In the penultimate week of its third season, before several of its original characters say “Goodbye” (or at least graduate high school) next Tuesday, Glee offered a unique back-to-back offering: two hour-long episodes. The first hour of this doubleheader, “Props,” written and directed by series co-creator Ian Brennan, was also unique for being the first episode to revolve around Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz).
It seems Tina has reached her breaking point over the attention given to Rachel (Lea Michele). While shopping for fabric at the mall, Tina becomes absorbed in a heated text exchange with boyfriend Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) about Rachel and trips into the fountain, bumping her head on the floor. She awakes to find herself in a Freaky Friday world: she has become Rachel … and Puck (Mark Salling) has become Blaine (Darren Criss), Finn (Cory Monteith) has become Kurt (Chris Colfer). Everyone is different – and it was fun to watch fellow cast members in their spot-on parodies of each other.
Back at school, Tina-Rachel wows her fellow gleeks with “Because You Loved Me” and receives the first standing ovation of her life. Ushkowitz sounded great, and I expect she will be given more solos next season. Still basking in the glow, Tina is pulled out of the fountain (and back to reality) by the real Kurt and Blaine. Having walked a bit in her rival’s shoes, real Tina apologizes to real Rachel and agrees to help her find Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg) to ask for a second chance after her NYADA audition choke. Of course, Tibideaux is irritated and refuses, but Rachel still invites her to see New Directions at nationals in Chicago.
The secondary story revolved around Puck and his newfound alliance with Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones). Even though he won’t be graduating with his classmates, Puck still cares about them and surprises the choir by showing up in drag, which Coach Sue (Jane Lynch) believes is the only gimmick that will give New Directions the win at nationals. Of course, rival Rick “The Stick” (Rock Anthony) finds outs and picks a fight, which ends with Puck lying in the dumpster. Coach Beiste steps in, and Puck tearily apologizes. Soon after, Coach Beiste finds Puck alone in the auditorium strumming along and singing “Mean,” and she joins him in a beautiful duet. This is only the third time we’ve heard Jones sing, but I’d like to hear more of her mellow mezzo.
The episode ends with Rachel singing “What a Feeling,” soon joined by Tina in their first duet. The remaining gleeks add their voices as we see them all boarding the bus for nationals.