7:27pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Glee' Recap: Who Returned, Moved On and Had Their Heart Broken?
Glee paid tribute to Britney Spears for the second time in its four-season run Thursday, with an episode that was more grounded in reality in which Heather Morris' Brittany -- as well as Lea Michele's Rachel -- struggled to adjust to their new lives.
As the Fox musical continued to tell overlapping stories set both in New York and Ohio, Rachel and Kurt adjusted to their new East Coast life as roommates, with the former standing up to Cassie (Kate Hudson) and starting to take the first steps toward getting over Finn (Cory Monteith).
Here are the highlights from Thursday's "Britney 2.0" episode.
1. Cheerleader down! Brittany is adjusting to life without Santana (Naya Rivera) at McKinley. Her poor grades find her off the Cheerios and send her into a downward spiral. Naya Rivera's Santana returns (briefly) to give her a pep talk via Skype (another "Scissor Skype" reference!), but she's too busy in Kentucky with cheerleading practice to really help her through her crisis. Realizing she's lost her identity, Will (Matthew Morrison) decides to revisit Britney Spears Week to rally the club to get her back on track. A highlight: Brittany takes a page from Spears' downward spiral and goes nuts on the school's paparazzi -- all after attempting to shave her head.
2. Brittany quits New Directions. Further taking a page from Spears' history, Brittany comes up with a terrible idea that winds up landing the club in hot water: lip-synching at the school's pep rally. The performance, which Kitty (Becca Tobin) realizes is a sham, severely damages New Directions' credibility, with Will calling it a debacle and warning the club that if the national board learns of it, they could be barred from competing. A downtrodden Brittany winds up resigning from New Directions.
3. Kurt (Chris Colfer) has a plan: He's going to re-audition for second semester admission to NYADA, and in the meantime, is applying for an internship at Vogue.com, setting the stage for Sarah Jessica Parker's arrival next week.
4. Cassie's history is revealed: She was a former "it girl" who went postal during a preview performance when someone's cell phone rang. The clip went viral and her then-promising career ended.
5. Don't talk back: Rachel, who's now living with Kurt in a New York loft, learns that New Directions is doing Britney week again and taps into the McKinley spirit to prove she more sex appeal than Cassie thinks she does. She turns to Brody for help changing her image, who without missing a beat, tells the freshman that she's "crazy sexy," and agrees break Cassie's rule banning upperclassmen from dancing in her class. Cassie blasts him for his willingness to help young ingénues after he and Rachel perform "Oops, I Did It Again." After Cassie deems the sexed up performance "incredible" -- for Brody -- Rachel talks back to her, dubbing her professor a "YouTube joke" and getting kicked out of the class. When Rachel returns to apologize, Cassie teaches her that she can't lash out -- using her history as a teaching moment for "Schwimmer." Rachel winds up back in the class -- thanks to school policy -- escaping the exchange with a warning, with Brody paying her -- and Cassie! -- a visit. Anyone else think there's more to their relationship than simply student and teacher?
6. Jarley has liftoff. Marley (Melissa Benoist) learns first-hand that Jake (Jacob Artist) is a womanizer as he's been making his way through the girls at McKinley. It turns out the apple doesn't fall far from the Puckerman tree. Despite the warnings, she agrees to go out with Jake, who has a few other things in common with his older half-brother: cutting classes, keeping kosher and playing guitar. Marley later reveals she was picked on at her former schools. "For the first time at this school, I feel like I can just be," she tells Jake during their date. They wind up sharing a duet on "(You Drive Me) Crazy" with chemistry for days.
7. The "original bad-ass" returns: Will enlists Puck's (Mark Salling) help with getting Jake in line after he ends up in a fight defending Marley's honor. He notes that glee club -- and Mr. Schue -- helped make him a man. "Whether you join glee club or not you're my brother," he tells Jake after referencing his dad's mention of a fling with a waitress that winds up being the younger Puckerman's mother.
8. Brittany has a new friend: Sam (Chord Overstreet), who realizes that Brittany is merely pretending to hit rock bottom so she can mount an epic comeback that sees her back and better than ever (hello, X Factor reference!). Will later comes around and realizes that the lovable dingbat was pretending to hit rock bottom -- and taking the Spears assignment to a whole new level -- and sets up a tutoring schedule for her.
9. Brittany shows off her smart side -- and confronts Sue with a plan to get her back in the Cheerios. Turns out her failure to graduate still makes her student body president and she drafts an order (in crayon!) to land her back on Sue's squad. "This is clearly the plan of an idiot but a plan nonetheless," Sue says, noting that if she wants back on the Cheerios, she has to vow to graduate by the end of the year.
10. Jake's officially in New Directions. Marley thinks she had a big affect on Jake in getting him to join the club -- but he reveals that glee club might help with his impulsive nature. The duo's sweet moment, however, is ruined when Kitty (Becca Tobin) reveals that she's now dating Jake, as Marley's heartbreak begins, creating the most awkward New Directions addition ever. Marley, like Rachel used to do, copes with her feelings in song with a cover of "Everytime."
11. Rachel starts to move on from Finn. After painting a symbol of her feelings for the Army-bound Finn on the wall in her pad with Kurt, she gets a house call from Brody -- who comes complete with flowers -- and reveals he has feelings for her. "I really liked dancing with you. I think that you're really sexy and …" she rejects his attempt to kiss her. "I will respect your boundaries but just know when we're together … I'm thinking of kissing you." The episode ends as Rachel begins to paint over her symbol of love for Finn. Awww.
What did you think of the Spears tribute? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox. Check out a promo for next week's "Makeover" episode, below.