Glee Season 3 Episode 12 Review/Recap ‘Spanish Teacher’: Excellente? No, bueno

Glee’s Ricky Martin episode turned out to be a Will Schuester episode, and not in a good way.

For the sake of comic exaggeration but at the expense of consistent characterization, we learned that Will is the world’s worst Spanish teacher and doesn’t seem to care that he helps his students very little. A guy who’s into rap and hip hop also seemed unaccountably retro and stereotypical of Latinos, whom he associated with giant sombreros and matador outfits. I mean, really.

But Martin — as a struggling Spanish teacher for night school — set things straight, enlightening those who needed it with his persuasive portrait of America’s booming Latino bent, and powering two of the night’s best musical numbers. They were his brash spin on LMFAO’s Sexy And I Know It for the glee club in the choir room (echoing Holly Holiday’s naughty I Love Rock and Roll last year) and a deftly danced if mildly sung duet with Santana (Naya Rivera) for Madonna’s La Isla Bonita. But also potent was a club-only performance led by Sam (Chord Overstreet, who continues to surprise and impress in his return) for a mashup of Gipsy Kings’ Bamboleo and Enrique Iglesias’ Hero,  turning the latter into an up-tempo affirmation rather than a soulfully plaintive plea.

Just as Will had long neglected his teaching duties in Spanish class (a revelation I didn’t expect, since we never saw him teach much of that class in any form or fashion), Glee itself has neglected putting Latinos — and Latinas — center stage in a bilingual way, so it was heartening to see it in Episode 12. Again, exaggeration ruled, with a night class woman sounding like she belonged in the ’60s-set The Help. But points about prejudice and indifference to bilingualism were well made.

Will also let us down with his brusque dismissal of Emma’s ironically frank pamphlets (were we ever told they were self-made?) — pamphlets which turned out to be vital, helping her (and, thus, them) get the tenured security Will had desired for himself (as if he deserved it), as had Sue.

Sue’s maternal bent is truly odd, but damn if she didn’t have a crucial revelatory scene with Emma, confessing her self-awareness of her rage and her appreciation of Will’s goodness (though she could have picked a better model than him, especially given the flaws he exposed in this episode). And I loved her scene with sweet Becky, as well as her nuke-worthy tongue-lashing courtesy of the amusing Roz (NeNe Leakes). Indeed, this episode was drenched with strong dialogue, refuting anyone who thinks Glee is a musical revue in search of a plot.

Loved Kurt’s typical scene with the girls, too — so sweet how they always include him. Now if only Rachel would see that she’s too young to be married.

Next week, we meet her dads for Valentine’s — and it’s about time. By all rights, these guys would have been in the front row for every stage performance she’s ever done.

If you haven’t heard, we won’t be watching either after Glee’s Feb. 21 show — not for seven weeks, anyway, until its April 10 resumption with eight consecutive episodes till season’s end. (Learn more about the hiatus here.)

But for now, this bueno if not excellente episode covered some solid ground, even if musically “The Spanish Teacher” was a far cry from last week’s “Michael.”

Now if only I could stop singing Sexy And I Know It. I swear, Glee is corrupting me!

— Bruce Westbrook


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