So, 'The First Time' was always going to be a controversial episode of Glee. The Parents' Television Council got out their pitchforks before it had even aired, complaining about the fact that oh-my-God-teen-sex was going to be on television. So you'd be forgiven for being surprised just how sweet it all was.
Glee has previous in dealing with teen sex well, and 'The First Time' was no exception. It ran the risk of being too preachy but pulled back just enough to avoid being all 'and the moral of the story is...' We ended up getting a cute exploration of virginity (and a brave story about teen gay sex, too).
But let's return to the beginning. Artie's loving all the power he gets from being a director and he's making all kinds of decisions about West Side Story. When Rachel and Blaine rehearse 'Tonight', Beiste and Emma are blown away. But Artie's not convinced - this is a song about sexual awakening, and Rachel and Blaine lack passion. Have they ever actually...
Beiste and Emma make swift, awkward exits, while Rachel and Blaine admit that they're both still virgins. Artie's cool with that as their friend, but as their director he's worried - how can they convey the human experience to an audience when they haven't opened up? Seriously, if professional directors acted like that there'd be way more sexual harassment lawsuits.
Still, Rachel doesn't seem to think this is at all weird and goes to see Finn. Finn's excited because a football recruiter's coming to town, and Rachel's thrilled for him. Finn adds that he's got the house to himself at the moment, so Rachel agrees to come over. Loved Finn's: "Oh man", which felt so real. (He even goes to ask Puck for his condom recommendations. Yikes.)
Blaine, on the other hand, isn't so keen to pop his cherry. Kurt even asks him if he's boring, like, sexually. Doesn't Blaine ever want to rip his clothes off? Kudos to Glee for being open with Blaine's response - basically, that's why masturbation was invented. He wants to make sure Kurt's comfortable, so he's comfortable.
It's all very cute, and we get another Klaine kiss - hurrah! (Also, so sweet that Blaine says he can't rip Kurt's clothes off because of all the layers). But when Blaine goes to visit Dalton to hand out West Side Story tickets, he finds them performing 'Uptown Girl' - and one new Warbler, Sebastian, has taken a bit of a shine to him.
Let's face it, Sebastian's not hanging about, saying he's heard all about Blaine (described, apparently, as "sex on a stick and sings like a dream"). As Santana rehearses 'A Boy Like That' (brilliantly, and it fits in so well), Sebastian continues to flirt with Blaine, eventually asking to meet him again for some Warbler to Warbler insights. Blaine agrees, but Darren Criss does a great OH-MY-GOD face.
It must kick up Blaine's mind a little bit, though, because he goes to speak to Kurt about how they should be adventurous while they're young. It's the little moments that made this week's Glee great, and while Blaine's speech is a little cheesy, the way Kurt starts stroking his hand when Blaine's gone is anything but. Nicely observed.
Anyway, Blaine ends up meeting boo-hiss Sebastian for a coffee but explains that he has a boyfriend (and no, he doesn't want to cheat on him). Enter Kurt, who's clearly a bit concerned - he ends up hooking his arm through Blaine's. And when Sebastian invites them to a gay bar - Scandals - Kurt says they should go.
Meanwhile, Beiste's swift exit hasn't gone unnoticed by Artie, who goes to have a ridiculously inappropriate conversation with her - is she still a virgin? Beiste admits she's never found the right guy (though I loved Artie's careful "person", just in case) - but she does have a crush on the football recruiter, Cooter. But he'd never want her! (In flashback-type moments, we see that actually Cooter is pretty into Beiste, without her realising. Sweet.)
Artie's playing Cupid, so he goes to see Cooter for a bit of man-to-man chat. Cooter admits that he's asked Beiste out lots of times but she's just not into him. Artie persuades him to ask again - and make it really obvious this time. Cooter ends up going to see Beiste while she's doing some weights and hands her flowers ("I'm not sick..?")
Cooter lays it all out on the table, saying that he wants to go out on a proper date with Beiste. Beiste has absolutely no self-confidence, so thinks he's playing a joke on her (and sobs that Cooter could have any girl he liked). But Cooter says he's attracted to "beautiful women" like Beiste and sets up a date for Friday. Ridiculously adorable.
Let's head back to Finn and Rachel, who've just finished a meal. They have a toast and then Rachel suggests that they should go and snuggle by the fire (oo-er). They begin to kiss and it's heating up, but Finn seems worried - first about not having any protection (Rachel's got it covered), and then about why she wants to do this now.
Rachel replies brilliantly - who's going to feel more right than Finn, and she loves him - but when Finn says he's been saving up for a hotel and will be able to afford it in a couple of weeks, Rachel lets slip that she has to do it before the musical. Obviously, Finn's a bit offended by all this so goes to get dessert instead, leaving Rachel feeling deservedly stupid with her head on her knee. (For what it's worth, I'm glad that the musical wasn't the reason Rachel lost her virginity. See? There's a message, there.)
There's only one thing for it - Rachel has to call an emergency meeting of the girls. Quinn thinks she should avoid losing her virginity - it changes everything. And Santana thinks she should avoid it too... but only because Finn's rubbish in bed (God, I love Santana).
But then, to the backdrop of Rachel and Santana rehearsing 'I Have A Love', Tina explains that losing her virginity was a great experience - she was with Mike, who she loves. They knew it was right, it wasn't rushed, and it was amazing. Rachel thinks about seeing Finn in the halls and smiles - she's made a decision.
I like that Glee didn't shy away from this - it would have been easier for everyone to say Rachel shouldn't do it, but Tina has "no regrets". Basically, it's after-school special again - 'do it with someone you love!' - but it's nice.
Meanwhile, Kurt and Blaine head off to Scandals - Sebastian gets Blaine a beer and goes on about Kurt not drinking because he's the designated driver. Yeah, Kurt doesn't like him much - especially when Sebastian and Blaine start dancing and he's left at the bar.
But while he's sitting there, Karofsky shows up! I'm so pleased to see ol' Dave again, because I think Max Adler is super. Karofsky explains that he still hasn't come out - he needs to get through high school first - and Kurt says that Karofsky should take his time, as long as he's not, like, beating anyone up. This was a really sweet scene, as Karofsky seems immeasurably happier ("People like me here. I feel accepted.")
After toasting to "baby steps", Kurt goes to dance with Blaine, getting in the way of Sebastian. Unfortunately, it's not long before Blaine's rather tiddly and Kurt's trying to get him in the back of the car. Blaine starts kissing him, saying they should just have sex now, but Kurt refuses - Blaine just spent half the night dancing with someone else and he's not even sober enough to remember it.
He shouts that he's never felt less like being intimate (Chris Colfer does upset and angry so well) but Blaine yells that he was just trying to be spontaneous, and decides to walk home. I'm not always the most sympathetic towards Kurt, but as he stood in the parking lot my heart went out to him a little bit.
It's time for West Side Story! Rachel and Blaine admit that they're both still virgins, and Rachel's worrying about giving an inauthentic performance. Artie's worried, too - he's suddenly having a crisis of confidence. He's a fraud! But the others come to give him flowers and thank him for all his help. It's all rather touching - especially when Artie gives a speech about how he often feels coddled in a wheelchair but they trusted him (sure, it's cheese, but hell, I'm feeling warm towards Glee this week).
As the musical begins, Finn is in the shower banging the wall angrily (more of that later, but it was kind of shocking just dropped in there - and all the more effective for that). Anyway, Will's impressed with the production and the performance of 'America' is fantastic. Blaine's worried about how they can follow that as virgins, but Rachel reminds him that Tony and Maria found their soulmates despite everything, and they have too. They walk onto the stage...
We don't get to see any more of the musical, but afterwards Blaine is dancing on the stage alone - he thinks he messed up. Kurt goes to see him to congratulate him (and just happens to mention Sebastian was in the audience). Blaine insists Sebastian means nothing to him and adds that he was right - their first time shouldn't be like that.
Kurt apologises too - he tried to be a "gay bar superstar" (amazing) but really he's just a silly romantic. Blaine says he's not silly, and kisses him (hearts. in. mouths.) Kurt tells Blaine he takes his breath away, and he's so proud to be with him. Then Blaine invites Kurt to the afterparty but Kurt declines. He wants to go to Blaine's house...
Rachel, meanwhile, goes to see Finn, who skipped the afterparty. She thinks Finn's still mad at her (oh Rachel, darling, so self-obsessed), but Finn reveals that actually, Cooter didn't like him. Instead, he picked Shane. Finn is devastated, and Cory Monteith was fantastic - so heartbroken.
He doesn't know what to do - he's not good enough for a sports scholarship, and he's not good enough to get into NYADA. Rachel tries to reassure him - he just has to find new dreams. And she knows he's special - she'll give him something no-one else will ever get. Finn says she doesn't need to do this - the play's over! - but Rachel admits she was lost in her ambition ("probably not for the last time").
Then here is the stand-out, oh-my-God, Notting Hill-style standout line that will make Finchel shippers across the land cry out in joy: "And now I'm just a girl, here with a boy that she loves, and wanting to remember this moment for the rest of her life." Amazing.
To the soundtrack of Blaine and Rachel performing 'One Hand One Heart', Rachel and Finn, and Blaine and Kurt both get intimate. It's all close-ups and hand-holding, and the overriding impression, as I said earlier, is that this is downright sweet. As Rachel and Finn smile at each other (afterwards?), we see the fire in the background and it fades out.
So if you were expecting an erotically-charged, raunchy hour of television, you would have been disappointed. If you wanted a sweet, surprisingly emotional, cute episode as teenagers tried to figure out some pretty complicated stuff, you'd have been pleased. The best episode of the season so far, hands down. And it's being called one of the best episodes ever by some - do you agree?
- Loved all of the dresses Rachel was trying on for West Side Story. Each episode of Glee can be improved immeasurably by putting Rachel in a hideous outfit (see also: 'Blame It On The Alcohol').
- Artie tried to high five Puck, who ignored him - but because he was lost in his own little world. I like to think he was running over the Shelby nightmare in his mind.
- Beiste cries every time Blaine and Rachel sing. Perfection.
- Brittany called Artie the wrong name four times while they were having sex. Place your bets on names she used...
- LOVE Rachel's "Put a Berry on top" campaign posters.
- "Is my radiance too much for you?"
- Best Glee quote ever? "Man, I love to weld."
- Does it have to be "Klaine"? I prefer "Blurt".
- Puck sniffing his towel. Amazing.
- "Let's just say I miss Dalton every day but McKinley is where my heart is." Everybody: aww.
- "I'm happy for you, dude. And her. I always thought it would be me but secretly hoped it would be you."
- Also, Puck never uses a condom. Dude, you should have learnt... ("It's worked out about 99% of the time.") Sudden thought: I would LOVE it if it turned out there were lots of Pucklebabies wandering around. Amazing.
- I'm sorry, but Sebastian's kind of hot. (He has to be, to make the Blaine dilemma more real). I'm looking forward to seeing more of Grant Gustin - I think he'll be a good one to stir the pot. And we need a bit of that.
- I need to see Kurt's full bucket list. Brilliant.
- "I met the man of my dreams on the dancefloor." "That's so sweet - are you still together?" "No, we broke up about 20 minutes after we met."
- I would love to know the entire playlist for "Rachel Berry's special mix".
- Finn accidentally fed Rachel meat. Oops. (Amazing.)
- "A People's Choice award would have got you to third base."
- Didn't really go into this in the main recap, but I'm thrilled we got more of the Mike storyline, because Harry Shum Jr is brilliant. His dad's not impressed when he finds out about the dancing and tells Mike to grow up. In fact, if Mike doesn't stop dancing he won't be his son anymore. "Then I guess I don't have a dad anymore," Mike replies. So heartbreaking. But seeing Mike's mum thrilled after watching him in the musical was heartwarming.
- Cameo for Damian McGinty! He was on screen for all of ten seconds. If that counts as one of his episodes, he has a right to feel aggrieved, no?
- "If she wants my sloppy seconds, she should at least know the truth. It was like being smothered by a sweaty, out of breath sack of potatoes that someone soaked in body spray."
- So, all that sexually, morally corrupting stuff the Parents' Television Council was terrified about? Turned out to be some people holding hands (there wasn't even any nudity). Colour me shocked.
- One of Glee's best episodes, and only two shots of Will and no Sue. Should it be all about the kids? (Mind you, Beiste is awesome.) Discuss.
- "I can't help but pull focus. Sorry."
- This episode of Glee, with the exception of 'Uptown Girl' and 'America', the songs were largely snippets and soundtracks to other things that were going on instead of full-blown performances. Did we like that? I think it worked well in this episode.