Tonight's episode of Glee revisited the Puck/Quinn baby storyline that was essentially abandoned in season two. That seems like a good idea, since plenty was left unresolved, but maybe it's too late to salvage one of the show's most poorly-written storylines.
In "I Am Unicorn," Idina Menzel returns as Shelby, former Vocal Adrenaline coach/Rachel's birth mother/adoptive mother of Quinn's baby Beth. Even Mr. Schue, who's endorsed some pretty terrible ideas in the past, wonders if Shelby teaching at McKinley will be too hard on Rachel, Puck, and Quinn. Shelby says she's back because, "Lima's where I made a series of mistakes that defined me for 16 years. Lima's where I have to make things right again."
It seems no matter how Shelby toys with Rachel's emotions, she can always be suckered into doing a duet with her mom. This time, they perform "Somewhere," the song Rachel uses for her predictably perfect audition for the role of Maria in McKinley's production of West Side Story. Things don't go so well with Quinn. As far as we know, Quinn has come to terms with putting her daughter up for adoption, so initially it seems a bit cruel for Shelby to decide that just because she regrets not seeing Rachel grow up, Quinn should be part of Beth's life. But apparently, while Quinn was languishing in the background last season, she was fuming about the adoption she agreed to. Though she sought Quinn out, Shelby isn't happy with who Quinn has turned into and tells her, "I want you to be a part of Beth's life, but not like this. If you're really serious about Beth, clean up your act."
Instead, Quinn agrees to help Sue film a spot for her anti-arts campaign and marches into Mr. Schue's office to declare that Glee club ruined her life. It's not quite as satisfying as when Captain Picard chews out Wesley, but Mr. Schue calls Quinn on her bratty behavior, saying:
"There's only one person that's you care about, and that's yourself ... You're not a little girl anymore, Quinn. How long do you plan on playing the victim card? Since day one you've done nothing but sabotage the same glee club that has been there for you over and over again. You got pregnant. Your parents kicked you out. Mercedes even let you live at her house and I don't recall ever hearing so much as a thank you. So now you're a trainwreck. Well, congratulations. But you stride into my office and tell me it's my fault? Well, then I have something to say to you: Grow up."
Shelby advises Quinn that growing up involves forgiving yourself for mistakes you made as a child, and apparently that's all she's doing with her bad girl routine. It's understandable that Shelby doesn't want to expose Beth to a girl who smokes and hangs out with The Skanks under the bleachers, but seems presumptuious for her to show up uninvited and tell a girl she barely knows that her "Real Housewife of Reno" look is just an act.
Later Quinn shows up at a glee rehearsal and pretends to be reformed, so Mr. Schue lets her back in the club with little discussion. She confesses to Puck, "I have to get her back. If that takes dying my hair blonde and pretending that I think I'm special that's something I'm willing to do. We're going to get full custody."
Though the season's second episode was a bit of a let down, there was still plenty to like. Brittany tried to kick start Kurt's campaign for class president with a unicorn metaphor and a swag bag called "Hummel's Bulging Pink Fun Sack," then decided to run against him because she's a unicorn herself, or "maybe a bi-corn." Kurt's angst over trying out for the lead in the school musical was also entertaining, and focusing on the show tunes the kids used to audition rather than shoehorning in a pop song was a good call. The baby Beth storyline does need a better resolution than simply never speaking of her again. However, since Quinn was so poorly fleshed out in the past, her sudden desire to win her back just adds another layer of inconsistency to the character.