Usually when this show tries to do an emotional episode, it's a complete disaster. But tonight they knocked it out of the park. Okay, in no particular order, the following things happen:
First, Brittany S. Pierce kicks off her girl-power campaign for Senior Class President with an amazing singing and dancing extravaganza at a pep rally. That throws Kurt into a tailspin of despair. But he pulls out of his dive long enough to recognize that Blaine will make an ideal Tony in West Side Story, so we don't have to resent him for being a spiteful jerk.
Second, Will is concerned that the fact that Emma hasn't introduced him to her parents is a sign that she's somehow embarrassed to be with him. What he doesn't realize is that she's actually secretly embarrassed by her parents. We learn that she has good reason to be ashamed of them when Will invites them to dinner and learns that they're racist ginger supremacists who do nothing but undermine Emma's mental health. But at least Will comes to Emma's defense and calls them on their shit. Because what she really needs is a man to fix her.
Third, Mike Chang is in trouble with his father for having received an A- in chemistry. Mr. Chang wants him to drop out of New Directions, because it's taking too much of his time and isn't the kind of activity that will get him into Harvard. But Mike secretly defies his father's wishes -- he not only stays in New Directions, but he auditions for West Side Story. And he nails it, earning the role of Riff. He also learns that his mother secretly dreamt of dancing, and that she'll support him in following his own dreams instead of his father's.
Finally, Mercedes' new man has convinced her that she needs to stand up for herself and claim her rightful place as a musical star. She auditions for Maria, and the directors decide they can't decide between her and Rachel. So they have a sing-off. As you do. Even though Rachel believes Mercedes outsang her, the judges decide to cast Maria as a split role so that both divas will get a chance to shine. But Mercedes is insulted by the offer and turns it down, leaving Rachel as the sole star. Mercedes also gets kicked out of New Directions for being lazy and surly, so she ends the episode by joining Shelby Corcoran's competing show choir. Drama!
Featuring Coldplay's "Fix You," performed by Mr. Schue, Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)," performed by Brit-Brit, Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight," performed by Mercedes, "Cool," from West Side Story, performed by Mike Chang (a.k.a. Gaylord Wiener), "It's All Over," from Dreamgirls, performed by Mercedes and just about everyone else, and "Out Here On My Own," from Fame, performed by Mercedes and Rachel.
We open on glee club dance practice (or maybe Booty Camp, although I don't recall Tina being condemned to that). Will sees Mercedes walking in and points out that she's very late. She blames her tardiness on oversleeping, and Quinn reminds her that it's 4:30 in the afternoon. Mercedes: "My alarm clock went off 30 minutes late this morning. Kind of shifted my whole schedule." I'm the king of excuses for being late, and that is one crappy excuse. Mercedes tries to change the subject by asking what Santana's doing there, since she was summarily ejected from the club two episodes ago. She's there because the showrunners realized how stupid it was to pull one of their strongest singers from the club. Or, in Santana's words, because she's re-sworn her allegiance to the glee club behind Sue's back. More importantly, she's there to bring some much-needed bitchiness. As Mike Chang runs Mercedes through a quick warm-up, Mercedes begs off from dancing, claiming to feel sick. Santana points out that she's probably sick from eating right before practice, leading to a little hissy fit from Mercedes about how much Will is overworking them, leaving her no other time to eat lunch. Will calls her out on her attitude, telling all of them, "It's not about doing your best anymore. It's about doing better." Title card.
Schuester/Pillsbury kitchen. Will is in the kitchen, going through Emma's secret stash of bridal magazines when Emma enters the room. Emma: "Do you want me to iron some bacon for you?" Will points out the large box of bridal mags, and Emma thinks fast and tries to blame Terri for hiding them. Except that the box also contains an autographed photo of Vera Wang, made out to Emma. I think Will's stupidity might be rubbing off on her. Will tells her that he's not freaked out by her wedding magazine addiction, since they're clearly on the road to the altar, "and marriage is just one of several milestones I look forward to sharing with you." Does that mean they still haven't had sex? In any case, Will doesn't want to have secrets from Emma, so he hands over his stash. It's a charming little container... of porn. He explains that it kept him off Craigslist while he was a bachelor. But the real point of this conversation is not to force us all to think of Will spanking it to the pictures in an issue of Juggs. It's for Will to ask Emma why she hasn't introduced him to her parents. Emma: "They're dead." Will: "You spoke to them on the phone last night." Emma: "I spoke to their ghosts last night. I have ghost parents." She gives up the lie and explains that she just doesn't want to rush things. And then she rushes out of the room before he can get out the polygraph.