If Glee Did a Depeche Mode Tribute Episode
(Starting with this one because it had four votes to three for the Sad Bangers, and the one person who voted only for the Sad Bangers seemed to be looking for music recs, and so that needs a little more thought than just me making jokes. But I will do both. It’s a day off and it’s icy as hell so.)
We start the episode with the Cheerios in a darkened gym doing a spectacular choreographed routine to a (heavily edited) version of “Master and Servant.” There are chains. There might be fire. Heather Morris dances her ass off. Through it all, Sue Sylvester scowls and looks unimpressed. At the end of the routine, she demands the Cheerios tell her what the song is about.
Santana: “Um, Martin Gore’s dissatisfaction with standard gender roles and capitalist society?”
Sue: “WRONG. It’s about SEX. And POWER.”
Brittany: (quietly) “Actually I think it’s what Santana said.”
We cut to the hallway, where Will walks up to Sue and asks her if she really thinks the new Cheerios routine is appropriate. She tells him that he better get over his weird Depeche Mode hangups and fast, because she’s just got a hot tip that one of the judges for Regionals is a huge fan of the Mode, and anyone who can’t do a solid DM number is sure to lose.
And so begins: Depeche Mode Week at McKinley High!
A reluctant-looking Will Schuester writes the words Depeche Mode on the whiteboard in the choir room. He might not be excited about the task ahead of him, but several students clearly are. Tina is the first to volunteer a song. She begins “A Question of Lust,” but is cut off midway through the chorus by Will, who deems the song inappropriate. Santana protests, as do Tina, Mike, and Kurt, but all four are shut down. Kurt, in an effort to present a more parent-friendly Depeche Mode, breaks out his lower register to perform “New Dress,” which a half-listening Will dismisses as being a meaningless song about clothes. Again, protests break out; again they are shut down. The class session ends with Will telling the kids that it will be hard for them to find a Depeche Mode song they can perform, but that they’re just going to keep trying.
Finn and Rachel have an argument in an empty classroom. Finn wants to do something for Depeche Mode week. He believes that he and Rachel can sway Mr. Schue into liking the band. Rachel announces that she thinks Mr. Schue is right. Depeche Mode, she argues, is dated. It lacks mainstream appeal. They should be doing something timeless. Something everyone can agree on.
Finn: “Like show tunes?”
Finn accuses Rachel of only wanting to perform songs she thinks are in her wheelhouse. Rachel points out that Depeche Mode isn’t exactly Finn’s genre either. He says he’s not afraid to try something different, unlike her. Rachel declares that she’s not afraid of anything. The argument ends with the two of them in the choir room performing a mashup of “Leave in Silence” and “Enjoy the Silence,” which works far better than it has a right to. Will tells them that it’s a “good try,” but that something’s missing. Finn and Rachel turn to one another in dismay.
(Glee later releases the Lea Michele version of “Enjoy the Silence,” which becomes a moderate success; they never release Cory’s version of “Leave in Silence” and I am annoyed by this for the rest of my life.)
Several glee clubbers go to the mall, where they discuss the ongoing Depeche Mode situation. Mike and Blaine are still determined to find a Depeche Mode song that Mr. Schue will like, but Santana and Kurt have given up. They’re in the food court, picking at junk food, when the Warblers come dancing through, buying everything in sight to the tune of “Everything Counts.” At the end of the song, Sebastian says, mockingly, “See you at Regionals!” Mike, Blaine, and Artie look at each other. They know they’re in trouble.
Will has lunch with Emma and Coach Beiste. He confesses that he’s struggling to find a Depeche Mode that he, personally, connects to. Emma tells him that it’s because he’s a Normie. When Will protests, Coach Beiste backs Emma up. Will was in glee club when glee club was popular; he dated a cheerleader. He’s not going through the same things the current glee club is. Depeche Mode, Emma explains, is for gender rebels and fabulous communists. It’s not for men who wear sweater vests. Maybe Will should try something more his speed, like Wham! Coach Beiste suggests they split the difference and do Tears for Fears. Will walks away looking disturbed. Is he a Normie? Are his sweater vests holding him back from embracing the Mode? This is the most-gifed scene in the entire episode, and excerpts of the dialogue make it onto everyone’s Best of Emma Pillsbury videos, and rightly so.
Will walks past the empty choir room, only to hear Santana singing “Somebody” inside. He doubles back to look through the doorway -- Santana’s singing to Brittany, with Brad playing piano. It’s beautiful. It’s the theme song to literally every Brittana video, and it should be. At the end of the song, Brittany asks why Santana didn’t sing in front of the whole class. Santana says, bitterly, that Mr. Schuester would only find something in the song to hate, and she doesn’t feel like getting picked apart. Not when it’s something she actually cares about.
Will walks away looking even sadder.
Mike, Blaine, and Artie take to the stage to perform a boybandish and weirdly ominous version of “Get the Balance Right!”, interspersed with scenes of Will teaching, Will getting groceries, Will brushing his teeth, etc. Mike, Blaine, and Artie are in every scene, popping out from behind walls, watching him in the mirror, etc. It’s creepy and also deeply hilarious. Will himself sings the final “Almost...”, which is also deeply hilarious.
In the penultimate scene of the episode, the glee club is gathered in the choir room. Will announces that he has a song he’d like them to try out, potentially for Regionals. He passes out sheet music, and the glee club reacts in surprise and confusion. It’s... Depeche Mode.
Kurt: “Mr. Schue, you hate Depeche Mode.”
Will confesses that he has a hard time relating to Depeche Mode, but that this isn’t all about him. It’s something the glee club obviously connects with. Moreover, he thinks this is something the audience will connect to as well. The New Directions happily take the stage to perform “People are People.” It’s a fun, upbeat group number -- everyone’s laughing and having a good time. Mercedes gets to sing for the first time all episode. Will watches them from the audience, satisfied and smiling.
Three episodes later, at Regionals, absolutely no one sings any Depeche Mode. (The “joke” club, however, is a group from a Waldorf school dressed in matching chunky sweaters, who perform a haunting version of “Listen” by Tears for Fears.) At the end of the season, Will performs “A Question of Time” for the graduating seniors, a moment so inappropriate it makes it into like twenty different Buzzfeed listicles. I make an angry tumblr post about how unfair it is that Tina got shut down on “A Question of Lust,” and now Will goes on to sing this. The post gets three notes, one of which I am never able to see.
The Depeche Mode episode itself goes down in history as... an episode of Glee. Some people thought it was weird. Most people liked it okay. No one really has any strong feelings about it.
Except for me, ‘cause it’s obviously my favorite.