehearsal.
Between Goop and her sudden instance that she's "Country Strong," Gwyneth has been hard to tolerate recently, but she was pretty delightful in this role. It seems Gwynnie was game for whatever Ryan Murphy suggested, including doing the robot:
And a horrible Mary Todd Lincoln impersonation:
It was also nice to have a break from Will, whose occasional misogyny has been evolving into a full-time career as a total skeezeball. When Holly gets in trouble for allowing Mercedes to shove tater tots in Principal Sue's car, she shows up at Will's house looking for comfort. When Will's alone with a female character he usually winds up putting the moves on her, but he somehow resists the urge to kiss Gwyneth. Yet just when you think he may have changed his ways, Terri shows up. Will coldly tells her having sex was a mistake and yells at her to get out and never come back.
Mercedes' vandalism was inspired by Sue banning tater tots from the school cafeteria, which is actually totally reasonable. None of the students are particularly thrilled about the ban, but Mercedes is the one who spearheads the crusade to bring them back because overweight kids love their tots!
Oh, and sometime they eat their feelings. See, Mercedes feels left out because Kurt keeps ditching her for Blaine. Rather than dealing with the fact that he's being a bad friend, Kurt tells Mercedes she should date one of the five black guys in school. Mercedes is (rightly) offended, but at the end of the episode she decides to pursue the dude anyway. Kurt points out that she's been substituting him for a boyfriend and tots for love, and rather than smacking him, she agrees. Much like when Mercedes was told she shouldn't be bulimic and she instantly stopped having an eating disorder.
Holly realizes she's too reckless to be a full-time teacher and quits, so Sue gives Will his old job back (it seems she's still the principal, but this may be quickly explained away next week). As a parting gift, Holly gets to perform in a messy mash-up of "Singing In The Rain" and "Umbrella." Luckily there was already a 15-foot waterfall installed behind stage at McKinley High.