Chills. Sob. Hiccup. Repeat.
Tonight's episode of Glee, "Shooting Star," was truly unlike any Glee episode we've seen before. And the most gripping portion, a full 10-plus minutes, was silent.
Though it's a completely different animal, that block of silence (marked only by the sound of a metronome, and sporadic whispers) was a teensy-tiny bit reminiscent of the most lauded Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode of all time, "Hush," and made for some powerful storytelling.
Did we mention the chills?
Spoiler Alert: Read on only if you've seen the full episode. This is not one where you'll want to be spoiled!
WHAT WE LEARNED
The "Shooting": While we were initially led to believe the episode would be about another one of Brittany's (Heather Morris) cockamamie predictions—that a meteor was about to hit their hometown of Lima, Ohio (eyerolls and hilarity ensued)—shots rang out in the middle of glee club practice, sending the students and teachers scrambling for cover. They spent what felt like an eternity crouched in fear, sobbing, texting loved ones, saying their final words, and, in the case of Brittany S. Pierce, hovering above a toilet, weeping, fearing for her life. (Let the record show, it was arguably Heather Morris' best work to date…Who knew she gave such good scare-cry? Amazing. And contagious.) After what felt like hours (we didn't breathe), the McKinley High students heard an "All Clear" reverberating through the hallways, and we soon learned that everyone was OK.
The Big Twist: After seeing the devastating ramifications on the students—"Their idealism was taken from them," Will Schuester tells us—Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) confesses that the gun was hers, and went off while she was cleaning it, and is immediately fired from her teaching position. But, aha! In the episode's most gripping stroke of storyline genius, we ultimately learn that Sue was protecting special-needs student Becky (Lauren Potter), who brought the gun to school, in a fit of despair about her future, and accidentally fired it while talking to Sue. Sue took the rap in order to protect Becky from expulsion and humiliation, proving once again the Cheerios coach's Grinchy-sized heart is bigger than it appears.
The Message: What worked so well in "Shooting Star" is that the complete horror of a school shooting was so effectively demonstrated (we felt it in our bones) without going overboard. And the episode's message, clearly one of gun control, was subtle but poignant. "It's a different world than when I started teaching," Sue tells Principal Figgins while "confessing" the gun was hers."The safety net of the pub mental health system is gone. Parents with troubled kids are too busy with three jobs to look after them. And the gun yahoos have everyone so worked up about Obama taking away their guns that every household has a ready arsenal."
WHAT LIES AHEAD
The Big Question: Will Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester) leave the show? Of course not. At least, we're pretty sure. And our sources kind-sorta confirmed it. And we're too emotionally rocked right now to consider the alternative. But the way in which she leaves, declaring "I don't work here any more" and asking Will to "keep an eye on Becky"—all while the glee kids sing "Say What You Need to Say"—well, we'd tell you more about it but it's starting to make us ugly cry all over again. And there's already enough mascara on the couch.
Well played, Glee writers. Well played.
Did you like tonight's Shooting Star episode? Group hug it out with us in the comments…And feel free to gift us an adorable kitty to cuddle, cause like Brittany, we could use one right about now.