When Mercedes rolls in late for glee club practice claiming she overslept (even though it was 4:30 p.m.) and then nearly gets sick after the first dance steps, her fellow students suspect a diva act in progress. Will brings the hammer down hard: despite Mercedes' whining about her overstuffed schedule, he insists that if they want to go all the way, her "best" isn't good enough. She's got to get better.
At home, Will gently confronts Emma about the secret stash of bridal magazines he's discovered and - despite her attempt to blame the stash on Terri until he produces an autographed 8x10 signed to Emma by Vera Wang - he tells her that he agrees they do appear to be on the path to marriage. But Will wonders why he's yet to be introduced to her parents - and her attempt to convince him they're dead doesn't fly when he points out that she spoke to them on the phone the night before ("They're ghost parents," she lies).
Mike's very serious and driven father, Mike Chang, Sr., accompanies him on a visit to Principal Figgins' office to request a daily drug test now that Mike's brought home his first A-, what Mr. Chang labels as an "Asian F." Mr. Chang is convinced that his son is on the road to academic ruin, and he hopes to determine if the problem is drugs, or possibly that his romance with Tina is distracting him from his studies (Figgins agrees Tina could be the problem, believing her to possibly be a vampire). Mr. Chang also suggests that glee club might be a detriment, but Mike swears he'll improve his academics.
At football practice, Mike is distracted as he worries about keeping everything in balance, while Coach Beiste forces players Puck, Azimio, and Marcus to audition as dancers for the school musical "West Side Story" to hone their coordination and improve their gridiron skills.
Spotting Mercedes giving Rachel a hug in the cafeteria, Marcus tells her that she shouldn't be so affectionate with her "arch-nemesis" right before the female lead audition; he urges Mercedes to take the role for herself because he believes she's better than Rachel.
Mercedes is touched that, for the first time, someone really believes that as she reflects to the strains of Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight," which is revealed to be her audition song. Co-directors Artie, Emma, and Coach Beiste are mightily impressed by Mercedes' confidence and glamorous new attitude, and she tells them that she wants them to see her as she sees herself: as a leading lady, leaving Rachel quietly worried.
Tina wants Mike to rehearse and try out for the second male lead, a singing part to show that he's more than just a fleet-footed "dance ninja," but he resists: he's overwhelmed with his workload already. She urges him to be honest with his father and let him know how important his artistic pursuits are to him, but he reminds her that she wasn't very honest when she was pretending to stutter.
Kurt tells Rachel that, with no other candidates announced in the race for class president and the deadline looming, he believes he has the clear edge over his opponent Brittany, who no one will take seriously. However, when Brittany asks Rachel for her vote and is told it's already been promised to Kurt, Brittany and her campaign manager Santana strike back with a volley of seemingly logical reasons to vote for her, including the fact that the presidency has been exclusively male for years.
At a pep rally for her campaign, Brittany sings and dances to Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)" to swing the female vote. By the end, it looks like she's done it, leaving Kurt afraid for his own chances.
Emma and Coach Beiste tell Will that they're stymied in the choice of students to play "West Side Story's" Maria - Rachel and Mercedes are in a dead heat, and they think it's too close to call. Ultimately they agree on a callback audition: Artie tells Rachel and Mercedes that they'll compete in the "Ultimate Maria-off." The directors have also chosen the audition song for both girls: "Out Here on My Own" from the musical "Fame." Rachel offers Mercedes a well-meaning hug in the spirit of friendly competition, but Mercedes tells her to hug her after she's landed the part.
On his way to a tutoring session, Mike, still fretting over his father's judgment, promises to bring his grades up and apologizes for disappointing him. But he finds himself compelled to work out some dance moves in the school's studio. Suddenly, he imagines his dad in the mirror, criticizing him for wasting his time on a hobby, not a career. Mike uses dance to work out his frustrations, and suddenly Tina tells him how beautiful it looks when he dances, saying that it's why she fell in love with him. Then Mike realizes that Tina's just in his head, too.
Later, it appears that Mike's not going to show up for his audition, but he arrives just in time to try out for a singing part as the Jets' leader Riff, performing "Cool" from "West Side Story," with some dance backup from the football team. Praised by the directors, Mike admits that performing is what he wants to do: "It isn't a waste of my time."
After Shelby and Coach Beiste consider why no one's trying out for Shelby's second school glee club, the coach carbo-loads to keep her strength up, balancing football, co-directing the musical, and overseeing the class election. She tells Will that Emma's been a godsend, and he admits that he wishes she were as proud of him - he believes she's keeping him from her parents because he's lacking something. But the coach tells him that Emma's crazy about him, and that he should introduce himself.
Kurt gives Blaine a bouquet to celebrate his knockout audition for the lead role of Tony. Even though he's up for the role himself, Kurt tells Blaine it should belong to him.
Meanwhile, Will puts the "Booty Camp" glee clubbers through their latest challenge, the trickiest dance move yet, with the students who pull it off being tapped out as the routine proceeds. Everyone but Mercedes manages it, but when Will tries to motivate her to push through her complaining, she snaps at him. She accuses Will of singling her out to make her look bad, and of constantly favoring Rachel. Because she thinks that they refuse to let her shine, she tells Will and the glee club that she's outgrown all of them and starts to storm out of practice. Will warns her that if she walks, she's out of New Directions.
In her mind, Mercedes envisions herself singing "It's All Over" from "Dreamgirls," with her fellow glee clubbers coming down on her as she protests. In reality, she decides: it's over.
Mike's mother confronts him at school. Having learned that he missed the tutoring session, she lied to his father to cover for him, and now she demands to know what's going on. He tells her that he doesn't want to be a doctor or a lawyer - he wants to be an artist. Mrs. Chang tearfully confesses that she never had to courage to stand up to her own parents and break from the path they set her on, and she promises to support Mike's dreams. If he lands the role in the musical, they'll tell Mr. Chang together. Learning that she, too, loved dancing, Mike shares a waltz with his mother.
At the tense final Maria audition, Rachel wins the coin toss and allows Mercedes to perform "Out Here on My Own" first. Both girls perform beautifully, but Rachel believes that Mercedes was better and, later, she insists on speaking to Coach Beiste.
Emma returns home for the evening to discover that Will has invited her parents, Rusty and Rose Pillsbury, over for dinner. Emma starts to freak out, trying to recruit Will into a plot to get them to leave. He asks her if he's ashamed of her, but she admits the truth: she's ashamed of them.
Emma calls them "Ginger Supremacists," a term her parents dispute though they admit they are clearly dedicated to a lifestyle that ensures the future of redheads as "a species." Although they seem satisfied that Will's genetic background certainly includes some redheads, when Rose and Rusty harshly criticize "Freaky Deaky" Emma's compulsive cleaning, Will loses his temper and tells them if he and Emma had a child he'd never be concerned with a child's appearance or fail to show compassion for a trait like OCD. His passionate defense upsets the Pillsburys but earns quiet appreciation from Emma.
Kurt tells Rachel he knows that she approached Coach Beiste to formally run for class president, and she explains that with Mercedes most likely getting the musical lead, she thought running for president would bolster her application to the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts - if she wins, she'll make Kurt vice president, and if he wins he could do the same for her. But Kurt wants his win to make a real difference at the school for kids like him, not just pad his college application, and he won't give up the fight. He warns her that in ten years, she won't be thinking about her academic accomplishments, she'll be thinking about the friends she lost to her ambitions.
The co-directors make their big announcement to Rachel and Mercedes: they will both be playing the role of Maria, each performing four evening and two matinee shows. Rachel accepts graciously, but Mercedes asks if any other roles will be double-cast, and when she's told no, she thanks the directors for their time. She asks Rachel to tell her that she was better than her. When Rachel can't, Mercedes asks the judges why no one will ever hurt Rachel's feelings. Refusing to be a part of "The Rachel Berry Show" in her senior year, Mercedes rejects the role.
Feeling she got the lead by default, Rachel tells a confused Finn that she's also still running for class president, feeling that maybe she too can change the world. She suggests Finn consider what he can do, as well, and when she asks who he's going to vote for, he reveals that he told Kurt that he doesn't know.
As Emma remains sad and shaken by her parents' visit, Will apologizes for not understanding why she kept them away. Still upset, Emma gets on her knees to pray to God for help, and in a show of support Will joins her in prayer, though he admits he has no idea what he's doing.
Will sings Coldplay's "Fix You" to comfort Emma, then the scene shifts McKinley, where Artie posts the final casting results for "West Side Story." Rachel remains cast as Maria, Blaine is leading man Tony, Santana will be Anita, Kurt will play Officer Krupke, and an elated Mike landed the role of Riff. In response, Mercedes turns to Shelby and her planned second show choir: "You're going to need some star power. So here I am."