Every show that I love almost without fail has at least one storyline that I completely loathe, to the point that it makes me question my love of the series in the first place. The Wire is virtually flawless but Season 5’s fake serial killer storyline so completely derails two of the series best characters that it’s nearly unforgivable. Lost introduced us not only to Nikki and Paolo (which would have been bad enough), but it also had “Stranger in a Strange Land” as well as the wasted time spent on the Jack/Sawyer/Kate love triangle. Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn’t just create the horrendous Adam as a season Big Bad, but we also had to deal with the whiny and bitchy Potential Slayers. Breaking Bad… two words: Skylar White. So, it should be no surprise that a series that isn’t remotely as good as the ones I’ve just mentioned would have plots (several of them in fact) that I absolutely hate which just reminds me of the ridiculous disparity in the various subplots that propels each week of Glee. Tonight’s episode introduced an instantly endearing new character (and some much needed face time for Finn), but it also focused on the self-centered drama of Santanan and Mercedes as well as the baby drama of Quinn, Puck, and Shelby and managed to take that particular story to even more idiotic lows.

Last week ended with the revelation that Mercedes had joined Shelby Corcoran’s new all-girl show choir and had left the New Directions. This week begins with the introduction of new character Rory Flanagan (The Glee Project co-winner Damian McGinty), an Irish foreign exchange student who is living at Brittany’s house. However, Brittany being (as Finn called her) “Rain Man with boobs”, she believes that Rory is a leprechaun and has promised him a pot of gold if he can grant her three wishes. Rory is a sex-starved, lonely teenager and so he indulges this quirk in the hope he can get some from the notoriously loose Brittany. Rory doesn’t have the luck of the Irish though because the season finally confronts the issue of Brittany and Santana’s relationship (I thought they had forgotten they turned Santana into a lesbian), as the two are officially dating though Santana is still concerned about being “out”. Santana is convinced by Mercedes (and her own suspicions that the New Directions is turning into the Rachel/Blaine show) to join Shelby’s group and she manages to bring Brittany along with her after Finn calls Brittany an idiot for believing in leprechauns. The episode ends with Finn protecting Rory from bullies (by hilariously threatening to sic Bieste on them) and at the end Rory joins the New Directions.

The rest of the episode was devoted (besides Kurt Hummel deciding to enter the race for Congress against Sue after Sue’s political tactics get West Side Story cancelled) to Quinn and Puck (though mostly Quinn) scheming to get Beth taken away from Shelby and given back to them. After worming their way into Shelby’s apartment under the pretense of babysitting Beth so Shelby could have an obviously much-needed break, Quinn plants all sorts of paraphernalia in Shelby’s apartment such as baby botulism, Tabasco sauce labeled as Beth’s, and books on baby sacrifice to get child protective services to take Beth away and possibly get Shelby sent to jail. Puck realizes that this is taking things more than a bit too far and he drops by Shelby’s place later to try and retrieve the items. After seeing how sad Shelby looks and how alone she is, Puck offers to be there anytime she needs help, and the episode ends with them kissing. Turning Shelby Corcoran into Mary Kay Lateaurneau has the serious possibility of being the show’s jumping the shark moment.

Before I dive into my analysis of the story and comedy content of the episode, let’s focus on the music which was notably subdued compared to some of the more extravagant numbers of the last couple weeks. “Bein’ Green”, as made famous by Kermit the Frog, was the first song of the episode and it took nearly 30 minutes to get there. Rory sang this one and Damian McGinty has a beautiful, clear voice. It’s not the most complex or difficult song, but there was something about the painful reality of his singing about being an outsider that made this work (especially on my second viewing). Darren Criss rocked out with a version of “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” by Katy Perry that much like his “Teenage Dream” cover was superior to the original. While this wasn’t one of Criss’s best performances (and he sounded much more autotuned than normal), it was legitimately quite fun and reminded me of everything I loved about this Glee club. Puck sang Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and it was one of the weakest numbers of the entire season. Puck sang it well enough but there was just something so slight about the scene. Mercedes, Santana, and Brittany performed Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman”, and while they sang and danced the hell out of the number, I’m not a big fan of the song, but we know that show choir has some serious talent. Lastly, Rory auditioned for the New Directions with Teddy Thompson’s “Take Care of Yourself.” I’ve never heard the song before, but I instantly fell in love with it. Damian McGinty’s voice has a gorgeous texture and his vocal range allows him to sing the kind of high notes usually reserved for Kurt. He may be the total vocal package.

First off, I clearly remember saying in my very last review that if one more person left the New Directions I was going to put my foot through my television. Well, I managed to avoid vandalizing my TV, but words can not begin to express how tired I’ve gotten of this plot device. I can’t comprehend the people who find this storyline as pro-feminism or self-empowering. Mercedes and Santana have just become self-centered bitches who can’t handle that they aren’t the most talented members of their group and decided to take their ball and go home rather than be team players. Brittany just got dragged along because she’s too dumb to know better. Yeah, I understand that the New Directions is bubbling with so much talent and so many voices that just beg to be heard, but part of being a team is knowing when to accept that someone is more talented than you. They have dragged this whole storyline out for way too long at this point, and it doesn’t help that it seems like the only stories that Mercedes get are about her being insecure in the shadow of Rachel or about being over-weight. It’s time to give her something better to do.

Also, the Quinn/Shelby storyline was bad enough before they inexplicably turned Shelby into an individual that matches the legal definition of child molester. When I was watching this episode Tuesday night, I kept sending my sister texts about how much I’d grown to hate Quinn and (quite prematurely it seemed) about how much Puck had matured over the series’ history. In the first season, Quinn was a bitch but that was to hide all of her insecurities and to deal with being the pregnant president of the abstinence club. However, in late Season 2, she just switched to being nothing more than self-centered and manipulative, and her character really hasn’t recovered since then. Conspiring to get Beth taken away from Shelby (and potentially trying to imprison Shelby) is just the lowest of lows and it may be a moment from which Quinn’s character can never recover. I do give props to Dianna Agron’s acting however in the scene where she rationalizes Quinn’s actions. However, I’m not sure the show itself will be able to recover from Shelby and Puck kissing. I noticed some sexual tension early in the episode and I literally spent the last half of the episode praying it wouldn’t end the way it did.

Had it not been for the introduction of Rory and the hilarious scenes between Sue and Burt Hummel, this episode would have been nearly unsalvageable. The series has apparently really committed itself to the whole all-girl show choir story as well as Quinn’s evil machinations. They’ve become the only two continuing story arcs of the season, and it’s really a problem. Also, there was hardly any Kurt or Rachel tonight, and they are the real hearts of the show. Like I said though, Rory was so endearing and likeable that it made up for a lot of the other problems. I hope that he remains with the New Directions as his voice is simply stellar and he might be able to give Kurt a run for his money in the counter-tenor department (and his range allows him to hit even more conventional tenor notes as well). This wasn’t the episode of Glee that I was wanting after being off the air for a month for baseball, but it was better than nothing, and it was still better than Nationals.

Final Score: B