We open in the music room, where the New Directions are bringing a non-deceased Marley so she can recover from last episode's fainting spell. Everyone runs around getting a juice box for Marley while Jake explains to Finn that she's been skipping meals. Santana's in the room, and she calls Kitty out for causing Marley's implausible food issues. Will joins them and tells the New Directions (sans Marley) to get their asses back out on stage, since leaving the stage risks immediate disqualification. So he finally read the rule book? Sue enters to tell them that it's too late; the judges have invoked that rule, and awarded the win to the Warblers. Topes lose... Topes lose... Topes lose. Title card.
Improbably Bohemian Bushwick Loft. Kurt and Rachel are cleaning up from their kiki. Kurt has just spoken with Blaine on the phone and reports the news of New Directions' loss to Rachel. So either Kurt and Rachel's party lasted from 7:00 to 7:30 or Blaine waited until the wee hours of the morning (or even the next evening?) to call Kurt with the bad news. They chat about the whys and wherefores, and Rachel wonders aloud if she should call Finn. Kurt asks her if she thinks that it will make Finn feel better, and she decides that it won't. Not because she fears Finn thinks she's some kind of shrewish harpy, but because she fears it will remind him of the loss of their relationship. Kurt tells Rachel that the bad news from Lima has made him focus on taking advantage of the chances he has in life, which means he really wants to put everything he can into his audition for the Fake Theater School because he's decided that if he doesn't get in this time, he's going to move on to some other plan. And then he expositions about the golden tickets Carmen Thibodeaux should be handing out any day now. Apparently, these are invitations to perform at the Winter Showcase, and only ten of them are handed out. And only one freshman has gotten one in the last seven years.
Kurt drops the needle on a vinyl record and plays the "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" aria from La Wally. (And if you have never seen Diva, you had better watch it before the next time I see you.) Anyway, Kurt describes what a tremendous honor it is to be invited to perform at the Winter Showcase as we see Carmen Thibodeaux hand-writing the invitations and sealing them with her signet and then striding through the halls of the Fake New York Theater School to hand one out. To, you guessed it, Rachel. Because she's just that special.