"Isn’t this a date?": On Brittana, Holding Hands, and Why Wishes Do Come True
In honor of Brittana being GIRLFRIENDS, I have compiled what may well be my longest Brittanalysis to date.
In this analysis, I dissect Brittana’s storyline in episode 3x04 “Pot O’ Gold” on three different levels: first, in terms of both Brittany and Santana as individual characters; second, in terms of their overall relational dynamics; and, third, in terms of how they interact with other characters as a couple, at this point.
Admittedly, this episode is a little tricky to digest in terms of our girls’ individual character motivations, so I get pretty talky in here.
I also have a lot of feelings.
Feelings come after the cut.
So the best way to parse Brittana in this episode is to observe their behavior as it occurs in four primary character groupings, namely: Brittany’s behavior towards Rory, Santana’s behavior towards Rory, Brittana’s joint behavior towards Finn, and Brittana’s behavior with each other.
Let’s just go in order, shall we?
"Leprechauns don’t exist; I realize this now": On Sneaky!Brittany, Rory, and Extensive Brittany Plotting
Elsewhere, I argue that in episode 2x13 “Comeback,” Brittany Pierce orchestrates an elaborate plot to both put Rachel Berry through the proverbial ringer and to extort as much allowance money from Rachel as possible, and that this plot represents an example of Brittany’s primary form of relational aggression when it comes to dealing with peers whom she feels have in some way slighted her. Brittany exacts this extensive form of “revenge” on Rachel ostensibly for two reasons:
1. because Rachel consistently disrespects Brittany’s intelligence, treating Brittany like a child (“Brittany! Remember the rules: No sitting on anything!”),
2. because Rachel hurts Santana’s feelings just one episode earlier in 2x12, when she tells Santana that she will wind up “working on a pole.”
While Brittany never again undertakes a plot against Rachel quite as complex as the one we see in “Comeback” following that episode, I would nevertheless argue that we do consistently see her mess with Rachel using sneaky!Brittany tactics throughout the rest of Season Two and even into Season Three, as per what we see during episode 2x22 with “My Cup” (see here and here), and even as late as episode 3x03, when Brittana lay a verbal smackdown on Hummelberry, eliciting a thoroughly baffled reaction from Rachel in particular (B: “Oh, so you’re cool with flushing McKinley High’s future down the magical, poop-stealing water chair?” R: *jaw drops*).
I would further argue that Brittany’s continued motivation to “mess with Rachel” stems from one other primary motivation in addition to the two motivations already listed above, namely:
3. because Rachel consistently puts stress on the Brittana relationship, insofar as she knows about Santana’s sexuality and calls it into public question before Santana feels ready to talk about it (see here), causing Santana to withdraw from Brittany in order to protect her reputation (see here).
Luckily for us but perhaps unluckily for Rory Flanagan, the aggressive sneaky!Brittany behavior Brittany gears at Rachel serves as a model for how we see Brittany act towards Rory in episode 3x04 “Pot O’ Gold,” and can therefore help us parse her otherwise idiosyncratic behavior here.
Brittany Pierce does not, as a senior in high school, literally believe in leprechauns, just as she does not, as a junior in high school, literally believe in Santa Claus (see Roch’s argument here). Instead, what Brittany believes in is the human capacity to create their own magic. As the wonderful Marjorie elucidates, “For her, it comes naturally to assume that all possibilities are present, and to choose to engage with them based on her love and respect for others.”
Brittany, of course, isn’t stupid, neither is she an infant.
I would therefore argue that Brittany insists that Rory is her “leprechaun” much in the same vein that she insists that Kurt is her “unicorn”: namely, on a metaphorical level.
And, as Rachel Berry tells us, “Metaphors are important.”
It is my belief that Brittany uses metaphors relating to the supernatural in order to address subjects that she cannot otherwise address, either due to the fact that they are “taboo”—as is the case with her unicorn metaphor in 3x02, which obviously relates not just to queerness in general, but to Santana’s queerness in particular, which is something Brittany still cannot discuss aloud (see here)—or that they in some way cause Brittany emotional distress.
Elsewhere, I have written that “Brittany assigns fantastic or uncanny origins to various occurrences in her life as a kind of code for people disappointing her, letting her down, making her feel vulnerable, etc.”
Accordingly, in episode 2x19, we can assume that Brittany doesn’t actually fret that her fabulous cat has started smoking again, but rather that she feels hearstsick that Santana, whom Brittany loves, has let her down again by skipping out on her scheduled Fondue for Two appearance. Likewise, we can conjecture that the cricket who steals Brittany’s jewelry is perhaps Brittany’s little sister, who invades her personal space, and that the cat who reads Brittany’s diary is neither Charity nor Lord Tubbington, but maybe Brittany’s mother or father, prying into their daughter’s private thoughts.
I would posit that this is what we see with Brittany bestowing the sobriquet “Rory Leprechaun” on her family’s new foreign exchange student: namely, Brittany dealing with some sort of unpleasantness between herself and Rory, in essence reducing him via mythological metaphor.
Here’s where I get speculative for a second.
We didn’t see what happened when Rory first arrived at the Pierce residence, but we can assume a couple of things about his arrival, based on what happens in the very first scene of 3x04, namely:
1. that Rory develops his crush on Brittany very shortly after moving in with the Pierces, being that he is already smitten with her the first time we see him on his first day of school,
2. that Rory and Brittany have already had some sort of discussion concerning Rory’s accent, being that Brittany continually references the fact that she can’t understand a word Rory says during that first conversation that we see between them in the hallway,
3. that Rory has already indicated in some way that he believes that Brittany is stupid or at least gullible, based on the fact that, by the start of 3x04, he already accepts the fact that she, a senior in high school and someone who is presumably older than him, believes that he is a leprechaun.
Based on these three assumptions, I would conjecture that something like this occurs when Rory arrives at the Pierce residence:
First, Rory greets Brittany and Brittany does not understand him.
[Note: A failure to understand a new acquaintance’s unfamiliar accent in no way indicates stupidity on the hearer’s part. Sometimes one’s ears just are not tuned to a particular way of speaking.
It’s perfectly understandable that Brittany might not understand Rory’s accent upon first meeting him, and particularly if we consider that The Glee Project subtitled most of what Damian McGinty said during his stint on the show for the benefit of their American audience.
As an aside, I would conjecture that while Brittany might have trouble understanding Rory when she first meets him, it seems that she nevertheless becomes accustomed to his accent at some point between the time when he first arrives at her house and the time when she greets him in the hallway in 3x04, as, despite what she tells Rory himself otherwise, Brittany actually seems to understand Rory well enough to
play him like a fiddle get him to agree to her terms of interaction.
Notice that Brittany seems to have super selective hearing when it comes to Rory in this scene, as she tells him she can’t understand him whenever he flirts with her, but seems to have no trouble getting the gist of what he says he agrees to do her bidding on the whole Lucky Charms thing.
Sneaky!Brittany is sneaky, Rory. Just saying.]
Second, Brittany feels uncomfortable with her mistake, and so attempts to brighten the situation by cracking a joke, as per her typical modus operandi (see here).
Accordingly, Rory, who, like most of the people in Brittany’s life, cannot tell when Brittany is joking and does not get her very dry sense of humor, interprets Brittany’s quip as a sign of low intelligence or at least naïveté, and says something well-meaning but ultimately condescending to her in response.
Being that Brittany is not actually stupid, she picks up on the fact that Rory has now stereotyped her based on how he perceives her intelligence, just like so many people in her life, and feels her first pangs of annoyance with him.
Nevertheless, because she is Brittany and she is generally amiable, Brittany gives Rory the benefit of the doubt—after all, he hasn’t done anything more to slight her than what most of Brittany’s peers do (“Yeah, all the guys in the glee club call me that”)—or at least Brittany gives Rory the benefit of the doubt until Rory starts showing signs of having a crush on her, that is.
By the time episode 3x04 starts, Brittany has already set what I will call her “leprechaun plot” in motion, as the fact that she’s schemed to develop a list of absurd wishes for him to fulfill well indicates. With that in mind, I would argue that Rory must necessarily have already given Brittany some reason to set her plot into motion, which here means that he has already done something that Brittany feels would warrant some comeuppance.
Based on the fact that Rory fairly aggressively pursues Brittany throughout episode 3x04, I would conjecture that Rory’s “crime” is thinking that he can take advantage of Brittany to get her to date him, not necessarily on a sexual level, but based on what he perceives as her low intelligence and apparent easiness.
The first time Brittany mentions the leprechaun/pot of gold thing to Rory, it’s probably just a joke on her part, paying him back for implying that she’s stupid. But when Rory latches onto the idea that Brittany’s “pot of gold” has something to do with him perhaps losing his virginity with her, Brittany gets offended, because now Rory thinks she’s both dumb and easy—i.e., that she is so stupid that she’s incapable of love.
As I discuss elsewhere, this line of thinking recalls Brittany’s old self-perpetuated stereotype from last year: i.e., that she is just a slutty, dumb blonde.
While Brittany might have accepted or even embraced Rory thinking of her this way had she met him way back in episode 2x04, she sure as hell isn’t going to let him get away with it in 3x04. She won’t allow her peers to disparage both her intelligence and her sexuality anymore, and particularly since doing so impedes her ability to be with Santana, insofar as no one will ever respect Brittany’s bond with Santana so long as everyone thinks that Brittany is too stupid and loose to actually form adult romantic attachments and that Santana is too heartless and loose to even be capable of romantic love.
And, in this case?
Rory thinking that Brittany is both stupid and loose leads Rory to aggressively pursue Brittany in such a way that his behavior jeopardizes the Brittana relationship, which is a major party foul on his part.
Essentially, Brittana aren’t out yet—even though, as we learn later during the BreadStiX scene, they are for all intents and purposes already dating—so Rory thinks of Brittany as sexually available. Because he thinks she’s daft and easy, he believes that if he just plays along with her “insane” leprechaun shenanigans, he’ll eventually get into her pants.
Because he thinks that Brittany’s single, Rory sees no obstacles when it comes to pursuing her. Accordingly, he has no motivation to stop pursuing her unless Brittany flat out rejects him, which of course is something that Brittany cannot “safely” do because her real reason for wanting to do so is because she’s already in love with and secretly dating Santana.
It’s the same Brittana catch-22 as always: namely, Brittana must either cop to their relationship before they feel ready to go public with it OR they must obfuscate the true nature of their bond in order to protect it, putting pressure on them to maintain the integrity of the relationship without actually acknowledging it (see here).
But whereas normally we see how Brittana handle this dilemma from Santana’s side of things—such as she does during the Finnbrittana date of 1x14—here we see how Brittany deals with it.
And Brittany deals with it in the same way that she deals with Rachel Berry in episode 2x13: i.e., by “playing stupid” so as to get her way.
As I discuss above, in 2x13, Rachel Berry commits three “sins” against Brittany and Brittana which prompt Brittany to exact vengeance on her: 1. insulting Brittany’s intelligence and, to some degree, her sexual attitudes over an extended period of time; 2. causing Santana to feel uncomfortable in the present situation; and 3. by extension, putting outside stress on the Brittana relationship, annoying Brittany to the point of retaliation.
In episode 3x04, Rory essentially commits all these same “sins” against Brittany and Brittana, insofar as he
1. believes that Brittany is both stupid and loose enough to actually think he is a leprechaun and offer him free sex in exchange for “magical” favors;
2. goes after Santana’s girl, albeit without knowing that Brittany is Santana’s girl, which is behavior that Brittany knows will fluster and upset Santana even before Rory and Santana actually meet, as Santana doesn’t yet feel confident when it comes to the status of her relationship with Brittany;
3. puts Brittany in a situation where she must either look like a bitch for rejecting Rory “for no reason” OR tell him the real reason why she doesn’t want to date him—i.e., because she has a girlfriend whom she loves more than anyone else in this entire world—which is something that Brittany is not yet ready to do, given the status of the Brittana relationship, meaning that Rory’s persistence in pursuing Brittany puts stress on the Brittana relationship from the outside.
Accordingly, Brittany does to Rory as she once did to Rachel: i.e., she goes into sneaky!Brittany mode in order to both throw Rory off her trail and to get him back for all his slights against her.
Just as Brittany gives Rachel the runaround in “Comeback,” making Rachel look increasingly foolish in her attempts to function as a trendsetter at McKinley High while at the same time extorting Rachel for her allowance money, Brittany gives Rory the runaround in “Pot O’ Gold,” making him look increasingly foolish in his attempts to woo Brittany while at the same time extorting him for goods and services, getting as much mileage out of his unrequited crush and incorrect opinions concerning her as she can.
Basically, Brittany knows that as long as Rory maintains his opinion that she is both easy and stupid and has a crush on her, he’ll do whatever the hell she asks him to do, no matter how ridiculous her “wishes” to him might be.
And since Brittany has Rory wrapped around her finger, she figures that she might as well go big or go home when it comes to her requests of him, not only for the fun of it, but also because the relative absurdity of her requests stands inversely proportional to Santana’s degree of paranoia about Rory’s interest in Brittany (i.e., Brittany can essentially prove to Santana that Rory is harmless to them, annoying though he may be, by showing that she—Brittany—doesn’t take Rory seriously at all and is not above sending him on the proverbial “wild goose chase” just to throw him off Brittana’s trail).
We see Brittany sending Rory off on increasingly ridiculous and impossible errands, all the while making sure that her motivation for “punishing” him remains obvious (i.e., by continually drawing attention to the fact that he thinks of her as an infant and wants to get in her pants).
She begins with the Lucky Charms bit, a stunt which functions to show that, ultimately, no matter how much he professes his attraction to her, Brittany still thinks of Rory as a kid.
Metaphors are important, people. Lucky Charms is a kids’ cereal brand. And picking all the marshmallows out of the cereal is kid behavior. Rory thinks of Brittany as having a child’s mind, as we see when he agrees with Finn that Brittany is essentially “Rain Man with boobs,” so Brittany sends him a message, loud and clear: he’s just a kid to her. She’ll play games with him, but that’s it.
Likewise, when Brittany prompts Rory to root around in Lord Tubbington’s litterbox, it speaks to what Brittany thinks of Rory’s disrespectful attempts at wooing her.
Finally, when Brittany gives Rory the task of making everyone happy in what she knows will inevitably be an impossible situation all around, she unmistakably broadcasts that no matter how hard Rory tries to win her over, he can never make her truly happy. Essentially, when she tells Rory "Leprechauns don’t exist; I realize that now," what she means is "This idea that you have of me as someone you can easily manipulate is a false one. I’ve had my fun with you; I’m done with this now."
Of course, as Brittanalysts, we ought to ask ourselves why Brittany chooses to end her sneaky!Brittany leprechaun ruse when she does, being that it seems like she could have potentially gotten more mileage out of it.
To answer this question, I will again reference Brittany’s sneaky!Brittany behavior from 2x13, particularly the last sneaky!Brittany and Rachel Berry interaction in the episode, when Rachel confronts Brittany in the hallway, only to have Brittany lay a very harsh reality check on her (i.e., “Listen, Rachel. I’m going to give you some tough love right now: You’re not a trendsetter. When people look at you, they don’t see what you’re wearing. They see a cat getting its temperature taken, and then they hear it screaming”), as I find that this scene perfectly parallels the one between Brittany and Rory in 3x04, both in form and in function.
What we see in 2x13 is that Brittany toys with Rachel until the last possible moment, stringing Rachel along until she has both thoroughly humiliated her and exhausted her of all her allowance funds, teaching Rachel her “ultimate lesson”—in this case, don’t mess with Brittany or anyone whom Brittany loves without expecting Brittany to get some payback for it.
Brittany pulls out of the Rachel plot at the exact moment when
a) Rachel demands her money back once and for all (“Hey! I need to talk to you. I want my money back!”);
b) Brittany cannot actually give Rachel her money back, being that she has already spent Rachel’s money on herself (“Well, I used it to pay a publicist”);
c) Rachel reaches “terminal velocity” as far as humiliation goes, with Quinntana and Tina crushing Rachel’s ego just seconds prior to Pieberry’s conversation, playing directly into Brittany’s plot.
Likewise, Brittany pulls out of her Rory plot at the exact moment when
a) Rory expects Brittany pay up on her “pot o’ gold” offer once and for all (“I’m ready for my pot of gold”);
b) Brittany cannot and will not actually pay up on her offer because she already spent everything she promised Rory on herself—i.e., she’s given herself to Santana, like she’s always wanted to do;
c) Rory reaches “terminal velocity” as far as humiliation goes, with Brittany making him look foolish for perpetuating the leprechaun thing like a creep while she walks off into the sunset with her girlfriend, obviously much smarter than he took her for.
In this case, Finn plays the part of Quinntana plus Tina, unwittingly contributing to Brittany's victory by publicly invalidating the leprechaun ruse.
"So you’re gonna grant me a wish": On Santana Lopez, Rory Leprechaun, and Brittana Communication Through Complex Metaphor
So the two main questions people Asked me after the episode aired last night were these: 1. Did the writers regress Brittany by making her believe in leprechauns? AND 2. Did Santana attempt to manipulate Brittany vis-à-vis her wish to Rory?
Obviously, as I argue I above, I believe that the answer to the first question is a firm no. If you read Brittany’s behavior on only its most surface level, then, sure, it would count as regression. But anyone who knows anything about Brittany and Brittana should know by this point that these ladies are all about the subtext, or, as drshebloggo puts it, what “lies beneath” (see here).
With that in mind, my answer to the second question is also a firm no; I don’t think Santana manipulates Brittany. Indeed, I don’t even think that Santana really attempts to manipulate Brittany, regardless of the fact that she turns to Rory to relay to Brittany her wish that she leave New Directions.
Our questions then become: “If Santana doesn’t use her interaction with Rory in an attempt to manipulate Brittany, what does she use it for? What’s going on with that whole subplot between them?”
Frankly, we don’t know when Santana first meets Brittany’s new “pet Irish;” it could be that Brittany introduces them at some point that we don’t seen onscreen, either at Brittany’s home or at school, or it could be when Santana never even talks to Rory until she confronts the kid by his locker in 3x04.
Regardless of when Santana meets Rory, though, she first learns that Brittany refers to Rory as her “leprechaun” on Brittana’s date to BreadStiX.
Forgive me a brief Brittana digression in my Rortana section, then.
Brittany doesn’t believe in leprechauns—not really, not in the mythological sense—and Santana knows that she doesn’t believe in them. That’s just the way Brittana work; everyone else reads Brittany at face value, but Santana knows how to look deeper with her.
Nevertheless, even though Brittany doesn’t believe in leprechauns—or Santa Claus or magic combs or even literal unicorns—what she does believe in is magic, though not in the way that most people might imagine it.
In episode 3x02, Brittany herself gives us her definition of “magic,” which isn’t actually a supernatural phenomenon as she sees it, but rather the ability of each individual person to change his or her situation for the better and live the kind of life he or she wants to live (“A unicorn is somebody who knows they’re magical and isn’t afraid to show it. You went through hell last year and you never forgot how special you were”).
For Brittany, magic has to do with that same ethereal concept of “awesomeness” Brittany teaches Santana throughout Season Two; it has to do with embracing who one is and going after what one truly wants for him or herself. Not everyone realizes that he or she has the strength to affect bettering changes in his or her own life, which is what makes the impulse to embrace one’s “awesomeness” truly magical, as it is a rare quality.
Brittany, as what Marjorie rightly calls “the subversive questioner of order,” believes in and advocates for this kind of radical change wherever possible (see here), and, I’ve said on other occasions, she makes her own magic by being “the change she wishes to be in the world,” to reappropriate Gandhi.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at what Brittany actually says to Santana about Rory being a leprechaun during the BreadStiX scene:
Rory enters the conversation when Brittany tells Santana that she’s willing to use one of her leprechaun wishes in order to win the election, should some sort of controversy arise surrounding her candidacy due to Brittana dating.
To this Santana responds, “Wait. You think that Great Gazoo kid is a leprechaun?”
As an aside, where the hell does Santana come up with her references? The Great Gazoo was a minor character on The Flinstones cartoon in the mid-1960s. He was a little green alien whom many fans of the show consider seriously obnoxious. Seriously, in what universe does a seventeen year old cheerleader know a reference like that in 2011? In the Glee universe, apparently.
At first brush, it would seem that what we see here is Brittany expressing an illogical belief in something that clearly doesn’t exist and Santana balking at her absurdity—but one should never accept a first brush reading when it comes to Brittana.
What we actually see here is Brittana communicating through complex subtextual metaphor, which is one of their patent behaviors as a couple.
We see this behavior at play from them in 2x15, when they have what is ostensibly a conversation about eggs that ultimately has more to do with the mixed messages Santana sends Brittany between the blankets and sheets than it does with sweet or salty breakfasts (see here).
Likewise, we see it at play in episode 2x18, when, on a literal level, Brittany tells Santana that she should “put this shirt on” and “dance with [her],” but, on a subtextual level, Brittany teaches Santana that, before Brittana can be together (i.e., dance together), Santana must first accept her sexual identity as a lesbian (i.e., put on her “Lebanese” shirt).
Whenever we see Brittana communicate via subversive metaphor, Brittany tends to be the one to initiate the behavior—i.e., come up with metaphor—whereas Santana tends to be passively receptive to it.
So in this case, what is the metaphor at play?
Well, frankly, Brittany tells us what it is in no uncertain terms.
When Santana asks Brittany if she thinks Rory is a leprechaun, Brittany doesn’t actually say yes; what she says is, “Well, yeah, Rory’s from Ireland. That means he’s, like, made of magic.”
And therein lies the metaphor.
Santana knows just as well as we do how Brittany defines magic; she knows that Brittany sees magic as the means through which one gets what she wants out of life. So within the context of their conversation, there’s only one way to really interpret what Brittany says here:
Rory is not a “spritely, green mythological creature.” Rather, Rory—or, more specifically, Brittany’s plan for handling Rory—is a means through which Brittana can essentially get what they want (i.e., to be together without coming out yet).
What Brittany communicates to Santana here is that it is possible for them to be together even given their high profiles and that, if Santana will just allow Brittany to help manage their public image for the first time in their relationship—until this point, Santana has always made such decisions unilaterally—they can avoid all the things that still make Santana so afraid.
Now, it would be out of line for me to make a claim that Brittany uses Rory Leprechaun as a metaphor for how she and Santana can maintain their relationship at a comfortable level if the only evidence I had of it was this one BreadStiX scene. However, I believe that we see evidence not only of Brittany promulgating the metaphor, but of Santana being receptive to it and accepting the proposal Brittany makes through it elsewhere.
And why do I say this?
Frankly, because of what we see in the Brory bedroom scene shortly after the BreadStiX date, where Rory seems to think that Santana “found out about [his] secret” from a source other than Brittany.
Since Brittany doesn’t really believe that Rory is a leprechaun, she really couldn’t care less who all knows that he’s living with her or who all talks to him, as her “If you’re going to make it in this land, you really need to speak English” comment to him suggests. What she does care about is people knowing that she “thinks he’s a leprechaun.”
Brittany, of course, needs Rory to believe that she genuinely thinks he’s a supernatural creature in order for her sneaky!Brittany plot to work against him, but it would seem that she hopes to keep her “belief” that Rory is a leprechaun a secret otherwise, lest it turn into another Santa Claus “A Very Glee Christmas” fiasco, where she is so successful in her con that everyone winds up thinking she’s an idiot.
For this reason, we see Brittany whispering to Rory whenever she mentions the leprechaun thing to him in the halls and acting suspicious when it seems that Mr. Schue may have gotten wind of her ruse (“He knows about my leprechaun!”).
The fact that Santana is the only person from whom Brittany not only fails to hide the leprechaun thing, but to whom Brittany willingly reveals her plot speaks volumes, as it tells us that Brittany sees no danger in letting Santana in on the nature of her interactions with Rory. Brittany seems confident that, of all people, Santana will know enough to realize that she isn’t serious about the leprechaun thing, which is why Brittany tells Santana about it so frankly over dinner.
Not only does this openness from Brittany to Santana tell us that Brittany feels comfortable letting Santana in on her ruse, but it also betrays that Brittany wants Santana to be in on the way she’s using Rory to further her own interests—i.e., she wants Santana to view Rory as a means to make their wishes come true—which is why Brittany asks Santana, “Don’t you have any wishes that you, like, really, really want to come true?” immediately after telling Santana that Rory is, as she puts it, “made of magic.”
Way back when, this part started as a Rortana section; let’s finish it that way.
Based on the fact that Brittany introduces Rory as a metaphor for how Brittana can potentially manage their relationship on a public level until they’re ready to come out together, I would therefore advocate that Santana expressing her wish that Brittany join Shelby’s glee club to Rory doesn’t represent an attempt at manipulation on her part, but rather indicates Santana accepting the terms of Brittany’s metaphor: i.e., that it is Santana’s way of committing herself and Brittana’s reputation into Brittany’s hands for the first time in their history.
Santana has no expectation that “wishing on Rory” will “fool” Brittany into joining Shelby’s glee club. Santana can’t “fool” Brittany when it comes to that, first of all, because Brittany isn’t stupid and Santana knows it, but, secondly, because Santana has already shown her cards on this one. Brittany knows that Santana wants her to join Shelby’s club because Santana fucking told her that that’s what she wanted herself.
Unless we truly believe that Brittany is an idiot and/or that Santana thinks that Brittany is an idiot—which I certainly do not—then there is no way that Santana could “trick” Brittany into joining that club against her own volition without Brittany tracing the “trick” back to Santana, on account of the fact that Santana had already made her intentions plain to Brittany (“But I won’t join without you”).
Of course, I realize that potentially “tricking” Brittany and placing Brittany under emotional pressure are two different things and that one could potentially consider both such things different forms of manipulation. Nevertheless, I don’t think it was Santana’s intent to overwhelm Brittany by transmitting her wish through Rory; rather, I think it was just Santana’s backwards, helpless, hopeless, shit-at-getting-what-she-wants way of telling Brittany how much it would mean to her if she joined the club, which means that Brittany, of course, maintains her autonomy throughout this interaction.
As the lovely likebrightness explains: “Singing is important to Santana; solos are important. Getting Rory to tell Brittany that that’s her wish is a cowardly way for Santana to tell her how important it is, but Santana’s not exactly the bravest when it comes to Brittany.”
As my dear colleague kairos27 is wont to say, “Santana Lopez is shit at getting what she wants.”
Accordingly, we can view Santana scaring Rory into conveying Santana’s wish to Brittany as Santana’s last ditch attempt to tell Brittany “This is really important to me. It would mean the world to me if you said yes” rather than her attempt to goad Brittany into doing something Brittany wouldn’t actually want to do. Frankly, Santana wouldn’t really want to fool or force Brittany here, even if she could; what Santana really wants is for Brittany to want the same things she does of her own volition, not to force or cajole Brittany into compliance.
Of course, all of this notwithstanding, Santana’s decision to use Rory as her “courier pigeon” with Brittany still isn’t all rainbows and gumdrops.
First of all, Santana is awful to Rory in this episode. Yes, the kid is hitting on her girlfriend, but, frankly, he doesn’t know that Brittany is Santana’s girlfriend, and Santana knows that he doesn’t know that, so her harshness with him has no warrant. Moreover, even if Rory did know that Brittana were dating and continued to hit on Brittany all the same, it still wouldn’t justify Santana telling him that the school would be better if he just disappeared.
There is never an excuse for cruelty.
Secondly, while Santana doesn’t mean to manipulate Brittany by making Rory relay Brittany her wish, she is nevertheless going the coward’s route when it comes to letting Brittany know what she wants in this case.
Santana does right at the restaurant when she asks nicely if Brittany will join Shelby’s club with her and then allows Brittany time to consider her decision. It seems like what happens after that is that Santana worries that she didn’t adequately express the stakes of this decision to Brittany—i.e., that she didn’t effectively communicate how much it would mean to her for Brittany to accompany her to the new club.
Because Santana still doesn’t have much practice with talking about her feelings and fears showing her naked desires to anyone, even to the girl she loves, lest she make herself too vulnerable, at this point, she panics, worrying that she hasn’t said enough or that Brittany might misunderstand her. In her panic, Santana decides she must assert how badly she really wants this or risk losing out on having Brittany with her.
Nevertheless, Santana can’t bring herself to do so up front.
Accordingly, she uses Rory as the channel through which she can communicate her want. She knows Brittany’s rules about magic, after all; if you make a wish on something magical, it has to come true (i.e., if you really, really want something, you have to work until you make it happen; you can’t give up).
Outside of just talking to Brittany about the subject again, Santana probably can’t think of a better way to tell Brittany how much she craves her companionship in the new club other than to do so in terms of Brittany’s own rules.
In an ideal world, after Santana realized that maybe she’d been too equivocal at the restaurant, she would have just had another heart to heart with Brittany and expressed to her the true stakes of this decision.
But Santana Lopez isn’t perfect.
She’s trying her best, but she still isn’t quite there yet.
So she does what she can with what she’s got.
And Brittany seems to realize this.
Keep in mind that Brittany uses Lord Tubbington smoking a a metaphor for Santana being stressed or unhappy (see here).
When Brittany tells Rory
"I don’t know what to do! I love the glee club and I don’t want to abandon my friends, but if you wish on a leprechaun, it has to come true… Why couldn’t she have just wished for Lord Tubbington to quit smoking?"
what she really means is
"I don’t know what to do! I love the glee club and I don’t want to abandon my friends, but Santana obviously wants me to go with her so much that she went through all the trouble of asking me in the most elaborate and ridiculous way possible. She obviously needs this so badly, but she doesn’t know how to ask… Why couldn’t she have just told me how she feels about this so that I could find some way to help her?"
Enter Finn Hudson.
"We are just one big, happy, happy family": On Finnbrittana Dynamics
It’s no secret that Finn is and has always been an object of Brittana derision and obstacle to their relationship; the writers have always used Brittana as Finn’s temptresses and tormentors, and Finn as the physical embodiment of everything Brittana “should” want according to societal stereotypes, but don’t.
Santana despises Finn’s tendency towards what she views as hypocrisy and unwarranted moralizing; Brittany feels slightly more charitable towards him, but obviously doesn’t take Finn very seriously on a whole, largely because he doesn’t take her seriously in return.
In 3x04, Finn doesn’t want to lose more members of the glee club after Mercedes departs it, but knows that Brittany and Santana are liable to defect based on the intelligence he gathers both from eavesdropping on them and from Rory.
While Finn views Santana as a lost cause—he can’t control her in the slightest and he knows it; in his eyes, Santana is habitually disloyal, so it’s no use even trying to convince her to stay with original club now that she’s obviously made up her mind on the matter—he thinks that he can perhaps influence Brittany to remain in New Directions if he can only appeal to her “better” nature.
Unfortunately for Finn, he misjudges both the situation and his approach to interacting with Brittana.
Like Artie at the Blurt Locker, Finn believes that Santana has manipulated poor, innocent Brittany into doing something she doesn’t really want to do (“Brittany, we can’t survive any more defections and I know you don’t want to leave”). Accordingly, he tries to convince Brittany to see the error in Santana’s ways. When Brittany demonstrates her continued loyalty to Santana (“No, I know. It’s just that Santana, she made a wish on Rory, my leprechaun—”), Finn loses his patience with her, just like Artie does at the Blurt Locker.
And just like Artie at the Blurt Locker, Finn commits the biggest Brittany party foul on the books: calling Brittany stupid to her face.
Of course, Finn makes his first misstep in this scene long before he calls Brittany an idiot. Indeed, his first mistake in dealing with Brittana manifests when he charges up to Brittany, clearly agitated, and speaks to her in a raised voice. Of course, Finn is more impassioned than angry at this point, but his body language and volume mimic conflict behavior.
We don’t get to see how Brittany reacts to Finn’s zeal, as the camera stands behind her at this point, so we can’t say for certain whether or not his behavior startles or upsets her.
Nevertheless, we know that Brittany generally dislikes conflict, not only cringing whenever someone yells or fights around her, but deflecting the criticisms people heap on her by retreating into her stereotype, at least prior to 2x19 (see here). Moreover, we know that Santana is well aware of Brittany’s conflict aversion and that Santana will try to shield Brittany from conflict whenever possible by fending off Brittany’s would be detractors with vicious, vicious words (“Leave Brittany alone!”).
Accordingly, regardless of whether Finn’s words actually fuss Brittany or not, they fuss Santana, who appears as soon as she hears Finn haranguing Brittany to not leave the club—and not only does Santana appear, but she comes out fighting, blasting off a litany of insults in order to make Finn step down from her girl.
In this situation, then, we can read Santana’s viciousness towards Finn as a manifestation of her protectiveness towards Brittany.
Of course, this does not excuse Santana’s verbal cruelty here; Santana is unnecessarily harsh. Rather, it is simply to note the motivations for her behavior.
[Note: Santana’s bullying behavior is never okay no matter what prompts her to do it. In many ways, Santana was way out of line in this episode, not only with her interactions with Finn, but with Rory and perhaps Sugar as well.]
Though Santana’s words obviously sting—how could they not, with barbs like that?—Finn powers through them, telling Brittany that she oughtn’t go over to the new club just because Santana wants her to do so. This is where he commits his second major party foul: i.e., implying that Brittany has allowed Santana to manipulate her.
When Finn levels with Brittany and tells her that if she leaves New Directions, it will jeopardize the survival of the club, Brittany takes an avoidant tack, largely because, while at this point she has already made her own decision to go with Santana and does so totally of her own volition, she nevertheless still regrets that she must leave her old glee club “family” behind in order to do so, particularly since she realizes that her actions will hurt them.
Brittany tries to explain her motivation for leaving New Directions as best she can, but since she can’t exactly say “My girlfriend asked me from the bottom of her heart to do this with her and I’m going to do it because I love her and want us to be happy,” all she can do is explain the public-friendly version of her motivations in a desperate bid to show that her defection was inevitable (i.e., “she made a made a wish on Rory, my leprechaun”). Finn, of course, has no means to parse her metaphor; accordingly, he grows frustrated with Brittany and shouts at her to “grow up and stop being such an idiot!”
In so doing, he not only calls Brittany stupid, but he also insinuates that she is gullible to the point that Santana is manipulating her and she doesn’t even realize it.
And, as we know from the Blurt Locker, Brittany doesn’t take kindly to people insinuating that she is anything but a willing participant in her relationship with Santana. As Roch points out (see here):
"… it’s not surprising that [Brittany] wants to defend Santana. She’s Santana’s only advocate and she’s probably tired of all the Santana hate when nobody else sees the good in Santana but her. Being a person’s only advocate, when it’s your lone opinion against many others, is exhausting. Plus, it starts to look bad on your intelligence and self respect when you stick up for somebody as widely hated and terrible as Santana Lopez. Does this make it right? No, but it’s not a shock that this is where her mind instinctively goes.”
Without missing a beat, Brittany responds by showing Finn that she’s anything but the idiot he claims she is, laying a verbal smackdown on him for his bullying behavior, while at the same time asserting that it really is her choice to go with Santana over to Shelby’s club.
This is the difference between the Brittany of Season Two and the Brittany of Season Three: whereas last year, Brittany broke down in tears in response to Artie’s insult, this year, she rears up in righteous indignation and makes it absolutely clear that she will not stand for that kind of discrimination when she faces it from Finn (“It’s mean, it’s bullying, and I won’t accept it”).
While we can partially attribute this discrepancy between Brittany’s reactions to the fact that Brittany was in love with Artie and that his insult therefore stung more keenly than it perhaps would have otherwise, we can also ascribe it to the fact that Brittany has developed to the point where she’s bucked off her old stereotypes (see here); she will no longer accept it when people call her stupid to her face and will speak out against anyone who would directly belittle her intelligence when she hears them do it.
Of course, one of the cool things about Brittany—among many infinitely cool things—is that she is fairly forgiving when people ask for her forgiveness, so when Finn approaches Brittana and Mercedes at the end of the episode to give the Troubletones his blessing and apologize to Brittany, she fairly easily forgives him.
Forgiveness notwithstanding, there are still consequences for Finn’s previous behavior which extend beyond just this Finnbrittana interaction: i.e., the fact that Finn calls Brittany’s bluff with the leprechaun ruse earlier in the day means that it is no longer viable to Brittany after Finn asks for her forgiveness. Consequently, when Rory comes along looking to collect his “pot of gold” for a job well done, Brittany has an avenue to deprive him of his reward, being that Finn’s actions have effectively taken Brittany’s plot to its natural end.
Beyond that, the main thing I take from the Finnbrittana interaction in this episode is that a discrepancy still exists between Brittana’s various levels of integration into the glee group. For all her progress during the Back Six, Santana still doesn’t have any real friends in New Directions outside of Brittany, and particularly since Quinn rejected her in 3x01, whereas Brittany has several deep bonds in place. Accordingly, New Directions is Brittany's family, but not necessarily Santana's.
This is why it is relatively easy for Santana to defect from New Directions, as long as she has Brittany with her, whereas Brittany feels torn when it comes to either following her girlfriend or sticking with the old club.
One can only hope that RIB and Company intend to explore Santana’s lingering trust issues with New Directions—and particularly since they don’t necessarily seem unwarranted, on her part.
"Isn’t this a date?": On Brittana, Dating, and Wishes Coming True
We know that Brittany doesn’t really believe in leprechauns.
We know that Santana isn’t trying to manipulate the love of her life.
We know that bullying is wrong, no matter who does it or for what reasons.
We know that Brittana still have a lot to work on when it comes to navigating this whole public versus private thing.
And you want to know what else we know?
That Brittana is on.
This is the part where I get to fangirl, because, for as tricky as this episode is to parse on an individual character level—i.e., in terms of Brittany’s actions and Santana’s actions, autonomous of each other—everything comes together when Brittana are together, just like they should be.
So the question of the summer was how RIB would choose to treat the Brittana relationship coming into Season Three.
We knew Brittana would be on, of course, because Brittana is always on, but what about their “status”? Would RIB have them start Season Three as they ended Season Two—as two best friends madly in love with each other, but with no visible relationship of which to speak—or would they have them debut as out-and-proud girlfriends, already a couple come 3x01? Some of us suspected that RIB might go the “secret girlfriends” or “girlfriends without a girlfriends label yet” route.
When RIB didn’t even broach the topic in 3x01, our suspicions only grew stronger. Brittana seemed awfully “coupley” between 3x01 and 3x03, constantly at each other’s sides, making googly eyes at each other, and even meeting up for lunch dates in the cafeteria.
Still, we didn’t know how to label them.
Apparently, they didn’t know how to label them, either—or at least Santana didn’t.
Because Santana Lopez is shit at getting what she wants, when she does get what she wants, she finds it hard to believe.
That’s why, in 2x22, Santana asks Brittany where they stand as a couple, even though it’s entirely obvious that they adore each other, things are looking up for them, and they’re both happier than they’ve been in a long time, etc.—i.e., because Santana can’t believe that this is really happening for her, that she’s finally getting what it is she’s always wanted, and that she gets to be with Brittany.
We see the same thing happen in 3x04.
Based on what Brittana’s dialogue during the BreadStiX scene, it would seem that by the time the events of “Pot O’ Gold” take place, our girls have started going on dates with each other with some frequency. Brittany mentions that Brittana have been on at least two dates in the last two weeks, including the present one, and Santana seems to feel that they’ve gone on enough dates together lately that it transcends just a casual thing—i.e., that they are not just going on dates, but dating.
My OTP takes baths together. That’s so intimate. I’m still not over it!
I have no way to corroborate my suspicions, but I tend to think Brittana probably spent the whole summer dating without calling it that.
Hell, I tend to think they started sleeping with each other and developing a datingesque relationship last season, sometime after the events of “Rumours.”
I mean, honestly: Can anyone really believe that these two kept their distance from one another over this summer? There’s no way they weren’t smooching all through June to September. No fucking way.
They were dating without saying so.
Of course, Brittany seems to know they’ve been dating, based on her “Wait. Isn’t this a date?” reaction to Santana’s question. She tends to pick up on this stuff before Santana does—she knew they were in love long before Santana would even allow her say the word (see here)—but she seems to have kept her realization to herself, waiting patiently for Santana to pick up on it, too, probably amused as hell at how clueless Santana can be about things like this sometimes.
What Brittany has always wanted is to be with Santana and to have her in every way. She wants them to be out and proud, of course, but I don’t think Brittany expects that to happen all at once; she knows it’s a process, and now that Santana is on her way with it, Brittany’s content to follow that path with her. It doesn’t have to happen all at once; they’ll get there eventually, together.
Even so, when Santana finally seems to get a clue in the restaurant (“Are we dating or what?”), Brittany can’t help but smile at how backwards Santana is about all this.
Really, as I say elsewhere, “Brittany thinks it’s adorable: Santana’s so hopeless sometimes. She can never let herself believe she has a good thing when she has it. But she has it.” That being the case, “Brittany even pokes fun at Santana a bit for being so careful about it, asking ‘Wait. Isn’t this a date?’ And Santana just has to smile in response because, yeah… it totally is. Of course they’re together; it’s the only thing that makes sense.”
As usual, Brittany, who has an easier time believing in the goodness of the world than does Santana—not because she’s naïve, but because she’s an optimist—is one step ahead of Santana on this one.
Whereas Santana can hardly wrap her mind around the fact that Brittany would want her, Brittany’s known it all along. For her, loving and being with Santana is the easiest thing in the world, even when everything else gets hard.
Accordingly, Brittany lets Santana in on a secret: everything they’ve been doing together all summer is dating. Going out to dinner at their favorite restaurant? Dating. Sharing romantic baths? Dating. Holding hands? Dating. And, for once? Sex is dating. Being in love is dating.
It makes sense that Santana wouldn’t feel certain.
After all, Santana spent years telling Brittany that this isn’t dating or that isn’t dating. Now that she finally wants to be with Brittany, she has to wonder: What is dating, then?
Brittany’s response? This. Them. Everything. Everything they’re doing together now is dating. For Brittany, it’s the easiest thing in the world—and especially when Santana’s paying for the shrimp.
Just thinking about it—about them, finally together—causes Santana to feel about a million emotions at once. She starts to choke up and Brittany sees it, but stops her before the tears can even form.
"Are you crying?" she asks.
Show, don’t tell, RIB. Give HeYa a chance to act; they could have gotten this across to us had you given them the time and screen space.
"It’s just that I’m really happy," Santana says, wearing the same look that she has for the last two years whenever Brittany’s cracked a joke or done something adorable—the look of someone who doesn’t know how to allow herself to feel this happy yet, but who wants to feel happy and be happy and be in love and love more than anything.
Of course, Brittany knows that Santana still worries about what “dating” means in terms Brittana facing the rest of the world, so she quickly supplies reassurance: Brittany’s still working to make their school a better place for “unicorns” like them, and she’ll stomp out any controversy that would hold them back using her “magic” (i.e., her resolve to change the world).
She asks Santana to imagine it with her, if she can: “Don’t you have any wishes that you, like, really, really want to come true?”
And, I’m sorry, but can we just look at Santana’s face there for a goddamn second?
Yes, Santana Lopez has wishes.
"I want to be with you."
"I just want you."
"I wish you all the love in the world, but, most of all, I wish it from myself."
"I wish you’d hold my hand."
Santana wishes for a world where she can just love the most beautiful, innocent, perfect person she knows and not feel judged for it. She wishes that she could hold Brittany’s hand without feeling ashamed. She wishes that she didn’t have any reason to feel afraid of what the kids at school or her family will say when they find out that she and Brittany are dating. She wishes that she and Brittany could go anywhere and do anything and no one would hassle them for it. She wishes that they’ll be able to get married someday, that they’ll have kids and grow old together, and do and see everything there is out there. She wishes for them to be happy.
She wishes for it all.
What Santana says, though, is the same thing she’s been saying since March of last year: That she just wants Brittany, because, really, that covers it all.
And, in this case, what that means is that she wants Brittany to follow her to Shelby’s glee club.
Of course, Brittany has a lot to consider with Santana’s request; there’s the politics of everything, plus the fact that, unlike Santana, Brittany does feel like a part of the glee club family. So she asks Santana to let her mull it over, and, because Santana respects Brittany, Santana agrees, and quickly, leaving it up to Brittany to decide.
There’s still just one more thing, though.
Something that Santana hasn’t been able to stop thinking about since Brittany first asked her about her wish.
It’s something Santana thought about when she sat on that stool singing “Landslide” so many months ago, scared to death of who could see her, of who might know something about her. It’s something she thought about wearing her “Lebanese” shirt, slouched in the back of the auditorium, watching Brittany dance onstage without her. She thought about it at prom, when Brittany looked so beautiful, and in New York, where everything seemed so big and life just felt different. She’s thought about it all summer, on every date that she wasn’t sure was a date but secretly hoped was. She’s thought about it at school, whenever Brittany’s grabbed her by the elbow or brushed pinkies with her in the hall.
"But in the meantime, I do have one more wish: I wish you’d hold my hand."
The way she says it is so artless. The wish just spills out of her. In a way, she seems so small when she says it, like a child confessing a secret that’s just too big to hold in anymore. She sounds so vulnerable; she just has to say it now or she might never have the courage to say it ever again.
This is the girl who once tried to convince herself that “it’s better when it doesn’t involve feelings,” but who always, always has felt so much that it’s terrifying for her to even acknowledge how big her feelings are, because that makes them real.
But she wants this and it’s real.
Wishes have to come true.
She’s a senior in high school, seventeen years old, and she’s been with so many meaningless boys, but none of them have ever held her hand. She’s never been anybody’s enough to even have her hand held. Even with Brittany, who’s had more of Santana than anyone else, Santana has never had this—she’s never allowed herself to do it. Linked pinkies, yes, and brushed fingertips, but never this. Never when it counts.
So when Brittany reaches across the table and curls her hand around Santana’s, Santana looks like it’s a miracle: like she can’t believe it. She gasps, breath catching in her chest, and smiles because this is what she’s missed all along, and she loves it.
She loves Brittany.
And they’re finally together.
Of course, it only takes a second before Santana’s courage fails her and she asks if they can cover their hands with a napkin. But she doesn’t let go. And, what’s more? Brittany doesn’t, either. Brittany’s willing to wait for Santana while they work through this, together.
Brittany’s smile when Santana asks to hold her hand says everything: She’s Santana’s, proudly so. Brittany’s waited for this for forever, really.
This is a first: a simple dinner date. They’ve done everything else: had sex, spent time in each other’s homes, picked up each other’s mannerisms, developed their own style of communication—they’ve even given each other matching jewelry. They’ve basically been married for years. But this is their first date, or at least the first one that they’ve ever acknowledged as such.
And it means so much to them—to both of them—that they finally get to take this step. Just think of all the little firsts they’ve missed out on for all this time. Just think of all the firsts they have waiting for them yet. Sure, this wasn’t a kiss. But for these girls? It meant the world. It’s something they’d never done before; they can’t wait to do it again.
Moral of this story?
1. Anything is possible.
2. Wishes come true.
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