Mark this down, “The Spanish Teacher” is the episode where I truly fell in love with Santana (Naya Rivera.) It may have taken three seasons, but now I have reason to go re-watch every episode while focusing on her.

Santana has crossed the line more than a few times in the past by being a mean girl, and that’s made it hard to connect with her sometimes. But in an episode like we had last night on Fox, it makes it hard to love anyone more.

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While Finn is selling himself short, Quinn is dressing like a preacher’s wife (man do I miss her bad girl phase), and Mercedes is in the most boring TV love triangle everZzzzzzz, Santana has risen to the foreground as the one to watch.

Whenever there is crap in a Glee episode (this happens often), Santana is often the one calling foul. She’s a smart person. Every character on Glee has their flaws. Santana wouldn’t be on the show if she didn’t have her own issues. And not every choice she has made in three seasons has been the best one, but overall she’s a really safe bet for whose side to stick with. As long as Glee has a character like (nay, only THE) Santana, they can throw all the wackadoodle at us that they want. She’ll remain the one that’ll hate on Mr. Shue (the way I secretly do) and who won’t take crap from anyone.

In this episode of Glee she managed to look like a villain while never being one. A rare feat!

And did you see her performance of “La Isla Bonita” with Ricky Martin? It was amazing. If there’s one song from this episode of Glee that I’m downloading from itunes, it’s that one.

Santana has never been purposefully written to be the most likeable character on Glee. And yet she might just be. She’s not saintly like Quinn 3.0, but she’s genuine. (Crystal Bell just wrote on The Huffington Post that Santana has become the “the show’s true savior.” So I know I’m not the only one thinking this way.)

There are certain things we love, but that we don’t don’t need in every episode of Glee to make it work. These are things like slushies, the Cheerios…. and tongue-in-cheek pamphlets. But don’t ever, ever take our Santana away. She may not always be the heart of the show, but she brings something none of the other characters do. (You probably expect me to end this with the word that she brings…like “integrity” or “razzmatazz*” but I honestly don’t know what that one word would be. Comment me below if you have a suggestion.)

*How is that in spellcheck?! HOW?

Image credit: Fox