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In “Naked,” New Directions produces a calender, featuring sexy shirtless photos to raise money for their trip to Regionals. Oh yeah, Regionals is a go after Sam and Blaine busted The Warblers, who won Sectionals under the influence of performance enhancing drugs.
Meanwhile, during the course of shooting the calendar, Blaine and the other gleeks have to step in when Sam’s obsession with his body reaches extreme levels. The battle between Finn and Sue reaches a new level.
Miles away in New York City, Rachel is faced with a personal dilemma when cast in a student film–she’s expected to go topless! Fellow graduates, Quinn and Santana visit her in Bushwick to help out with her dilemma.
I’ll be back with a longer recap later!
Before everyone gets Naked, there is Breaking News! The New Directions are back! Due to the cheating scandal exposed by Blaine and Sam last week, The Warblers are required to vacate their sectionals win. Meaning the club will be heading to Regionals. Rod Roddington breathlessly reports the details, tabloid style, while his desk partner, and sometime lover, Andrea, storms off, kicking and screaming, “Is this I went to journalism school for?” Yep. “Well, it looks like I’ll be getting a much younger and hotter co-anchor,” says Rod before he introduces the next story on a Fort Wayne squirrel who is also a doctor. Is this the Onion? Meta: A reporter infuriates Hunter when he asks him to address the report that he looks too old to be in High School. ROID RAGE.
However, the New Directions unexpected triumph introduces a new dilemma. With so little time to prepare, how will the group pay for transportation to Indianapolis? “The Paris of Indiana!” says Artie. More Meta: Ryan Murphy grew up in Indianapolis. Continuing his unbroken streak of lameness, Finn suggests a bake sale. Oh yeah, THAT only worked in season 1 because Puck baked weed into the batch. To the rescue once again is Tina, who suggests producing a “Men of McKinley” calendar and we won’t be objectifying women, because it’s the girls who buy stuff. “Those twilight books are poop on paper and we’ve turned them into a million dollar industry, “Kitty helpfully explains. Everybody is in to it, except Artie, who pouts with his arms crossed.
HOORAY FONDUE FOR TWO IS BACK! Brittany’s special guest is Marley, “the girl with the fat mom who ruined sectionals for everybody.” After some crazy chatter about Lord Tubbington being a secret slum lord, Brittany confronts Marley about her feelings for Jake. “If Jake is brave enough to take off his clothes for the Men of McKinley calendar, shouldn’t you do the same?” asks Brittany, who basically sums up the theme of this episode. She’s not suggesting that Marley take her clothes off too, but peel back her defenses and admit to Jake that she loves him.
Sexy Teen Imbeciles! Principal Figgins has some surprising news to deliver to Brittany and Sam. Even though she just randomly filled in her SAT answers, our favorite McKinley super senior has the highest score ever recorded at McKinley. This means she can go to Harvard, or Princetown or Mitt or Stanford and Son, or the University of California at Charles Barkley’s house… You get the idea. Meanwhile, after assuming he was the secret genius, Sam is devastated to learn that his score was the lowest ever recorded.
Back in New York City, Rachel is about to engage in some sexy times of her own. In a pretty hilarious send-up of bad student movies, one of her classmates casts Rachel in an epic story of a grandmother slipping into dementia, which is an allegory for the end of the world. Alrighty. The only catch is that Rachel will have to go topless. What should she do? Why sing, of course. Rachel has a conversation with the old Rachel in a cleverly edited performance of “Torn” which finds a very confused Rachel switching back and forth between personas. The old Rachel would keep her clothes on. The new Rachel wants to take chances. By the end of the performance, new Rachel wins out.
“Torn” – Rachel
Tina, obviously still crushing after last week’s Sadie Hawkins episode, approaches Blaine at his locker. She wants him to go clothes shopping with her. Just at that moment, a shirtless Sam strides down the hallway, definitely getting their attention. Well, most definitely getting Blaine’s attention. He’s obviously still crushing too. Blaine picks up right away that Sam is overcompensating for the bad news he got on his SAT scores.
Sam becomes defensive. “If you choose to become jealous of my hardcore rockin’ bod, that’s your problem.” Tina speaks up, “Blaine has an awesome body and a perky and delicious behind that looks like it got baked to perfection by some sort of a master chef.”
“Thanks Tina,” says Blaine, with a total WTF look on his face. Oh, this crush thing is going to boil over at some point–but not in this episode.
Sam tells Blaine to put down the haterade and come to his 1 hour seminar for the men of McKinley called “Modern Centerfold Techniques at Work for Today’s Hot Young Posers.” 3:30. Locker Room. NO CHICKS. I guess Tina will have to go shopping alone.
By the way, neck brace Cheerio walks by…Ryan Murphy told fans on twitter that her name is Celeste.
The seminar begins with some “broga.” That’s yoga, renamed so that men don’t feel weird about doing it. Blaine looks perfectly happy in the lotus position! “Not everyone in here wants to look like they are on the CW,” says Artie, “Some of us are more PBS.” Artie does not want to pose shirtless, but Sam isn’t listening. Next: Tips on manscaping and crotch stuffing!
Ignoring the “No Chicks” rule, the Cheerios stroll into the locker room and the guys bust out into a mash up of “Hot In Herre/Centerfold.” They chuck their robes and strut in their shorts while the cheerleaders spray tan them. It’s pretty gratuitous. But who is complaining? Well, Artie isn’t happy. And we see shots of Sam alone in the locker room, way past the time the seminar has ended, continuing his workout. He’s unhealthily obsessed.
Centerfold – The McKinley Boys Shirtless!
Back at the teachers’ lounge, Sue confronts Finn who is still trying to force himself to like coffee. As you can imagine, Sue isn’t pleased about the “smut pedaling.” But Finn has a card to play. It turns out that Sue did a centerfold way back in the day—back when things were–hairier. She won’t fess up to it but hints that she invented a pose so limber it was called “The Regal American Not So Bald Spread Eagle.” Yikes. If Finn can find that magazine, Sue will be forever blackmailed.
Back in Bushwick, while Kurt is enjoying himself a bowl of Rooster O’s, Brody strolls into the kitchen area BUTT NAKED and sits down. Yes. You can just imagine the look on Kurt’s face. Rachel waltzes in and gives Brody a good morning kiss, as if Nothing Is Wrong With This Picture. “
“Your boyfriend’s bare ass is on one of my vintage flea market chairs!” sputters Kurt.
“I’m not ashamed of my body, and I want to show Rachel that I support her choice completely.” Says Brody. You’d think Kurt would just shut up and enjoy the view. Instead, he moves the milk carton to block out Brody’s naughty parts.
When Kurt learns Rachel plans to go topless, he’s all, “No, you’re not.”
“Rachel is a serious actress. She doesn’t do nudity!” sniffs Kurt. Well. Tell that to Lea Michele when she was topless every night on the Broadway stage in “Spring Awakening.” Yeah. That happened.
“If you want to win an Oscar,” says Brody, ‘You have to show your boobs.” Well not really. But is there really anything wrong with tasteful nudity? Or nudity period?
“I don’t get it,” says Kurt sounding awfully prudish, “a year ago you were all plaid skirts and ‘do you think Finn likes me?’ and now you’re ‘Slutty Barbie’, asking misogynist Ken to move in, doing pornos. What’s happening to you?” Is Kurt SERIOUSLY SLUT SHAMING Rachel because she plans to take her shirt off? C’mon Glee writers. Gimme a break. Rachel suggests that Kurt grow up. She’s going to do the movie with or without his support.
Kids, hope you all enjoyed Kurt’s one and only scene in this episode. I didn’t, really.
Back in Lima, Marley takes Brittany’s advice to heart. She invites Jake to meet her in the auditorium to try out a duet. She feels she’s got some redeeming to do after the sectionals disaster. Jake tells her not to put too much pressure on herself. They sing the “super romantic” song, “A Thousand Years.” They get close, and kiss, but in the end, Marley can’t bring herself to say those three little words.
A Thousand Years – Marley and Jake
Finn meets Artie in the library for a secret rendezvous. He’d like Artie to page though “decades and decades of vintage pornography” looking for Sue’s Penthouse spread. Artie’s response? “You’ve come to the right place!”
But speaking of nudity, Artie tries to share with Finn his discomfort with the shirtless thing. “My body is sort of…broken, and I’m not really eager to start showing it off.” Aw. I’ll bet Arties got some pretty hot biceps under there. You know, from all of that wheelchair rolling. But it’s not just girls who have body issues. Artie is uncomfortable, period. When Finn finally gets it, he says, “I think it’s totally cool that there’s a part of yourself that you want to keep private.”
Meanwhile back in the locker room, Ryder and Jake strip off and compare muscles. Tina and Kitty, interrupting BRO TIME, breeze into the locker room to talk concepts. October is nothing but a Jack o Lantern in front of their naughty bits! After the girls leave, Jake confesses that he’s so into Marley, he doesn’t even care that Kitty practically jumped him. Ryder frowns. He’s still into Marley. Nevertheless, he gives Jake some advice. If Marley won’t say I love you first, Jake has got to take the risk. “Chicks dig hot guys willing to pose naked for a calendar,” explains Ryder, “But what they are really looking for is a guy who’ll get naked emotionally.”
Cut to the choir room. Jake sings a tender and beautiful rendition of “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” straight to Marley. It’s so pretty and emotional. Marley melts, literally. Kitty sits in the back, arms folded, with the biggest bitch face ever. After he finishes, Ryder asks if there is anything else he wants to say to her. “I think the song pretty much said it,” he answers. Like Marley in the auditorium, Jake chickens out.
Let Me Love You – Jake
Rachel arrives home to find an awesome surprise! It’s Santana and Quinn, summoned by “Lady Hummel” to perform an emergency intervention. Rachel freaks out!
The girls are there to talk Rachel out of the nude scene. Quinn invokes the 2 time rule. How will Rachel feel about her decision in 2 weeks? Santana, still full of lulzy insults says, “You’ll probably feel really great! You’ll get to feel the nice cool breeze on the mosquito bites. You’ll feel refreshed even!”
Then how will she feel in 2 months? Two years? The girls do make an excellent point. She might not want some topless scene in a shitty movie following her around forever. But then, there was all this blather about her kids finding it on line and feeling ashamed. There’s so much muddled rhetoric here, I don’t even know where to begin. Santana reminds Rachel of the leaked sex tape that follows her around online. But is that really comparable to voluntary nudity in some silly student film? These are questions the Glee writers don’t even attempt to ask.
Back at McKinley, the action heats up as Brittany shoots the calendar, while Tina directs. The boys are looking mighty fine as they sexify 4th of July and Thanksgiving! But suddenly, Sam begins losing it, insulting the others. Maybe it should have been a Sam Evans calendar. “Yes!” says Artie. “Every month we can see you dressed as a different brand of jerkwad.” Sam’s mini-meltdown continues. He’s lost his pump! He needs to exercise. Blaine follows him, worried. “You’re kind of out of control,” says Blaine. “Well haterz gonna hate,” Sam shoots back. “You’re not just some body obsessed muscle head,” Blaine responds.
Blaine doesn’t understand. He can sing and dance, and is smart and charming. Sam feels he’s got to be hot or no one will ever notice him. People laugh at his impressions, because the way he looks already has them on board. His looks are the only thing that make him special, Sam explains. He’s exhausted–constantly exercising, watching what he eats. Blaine tells him to let it go, because he’s loved no matter what. Aw. Blam forever.
Finn whistles as he enters the teachers’ lounge. He throws down a manila envelope in front of Sue, who immediately believes he’s found incriminating evidence. She admits to the existence of the centerfold. She pulls out a magazine from the folder. It’s Highlights! Ha. But Finn has her confession on tape. CHECKMATE. Now she’s blackmailed into getting off the club’s case about the calendar.
Blaine drags Sam into Emma’s office for a meeting. She has a list of colleges that don’t require SAT scores to be admitted. AND she’s compiled a list of scholarship opportunities so he can pay his tuition. The catch is that he’ll have to write an essay. Since Sam still feels like a beefcake loser, it’s not going to be easy.
We’re back in New York, where Rachel, dressed in a bathrobe, is on the set of her student film. As the director gives pretentious cues off stage, Rachel begins to have second thoughts. She wants fewer people on set. No way, says pretentious director, “My DP literally sculpts with light!” Or maybe the crew should also be topless too. Except they’re all guys (really?) so what’s the point? They strip down. Not sure why the female director does not join them? In the end, Rachel chickens out. She’s not ready to be naked now. “Get the hell off my grandmother’s dreamscape,” orders pretentious director.
Cue the music. As she leaves, Rachel begins the first verse of “Love Song.” Before you know it, she’s in a school auditorium with Quinn and Santana who join her in song. It’s a love fest between the besties and ends in a BIG HUG. Rachel thanks them for being the best friends EVER and they go off into the New York night to have dinner. “I’m in no rush to go back to Kentucky,” confesses Santana, “I think I could get used to it here.” SANTANA IS MOVING TO NEW YORK! HOORAY.
Love Song – Rachel, Quinn and Santana
Back in Lima, Blaine asks Sam if he’s ready to write his essay. He’s not. Blaine whips out his laptop. On it is a video featuring some of Sam’s closest friends revealing all the things he’s accomplished. Tina says Sam saved sectionals last year when he moved back to McKinley. Artie says he rescued their Nationals trophy from the Warblers. Trouty Mouth inspired Santana to try her hand at songwriting! Brittany insists that Sam’s Sean Connery impression is what made the actor’s career really take off. Sam gave Mercedes the courage to follow her dreams and become a singer. Sam took care of his entire family after his dad lost his job, says Finn. Sam’s big lips begin to tremble. He’s crying. Aw. “That’s your essay,” says Blaine. Big Bro Blam hug! Sam, choked up, can hardly get the words “thank you” out. As the kids on tumblr say, SO MANY FEELS.
Later, Sam approaches Artie who he still wants him in the calendar. But the deal is, he doesn’t have to be shirtless. And he won’t be the only one keeping his clothes on. Here comes the calendar! And everyone IS shirtless except for Artie and…Sam. Shirtless Sam is awesome, but he needed to prove he’s more than just skin. Predictably, the McKinley girls love the beefcake, and the calendars fly off the shelves, so to speak. Sue, looking on, calls Finn a worthy adversary. “It’s going to be all the more delicious when I have you roasting on a spit,” she says, but then adds, “But then literally, delicious.”
Jake catches up to Marley. He has a special calendar signed, just for her. She opens to October and it says, “I love you, Jake.” AW. “I love you back,” confesses Marley.
And the show ends, with the kids excited for the new year, as they launch into one of the most joyful and optimistic songs Glee has ever done. Really. Shades of “Don’t Stop Believing” from the pilot. “This is the New Year” gave me chills like that.
The kids, on a white soundstage, break the 4th wall as they sing to the camera. This is really different than anything Glee has ever done before. They all wind up dancing ecstatically on the McKinley stage. It will be a wonderful new year, indeed.
This is The New Year – New Directions
I am typically Team New York. But to be honest, I think “Naked” would have been better if the focus of the story had stayed entirely on the kids in Ohio. The idea of stripping naked as a metaphor for being vulnerable worked beautifully in the Sam and Marley/Jake story lines. In the end, Sam learned he didn’t need to be physically naked to be truly loved. And Marley and Jake figuratively stripped down to their true emotions.
Sam’s learning problems were quickly touched upon in season 2 and then never really addressed again until lately. The dyslexia story line should have been Sam’s rather than Ryder’s—and begun a couple of seasons ago. But at least Sam, the character, finally has some depth outside of the homeless story line that’s also gotten short shrift, if you ask me.
But back to New York. What a mess. I didn’t understand if Rachel was supposed to feel shame about showing her body or not–the messages being conveyed were so mixed and poorly executed. It was great to have Quinn and Santana in the city, but their presence seemed really contrived. Santana moving to New York will be good for that particular story line. I cannot wait until Kurt and Santana are slinging insults at each other. But please writers. Don’t turn Kurt into some kind of pearl clutching ninny. Do. Not. Want.
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