Glee Season 2 Episode 22: New York
We should warn you right now: if you’re looking for an Entertainment Weekly-esque gushing review, you should probably just head over to Entertainment Weekly. Since we don’t have to worry about whether or not Lea Michele will ever appear on our cover again, we have a little more room to speak our minds.
And can we just say? We were ready to love this episode. This season has been pretty much nothing but a series of disappointments as the show inevitably lost sight of its original theme – small town losers and outcasts grabbing at their last chance of glory before depressing adulthood settles in – and became a show about well-dressed, good-looking adults playing teenagers and teaching lessons about life and diversity. Bleh. The only high point of the season, the exploration of gay teenhood with Kurt, collapsed almost as soon as it got underway by stripping the character of anything but the most noble of attitudes and turning him into a marble statue, always catching the light so that we can see the one beautiful tear making its way down his face. Kurt stopped being a funny, bitchy, messed up character and became a gay paragon. Double bleh. But we really thought that all the creative energy that seemed to be missing from most of this season would reappear for the finale because this was the ultimate Glee story; where the show was always heading. Will New Directions win Nationals? This has been the goal since episode 1 of season 1 and we (rather sadly, in retrospect) assumed that the writing and performances would be excellent.
Well, they weren’t. This episode sucked and the more we think about it, the more it pisses us off. This should have been a series-defining episode and a payoff to the previous 40+ episodes. Instead, it was just a half-assed effort that didn’t seem to demonstrate the slightest bit of respect for the audience. We’ve been pointing out all season that the show decided to ignore its adult audience and appeal directly to the more-likely-to-buy-songs teen set. And that’s fine. We’d still enjoy Glee if it was a smart, funny, entertaining show that happened to be geared toward the young. But it’s not. It’s High School Musical stripped of any consistent plotting and characterization crossed with American Idol-style performing (God almighty, Schu’s number made our teeth ache), and if you know anything at all about our tastes, you’d know that’s not even in the same solar system. In fact, we were so underimpressed with all the musical numbers this week that we really don’t have anything to say about them. We’re including the videos of the songs but you’ll have to supply the commentary. Kurt and Rachel’s number was cute (if staged kinda dorky) because their friendship is one of the few relationships on the show that makes any sense (which means it was ignored most of the season, of course) but aside from that, nothing else stuck out.
And we’re not complaining that New Directions didn’t win. In fact, we were happy to see them go that route. If New Directions are the champions, then what’s the point of Glee? They’ll probably win at the end of season 3 and then get a mostly new cast of losers for season 4 (if it makes it that far), at which point they can start the whole “road to Nationals” storyline all over again. No, New Directions had to lose and we actually liked the way they handled it. They lost, and as the viewer you can see why they lost. That onstage kiss was extremely odd but it got the job done from a storytelling perspective. We have to buy that Finn is desperate to win Rachel back, but we’ve always had to buy them as some sort of epic love story, even if the week-to-week storytelling belies that. Fine. Rachel and Finn are the star-cross’d lovers of Lima. Despite the unevenness of this arc, we liked how it ended. They’re together, but you can clearly see that Rachel thinks less of Finn for ruining the number. That’s perfectly in line with her show-must-go-on-at-all-costs character and sets up the conflict for season 3. Let’s face it, if they’re going to be true to the characters (however unlikely that may be) Rachel and Finn can’t stay together.
Of course, Finn can’t go back to Quinn because, completely out of left field, Quinn has become the plotting, devious ex-girlfriend, ready to destroy the entire glee club to get her revenge. Oh, wait. She got a haircut. Nevermind. Storytelling!
So Kurt and Blaine declared their love for each other (although Kurt seemed a bit reluctant, no?), Finn and Rachel declared their sort-of love for each other, Santana and Brittany declared their sideways love for each other, Mr. Schue declared his love for “his kids,” and Mercedes and Sam hide their love away. Wait, what? We guess it’s a good thing that they’re giving Mercedes a storyline and hooking up with her is the first interesting thing Sam’s done as a character, but the theme of football players and cheerleaders dating the unpopular kids (Finn/Rachel, Puck/Lauren, Brittany/Artie, Mike/Tina) has been a bit more than played out at this point.
We’ll be back for season 3, but we have to admit, before the show aired last night, we were talking about it and concluded that no matter what the finale was like, the show needed a break from itself and needs to decide what kind of show it’s going to be for the next season. It’s still a hit, but the ratings have been slipping and if they don’t get away from the wildly uneven plotting and characterization and rethink the idea that the show is just a machine to make money from song downloads, it may not make it to the end of season 3. It would be a shame if we never got to see New Directions become the champions just because the show creators lost sight of the reasons the show was successful in the first place. Bring back the cynical undertones and stop trying to Teach The World a Lesson. Be funny, be entertaining, and strive toward a little consistency. That’s all we ask, Glee.
[Video Credit: hulu.com - Screencap: tomandlorenzo.com]