‘Glee’ Recap: The First Time

The First Time West Side Story Tony and Maria GleeS3E5: Well, this week Glee almost kept a consistent theme the whole way through the episode. It was an improvement on last week’s mess of storylines, but it still had a bit of a case of plotline A.D.D. We should have been focusing on the couples: Kurt and Blaine, Rachel and Finn, and Bieste and Cooter. The idea here was “The First Time,” yet we get a fleeting couple of moments wherein Artie finally feels like a man because of his directing gig and Mike Chang stands up to his father in defense of his desire to be a professional dancer. Sure, these could qualify as “first times” because it’s the first time Mike stands up to his dad and it’s the first time Artie feels self sufficient, but it really doesn’t do those worthwhile storylines justice. Instead they’re overshadowed by the biggest issue of the episode: sex.

“Tearing off all your clothes is a bit of a tall order.” –Blaine

“Because of the layers?” –Kurt

“Because of the layers.” –Blaine

With his newfound confidence, Artie gets gutsy enough to tell Blaine and Rachel that they aren’t great as the sexually charged Tony and Maria because they’ve never actually had sex. Now, I could see where parents could take issue with this moment. While it’s pretty typical that a high school kid would treat his virginal peers this way, but it sort of conveys the message that it’s weird that these two haven’t lost it yet. Granted, the rest of the episode makes sure to clear the whole notion up.

Rachel goes straight to Finn, makes plans to spend time alone together while his parents are out of town and plans to get right down to business. When the time comes, Finn gets condoms from Puck and makes Rachel dinner before they “snuggle” by the fire. She even says all the right things for once, until he presses her as to why she changed her mind and the real Rachel comes out: she’s doing it for the play. Finn is hurt and their magical evening is cut short before it even begins.

As for Kurt and Blaine, things are a little more complicated. First, Kurt asks why Blaine never tries anything on him and Blaine says they’re young, they don’t need to rush anything and that there’s a reason for masturbation. They’re laying it all out on the table this week, guys. After Blaine goes to Dalton to invite his old friends to the West Side Story production – and watch an awkwardly staged rendition of “Uptown Girl” complete with an awkwardly choreographed and suspiciously young, hot French teacher – he meets Sebastian, an outspoken young student who’s got his sights set on Blaine. Though Blaine makes sure to express that he’s taken, he does get the spontaneity bug from the Dalton bad boy. Side note: I loved the way the rehearsals from West Side Story are integrated here, especially with Santana’s fantastic rendition of “A Boy Like That.” When did she get to be so damn good?

Kurt, Blaine and Sebastian go to the local gay bar – a charming little establishment that looks more like a rotary club headquarters than a gay bar – and while Kurt tries not to be jealous of Sebastian dancing with his man, he runs into Karofsky. It’s a bit random, but their chance encounter is rather sweet, with Karofsky telling Kurt he’s slowly coming to accept who he is. Kurt takes this as a cue to jump up on Blaine and accelerate the process since he very clearly knows who he is. The problem is, Blaine is drunk and crassly tries to get Kurt to lose his v-card right there in his dad’s station wagon in the parking lot. This ends with Kurt in tears and Blaine stumbling home drunkenly by himself. It’s quite a bit to handle, but I’m actually glad they went this route with the plot and I’m glad Kurt stuck to his guns so resolutely.

“I don’t look the way pretty girls look.” –Bieste

Kurt, Rachel and Blaine aren’t the only ones still carrying their v-cards. Bieste never found that special someone. She does, however, have a crush on Cooter, the Ohio Statue University recruiter. The only thing is, he has a crush back, she’s just too blinded by her own lack of self-confidence to notice that he keeps asking her out.

This whole interaction – him asking her out and her turning him down by talking about chili giblets – is a bit overdrawn, but it’s adorable enough that it works. They couldn’t have picked a better guy to steal the football coach’s heart and by the time he shuts her up by calling her beautiful, handing her a bunch of red roses and telling her they’re going on a date on Friday night, you can’t help but grin from ear to ear. We’ve had enough of Bieste feeling left out and getting by with pity kisses from Mr. Schue. Now she’s got a man of her own, and I, for one, am a fan.

“We just knew it was right…no regrets.” –Tina

After her failed attempt at losing her virginity to Finn, Rachel enlists her show choir ladies – and it seems that though they’ve defected, Brittany and Santana are still willing to help a fellow lady in need – to ask for advice. Should she wait or should she do it? Quinn says wait, sex ruined her life. Santana agrees, but mostly because she says sex with Finn was akin to sex with a sack of potatoes. Lovely imagery. Finally, Tina gives her two cents: do it if it’s right. She lost her virginity to Mike Chang over the summer and it was perfect because they both knew it was right. That’s something most high school girls don’t actually experience, but I enjoyed the romanticized look at such a fragile time in a girl’s life. All girls should hope to have it happen like it does in the movies. The overlay of yet another song from West Side Story combines with a shot of Rachel looking at Finn across the hall at McKinley and she knows: it’s just right.

However, come opening night both Blaine and Rachel are still virgins and they fear they’ll screw up their chemistry onstage until Rachel finally gets it: it’s not just about sex, it’s about soul mates and they both know what it’s like to find their soul mates. I actually enjoy that they both see their first loves as their soul mates – it’s the type of innocent adolescent thinking that we look for in a series like this. Before they take the stage, Santana and the rest of the cast perform “America” in a flashy, rousing number that I honestly didn’t think this series still had in it. And I’ll say it again, Santana has really become rather amazing this season.

We flash forward to after the show, when Kurt and Blaine apologize for their behavior at Scandals and Kurt asks if they can skip the after party and just go to Blaine’s house. Rachel stops by Finn’s because he also skips the after party because as it turns out, the OSU recruiter tells him he’s not cut out for college football. His big dreams are crushed. Rachel makes him feel better by telling him he’s special and that he’ll find a new dream, and seals the deal with round two of their first time. As Blaine and Rachel’s final number as Tony and Maria, “One Hand, One Heart,” dances in between scenes of both couples snuggling, the images elude to the fact that the “first times” are occurring. It’s a sweet, completely tasteful and age appropriate representation of the act and the perfect way to make the first time both couples engage in sexual activity more about the romance and less about that charged three-letter word.

I can see why the PTC was up in arms at the thought of teen sex being the theme of the episode, but I doubt anyone can watch this episode and honestly find it in bad taste. Sex may have been the circumstance, but the real crux of the episode is love, plain and simple.