We Gleeks have endured two seasons conditioning us to accept that the series has become a giant cover-producing machine with some cute little storylines thrown in for good measure. It’s only a few seasons from becoming a full-on variety show. That’s why my new plea to Glee is this: Please, for the love of all the glitter in the world, stop telling us why you’re about to sing. If there’s one thing we expect when we tune in, it’s that you’re going to sing. In fact, it’s really the only reason we’re still coming back. But if there’s anything worse than Sue’s weird in vitro plot-twist, it’s people giving speeches about why they’re singing the song that’s taking the place of actual emotional dialog in the first place. To be fair, this week’s slate of songs off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack needed a little massaging to be relevant to a group of 17-year-olds’ problems, but the writing has lost its season one finesse.
First up: Clumsy explanation number one. Will’s never-ending quest to get the glee club to embrace Disco — and therefore recapture the glory of his youth and the time his club took nationals — continues. This time he has the strength of Sue Sylvester and her conveniently portable light-up plexi-glass '70s dance floor to support his mandate. Plus, he manages to attach a message to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (instead of admitting that his addiction to Disco might be worse than his addiction to sweater vests) with little more than a bottle of Elmer’s glue and some twine. See guys! Saturday Night Fever is the magic little pill that will help you find your life direction in a matter of 45 TV minutes! Thank Travolta.
And what’s Schue’s master plan? Have the three “best dancers” compete for the Tony Manero prize: a custom replica of Travolta’s famous white suit from the movie. (Spoiler alert: The entire Glee club ends up with replica suits — poor seamstress Becky!) But wait, Schue’s rigged the competition and Mercedes, Finn, and Santana are the finalists (which we know can’t be true because Finn’s Frankenstein dance moves are the reason we had to endure three episodes with “booty camp”) who will hopefully find their entire life plan nuggets via the classic movie.
Meanwhile, Kurt and Mercedes encounter a red herring of a storyline that serves to promote a LGBTQ issue and give Jesse St. James a reason to show how much of douche he’s become since Rachel publicly rejected him by making out with Finn onstage at Nationals. They’re approached by a young man named Wade in the halls of McKinley, and he seeks their sage advice: Should he or shouldn’t he cross-dress when he performs with Vocal Adrenaline that week? Mercedes and Kurt immediately shoot it down for fear that Ohioans just don’t understand, but Sue sees a chance to take down VA once and for all by encouraging the young man to be his true feminine self and thus alienate the bigots and intolerant folks of the Midwest. But it turns out that Wade/Unique looks great onstage as a woman and the only person scrambling to judge is the sinister Jesse St. James. He’s just the worst. It’s just too bad that’s the lesson we really learned from this throwaway storyline that involves an issue that really deserves a little more attention and tact.
NEXT: Rachel sends a super message to girls watching Glee everywhere.
This week in the land of Finchel... Baby Barbra and Dr. Frankenstein’s lovable teen monster are on the outs, but as expected, they can’t stay apart for long because they’re like two playschool alphabet magnets: Annoyingly stuck together forever. Rachel flip-flops (again — seriously, is she suffering from some sort of Jekyll and Hyde issue?) and decides she was being too selfish about moving to New York. She loves Finn and she’ll give up her Broadway dreams so they can build their dreams together — which is a super message to send little girls everywhere. If your boyfriend has no dreams, stay home and curtail your own so he can figure his s**t out. Is anyone else annoyed by the fact that they’re way too young for this kind of a compromise? Of course, Finn completely rejects Rachel’s decision to stay in freaking Ohio for Finn when he chucks his college brochures in the hallway trashbin. But thank goodness Schue stalked him on his way out, because he catches Finn and makes him watch Saturday Night Fever so he can identify with Tony Manero and live out his dream in New York City. (I’m sure Schue was prepared with some Clockwork Orange face mask should Finn resist.) Or at least don a white suit with a chipper attitude and zero resistance to the fact that everyone feels less important as soon as they leave their high school glory days by episode’s end.
In second-string romance news, Brittany tries to help her fame-whore of a girlfriend and ensure her rise to insta-fame by splicing together their most recent sex-tape with a video of Lord Tubbington performing household chores and putting it on YouTube. Bless Brittany’s heart, but she cannot be that stupid. I understand her confusing Lesbian with Lebanese and even thinking that Santa Claus could really make Artie walk again, but this is too far. Luckily, it’s short-lived because Sue pulls the duo into her office to figuratively slap them on the wrist for their totally inappropriate behavior before rewarding Santana with a magically obtained full ride to the top cheerleading school in the country. Look, I know that in order to enjoy Glee we have to suspend our disbelief, but anyone who’s ever been to high school knows that sex tapes usually spell expulsion, and college applications are due before Christmas. Of course, that doesn’t allow for dramatic reveals on a television schedule.
Finally, we have Sam and Mercedes, whose storyline is the only one with real charm left. Though she dumped him via Whitney Ballad a few weeks ago, Sam is still has a hunk a burnin’ love for Mercedes, uploading her performance of “Disco Inferno” to YouTube (who apparently sponsored this episode) to show her that the Internet loves her and she can actually be a huge star someday. It was simple, sweet, realistic, and it made sense emotionally. Plus, Chord Overstreet has got the sugary sweet high school boy act down pat. We’ll eat that up any day.
NEXT: "You just got your boob in the door."
In the end, we had a few storylines conveniently cleaned up as we get closer and closer to Nationals and Graduation, plus, we finally solved that age old mystery: What does it look like when Lord Tubbington puts Brittany’s dishes away for her?
Of course, Glee still keeps us pointing and dancing on fog-filled dance floors with its ridiculous asides, so here are some of this week’s best stray observations:
--Jesse St James calls Vocal Adrenaline “The Borg” (Rejoice, Star Trek nerds!)
--“We told Mr. Schue we do not support Disco in this room” — Rachel
--Sue’s cadre of Viennese tailors is just Becky with a sewing machine.
--Puck goes from telling Finn “Two dudes in one bed is, like, confirmed gay” to “When you do find your dream, make it as big as you are.”
--Finn’s aptitude test says he has a potential career as a “competitive eating champion.”
--“Gayberry” is Santana’s name for Kurt and Rachel.
--“I got your tweet: ‘Anyone who’s engaged to me please meet me in the auditorium.’” — Finn
--“You just got your boob in the door.” — Brittany about Santana’s sex tape
--Lord Tubbington is better at performing everyday household chores than I am.
Did you like “Saturday Night Glee-ver”? Are you getting tired of jumpy story and Finchel melodrama? More Samcedes! Are you with me?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter at @KelseaStahler.
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S2E22: The Glee season-ender held loads of promise. They're in New York, that last episode was headed in the right direction, and it’s time for Nationals. We’ve been building toward this moment for two years now and as the Gershwin music swelled and scenes of New York city flooded our television screens, that promise held up for a good 44 seconds before it disappeared completely. Of course, the visual splendor was also limited to Times Square which is a bit of waste if you ask me, but I guess Rachel is a Broadway hopeful, so I’ll let it go.
The New Directions are finally in New York and of course we’ve got Kurt to explain exactly how far they’ve come. His little explanation is indicative of my problem with the episode as a whole. Whether it was intentional or not, the entire episode felt like a stage show, and while that works on the Great White Way, it doesn’t really belong on television.
Every line served to explain every bit that was going on, every twist was unwarranted, the story jumped around too quickly, almost shirking an entire season of emotions and storylines. You can do this in a stage show because the audience is expected to take these occurrences for granted -- it’s all they have to go on -- and where there are holes, ballads fill in. I understand the desire to pay homage to Broadway shows while they’re in New York, but it almost felt like they forgot it was still a television show.
“I feel like Eloise!” –Kurt
“I have pills for that.” –Brittany
First, I will not be complaining about the little sentimental New York moments in this episode, like when the glee club starts singing “New York, New York” while sitting on the steps in Times Square or when Kurt and Rachel recreate Breakfast at Tiffany’s, because Lord knows I did plenty of that schmaltzy first time in New York stuff when I first moved here. I will however, complain a little about the fact that the show seems to think New York is so welcoming.
It’s a small thing, but I can guarantee the woman at the front desk of any New York hotel that serves Tuna Tar Tar on the room service menu would not be understanding about 13 kids from Ohio sharing two fancy hotel rooms. I can also guarantee that a security guard in a Broadway theater would not just let two kids come in and run all over the stage for 15 minutes. The episode took this stance that the people in New York would be caring and compassionate towards these plucky young kids from the Midwest. That, my friends, isn’t true in the least, but I’ll end my complaining there, because Glee threw out any ounce of reality long ago.
Anyway, the club is in New York for Nationals and they plan to perform original songs, but there’s one small problem: they haven’t written them yet. NO. This would not happen. No choir would spend all their money to go all the way to New York without having rehearsed a well-chosen pair of songs for a national competition. It’s just ludicrous. Of course, everyone is struggling to write songs, so they decide they need to get out in the city to get inspiration. Instead of continuing with this silly storyline, they all just join in a rendition of “New York” that takes them all over Manhattan. Of course, this is the sort of fun things we were hoping for when we knew the gleeks would end up in the big apple.
“Take her on one of those romantic dates you see in one of those unwatchable romantic comedies that you grow a vagina if you watch all the way through.” –Puck
I’d be mad about that line, but I’ve heard dudes say almost that exact thing, so I can’t be. Of course, Finn saves his affections for Rachel until they get to New York. Puck and Sam convince him to woo her in the city, so they meet on an iconic bridge in Central Park and embark on a perfectly Audrey Hepburn-esque movie date complete with an awkward Patti LuPone cameo, and ending up in the West Village where Artie, Puck and Sam serenade them with “Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp. The melodrama swells and when Finn tries to kiss Rachel, she flees like a diva onstage.
We find out while she’s having breakfast at Tiffany’s with Kurt that the reason she fled is that she’s planning to move to New York IN A YEAR. And that she thinks Finn won’t want to move IN A YEAR. And so she can’t date him, even though she’s spent all season pining over him and she’s not moving FOR A YEAR. To cheer her up, this is where Kurt sneaks her onto the set of Wicked (appropriate, considering they’ve had the two original stars and half of the score on the show already) and they sing “For Good” which makes Rachel realize that she’s not choosing between her dreams and love because the stage is what she loves. BARF. It’s fine that she has that thought, but the dialog could have been a little less blunt about it. It’s called finesse and the scene doesn’t have it. (Though the performance was fantastic!)
All this Finchel drama gets to Quinn and she has a mental breakdown. She wants to sabotage the club because she’s a popular girl and isn’t she supposed to get what she wants? Isn’t that the point? BOO-FREAKING-HOO, GOLDILOCKS. I like Dianna Agron, but damn, are these writers making me hate her character. Her emotions and her lines make little to no sense, they render her unlikable and they don’t connect from episode to episode, unless we’re talking about her running for Prom Queen. And what about her big plans for New York that she mentioned last week? Were they just to be a brat? Don’t tell me it’s the haircut, because that was a sympathy move by Santana and Brittany.
“I love my kids.” – Schue
“No you don’t. They’re hideous. At least my kids are attractive, yours look like they haven’t been baked properly.” –Dustin Goolsby
As the competition approaches, we find the best part of the entire episode: Schue’s conversation with Dustin Goolsby, coach of vocal adrenaline. Maybe it’s all his experience over at 30 Rock, but Cheyenne Jackson nails this ridiculous character and the writers gave him some pretty hilarious material to work with. I would include the video of Schue performing alone on the Broadway stage as he realizes he’s about to achieve his dreams, but this scene is so funny, it trumps that.
Anyway, of course Goolsby tells the glee club about Schue’s decision to leave, shaking their confidence. Schue realizes he cares too much about them and decides to stay and boom: it’s time for Nationals.
Rachel unnecessarily runs into Sunshine Corazon and they share a bonding moment before Sunshine leads Vocal Adrenaline in their pretty good number, but of course, it can’t be as great as the New Directions because they have to be our favorites! Jesse St. James shows up “for Rachel” and Finn and Rachel get ready for their duet, much like they did at Regionals last year – by staring deeply into each other’s eyes. The original songs are just what we expect, poppy and fun enough, but the real surprise (but not that surprising of a surprise) is that Finn practically makes out with Rachel at the end of their duet.
Afterwards a fight between Jesse and Finn erupts and Jesse says the kiss cost the club the competition, which only seems to be confirmed when they don’t place in the top 10. (Yeah, but it certainly wasn’t the sub-par pop songs or the fact that the girls wore black dress socks with heels.)
Everyone goes back to Lima for a tidy little wrap up. Santana and Brittany are attached at the hip and happy to have the glee club as a sort of high school family. Emma and Will seem to be together, evidenced by his affectionate arm around her shoulders. Sam and Mercedes are secretly dating because they’re the only two who haven’t hooked up. Kurt and Blaine say “I love you” which was pretty adorable. And Finn finally tells Rachel that high school isn’t going to be over FOR A YEAR, so they should date. They kiss and skip off to the choir room where everyone, even Quinn is happy to see them. Sure, okay.
Well, all I have to say is really? Really, Glee? There were a few good storylines developing, things that could have been fantastic cliff-hangers for the season-ender. Instead, we get an episode wrapped up with a nice big, red bow. That’s gutsy. I guess these writers know they can do whatever they want and they’ll still have an audience. Lucky bastards.