The Spanish Teacher

A weird one, this. The Spanish Teacher combines the show's penchant for stunt casting, thanks to a showy performance from Ricky Martin (y'know, that guy who hasn't had a hit in what feels like a decade), with ongoing relationship soap operas and brand new developments, all set to Latin-inspired music. What's really surprising is that it doesn't completely suck the big one...

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The setup's this: a tenure position is up for grabs at McKinley High, which prompts Principal Figgins to collar Will and Sue and tell them to get their acts together. Student complaints have been made about both and, with the promotion up for grabs, Will attends a night school class to scrub up on his Spanish. Of course, Ricky aka former tooth model Dave Martinez is on hand to help not only Will but the entire Glee club in translating some Spanish passion into their performance. Meanwhile, Sue is facing competition from swim coach NeNe Leakes, who's keen on updating the Cheerios moves with extra 'booty', while all the time searching for 'baby gravy' to satisfy her newfound urge to birth a child (a move met with disbelief in the form of several baffled exclamations of 'With who's vagina?!').

Amidst all this, Mercedes is struggling with the guilt of last week's smooch-a-roo with Sam while Emma is taking pride in a new batch of her hilariously titled self-help leaflets, one of which ('Taint Misbehavin'') is commended by Coach Bieste as promoting personal hygiene amongst jock strap wearers. Erm, yeah...

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What this oddball mix of ingredients adds up to is an episode that is a lot better than it deserves to be. It mainly all works out because the script brings the funny; from visual gags (Will's matador routine) and subtitle humour to an onslaught of backed-up Sue Sylvester one-liners, the episode's a hoot. Jane Lynch's golden touch must not be underestimated; after a few episodes in the background (or completely absent, for crying out loud), she has her own story to navigate here and, in her newfound mission to create her own little 'Susie or Sylvester', carves out what looks like a potential arc for the remainder of the season. This means more Jane Lynch, which means I will be watching.

Thank the Glee gods for the effective comedy in this episode, as some other elements could have fallen flat without it. Martin's appearance is not bad (although a performance of LMFAO's 'Sexy and I Know It' is as excruciating as the song that spawned it) but it feels like token tick-boxing and an easy way to shoehorn in 'Latin Week'; for a show as gay-friendly as this one, it's also not a huge stretch to consider Martin's appearance as a crowd-pleaser following his recent outing, rather than a celebration of a cultural icon. I mean, last week was the Michael Jackson tribute, this week we get Ricky Martin? Okay...

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Still, the Latin flavour does spice things up a bit, namely during a duet of 'La Isla Bonita' where Naya Rivera sizzles with Martin, and the culmination of the quest for tenure cleverly wraps everything up and may even surprise the viewer with some choice reveals. Following last week's showstopper, it's inevitably a step down but still encouraging that, at the halfway point of the season, things are holding up nicely.

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