In this week's episode of Glee, Mike Chang takes center stage as he faces his worst nightmare: Getting an A-, which is essentially like getting an F in his family. As he weighs the pressures of being chained to his father's idea of his future and the possibility of chasing his own dreams, Mercedes decides to go after her own ambitions as she tries to finally get out of Rachel Berry's shadow.
Speaking of dreams, because his own have failed, Will is pushing New Directions — including the newly re-inducted Santana — harder than ever. Mercedes, in particular, feels overworked to the point of getting ill — a lot. Will's fledging glee club is the least of his worries as he discovers Emma's secret stash of bridal magazines. Emma insists she just wants to take things slowly, but Will worries why, if they truly are serious, he hasn't met her parents yet.
Elsewhere, Mike Chang Sr. drags Mike Chang Jr. into the principal's office after Mike received an — pause for dramatic effect — A-. Not only does Mike's father believe girlfriend Tina is a major distraction from important school work, but he thinks his son should quit the glee club. Mike begs for a second chance and even promises to take on a chemistry tutor — which will be difficult since Coach Beiste has made it mandatory for the football team to audition for the school's West Side Story revival, and they'll need Mike's help to make it through. (Football players dancing again? Much needed entertainment since the Super Bowl episode's "Thriller" number.)
Meanwhile, it's the battle of the divas — again. After Marcus sees Mercedes and Rachel being chummy before auditions, he fills her head with thoughts of being the star, which she rightly deserves. Amber Riley has powerhouse vocals, and I always enjoy when they showcase her in a song. As Mercedes realizes her own potential, she belts Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight," and laments the fact that Rachel always seems to end up in it. The school musical directors are truly impressed with her audition.
A dutiful Mike, on the other hand, decides not to audition, which really upsets Tina, who expresses that he should just be honest with his parents about his dreams. He throws that back in her face, saying she wasn't honest when she faked her stutter all those years. Burn!
Lest we forget, it's Student Council president campaigning time! Santana and Brittany try to convince Rachel to back the female vote by supporting Brittany's bid, rather than support Kurt. And for the first time in the series, Brittany actually makes some well thought-out and insightful arguments. Dare we say Brittany could secretly be smart underneath that Cheerios outfit? Her dancing a slutty dance number to Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" probably doesn't help my argument, but she does completely rock the school and even gets Sue to dance, so she gets my vote.
The battle of the divas comes to a head when the directors can't decide who will play Maria in West Side Story. On the one hand, everyone seems to agree that Rachel is born to play Maria and is the natural choice, but Mercedes has really proven her worth and she is a spicy choice, for sure. Will suggests a diva-off where the pair will both sing Fame's "Out Here On My Own." And Mercedes is not about to hug this one out. Get 'em girl!
Instead of going to his chemistry tutor, Mike stops off in the dance studio, depressed that he can't do what he truly loves in life. This is, by far, one of the best scenes of Glee. There's no music to detract from Mike's amazing dance moves and raw emotion. Mike is distracted, though, by visions of his father telling him this isn't what he should be doing. Tina, however, notes that Mike's dance moves speak louder than words. But Tina isn't really there, just another figment of his imagination in his torn mind. Tear.
Mike decides for an eleventh hour audition for the school musical — and he sure has been working on his singing. Taking on West Side Story's "Cool," Mike Chang proves he actually has skills other than dancing. Where have they been hiding this kid? The football guys join him for a wicked dance number that would put the Jets to shame. "Make him Maria," yells one of my co-workers after Mike finishes the number.
Looks like they've found their Riff, but what about Tony? Kurt proactively extends a peace offering to Blaine, giving him flowers, saying he's totally going to win the role. Blaine initially moves in for a thank you kiss, but then pauses and withdraws. Sorry, no public display of affection for you, Kurt.
Over at Booty Camp, Finn and Mercedes continue to struggle with the dance moves. You know when Finn lands the move before Mercedes, there is serious trouble brewing. She finally cracks, yelling at Will that he's never let her shine. She truly is the Jennifer Hudson of Dreamgirls, which makes sense as the club gathers for "It's All Over," the prelude to Effie White's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," as the group testifies that her drama has had bad effects on the club.
Mike Chang finally gets caught skipping out on his tutor, but it's by his mother, who expresses that she didn't follow her dreams either. He admits he wants to be an artist, not a doctor or a lawyer, and she says that if he does get the role in the school play, they will tell Mike Chang Sr. together. The dream she gave up? Dancing, which they do together. No, I'm not crying. Dust, yes, that's it.
Finally, the clash of the titans has arrived: Rachel vs. Mercedes, diva-off part deux. My vote: Mercedes, who really is the more exciting Maria and wouldn't follow the standard of Rachel always being the lead. They take on the Fame number, with both women shining like a bright star — though Rachel thinks Mercedes did much better.
After Will believes Emma is embarrassed to introduce him to her family, he takes the initiative and invites her parents over for dinner. In truth, Emma is ashamed of her family because they are "ginger supremacists," who only like to spend time with other redheads. Her parents' arrival triggers Emma's OCD tendencies, setting Will off on a tirade against her often racist and unsympathetic parents.
Knowing she won't get the part, Rachel decides to run for president against Kurt and Brittany in a last-minute Hail Mary attempt to beef up her extracurricular activities on her college applications. As a consolation, she says that if she wins, she'll elect Kurt VP. However, he knows that if a gay student is elected president, it will help kids like him at school. She insists that she needs something that will help her stand out in her senior year, but in doing so, Kurt says, she's tossing her friends aside.
And the winner of the coveted Maria role is... both of them! While Rachel accepts that they will each get an even number of shows, Mercedes is done being part of the Rachel Berry show. "Tell me you were better than me," Mercedes says as Rachel looks guiltily away, knowing she can't say it. Mercedes hands the role over to Rachel, but even with her dreams coming true, Rachel is still running for president — though her own boyfriend is torn on whether to vote for her or his stepbrother. Drama!
Will apologizes for insisting on meeting Emma's parents, which actually set their relationship back in many ways. As he kneels down to pray with her, he sings Coldplay's "Fix You," something he wishes he could do for Emma. During this, the cast list for West Side Story is posted: Rachel is Maria, Blaine will portray Tony, Santana will take on Anita, Mike rightfully won the role of Riff and a crestfallen Kurt will play Officer Krupke.
Mercedes — either in retaliation or finally deciding to grab hold of her dreams — seeks out Shelby, who's been having trouble finding kids willing to join the second glee club. Guess who the newest member is?
That's right, Mercedes has defected, and for some reason, it feels pretty final. New Directions will really need to do something huge to get her back — if they even want her. So, what did you think of Mercedes jumping ship? Did anyone else get the impression she's pregnant from all those times she said she was ill? Can it please be Trouty Mouth's baby? Hit the comments with your thoughts on Tuesday's episode, especially the newest chapter in the Rachel Berry debacle.