The glee club heads to New York in an episode that pushes the limits of logic—and tugs on our heartstrings
Season two of Glee ended last night with New Directions traveling to New York City to compete at the National Show Choir Championship. Fortunately, they didn't leave their drama back in Ohio, as the Rachel and Finn romance took a big turn and Mr. Schuster made a major career decision.
To help make sense of the episode, we have a panel of musical theater and pop culture buffs—Meghan Brown and Kevin Fallon—to provide their takes on how realistic the show feels, how well the romances develop, and of course, how good the musical numbers are.
Here's what they had to say:
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Kevin Fallon (writer and producer for The Atlantic's Entertainment channel): "Was it worth it?" That was the question Rachel and Finn asked each other after New Directions lost (!) Nationals. But for fans of Glee who love the series so dearly they write 2,000-word articles detailing everything that's wrong with it, it's also a question that pertains to the episode—and the whole season. Glee has been undeniably frustrating in season two, but whether it's Mercedes torching an Otis Redding song or Blaine and Kurt's adorable romance, there was still ample reason to tune in and enjoy. Last night's season finale was no exception.
The cast of New Directions took Manhattan, where the Nationals competition was held. Before they could hit the stage to compete for the show choir title, they still needed to write their original songs, which weren't written yet?! Plan ahead much, Schu? Luckily, per Quinn's suggestion, New York was going to "write the songs for them." And Holy Bloomberg that New York City Tourism-sponsored version "I Love New York/New York, New York" the cheesiest thing I've ever seen. From singing to hot dog vendors to park-bench choreography, the cast of New Directions maniacally running through the streets of New York was not Glee's finest moment. Someone needs to call the cast of Friends to show the Glee kids how fountain dancing is done.
Mercifully, that number was followed by some real Finn-Rachel plot development. As a person who tries to live each day as its own romantic comedy, I was a sap for Finn's movie cliche-inspired evening out with Rachel. But Rachel clearly skipped a page in the How to Be Meg Ryan handbook because she balked at his attempt to kiss her! Even after Miss Patti LuPone told her at Sardis (eat your heart out, Broadway fans) that Finn was cute. What romantic comedy lead does such a thing?
It's because, she says, her true love is the stage. That truth comes to her in a song, Wicked's "For Good." On a scale of Rachel belting "Papa Can You Hear Me" on the side of a pond to Kurt performing "Le Jazz Hot" in its entirety while costumed in fringe, Rachel and Kurt's Wicked duet ranks pretty highly on the musical theatre geek satisfaction scale. It was certainly more gratifying than Will's "all alone on a Broadway stage" number, a trying-too-hard performance of one of Matthew Morrison's actual singles. And how awful was Will this episode, in general? At one point, he used the word "glorious" unironically. Says it all.
In the end, it was respectful to the Glee audience that New Directions did so poorly at the competition. If the show is going to keep convincing us that the glee club actually wins these things, it needs to stop showing numbers from rival choirs because they are good. Even Rachel and Finn's (literally) show-stopping kiss didn't hold a candle to Charice's chilling performance with Vocal Adrenaline.
There were no big cliff hangers at the end of the episode, unless you count the fact that Mercedes is finally getting herself a man (maybe even a plot line too?). Well, there was one shocker: Despite all of my griping, whining, and criticizing, I already miss Glee and cannot wait until season three. Until then, one can only hope that someone, somewhere, will take Kurt's idea of staging "Pip Pip Hooray," a Broadway musical devoted to the life of Pippa Middleton, and run with it. Your move, Internet.
Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): Glee's season finale provided an uneven end to an uneven season, with a few killer numbers, strange resolutions, and head-scratching plot devices.
So the kids are ready to take over New York, running out of their Mr. Schu-dictated hotel lockdown to do crazy New York things like frolic around Central Park and sit on some benches. With all this insanity, it's really hard for them to focus on writing their songs for Nationals.
Yeah. That's right. The day before Nationals, the kids of New Directions are still writing their songs. That leads me to the question: WHY WERE THE KIDS WRITING THEIR SONGS FOR NATIONALS THE DAY BEFORE NATIONALS?
I'm sorry, but there is absolutely no universe in which that makes sense. At all. It was so logically unsound that it was distracting.
Kurt and Rachel singing "For Good" on the Wicked set was a major highlight. They sounded wonderful, and the song choice and delivery had some real resonance within the context of the plot. Rachel and Kurt haven't always gotten along, but they're the two kids in New Directions whose dreams may very well take them far away from Lima, Ohio.
Mr. Schuester turning down Broadway for glee club bothered me a lot less than I thought it would. You know what? He likes teaching. End of story.
I'm all right with New Directions not placing at Nationals (though we've already been through this plotline), but wish that the reason had been a little less silly. There's some real poignancy to the idea that they didn't place just because ... they didn't place. Attaching Finn and Rachel's kiss is a stretch, and it would have been nice for Mr. Schu (or, uh, anyone) to bring some logic into that argument. (Though the shot of Santana screaming "I grew up in Lima Heights Adjacent!" might have been worth any lapse in logic...)
For the picky: In what universe does Rachel not know that Cats has been closed for 11 years?
It's been a crazy ride this season. As frustrated as I get with Glee's minute-to-minute identity crisis, there have been some truly gorgeous moments of television in the past twenty-two episodes... and I'm already eager for season 3.
Past Glee panels: