After the glee club is denied a special, handicapable bus for Artie to go to Sectionals, Will challenges the kids to experience life from a different point of view. Quinn and Finn struggles with financial problems when their doctors' bills begin to pile up, so Puck steps in to try to help. At the same time Sue accepts a student with Down Syndrome onto the Cheerios leading Will to question her motives. Meanwhile, the glee club hosts its first "Diva-Off" between Kurt and Rachel as they compete for a solo performance at Sectionals.
Quinn is watching the Cheerios practice for Nationals from the bleachers as Finn walks up to her. Finn tells her that Quinn is torturing herself by watching them, and Quinn remarks that she needs a distraction. She hands Finn a sonogram bill for $685 and tells him that there are going to be more expenses. Finn tells her he's been looking for a job, but has been unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Jacob is interviewing Sue and informs her that his blog is loaded with comments about with Quinn being off squad, and that the Cheerios have no shot at Nationals. He also questions if Sue kicked Quinn of because of the pregnancy scandal. At the same time, Will is speaking with Principal Figgins about getting a handicapable bus, but Figgins won't pay for it because it is too expensive and tells Will that he'll have to find a way to pay for it himself.
In the choir room, Tina watches as Artie struggles to tie his shoes. Meanwhile Quinn and Finn are discussing possible jobs for Finn as Puck watches them with a surly look on his face. Will walks in and hands out sheet music to Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked. This excites Kurt, who is an avid Wicked fan, but is immediately disappointed when Will gives the solo to Rachel. Will then announces that the school won't be paying for Artie's special bus and proposes that they raise the money themselves by holding a bake sale. This idea is not well-received as several members simply suggest that Artie just drive to Sectionals with his father. Will is extremely disappointed in the group, but Artie just dismisses it and agrees to go with his dad.
The bell rings and everyone leaves the choir room. Will helps out Artie with his shoelaces and apologizes for the glee club's behavior. Artie asks Will if he could use the auditorium to practice and goes to sing Dancing with Myself. Artie begins to sing around the school and it's shown that he appears to have feelings for Tina. Will is watching him from afar and forms an idea.
Kurt speaks up at the next choir rehearsal and asks to audition for the solo in Defying Gravity, but is rebuffed. Will then expresses his disappoinment in his glee club's insensitivity, and tells them that they'll be raising money by holding a bake sale or they won't go to Sectionals at all. He then has the A.V. club bring in eleven wheelchairs and tells them that they'll be spending three hours a day in the wheelchair and will be performing a wheelchair number.
Over the week, several members are shown having great difficulty adjusting to their wheelchairs. Puck meets up with Quinn in the home economics room and gives her money for her doctor's bills, but Quinn rebuffs his efforts and tells him that she'll go to the grave swearing his baby is Finn's baby. After some harmless flirting, Quinn and Puck begin to have a food fight and is interrupted by Finn, who starts to become suspicious.
At the local tire shop, Hummel Tires & Lube, Burt notices that Kurt seems to be out of it and asks what's wrong. Kurt tells him about his problems in glee club, and this leads to Burt confronting Figgins and Will about discrimination against his son. Will agrees to let Kurt audition for the solo, but Rachel finds this unfair when Will informs her that the glee club will be voting as she feels that they'll be biased in favor of Kurt. However, Kurt has the glee club swear they will judge fairly.
Figgins calls Sue and Will into his office to discuss Will's assignment for the glee club. He is impressed with the project and advises Sue to do the same by holding open auditions for Quinn's vacant spot on the Cheerios. Sue immediately rejects this idea, but is ordered by Figgins to do it and to give it a try.
In the cafeteria, Finn, Puck, Quinn, and Santana are unsuccessful in selling cupcakes, which look terrible. Brittany comes by with a young girl with down-syndrome named Becky Jackson and offers to buy her a cupcake. Quinn then begins to berate Finn for his poor salesmanship, insisting that he can't raise a baby if he can't sell a cupcake. Finn feels attacked and he angrily kicks his wheelchair and storms off.
Sue holds open try-outs for Quinn's spot on the Cheerios, and is disappointed with people like Mercedes, Kurt, a girl on the wrestling team, and Jacob. The last try-out is by Becky Jackson, who has trouble jumping rope. Despite this, Sue appoints Becky on the team. Will becomes suspicious of her intentions.
Puck and Finn are talking in the hallway, and Puck begins to criticize Finn's poor performance in finding a job to help raise money for Quinn's baby. The two eventually get into a fist fight that is broken up by Will. Will interrogates them, but Puck lies and says he's stressed about the bake sale before walking off.
In the auditorium, Artie is teaching the glee club how to perform in the wheelchairs. Will allows them to take a break and the glee club all wheel out of the room, except Tina. Tina tells Artie that she really admires him. Artie remarks that it's just like her stutter, and Tina begins to look guilty about something. She then asks Artie how he got in a wheelchair, and Artie reveals that he got into a car accident with his mother when he was eight years old. Artie then tells her that despite this, he still has the use of his penis, which puts off Tina and she wheels away, seemingly offended.
Kurt is practicing the "high F" in the choir room for his audition for the solo. Meanwhile, Burt receives an anonymous phone call about Kurt's sexuality. At the tire shop, Kurt excitedly informs Burt that he hit the note, but Burt is visibly upset about the phone call. He tells Kurt about it and mentions that he's been trying his hardest to be supportive. He then says that he wishes Kurt's mother was still around, because she was better at dealing with these situations.
In the choir room, Finn is helping Rachel with her wheelchair and she expresses her worries about the diva-off. Finn gives her words of encouragement, and their conversation is interrupted by Quinn, who presents Finn with an overdue notice and warns Finn to get a job. After she leaves, Rachel offers Finn an idea on how to get a job.
The glee club's bake sale hits a sudden urge in popularity. Santana tells Will that Puck found his Nana Connie's secret recipe, but Puck reveals in a voiceover that he actually spiked the cupcakes with marijuana that he got from Sandy Ryerson, intending to embezzle the money to give to Quinn for her doctor's bill.
Sue is training Becky in the gymnasium and begins to criticize Becky's efforts. She tells her to hit the showers and is soon confronted by Will. Will expresses his concern over Sue's treatment of Becky, but Sue is insisting that Becky, despite her disability, just wants to be treated like everyone else. Will accuses Sue of having an ulterior motive, but Sue rebuffs him.
Rachel walks into the choir room to begin the diva-off. Finn whispers that he's rooting for her and Will announces that they are about to start. Kurt begins to sing his version of Defying Gravity as the scene intercuts to Rachel's version. When the time comes to hit the high F, Kurt purposely blows the note, allowing Rachel to win the competition.
Puck meets up with Quinn to give her Artie's bus fund for her bills, but she rejects him again. However, she seems endeared by his efforts. She then apologizes for calling him a "Lima Loser". Suddenly, the two are interrupted by Finn, who gives Quinn his paycheck for his job that he got when Rachel convinced a manager to hire him, under the impression that Finn is actually handicapped. He then offers to give Quinn a ride to class and she accepts as Puck watches them roll off.
Puck gives Will the money, which is more than enough for Artie's special bus. Artie, however, plans to use the money to have ramps installed in the auditorium. Figgins calls Will into his office to inform him that Sue has already paid for three ramps to be installed into the school, leaving Will to wonder why Sue would show such a random and out-of-character act of kindness. Sue is then seen signing a sign-in sheet at a nursing home. As it turns out, Sue has an older sister named Jean, who also has down-syndrome, which is why she allowed Becky be on the squad.
Tina and Artie are racing each other in their wheelchairs. Tina jokes that Artie's had eight years of practice, but Artie equates his situation with her stutter. Tina then gets out of her wheelchair and kisses him. She then reveals to Artie that she has been faking her stutter all along because she didn't want to make a speech in 6th grade. She used her stutter as a way to get people to leave her alone because she was shy. Artie becomes upset and leaves, feeling betrayed by Tina's lie.
Kurt comes by the tire shop and informs Burt that he lost the competition. He tells him that he blew the competition because he didn't want to see his dad get hurt like he did when he got the phone call. Kurt tells him that he loves Burt more than he loves being a star, which almost leaves Burt in tears.
At the end of the episode, after all the rehearsals in the wheelchairs, the glee club successfully manage to pull off a performance of Proud Mary in wheelchairs, which they dedicate to Artie.
|Song Title||Original Artist||Performer(s)|
|Dancing with Myself||Generation X
(Nouvelle Vague version)
|Defying Gravity||Cast of Wicked||Kurt Hummel and Rachel Berry|
|Proud Mary||Creedence Clearwater Revival
(Tina Turner version)
- McKinley, Hey! by Glee sung by Mercedes Jones.
- Flight of the Bumblebee by The Swingle Singers. Background music when Sandy gives Puck some Chronic Lady.
- Dancing with Myself by Generation X. Background music while the New Directions are getting used to the wheelchairs.
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Sandy Ryerson
- Iqbal Theba as Principal Figgins
- Mike O'Malley as Burt Hummel
- Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez
- Heather Morris as Brittany Pierce
- Harry Shum Jr. as Mike Chang
- Dijon Talton as Matt Rutherford
- Josh Sussman as Jacob Ben Israel
- Lauren Potter as Becky Jackson
- Robin Trocki as Jean Sylvester
- Ashley Fink as Lauren Zizes
- Cheryl Francis Harrington as Nurse
- Amanda Balen as Unnamed Cheerio 1
- Sarah Beymer as Unnamed Cheerio 2
- China Taylor as Unnamed Cheerio 3
- Head choreographer Zach Woodlee stated that Proud Mary was one of the hardest numbers to do because of the ramps and wheelchairs.
- Ryan Murphy called this episode the "turning point" for Glee.
- During filming of the song Proud Mary, every cast member fell out of their wheelchairs at least once, even Kevin.
- Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, and Dianna Agron went everywhere with their wheelchairs.
- Brad Falchuk was diagnosed with a very serious spinal cord problem. After undergoing surgery he made a full recovery and his experience inspired the plot line for this episode.
- The story of Kurt being initially denied the chance to audition for Defying Gravity was inspired by Chris Colfer who told Ryan Murphy that the same happened to him in drama club.
- This is the only episode where the music has been split into to two different albums; being Glee: The Music, Volume 1 and Glee: The Music, Volume 2, with Proud Mary being in the latter, while the other songs are in the first stated album.
- By the beginning of the episode, Kurt has a line of acne going across his chin, but by his Defying Gravity number, he has a few next to the corner of his lip and line across his chin is gone. After the scene and Kurt is back to his father's shop, the line across his chin is back and the few next to his lip have disappeared.
Quinn: Somewhere in that pea brain of yours is a man. Access him and tell him to prove to me that I chose the right guy to have a baby with.
Rachel: We didn't think you'd take it personally.
Kurt: We all know I'm more popular than Rachel. And I dress better.
Santana: Puck found his Nana Connie's recipe. They're addictive. Do you want one?
Sue: If I have a pregnant girl doing a handspring into a double layout, the judges aren't going to be admiring her impeccable form, they're going to be wondering if the centrifugal force is going to make the baby's head start crowning.
Kurt: Dad, I've known who I was since I was five. I adapted. Being different made me stronger. At the end of the day, it's what's gonna get me out of this cow town. You never had to do that.