Glee: Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

Such a catchy, but annoyingly grammatically incorrect song. Damn. Anyway, Glee hit the streets of New York for the season two finale last night, and the episode was…well, I have mixed feelings about it.

I follow a lot of Glee watchers on Twitter, and many of them seemed disappointed after last night’s finale. I wasn;t disappointed, but I thought the episode struck some highs and some lows. And in thinking about it, I’m pretty sure most of those lows were original songs. I just can’t get behind the original music on Glee. In fact, I think it kind of grinds the show to a halt. It’s not fun. But the rest of the show? I thought it worked. There were some really lovely moments between some of my favorite characters, and the energy of being in New York for Nationals really shone through. So although I stand firmly in the Original Songs = Fail camp, I’m calling the finale as a whole a success.

The kids were excited and full of wonder when they arrived in New York – I loved Brittany’s reaction when Rachel said she’d purchased tickets to CATS…from a guy who swiped her credit card through his butt… –  but Schue has some serious Debbie Downer news – they were all confined to their hotel rooms until they wrote two songs. Um, really Schue? What if the songs had been crap? I hope you had a backup set list.

I Wanna Be a Part of it, New York, New York

Will wasn’t around the supervise the kids, though. He was off to see the set of the Broadway musical he’d be starring in, which meant the kids could sneak off to have some adventures of their own. First, all the kids left to run around Central Park and sing songs about New York while looking adorable. Hell, I’d probably do the same thing if I were in New York right now. Later, Finn took Rachel on a classic New York City rom-com style date. It was sweet, really. He dressed up and greeted her with flowers at a park, he took her to Sardi’s for dinner, and she met Patti LuPone. That part wasn’t arranged by Finn, of course, it was just a chance meeting. I’m glad they played it realistically, too. Rachel was nervous to introduce herself, but sucked up the courage to do so. Patti LuPone gave her some sage “Never give up” advice that all Broadway legends give to all young, singing high schoolers. It was sweet.

The only weird part was when Rachel and Finn were being serenaded by Puck, Mike, Artie and Sam. Sure, it was cute and all – the boys had convinced Finn to ask Rachel out in the first place. But did Finn and Rachel know they were there? They never really acknowledged them. Oh well. As a Puck fan, it was nice to see him play an accordion. The date ended on a low note when Rachel wouldn’t kiss Finn. I was mad at first (and so was Finn) since Rachel had been practically begging Finn to love her for most of the season, but it became clearer later, on Rachel’s second date.

Yes, as sweet and romantic as Finn’s date with Rachel was, he was way outdone by Kurt. Kurt woke Rachel up in the morning (someone said he looked creepy, but I thought it was adorable) and took her on a Gay Best Friend NYC date. First up was breakfast at Tiffany, of course. Then they snuck into the theater where Wicked is playing, and sang a duet together. I’ve loved the friendship that has emerged between these two, and their plans to move to New York together after graduation were just great. It turns out that Rachel didn’t reject Finn because she doesn’t want to be with him, she rejected him because she wants to be a star more. She wants to go to college in New York and try to make it, and she knows Finn wouldn’t want to go with her. He doesn’t dream big like she does. I liked that this was an actual problem for Rachel to have, because it’s an actual problem a lot of high school students have – you like someone, but you like your future more. She’s talented enough to actually make it in New York, and Finn would hold her back.

Kurt said he and Blaine have the same plan, to move to New York after high school – is this going to be the show in a couple of years, once the kids graduate? A select few living in New York? I might actually watch that, even though it would most likely fail.

My Little Town Blues, They’re Melting Away

Rachel and Kurt weren’t the only ones having a Broadway moment – Will performed a song on stage too, but his was less charming and more cheesy. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was a product placement for Matthew Morrison’s solo album, which is not cool. Distinguish between the character and the actor, people. The song wasn’t my only problem with the scene, though – the janitor who told Will “You’ve got it, kid?” Come on. Look, I know Matthew Morrison has it. He was on Broadway before he was on Glee, he has the pipes to make it. But this is Will Schuester, not Matthew Morrison. I just didn’t buy it.

Of course, the whole scene was orchestrated so Will would look like a martyr when he gave up his dream for the kids. This, thankfully, was done in a funny and reasonable fashion. Will went for a drink with rival glee club coach Dustin Goolsby, who I think will make a fantastic new nemesis for New Directions. He told Will how much he hates all the kids in his glee club, and Will realized just how much he loved his. Awwww. He went back to the hotel just in time to cheer up the kids with the news that he wouldn’t be leaving because, of course, Dustin had told them they were being ditched. That said, I actually think a better storyline would have been if Will had done the Broadway thing all summer and then come home, for whatever reason. I think it would have provided some interesting character growth. We could have even seen a conversation where Emma agrees to visit him, or join him.

I’m Gonna Make a Brand New Start of it, in Old New York

There were a couple other storylines that fell a little flat, and the biggest one was Quinn’s. What were these big New York plans she’d mentioned in the penultimate episode? Sitting around the hotel room and moping about how no one loves her? Because that’s all she did! Then Santana convinced her that the solution was a haircut, which was lovely but we didn’t even get to see it. We have no idea why a haircut solved all Quinn’s problems, other than that a bob really accentuates her beautiful face. Major fail, Glee writers.

Another storyline that was just so-so was the return of Charice as Sunshine Corozon. Yes, it was redemption for Rachel. She helped Sunshine overcome some major stage fright by giving her the same adorable thumbs up she gave Kurt when he performed with the Warblers, and it definitely brought Rachel’s redemption full circle. She’s a different girl this season, and I hope they maintain that in season three. Rachel can still be an annoying diva and a good friend.

As far as Nationals themselves go, I thought it was well-done despite the original music. The other performances ranged from OK to pretty damn good – there was a group of girls performing Usher’s “Yeah” in really inappropriate white dresses, and Sunshine and the Vocal Adrenaline kids sounded really good.

The performance we saw was for the first round of Nationals, where ten of the fifty groups would advance. Finn and Rachel’s duet was kind of boring, but it was all about the kiss at the end. When I saw it I thought “Oh. Oh my. This is going on for way too long. It’s too passionate and unprofessional. Oh dear.” And it turned out I wasn’t the only one thinking that – Jesse St. Jerk had shown up, and he was just as disgusted with the kiss. The second number new Directions performed was fun, and really not bad for an original song, but Jesse said the kiss had lost them the competition. Perhaps he was right – when the ten finalists were posted, New Directions was not among them.

If I Can Make it There, I Cam Make it Anywhere

The kids were crushed, and Finn felt responsible. But once they were back in Lima, a few of them realized how special the experience had been, even though they placed twelfth instead of first. Brittany talked Santana down from her Lima Heights Adjacent rage by reminding her how the glee club is like a family, who fight and steal one another’s boyfriends and girlfriends, but always accept each other at the end of the day. Wise words from someone who purchased an extra-large T-shirt for her cat.

Rachel helped Finn realize that no one hated him for what happened, and they got back together. After all, there’s a whole year before they graduate. Dating until then won’t make splitting up harder at all, right? Oh, high school. How I don’t miss you.

My favorite part, though, was Kurt telling Blaine all about the trip. It was one of the best and most natural conversations I’ve ever seen on Glee, from Kurt’s excitement over going on an airplane for the first time and being in New York, to the way Blaine interjected that he did think the kiss was unprofessional, to the way they told each other “I love you.” It was so heartwarming and perfect and sweet and I never EVER want them to break up.

And in the surprise of the episode, it looks like Mercedes might actually get a storyline next season. After the Nationals performance I saw her and Sam hug and thought “Hmmm,” and then was immediately distracted. But when they ran into Kurt and Blaine at the coffeeshop, we learned they were there on a secret date. I love this development. I actually think Sam and Mercedes go really well together, because they’re two of the nicer, more mellow kids in the glee club. I hope they actually take this storyline somewhere, because Mercedes deserves it.

OK, let’s hear it: What did you think of the finale? A dud that only picked up a little at the end? Did you like the original tunes?

Now, check out a list of my favorite moments from the episode, as well as what I thought of the songs. And don’t forget to check out You Know You Love Fashion on Friday for my fashion recap!

“My Cup”: And I thought “My Hairband” was a great tribute song? Who knew Brittany had such great songwriting skills?
“I love New York/New York, New York”: I think this mash-up was my favorite performance from the whole episode…the Rachel/Kurt duet was great, but I loved how many people got to sing in this one and the way it set the tone for the episode.
“Still Got Tonight”: I actually like when Will gets solos, but I wish he’d done a classic Broadway song instead of a Matthew Morrison original. I don’t like being pulled out of the fantasy Glee world.
“Bella Note”: I actually don’t have much to say on this…it was nice, though.
“For Good”: Rachel and Kurt singing a song from Wicked? Based on the number of times I’ve blasted their version of “Defying Gravity”, I’d say I was destined to love it.
“As Long As You’re There”: Charice sure can sing, but I hate how Vocal Adrenaline’s version of a glee club is one standout singer and some backup dancers.
“Pretending”: A Rachel/Finn ballad duet and an original? Snore.
“Light Up the World”: This might be my favorite original song they’ve done so far, which isn’t saying much…but it’s better than nothing.

I kind of wish we’d gotten one more song out of this episode. I feel like there’s no stand-out performance here, especially compared to last season. The Journey songs, “To Sir With Love” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” are all some of my favorites. Even “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which is my favorite song but not my favorite Glee performance, packed more punch than most of these tunes.

Quotes & Moments

  • Rachel’s first outfit, which most of us had seen in photos before the episode aired. I’m not ashamed to say, I bought those yellow shoes. I’m wearing them right now. I want the striped coat, too, but unfortunately it’s vintage.  
  • 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 make you grow a vagina if you watch all the way through.” – Puck
  • “If I was in love with a girl, and I wasn’t homeless, I’d totally go for it.” – Sam
  • “It’s all over the Broadway blogosphere. And by “Broadway blogosphere,” I mean the one blog that cares about Broadway.” – Dustin
  • Dustin: “I hate my kids. I would literally whip them if I could.”
    Schue: “I love my kids.”
    Dustin: “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.” – Dustin
  • Puck being the first one in the group hug with Will. Way to lose your street cred, buddy.
  • “That kiss was unprofessional. It was too personal and intense. The judges won’t like it. They’ll consider it common and vulgar and will cost you Nationals. Hi Rachel. You sounded great, you just shouldn’t have kissed him.” – Jesse St. Jerk, who was right
  • “Pip Pip Hooray”. I need this to be turned into a real musical, like, yesterday.




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