With only three episodes of Glee left in what might be the last season I watch, and two of them airing back to back on Tuesday night, I was feeling rather hesitant. I’d already spent the evening cleaning out my closet and doing laundry, and two hours of Glee felt more like a chore than a reward. This hasn’t been a stellar season, y’all.
But you know what? I actually liked these episodes. I thought they were funny, and good. Like, season one good. Did the writers spend an entire year working on these episodes and leave everything else up to interns?
The funny thing about the Tina storyline here, is that you can’t blame Glee for suddenly picking up her character after ignoring her for so long because, well, that was kind of the point. Everyone ignores Tina. Was Glee getting meta?
Tina entered a dream sequence when she fell into a mall fountain and hurt her head, and in it all the characters swapped bodies. I loved all the little jokes, and the costumes everyone was in. Weirdly, I think my favorite was Quinn as Sugar, even though she had no lines. She really sold it and stole the spotlight. I wish the dream had lasted longer.
The thing was, Tina singing a solo as Rachel only highlighted that Tina isn’t as strong a singer as Rachel. She has a very lovely voice, but she’s not the powerhouse singer Rachel is. She didn’t deserve the solo she was asking for, especially not with Rachel being a senior and Tina only being a junior.
Tina’s eyes were opened to how hard Rachel works though, and I’m glad we’ve returned to that idea. In season one, we knew Rachel was a crazy-ambitious Type A Election President-of-sixteen-clubs type kid, and I think the show lost that along the way. I liked the reminder that Rachel works harder than anyone else and always will. So Tina offered to drive Rachel to crash a class Whoopi Goldberg was teaching so she could try and re-audition for NYADA – and they managed to convince Whoopi to check out their performance at Nationals.
After discovering that Unique (remember her? yeah, it’s been a while) was a sensation for Vocal Adrenaline performing in drag, Sue pressured Kurt to perform as a woman too, but he didn’t want to. Puck tried to step up, bless his heart, but he makes an ugly woman. The stunt got him a beating from the hockey jerks, and after he pulled a (fake) knife on them Beiste intervened. They actually had a really sweet moment together. I wish Puck flunking out of school had been handled better (i.e., no “The Rain In Spain” performance) because it was a really, really great scene – especially because it tied back into the Beiste domestic violence storyline that I feared we’d never return to. Beiste ended up leaving Cooter, and I thought it was all handled really, really well. This was the kind of over-dramatic yet touching material Glee used to excel at. And I don’t care what anyone says, the fact that it all concluded with Beiste and Puck duetting on “Mean” by Taylor Swift was delightful and sweet.
So, am I crazy, or was that a good episode? I wasn’t expecting to, but I really liked it.
The episode began with Mercedes taken down by food poisoning, which meant Quinn (who, you’ll remember, recently re-learned how to walk) and Tina would be singing and dancing with the Troubletones. Luckily, Mercedes was back on her feet in time to perform – but she insisted that Quinn and Tina still perform in the Troubletones number. So it was basically “All The Girls But Rachel”, which was fine since Rachel gets lots of solos.
The pressure was on to win, but there were a lot of sweet moments before Nationals started. Even with characters I didn’t like, or stories I don’t care for. Finn showing Rachel the glass he bought to smash at their wedding? Adorable, even though I don’t think they should get married. I liked how Rachel finally stood up to Jesse St. James for once, and even though Schu’s not always my pal, it was really sweet to hear the kids say how much he’s meant to them before they hit the stage. It’s like the Glee writers paid zero attention to everything all season, and focused all their energy into making these two episodes amazing. This was, I think, one of the best episodes Glee has ever done. Certainly the best we’ve seen in a long time.
Another thing I really liked was that the show actually acknowledged that the kids earned their victory. Last year, they lost Nationals because they weren’t prepared enough. And when Schu uses choir practice to teach themed lessons rather than rehearse, it can seem like they’re not working hard enough. I mean, no one’s going to watch a show where the kids practice the same song every single week. But in this episode, they did a good job of actually acknowledging the work that had been put in.
New Directions went first, and it was great. I dug the Troubletones’ cover of “The Edge of Glory” (those dresses were fab), and Rachel killed her Celine solo. It was the kind of performance that reminded you of why Rachel Berry is so great, and actually made it somewhat believable that she’d be admitted into NYADA for it. They closed out with a group number of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, which I believe was meant to fulfill the “vintage” requirement for their medley. I never love when Finn takes the lead on something, but it was a super fun performance.
Another meta a.k.a. Ryan Murphy speaking directly to those who criticize him moment was when Wade freaked out before the Vocal Adrenaline performance and said he couldn’t perform as Unique because it was too much pressure acting as the posterchild for any kid who’s different. Oh, Ryan Murphy. That’s what happens when you use your TV show as a soap box.
I’d already watched the Vocal Adrenaline performance of “Starships” by Nicki Minaj, so I knew I loved it. It was fun and sassy and I love the song, so it was totally my jam. And then “Pinball Wizard”? These are my jams, you guys!!! Vocal Adrenaline for the win.
The judges for Nationals were Lindsey Lohan, Perez Hilton, and a local politic–LLOYD!!!! If he was introduced in the audience I must have missed it, because I was psyched to see him when the judges convened to choose a winner. Lindsey didn’t seem drugged up when she read her lines – in fact, she was even funny at times. And Perez was, well, Perez.
The results were predictable, but anything else would have been unsatisfying. Unique, of course, won MVP, and New Directions won first place. I felt this was a fair outcome – Unique was great and Vocal Adrenaline had amazing choreography, but New Directions used their entire group much better. And besides, would you have been OK with New Directions not winning Nationals? All the good characters are moving on, it would have been too disappointing an end to what was already a disappointing season. Besides, this sets up season four as a rebuilding phase, as the core members of the best show choir in the country have all moved on.
I find it very difficult to believe that the mean hockey players would suddenly decide to throw confetti instead of slushies at the glee club, just because they won a show choir competition. Doesn’t this make them even nerdier? I guess the ten thousand dollar prize endeared them to the school.
The fact that we had to know Schu and Emma finally had sex was odd, and a rather offensive way of minimizing the serious mental health issues that had previously been attributed to Emma. I mean, was the catalyst the Nationals win? How did that help her get past her OCD? Did the thought of polishing the trophy really turn her on?
As cringe-worthy as that was, the final scene in which Schu was awarded the Teacher of the Year award at a school assembly and the kids sang “We Are The Champions” was good. I kind of wish all of Finn’s had gone to someone else, and it did kind of feel like the kids were gloating about their own win, but whatever. The thought was nice.
So, what did you guys think?