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Glee: Journey

Will: "Inside, you're a really good person. I appreciate what you're doing for these kids. I won't forget it."
Sue: "I'm seriously gonna puke in your mouth."

And so the school year - and season - comes to an end.

So, was it cheesy? You bet. Were parts of it completely predictable? Definitely. Was the pacing slightly off, and plot lines dropped? Absolutely. Did it rock? HELL YES.

"Journey" is a perfect title for the freshman show's season finale. Not only was this year really, truly a journey - for the kids, and for the viewers - but like the band, no matter how cliche, frustrating, good or bad Glee gets, you just can't help singing along.

So the kids lost. I'm not surprised - in fact, I think I would have been mighty annoyed if they had won. It would have been waaaaaay too cliche - plus, they really wouldn't have anything to work towards next year, would they? Placing after Aural Intensity, they of the "not at all stupid name" was kind of surprising though. And I'll admit, even though they set that up with the judges panel scene, I was kind of shocked.

But I will say this (at the risk of incurring the wrath of our faithful commenters): While "Bohemian Rhapsody", intercut with scenes of Quinn giving birth, was pure genius from a staging/choreography perspective, New Directions was better. I mean, sure, we knew for weeks that Glee was going for the "New Directions has heart, Vocal Adrenaline is soulless" angle - but I actually agree.

New Directions had an energy, an emotional investment that just made watching them a pure joy. And their dancing - that awful Reach to Nowhere - actually wasn't stiff or terrible at all. No, the choreography wasn't anything to write home about, but it made a difference that the kids were having fun. If you think about it, when you and your friends are in a bar or a club or whatever singing along to a classic, are you worried about your lifts and plies? No - you're just standing there, bouncing, singing at the top of your lungs. They actually made the lack-of-choreography work. It felt, ironically, natural.

I'm not going to pretend not to be wowed by Vocal Adrenaline, but really, it's like comparing strappy summer sandals to knee-high leather boots: they are just different animals, with merits in their own right. As I said, from a performance perspective, it was spot on - and made all the weirder/quirkier juxtaposed next to Quinn. But it's like watching a technically perfect dance, with no emotion or chemistry. Impressive, but not moving.

"I'm forever yours... faithfully":

-- New Directions performance - definitely deserves a plus 25 to start. The chemistry between Finn and Rachel at their entrance was palpable - plus 5. I'm glad that Santana and Puck had a solo section on "Don't Stop Believin'", and Mercedes did her "wail" - plus 5. I generally hate "Any Way You Want It", but it kept up the energy, and I did like the mini mash up with "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" - plus 2.

-- No points, but I just realized how horrifically 80's it is to have an entire song title ending in "in" instead of "ing".

-- And hey - for the first time, they actually looked like winners - the dresses were fantastic, and I loved the girls' hair - plus 10. Although minus 1 because Quinn didn't look at all pregnant. (Yeah, yeah - why do I even bother?)

-- Who else was thrilled that they revisited "Don't Stop Believin'"? I was worried that they wouldn't, since they haven't wanted to repeat songs. But it was the perfect way to cap off the season - with the song that started it all. Plus 15.

-- Again at the risk of courting controversy - Rachel's spontaneous kiss on the stairs was cute. Plus 5.

-- I especially liked the "gotta move, gotta move" segment of "Bohemian Rhapsody", and Jesse playing the piano. Plus 5. Overall number - plus 10; being the background of Quinn in labor, plus another 15.

-- Rod! Plus 2.

-- The acoustic "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Mr. Schue and Puck was just simply wonderful - plus 10. But I can't credit Glee for this wonderful rendition - a Hawaiian singer named Israel Kamakawiwo'ole made this famous. It has been featured in both Meet Joe Black and Fred Clause.

-- Yes, shameless emotional manipulation, but I still teared up during "To Sir, With Love." Plus 2.

-- It wasn't, by far, a satisfying conclusion, but I'm glad that Rachel and Shelby had another scene together. This time, Shelby's conflicting feelings and true regrets on missing out on Rachel's childhood felt a lot more real - plus 5.

-- Following on that, I'm ambivalent about Shelby adopting Beth. I like it, and I don't like it, so no points, although there's a plus 1 in there for leaving the door open for her return next season.

-- Emma screaming at Figgins - plus 5. You go girl.

-- I'll be honest - cheesy/cliche be damned, Sue's change of heart made me happy, and actually felt genuine. Not because the other "celebrities" mocked her presence as a judge, but because Sue truly considers herself an educator. It gets lost sometimes in her competitiveness, but I honestly believe she cares about what she brings to the kids. I liked how she actually got offended when Olivia started picking them apart - "Hey, they're just kids." Brava to Jane Lynch for taking a potentially one dimensional character, and giving Sue Sylvester depth - plus 10.

-- A lot of tender moments between our couples - Finn and Rachel, Quinn and Puck. Plus 2.

-- And, finally: "Your father cheated on me with some tattooed freak." Best moment of the night - plus 100!

"You suck, you suck, you suck..."

-- The couples confessions doesn't include Will/Emma. I'm glad she's dating her dentist, but that "Emma, I love you" felt forced and off. Minus 5.

-- It would have been nice if they at least had Jesse acknowledge Rachel by looking at her/making eye contact. You're right, they blew it - minus 10.

-- And his hair looked terrible - minus 2.

-- The timing of the whole episode was really weird - minus 5.

-- Wait - Quinn's water broke, she went into labor, and she gave birth all by the time the results were announced? Minus 20.

-- Also, Will cleared out the choir room, and put it all back together in, like, an hour? Minus 10. Although, I suppose it could have been another day, but still.

-- Josh Groban was not funny. I needed more blowsy alcoholic love from him - minus 5.

-- There's no way in Jersey that they'd be picking a set list that close to Regionals. I know that it would have made Glee musically boring, but in reality, they would have sang the same songs and practiced it ad nauseum for both Sectionals and Regionals - minus 25.

-- Why was Kurt wearing a sailor hat? Minus 5.

-- Also, why did Will buy a ticket to go into the theatre? Minus 2. And why were the judges sitting in the audience? Minus 3.

-- Don't eat me - I love me some Sue Sylvester, but her snarky comments about Will's hair are just too long. They would be a lot funnier if they were actually one liners. Minus 5.

I'm not even going to pretend to tally, since this episode clearly came out on top. The minuses really were minor nitpicks that annoyed me, but overall - very good season finale. I won't say that its the best episode of the season - and it definitely pales in comparison to the other intense, epic season/series endings we got this May, but it was true to the spirit of Glee, and reminded me why I love this show to begin with.

Three out of four Journey singles.


Sue: "I'm a celebrity now, William. Now I realize my cultural ascent only serves to illuminate your banality, but face it, I'm a legend. It's happened."

Sue: "I'm having a really difficult time hearing anything you have to say today because your hair looks like a brier patch. I keep expecting racist animated Disney characters to pop up and start singing songs about living on the bayou!"

Artie: "What's the point, Mr. Schue? Coach Sylvester's one of the judges. She's going to crush us."
Will: "Artie, you don’t know that."
Santana: "Yes we do. She told us at Cheerios practice."
Brittany: "Yeah, she said, 'I’m going to crush glee club.'"

MC at Regionals: "She is fresh off her 5th consecutive national cheerleading title, and author of the upcoming memoir I’m A Winner And You’re Fat."

Sue: "Kiss my ASS, Josh Groban! I’m an internationally ranked cheerleading coach!"
Olivia Newton-John: "Who lives in OHIO!"

Will: "I should shake your hand."
Sue: "Not unless you got some hand sanitizer. I’ve seen that car you drive — I don't want to catch 'poor'."

Sue: "But what kind of a world would that be, Will? A world where I couldn't constantly ridicule your hair. A world where I couldn't make fun of you for tearing up more than Michael Landon in a sweeps week episode of Little House on the Prairie?"

Olivia Newton-John: "That whole 'We’re inspiring! We’re a rag-tag bunch of misfits!' thing is so 2009."

Sue: "It's as barren as me in here."

Quinn: "Did you love me?"
Puck: "Yes. Especially now."

Mercedes: "You think Puck and Santana will acknowledge my existence if we're not in glee club together?"
Puck: "She has a point."

Quinn: "I'm the president of the Celibacy Club. I took a vow."
Puck: "So did Santana and Brittany. And I did them."

Until next fall... Serena


  1. Serena, I fully expected you to hate this episode, because I enjoyed it so much. But I'm glad we are in agreement this week. It is more fun that way! :)

    Great review. I agree with many of your points and nitpicks. I, too, completely bought into Sue's "change of heart" so to speak, and I think, as you say, it is the educator angle that sells it. Maybe it was a bit cheesy, but I loved it anyway.

    And I LOVED the title. Even if I had hated the episode, I would have loved the title. So appropriate. And it had me bopping around singing Journey songs all evening.

    I was thrilled that they did "Don't Stop Believin'" again! I agree completely that I'm not usually a fan of "Anyway You Want It," but it worked in the mash up. And I also really dug the juxtaposition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Quinn giving birth.

    It was nice that Quinn wanted Mercedes with her during the birth. This was a time they actually built something up over a few episodes before paying it off, which made it feel more "true" in the moment.

    My biggest quibble was the size of the baby they handed Quinn. I know, I know. TV babies and all that. But I busted out laughing when they handed her a supposedly 1-month premature newborn that was larger than my 3-month old baby. There should have been a LOT more screaming if Quinn was birthing that child! :)

    It's been a very enjoyable first season. Thanks for the great reviews, Serena. We don't agree most of the time, but I still look forward to getting your perspective on each episode.

  2. I loved that they went back to "Don't Stop Believing." And I thought intercutting Quinn giving birth with Bohemian Rhapsody worked visually really well, although of course it didn't make sense timewise. And I just grinned all through the New Directions number, and realized I wasn't during the Vocal Adrenalin number. New Directions really was better. "To Sir with Love" made me cringe, for some reason. But other than that, it was a terrific finale, and I'd give it four out of four sailor hats.

  3. Was Vocal Adrenalin even singing??
    Honestly it was like Jessie was the whole thing. I know. I know. Rachel makes a statement about him being the drive of the group but honestly there were like two spots in the whole song were there were other vocals that weren't ah ah ahing! I think that's the main reason New Directions came off so much better. The whole group was participating and no one person, with the possible exception of Rachel, held the spot light for very long. The Rhapsody's choreography was spectacular but in the end it was a dance around a guy singing not a show choir.
    I loved this episode despite all the deserving deductions. I basically FREAKED when they sang "To Sir with Love"! Not sure if it was a good song choice since a huge percentage of viewers will have no idea of the reference but I guess this wouldn't be the first time. Maybe it will encourage more interest in a truly excellent film.

  4. Was Vocal Adrenalin even singing??
    Honestly it was like Jessie was the whole thing. I know. I know. Rachel makes a statement about him being the drive of the group but honestly there were like two spots in the whole song were there were other vocals that weren't ah ah ahing! I think that's the main reason New Directions came off so much better. The whole group was participating and no one person, with the possible exception of Rachel, held the spot light for very long. The Rhapsody's choreography was spectacular but in the end it was a dance around a guy singing not a show choir.
    I loved this episode despite all the deserving deductions. I basically FREAKED when they sang "To Sir with Love"! Not sure if it was a good song choice since a huge percentage of viewers will have no idea of the reference but I guess this wouldn't be the first time. Maybe it will encourage more interest in a truly excellent film.

  5. I agree with most of what you say. Hell, all except for one point. Kurt's hat deserve a +500.

  6. This episode was totally cheesy, but this is maybe the second episode of the back 9 that I've liked.

    I'm surprised that more people didn't like Vocal Adrenaline's performance, I really enjoyed it- and this is coming from someone who's getting annoyed with Glee destroying all my favourite songs! Plus cutting it in with Quinn's birth was genius.

    I think this was the best episode song wise since the show came back.

  7. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed "Bohemian Rhapsody" (of course, my kids were baffled by it having never heard it), I agree that it didn't seem like a show choir number. It really did look like the rest of the kids were just dancers and Jesse was singing by himself. I would have to believe that in a realy situation the group would lose points for something like this.

    New Directions was better in most ways except their choreography, which was disappointing considering how they had really stepped up their dance game lately.

    Overall, I liked this episode a lot (as long as I don't focus on the cheese factor for too long).

  8. Btw... your final score was!

    DRUMROLL! Positive 137 points.

    It broke down like this;
    Positive Points: 234
    Negative Points: -97

    Mind you I have no idea what your numbering system means... but that seems like a pretty positive result to me :P

  9. To sir, with love was a major let down after the awesomeness of Journey. This show does its best work with popular well known songs, and ending with that "blah" really didn't work for me.

  10. I really enjoy your reviews but you seriously need to lose the positive/negative ratings thing. It is really annoying and pointless and at this stage I just basically skip past that whole section. Just give it a rating out of five like the other reviwers.

  11. Wow, some people are rude! And they don't even know that other reviewers give a rating out of four!

    Anyway, back to the episode, I loved it up until "To Sir With Love" Where it went way downhill, i thought the first half was pretty epic up until then. I really hope they bring Idina Menzel back, and from the storyline it looks quite probable, but oh boy did those writers mess up the Jesse storyline!

  12. I loved this episode. This show might be utterly cheesy and when I first heard of it, I didn't think I'd even watch it (and I still have reservations for Season 2) but this was a cracker of a finale.

    I called Vocal Adrenaline winning the Sectionals. Jesse may be an asshole but damn, the boy totally floored Bohemian Rhapsody and it took this episode to answer a long term question ringing in my mind for a while (fave song - Bohemian Rhapsody, go fig).

    Don't Stop Believing was done so much better in this episode than in the first one. Adding the rest of the gang to the vocals really helped and the Journey medley was made of win.

    I'm not surprised that Bohemian Rhapsody was used during Quinn giving birth. It certainly for a memorable scene and I called Shelby adopting Drizzle at the end of the episode. But it's still silly that she's not making an effort with Rachel either.

    Somewhere Over The Rainbow and To Sir With Love were done reasonably well but not as good as the earlier songs done, even if Santana's tears caught me off guard. Even she cares about Glee club. Who'd thought that?

    I did like everyone talking about their thoughts and experiences from the last nine months as well.

    Sue has a heart. Not that much of a shocker but I was surprised that she blackmailed Figgins into giving the Glee club another year though. Still more opportunities to comment on Will and his stupid hair.

    Didn't care about Will/Emma ILY's (but liked her standing up to Figgins) or Finn/Rachel either but neither really annoyed me that much.

    Are Artie and Tina a couple now? They seemed closer in this episode than before.

    Still love Quinn and Mercedes friendship. Hope that's maintained next season. And Kurt in between them. And more Brittany. Puck was even fun too.

  13. Between the Journey and Rhapsody there's no way I couldn't have loved this episode. They were both great performances and showcased what's best about the groups. Of course, New Directions is all heart while the other is a technical machine.

    So much to love - especially the sweet, awkward "I love you" to Rachel from Finn.

    This show consistently is not great with time - the birth is a great example. But do ND crank out these performances in a week?

    But my complaint is generally trying to squish so much storyline into the episode. I agree with our reviewer that while it is good to have Rachel and Shelby have another conversation, that whole arc was poorly handled. Ugh.

    Lastly, I wish they'd let Santana and Puck sing more. Puck is a better singer than Finn.

    And I LOVED the sailor hat.

  14. I just re-watched and Sue clearly has "Aural Intensity" written on her sheet. I also had thought it was "oral" which is frankly funnier.

  15. From now on all glee clubs should have double entandre names.

    Quinn/Queen (did they name her just for that pun? ;p) was pure genius and it allowed them to show the entire song without danger of boring the audience. We got a great number and emotional connection. Which wouldn't be possible if it was just Jessie singing for 5 minutes.

    I'm also happy that ND lost but not due to Sue but because of the celebrities. I wonder how many too-dumb-to-live people will forever hold a grudge against Groban and Newton-John in real life for this. ;)

    We've can now look forward to 2 years of Glee. Season 2: they should lose in nationals and of course Season 3 win nationals. After that it gets sketchy because of the ever present (in hig school shows) everyone goes to college problem.

  16. What this show really needs is a writer capable of handling convincing relationships. I love Glee, but the relationships aspect of the show is a real weakness, for me.

    Okay, I'm off now to paint my toenails, bake some cookies and watch Sex in the City.

  17. Just what you'd expect of a season finale. While it's not the best episode ever, it does have that finale-ness to it and it rocked. I was a bit disappointed that after all that stuff in Funk they still ended up doing some not very good dance moves but I think it worked in their favour. And the songs were good. But Bohemian Rhapsody (an awesome song) just wasn't Vocal Adrenaline's strongest performance. The moves weren't as snappy and it was basically one long Jesse solo. Even Another One Bites the Dust was a lot better.

    And I agree with Paul Kelly, one thing they're somewhat weak with on Glee are the relationships. Although I appreciate how the writers don't waste time dragging certain things out, they also rush it a little too much sometimes, and sometimes they don't resolve it right. Rachel and Shelby are a case in point. Who else doesn't really get why Shelby can't really form a relationship with her? And Jesse and Rachel weren't explained well either. I mean I'd understand if he felt nothing but he did say he cared for her a little, so why the sudden move?

    And is it me or was Will and Emma's relationship like extremely short? They took 13 episodes of suggestion and build-up to get 'em together and after like a few more eps they break up, and now apparently I dunno what's going to happen.

    But still one heck of a finale, and I totally completely applaud the writers for thinking up a realistic, great ending by overturning all the cliche predictable stuff you'd expect. They didn't win Regionals, Sue sides with them, they still get another year. It's been awesome and I can't wait for Season 2.

    And may I say, your reviews are fantastic as well. Love the scoring system, don't trash it!

  18. Nick perfectly summed up my thoughts on relationships on Glee - and like Nick, I'm okay to wince a little and keep watching.
    Thanks for the good conversation, people.

  19. I like the plus/minus reviews!

  20. I must be the only one that liked To Sir With Love...

  21. If it's any consolation, Sooze, I liked "To Sir With Love" too. It didn't even strike me as cheesy. Just heart felt and kind of moving.

  22. Yeah, I was surprised by the number of people who didn't like "To Sir With Love". It was 100% cheese, but I liked it too.

    Thanks for all your thoughts! I'll be posting up make up reviews for the Pilot, Laryngitis and Bad Reputation over the next few weeks, so stay tuned! Also, there will be some Top Ten lists coming your way.

  23. Well I can see how "To Sir With Love" may come off as cheesy but then again we've seen so much of it on Glee and I'm fine with it. Thought it was a sweet song.

    And some Top Ten lists sound good. Besides the probably Top Ten songs and moments I wonder what else you'll come up with haha :)

  24. Very good season finale.

    The juxtaposition of Quinn giving birth and Bohemian Rhapsody was genius! I loved the mirroring of the vocals with what she was screaming as well as the choreography being very suggestive of the birth process.

    I'm in the positive camp for 'To Sir With Love.'. Was it cheesy and emotionally manipulative? You bet. Did it work? I cried and cried, so yes.

    Was really pleased that it was Sue who got them another year. Great set-up for next season. Her humanity gets me every time.

    A good season of fun, frothy television. It isn't the most thought provoking thing I've ever seen, but more often than not it leaves me singing and smiling. There are worse ways to spend 45 minutes.


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