Case of the Ex: Glee’s Jessalyn Gilsig on Terri’s Return — and Why It’s Necessary
Except for one slightly unhinged and all-too-brief run-in with Will and Emma ("Oh, hey, homewrecker!"), Terri Schuester has been strangely sidelined this season on Glee. Over the summer, the series' executive producers not only defended her faux pregnancy-inducing paranoia, but teased her big return.
"The thing about a show like this is you need villains. We love writing for her, and she's moving to all of us," Ryan Murphy said in July. "I think what she needs to do is date someone who will make Will pea green with jealousy. We're trying to figure out who that is."
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Before that happens, Jessalyn Gilsig says her polarizing character will finally re-emerge in Tuesday's episode in a rather surprising way. "Will needs a friend, and it turns out that he doesn't have any," she says. "Terri's his last option." She even keeps her crazy in check during the reunion.
"She and Will get to kind of quietly be together, the way they must have been before everything blew up," Gilsig says. "It's really sweet ... whether or not it's healthy."
Being benched hasn't been easy on the actress. Even though she was brought back as a full-time series regular, she's appeared in only one episode so far this season. She got worried. "I wasn't that prepared for it. I thought I was going to come back earlier," Gilsig says. "I went to [executive producer Brad Falchuk] and said, 'What's going on? What's going on?'" (She was told she was overthinking her absence. "I guess we kind of had to bury the pregnancy," she says.)
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But Gilsig, too, questioned what more there was for Terri to do after her divorce from Will. "Terri's not integrated in the school, so it was hard to see how she would hang around," she says. The actress was also well aware that faking a pregnancy for the better part of Glee's first season rubbed many viewers the wrong way. She feared her story might have run its course.
She's since learned to expect the unexpected. "Glee is not like sit back and take a predictable journey. Glee is always going to challenge you," she says. "Sometimes it's going to repel you, and sometimes just when you think you've been so repelled, you never want to watch again, it's going to pull you back in."
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So, how does she come back? Terri's love for Will has not died down, and McKinley High's one-time nurse will revert a bit back to her sneaky ways by getting cozy with someone at the school. (Who? "It's not the principal, for one," Murphy said. "It's a very narrow list of candidates.") To hear Gilsig tell it, Will does need Terri. "I think you need her to give Will some adult stakes, stakes that are bigger than glee club and high school," she says.
Falchuk, the executive producer most responsible for writing the character, says Terri is hardly an outright villain: "Crazy as she is, Will is the love of her life. I think if you look at it like that, she's just a woman in love. In that way, she's a little sympathetic."
By the end of this week's episode, "Terri will be motivated to get back in there and make her presence known," Gilsig says. Viewers, however, will have to wait until Episode 10 to see her gameplan take shape.
Are you glad Terri is on the comeback trail?