New Directions heads to New York City for Nationals, where the price of resolution is the big prize
After a roller coaster of a season, in which there were as many butt-chin jokes as so-so episodes, Glee closed out its season last night with an episode that accomplished the thought-to-be impossible: It was a breath of fresh air in New York City.
One could argue that after such an uneven season, the series needed more than that for redemption. It needed more than a few sporadic moments that reminded us of the golden age of Glee. (Too soon to use that term? I think not.) You know, the time when, as Kurt said, they were just a bunch of misfits who stumbled their way through “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.” And while I’d agree that it wasn’t necessarily enough to atone for a meh season, I’ll also take the few great moments from last night as a sign that there could be hope for this creatively inconsistent show yet. Let’s examine closer.
From the first frames, we knew we were in for a special episode — the kind achieved when a series steps off the soundstage and into the “real world.” (Hello, Boy Meets World Disney World episode! Hey, you shush; I liked it.) And the change of scenery did shake things up a bit. I especially loved the fact that the kids generally (minus perhaps Kurt and Rachel) looked out of place in the city; they looked like a real group of kids who had left their hometown for the first time. It was charming.
But once they’d arrived in the city, the kids’ hopes for adventure were short-lived after they were reminded that they still had two songs to write for Nationals. This is where we’re expected to believe that Mr. Schuester would (1) let his kids wait until the day before competition to write two songs, (2) let his kids write the songs period, and (3) not have some sort of backup plan that included them rehearsing previously recorded songs from other artists. But I’m not nitpicking. Nope. Just like I’m not going to question how much longer we’re going to be asked to believe that Puck isn’t a 28-year-old man. (I’m sorry, the bar scene made me laugh in disbelief. I’m the height of your average 12-year-old and even I don’t always get carded.)
After a failed attempt to pen some songs, the kids took off to have adventures. Most notably Finn and Rachel had a true New York City date, complete with perfect outfits, a walk through Central Park, and dinner at Sardi’s, where Rachel had a far-too-short encounter with Patti LuPone. I was happy at how straightforward they played their encounter. There was no frill — just sage advice from a legend. (In this case, she told Rachel to “never give up,” adding a “he’s cute” in reference to Finn, for good measure.) It was a moment as cute as it was brief, and hopefully a lesson to producers in how to deal with guest appearances in the future: Remember, they’re guests. But as sweet as their date was (street serenade!), it ended on a flat note, with Rachel refusing to give Finn a kiss. Yes, after trying most of the season to steal him back from Quinn. Is irrational indecision a teenage-girl thing, a human thing, or a Glee thing?
NEXT: Dustin Goolsby = new villain?
Meanwhile, my love for Kurt Hummel grew exponentially as a result of his morning out with Rachel, where they shared “breakfast at Tiffany’s.” As I pointed out to a friend of mine, this is when Kurt is at his best. I, like the rest of you, had recently grown quite tired of Kurt constantly being used as a lesson, the “moral” of the story. I enjoy him as a character, and frankly, he’s at his best when he’s a team player — not the sole focus of multiple episodes in a row. I don’t want him used constantly, just cleverly. When that happens, we get moments like the one Rachel and Kurt shared in the Wicked theater. This entire season could have used a little more magic and less gimmickry.
Now, let’s talk for a second about Dustin Goolsby, who emerged in this episode as my new favorite New Directions foe. We all know Sue has lacked a purpose throughout some of this season, and if they’re looking to find a new foe, I think we should focus in on him as a possibility. His entire scene with Schue at the bar is basically transcribed for you in Quotables. I love this jerk more than he loves his douchey Bluetooth.
Speaking of the bar scene, I have yet to mention Schue’s Broadway plot in this episode, and that’s mostly because it was a loose cannon. I really wanted him to take the summer to do his Broadway thing, and that desire comes from more than just my irrational dislike for the character. I don’t think it would have brought his love for glee into question. If anything, it would have given him something to do off screen that would grow him as a character next season, and like the kids said, it would have been rather inspiring to see him do something more than teach. He ended up not pursuing it. Wah-wah.
This week also marked the return of Charice, who plays one of the nicest characters in Glee history (and, as a result, sort of boring). Sorry, when it comes to Glee, I’ll always choose watching evil over good.
Speaking of evil, Jesse St. Bastard (man, I’m going to miss altering his name during hiatus) showed up to the competition in time to catch New Directions’ performances — and Rachel and Finn’s onstage kiss! It was a kiss that ultimately cost them the competition, according to Jesse. (They placed 12th.) But their loss is our win, fellow viewers. So this is what they call payoff, huh? I like this.
Other notable moments tacked on to the episode to make us feel better about the season: SAM AND MERCEDES ARE DATING! (I could not love this more.) Blaine told Kurt he loved him. And Santana and Brittany are on good terms now, but Santana still pines for her.
Random questions: Did anyone notice that Finn signs his text messages? I thought only parents did that. Were you glad when Quinn finally cut her hair in the episode so we didn’t have to look at those weird extensions anymore? Do you like the seed idea they planted about possibly following the main kids to college in N.Y.? How cute was the moment when Puck was the first to dive into the Mr. Schue group hug? Did you like the Nationals dresses better than the Regionals outfits?
More talking points: What did you think of the finale? Are you disappointed in Rachel and Finn for costing the group the competition? Or was it worth it? And what did you think of the season as a whole?
NEXT: Grading the performances and the week’s best lines.
This isn’t really a song. But it would take more strength than I have to deny the greatness. *A (* = not totally serious)
“I Love New York”/”New York, New York”
I thought I’d fall head over heels for this mash-up, but when I first heard the song last week I was underwhelmed. Then I had hoped that adding context would help me appreciate the song more, and while it did, it’s still not my favorite. B
“Still Got Tonight”
I understand that his album only sold 16,000 copies. I also understand that no new artist would pass up the chance to be featured on a platform as big as Glee. But did we have to get spoon-fed Matthew Morrison’s material? The shameless self-promotion got under my skin. (By the way, you can follow me on Twitter: @EWSandraG.) There are two bright spots here, though: The song isn’t half bad (thank you, co-writer Kris Allen), and at least they didn’t make us listen to “Summer Rain.” B- (Additional note: Did anyone else giggle at the fact that Schue’s shirt magically untucked and unbuttoned itself in less than a second?)
A painfully romantic tune sung by a group of decent-to-smokin’ dudes with a beautiful city backdrop? Yes, yes, and yes. A
There is nary a tune from the Wicked songbook that I wouldn’t watch Rachel and Kurt perform, especially when they deliver moments like this each time. And to think, it would not have been possible had the pair not met the only friendly security guard in New York City. A+
“As Long as You’re There”
Sunshine Corazon was brighter than her sparkly microphone on this power ballad. The character might be a snore, but there’s nothing snoozy about this girl’s voice. A+
I don’t hide my love for Rachel/Finn power ballads. In fact, wear it proud like Mr. Schue wears his age-inappropriate pageboy hat. This song is no exception. And unlike the version of the song that was released prior to the show, this version of “Pretending” didn’t feature those awkward Lamaze-esque “uh oh oh”s. Thank God. A
“Light Up the World”
This “original” song sounds a little bit too much like their last high-energy “original” song for me to give it too much credit. But it’s still a fun tune for what it is. But as I mentioned earlier this week, I’d like to see them up the effort if we’re going to continue with the original-song concept next season. B+
(Nominate your own in comments!)
“The guy did seem crazy. He charged my credit card by swiping it through his butt crack.” — Rachel
Schue: I was just thinking of splitting them up, boys and girls.
Hotel worker: You guys here for the show-choir competition?
Schue: Yeah. Why?
Hotel worker: Most of the other teams just went by sexual orientation.
Mercedes: Did you know New York City was built on top of Old York City?
Tina: I’m pretty sure that’s not true.
Kurt: Did you know I could get ahi tartare and a steak sandwich at three in the morning from their all-night-dining menu? I feel like Eloise.
Brittany: I have pills for that.
“Can we just talk about the Jewish elephant in the room?” — Puck
“Take her on one of those big, romantic dates you see in romantic comedies that you grow a vagina if you watch all the way through.” — Puck (funny, I’ve heard the same thing about Glee)
“If I was in love with a girl, and I wasn’t homeless, I’d totally go for it.” — Sam
“Take a chance on me.” — Finn (OK!)
“It’s all over the Broadway blogosphere. And by ‘Broadway blogosphere,’ I mean the one blog that cares about Broadway.” — Goolsby
“I hate my kids. I would literally whip them if I could.” — Goolsby
Schue: I love my kids.
Goolsby: What? No, you don’t. They’re hideous. My kids are at least attractive. Yours look like they haven’t been baked properly.
” You’re starting to tear up. People are starting to stare. They’re going to think I just broke up with you.” — Goolsby
“I’m going to go find an extra-large” — Brittany re: Lord Tubbington’s souvenir shirt
Thanks for a great season, readers. It’s been a pleasure reading your insight every week. And thanks for “taking a chance” on this newbie Gleecapper. See you in September!