After her disastrous audition for the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts, Rachel believes that her dream of Broadway stardom is at an end. To cope, she decides to dazzle at prom and focus on what she has going with Finn. She feels OK with it all until Becky steamrolls over her with her own ambitious plan: to be named prom queen.
Principal Figgins explains to Brittany that during her reign as senior class president she has accomplished nothing: she's made the post so inconsequential that he's considering abolishing it. He also points out that given her failing grades the title is the only thing that might get into a college. After wasting her year exploiting her "fluid teen sexuality and getting caught up in Lord Tubbington's Ponzi schemes," Brittany vows to make her term relevant by delivering a prom theme to remember.
Brittany meets with the three-member prom committee for the first time, despite the fact that they formed months ago and have been routinely sending her memos. She immediately vetoes their prom theme suggestions, explaining that "Castles in Clouds" won't work because castles are too heavy and dangerous to be held aloft by clouds, while "Stairway to Heaven" is inappropriate because the disabled students wouldn't have escalator access. Declaring that the committee is incompetent - or perhaps a terrorist cell - Brittany fires them all and announces her own prom theme: dinosaurs (which she believes coexisted peacefully with cavemen for millions of years).
Next, Sue makes a P.A. announcement to reveal the candidates for the senior prom court: nominated for king are Finn, thuggish hockey player Rick "The Stick" Nelson, and, oddly, Brittany. Nominated for prom queen are Santana, Quinn, and Missy Gunderson. Believing that she was robbed of a nomination, Becky immediately throws a hissy fit and trashes Sue's music-cue xylophone.
As Rachel shares with Finn her plans for a perfect prom night with her fiance, Will tells the glee club that Figgins has asked New Directions to perform at prom once again. Then Brittany announces her choice of prom theme, prompting some skepticism from everyone but Santana. Brittany also details her impractical prehistoric menu and announces a ban on hair gel, along with her decree that Quinn and Santana will be tallying the prom court votes to keep each other honest.
When Rachel sees a poster touting the prom candidacies of Finn and Quinn, she angrily confronts him. Finn admits that Quinn asked him to lend her support and he agreed as a friend. Given that Quinn nearly died on her way to their aborted wedding, he didn't suspect that it would upset Rachel. But Rachel is angry at the thought that on her big prom night Finn may be dancing with Quinn - even though Quinn, confined to her wheelchair, may not actually be able to dance.
However, Quinn is making progress in her physical therapy with constant help from Joe, and she is able to take a few step before tumbling to the mat. Joe wants to tell everyone, but Quinn is determined to keep it between them until she's able to walk unassisted into the choir room - or better yet, into prom.
Meanwhile, Becky's high-class inner monologue kicks in as she struggles with her disappointment about not being nominated for prom queen. She grows increasingly moody, bitter, and difficult. Sue tries to assure her that her Quinn had split any sympathy vote she might have garnered and that Becky's better off being a bitch. Sue says she will take her to prom as deputy in charge of guarding the punch bowl.
Onstage, Rachel, Kurt, and Blaine sing together on Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry," but Blaine suggests that it's too much of a downer to sing at prom. Rachel admits that she's down herself about Quinn and Finn's potentially shared reign.
Kurt agrees that prom sucks, recalling that the school's write-in vote tradition led to his humiliating stint as prom queen the year before. Meanwhile, Blaine frets over the hair gel ban and being seen in his natural state. Kurt suggests that if they're all going to be miserable maybe they should skip prom.
Rachel ups the ante: she announces to the glee club that she'll be throwing an "anti-prom party" for those feeling uncomfortable with the celebration. Rachel has already secured a hotel room and invited the underclassmen (a bored Becky informs her that "I'll think about it"). Puck agrees to come, frustrated by his continued failure in the classroom and ready to quit the tradition of trying to spike Sue's punch, much to Artie's chagrin.
Santana tries to deter Rachel from her plan by insisting that she face the truth: she's upset and disappointed, but she's also acting petty, potentially ruining one of the last nights they'll all have to spend together before graduation.
As Finn and Quinn hang posters and discuss Rachel's downward spiral, a student tells Quinn how brave she is for running for prom queen. Quinn delivers a very touching - yet also thought-out and practiced - speech designed to effectively evoke voter sympathy. Finn is a little creeped out by the tactic. Quinn asks him if he wants to win or not.
On prom night, the students are impressed by the results of Brittany's dinosaur theme, while Brittany herself kicks off the party by performing Ke$ha's "Dinosaur" in a cave girl costume with Cheerios in dino masks. Sue proudly declares her prom punch to be her best batch yet.
Finn searches for Quinn and is stunned to find her standing on her feet in the ladies room. Finn's also shocked that she's been lying to everyone, but she insists that she's still healing and just wanted to take her first steps to claim her prom queen crown. As she tells him how badly she wants to win, Finn realizes that he stood by Quinn when it was Rachel who really needed him. He feels stupid and betrayed, believing that Quinn has learned nothing from all of her setbacks during the year and remains as selfish as ever. Quinn practically begs Finn to stay for the nominees' one mandatory dance.
Rachel, Kurt, Blaine, Puck, and Becky get their anti-prom bash underway. They agree that they're glad they're not at prom. Becky's a little too enthusiastic - not to mention obnoxious - but when Rachel advises her to chill out, Becky dismisses her and vetoes most of the suggestions for a fun time, declaring the party "the worst anti-prom ever."
Santana entertains the prom crowd by singing Selena Gomez's "Love You Like a Love Song," with Brittany and Tina as backup while Sam and Mercedes dance. Mercedes shares a friendly wave with her ex, Shane, who dances with a date of his own. In the midst of their obligatory dance, Finn demands that Quinn stand and show the other students that she can really walk.
Joe tries to step in and calm Finn down. They nearly come to blows before Sue breaks it up and reminds Finn that she ejected him from prom the year before, and Finn storms away.
As the anti-prom party grows increasingly lame, Kurt suggests that if Blaine wanted to go to prom he'd be willing to go with him. Blaine, however, doesn't want to give in to Brittany's hair gel ban - and he especially doesn't want Kurt to see him without hair product.Finn arrives just in time for Rachel to step out of the bathroom to model the prom dress she'd bought. He tells her that he loves her and that "prom sucks without you." In fact, he thinks prom sucks without all of them, and he persuades them to join him back at the prom, although Becky and Puck stay behind - a decision Puck may find himself regretting when Becky again suggests a round of strip poker.
Finn, Rachel, Kurt, and Blaine arrive at the prom, welcomed in by Brittany - but she still insists Blaine can only attend gel-less - while Joe, Sam, Artie, Mike, and Rory perform One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful," working the crowd into a frenzy.
Meanwhile, Becky's poker skills have left Puck stripped down to his skivvies. When he asks for mercy, she admits that she's having a hard time holding back because she angry that she didn't get a prom queen nomination. When he realizes how much it means to her, Puck suggests that they haven't crowned a king and queen of the anti-prom, and he cuts a cardboard beer carrier into crowns for them. Seeing herself in the mirror, Becky is finally happy.
Rachel apologizes to Quinn for freaking out about her campaign with Finn. Having not been aware of the drama, Quinn shrugs it off. Rachel realizes that Quinn doesn't understand what exactly she means to Rachel. When they met, Quinn was everything Rachel wanted to be, and Rachael continues to see her that way - she hasn't been seeing the still-beautiful but humbled Quinn. She wants Quinn to know how happy she is that they finally became friends and admits that she voted for her because she thinks Quinn deserves to win. But Rachel's praise leaves Quinn questioning her own methods.
Becky and Puck make a grand entrance at the prom. As Sue is pleased to see her, Becky provides the perfect distraction that allows Puck to at long last spike the punch. When they head to the dance floor, Puck thanks Becky for making his own dream come true.
As Santana and Brittany tally the prom court votes, Santana is surprised at how few votes Brittany scored for king, and Santana admits that she doesn't want to be queen if Brittany isn't king.
Then Quinn reveals the final results for queen: she won by one vote. Quinn realizes that although she got everything she wanted, she doesn't feel any better. She suggests to Santana that they've had dream runs in high school and that they now have a chance to make a difference for someone else.
Blaine finally enters prom without hair gel, a look that prompts Brittany to immediately lift her ban - but before Blaine can leave to reapply his product, Kurt insists that he stay. He says that he loves Blaine no matter what his hair looks like.
Figgins take the stage to reveal the prom court voting results and invites former prom queen Kurt to help unveil the winners: Finn has been named prom king, and in a surprise twist, write-in candidate Rachel takes the crown, thanks to Quinn and Santana.
As Quinn sings Berlin's "Take My Breath Away," Finn and Rachel share their king-and-queen dance. Rachel worries that her win is a joke and is expecting a hideous follow-up, but Finn reminds her that she's beautiful, sexy, and an inspiration to the other students.
Tina cries on Mike's shoulder, saying that she wishes the whole experience would never end. Then Quinn stuns everyone as, in the midst of the song, she stands and leans on Santana to finish. "It's a prom miracle!" says Sam.
Rachel remains stunned, telling Finn, "Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be named prom queen, but if my friends believe in me this much maybe anything's possible."