Glee: New York

“I see it now. I don’t have to choose between my career and love.”

12th Place? TWELFTH FRAKKING PLACE? I know that the show choir competitions employ judges with incredibly dubious credentials, but was the decision making done by a troupe of drunken mongooses? I understand that if New Directions won Nationals, the series would basically have nowhere else to go (except international competitions!), but damn, they were so good, I really felt they might win.

New Directions in New York

It was so much fun to see our favourite glee club gallivanting around NYC, looking more a lot colourful than they usually do. It lent a ‘school trip’ air to the episode. With most school trips the singing is confined to the bus journey, but it felt right that New Directions would burst into song in the middle of Times Square. The school trip feeling continued as Puck tried to score some booze, everyone bunked off song writing in order to go enjoy the city. Several of the scenes and performances were odes to New York in one way or another; in fact much of the episode was a love letter to the Big Apple. Finn and Rachel met in central park in a beautiful scene with bubbles and balloons on bow bridge, dined at Sardi’s and met Patti LuPone. As if that wasn’t enough, Rachel and Kurt breakfasted at Tiffany’s (well, outside it) and broke into the Wicked theatre.

Boulevard of Broadway Dreams

Ironically, Will and Rachel, the two main characters struggling with their dreams of Broadway, were discovered by Glee creator Ryan Murphy on Broadway. This episode seemed like a sly tip of the hat to two performers who really can make the screen or stage come alive with their talent. Will’s scenes felt like they needed another reappearance of April to make them more believable, Matthew Morrison is a great performer but it was still just him singing on an empty stage. Will gave up his Broadway dreams for his kids rather easily. I am a little disappointed; it felt like that plot was tied up too quickly and neatly. I am so glad that Kurt also got to sing on Broadway since for me, he has been the heart of this season and has grown so much over the course of it. He not only has big dreams of his own, but is the one who helps Rachel realise hers. He’s a star. You know, when you stop and think about it, Kurt Hummel’s had a pretty good year.

Nationals (No Public Displays of Affection Please)

It’s hard to think about Nationals without getting annoyed that New Directions placed so low on the rankings, especially since they wrote their own material (When did they finally get down to it? The songs were amazing!). It was nice that Rachel reconciled with Sunshine, but I expected her to have a larger role in the series finale since she made such a big impact at the beginning of the season, their scene in this episode relied too much upon events all the way back in Audition. It also felt too unbelievable that Sunshine would be upset enough to want to be deported and then be that easily consoled by Rachel. Dustin Goolsby’s scene with Will was similarly strange. Dustin didn’t gloat, didn’t seem threatened or adversarial. Why would they chat at a bar together when Captain Smarmy was planning on telling New Directions about Will’s plans to leave anyway?

For me, the best parts of the Nationals storyline were centred on Finn and Rachel. Their pre-curtain up chat felt so much more real than the equivalent at the end of Season One. The following performance was more charged with emotion as a result, and perfectly finished by their beautiful but ill-timed kiss. I am finally properly on board the Finchel love train. Jesse was pretty unimpressive in comparison, but he was right, that kiss cost New Directions the Top 10 Showcase. I am glad they didn’t show too much of the understandable fallout from that disappointment and instead focused on the sweet Blaine/Kurt, Brittany/Santana, Sam/Mercedes scenes. Of course, Finn and Rachel’s talk in the library ended with them getting back together. Everybody say ‘Ahhh’!

Loved

- “My cup, my cup, saying what’s up to my cup, my cup, more of a friend than a silly pup...” Way better than My Headband. I think that's where Brittany drew her inspiration!

- Rachel and Kurt talking about achieving their Broadway destiny in front of Tiffany’s & Co. while Moon River played on the soundtrack, then singing Wicked together. Hell, even I want to move to NYC with them!

- Even though I didn’t like Quinn’s bratty, entitled rant, I appreciated the feeling that Quinn, Brittany and Santana are still a little clique – the popular girls, ex-cheerleaders, The Plastics. I’d like to see more scenes with the three of them together.

- Below, I have a moan about some characters disappearing or not being treated well. Not so with Blaine. Even in the final episode they managed to fit him in, Hurrah! Blaine and Kurt aren’t just an adorable couple, they’re also role models, and a symbol of hope to many young gay, bi or unsure people out there. Their declaration of love was so sweet.

- Speaking of cute couples, Brittany and Santana are so great together. I am glad they focused on their friendship rather than their romantic love, as there wasn’t time to do it justice in this episode.

- Santana was being held back by three people when screaming at Rachel in Spanish, Grr! I’m looking forward to finding out more about the cause of her general angriness next season.

Didn’t Love

I thought about doing two versions of this review, a cynical one, highlighting the many overtly cheesy, overly emotional or politically plotted moments, and a more gleeful one. However Glee isn’t suitable programming for grumpy young men, so I’ll reserve my cynicism for this section.

- How could New Directions rank TWELFTH? This was so implausible that it almost feels like the writers were saying “Oh come on, you didn’t think they’d stand a chance at winning when it’s only the end of Season Two?” I also don’t love this because I take it to mean that they might not win at Nationals until the last series of Glee.

- Quinn’s threatening talk at the end of last episode was basically for nothing. She didn’t have a plan for New York, or if she did it wasn’t revealed. Instead, her anger was conveniently located in the ends of her hair which was trimmed, and her vengeance-y power was gone. Poor Samson, I mean Quinn. Her character has not been treated very justly by the writers this season.

- Artie rolling around that fountain sculpture! I mean what if he had fallen off! And how’d he get up there in the first place?

- It seems like Coach Bieste and to a lesser extent Emma were just put on hold as characters towards the end of this season. Emma is still a virgin; why did Carl and Holly break it off with their respective partners if Will and Emma’s relationship didn’t develop? Dave Karofsky is still in the closet, and so is Santana. Bieste had her first kiss from Will, and then drunkenly told him she loved him. What happened there?

Glee Against the Music

Brittany, Artie and Puck - My Cup:
I decided to give this a song review slot since I actually really enjoyed it! But that was mainly Brittany’s sassy dancing and everyone’s ‘Huh?’ faces. Grade B

Madonna - I Love New York / New York, New York from On The Town (New Directions):
Rather dodgy mash-up, at least to begin with, but it got better. The staging was clearly epic. I particularly enjoyed the skipping through central park with balloons and flowers in front of mounted police, and the girls on the red steps in Times Square. They looked very girl-band-y (yes, that is a word), especially with their multi-coloured New York garb. Grade B

Matthew Morrison - Still Got Tonight (Will):
This song perfectly suited Will (for obvious reasons), and his performance was thrilling. He was really good, and the song was just long enough to get into and not feel cut short. Two complaints, the lack of staging and the overuse of auto-tune! B+

Bella Notte from Lady And The Tramp (Puck, Artie, Sam and Mike):
After I got over my confusion about whether Finn had asked Puck & Co. to serenade them, it created a magical atmosphere for Finn and Rachel’s almost kiss. My heart did a little flip-flop when Finn whispered “Take a chance on me”. And Puck can play accordion too! What’s next, French horn? Grade B

For Good from Wicked (Kurt and Rachel):
Good idea Kurt, seriously good idea. This really did feel a little bit like Kurt and Rachel fulfilling their destiny. Not only was their performance stunning, but the song fit the situation so well. What great acting as well as singing, they were so full of emotion. Grade A

Yeah! - Usher ft.Lil Jon & Ludacris (possiblySingaz Wit Attitude):
Yeeeeah. Good singing, great dancing etc, but why were they all wearing maternity dresses? I enjoyed the performance at the time, but afterwards I wished they had cut this out in order to fill out some of the threadbare plots in this episode. Grade C.

Glee - As Long As You're There (Vocal Adrenaline):
I didn’t realise this was another Glee original song until after watching the episode, but it does stand up with the other originals. What it doesn’t compare to is Bohemian Rhapsody, and neither did the staging, compared to Vocal Adrenaline’s winning performance at the end of Season One. It was also a lot shorter. If it wasn’t for adorable Sunshine, I wouldn’t have been that impressed at all. Grade B-

Finn and Rachel – Pretending:
This was great! If Glee can keep doing original songs of this calibre, that fit their leading man and woman like a glove, I am going to have to write a thank you note on behalf of my mp3 player. The intensity of the performance was amped up by Finn and Rachel’s conversation beforehand, and I really felt the heat of that kiss. Grade B+

New Directions - Light Up the World:
Just like Loser Like Me, this was a pure, unadulterated dose of Glee. The ensemble performance really worked, and the choreography was definitely better than what we’re used to, a far cry from the infamous Reach to Nowhere. The girls’ dresses were gorgeous too. Grade A-

Quotes for Gleeks

Rachel: “He did seem crazy. He charged my credit card by swiping it through his butt crack.”

Kurt: “I feel like Eloise.”
Brittany: “I have pills for that.”

Puck: “You need to ask her out tonight. Take her on one of those big awful dates you see on those unwatchable romantic comedies that you grow a vagina with if you watch all the way through.”

Dustin Goolsby: “They're hideous. My kids are at least attractive. Yours look like they haven't been baked properly.”

Kurt: “I'm spending my summer composing Pip, Pip, Hooray! The Broadway musical about Pippa Middleton.”

Santana (in Spanish): “Do you know what goes down in Lima Heights Adjacent? Bad things!”

Blaine: “I love you.”
Kurt: “I love you too. You know, when you stop and think about it, Kurt Hummel’s had a pretty good year.”

Brittany: “I know I’m going to be a bridesmaid at Mike and Tina’s wedding. And I’m going to be anxiously waiting just like everyone else to see if their babies are Asian too.”

And that’s it! Glee’s sophomore year is over. There were some patchy parts to this episode, but it tried to cram an awful lot into 45 minutes, and according to the internet, some important scenes got cut. I wish it could have been longer. Maybe I just want more Glee. It’s going to be a long summer, maybe it’s time to re-watch from the beginning. From the top!

8 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I thought it was very good, but the idea that any show choir would wait until they're actually *at Nationals* before writing their songs was so improbable that it bothered me. I really liked Kurt and Rachel on stage. This *has* been a good year for Kurt and he's my favorite character now.

Great review, Harry! And congratulations on making it to the end of the season!

Felipe said...

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. All the performances were so fun, loved "Light Up the World".

As improbable as it was for the group to write their songs mere hours before performing, it did keep with their apparent tradition of pulling performances out of their assess during competitions.

Congrats on wrapping this season up. Instead of re-watching Glee why not pick up another show for the summer, your reviews are always enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you mean Glee's sophomore year as in the second season or not, because most of those characters,if not all, just got through with junior year.

Marissa said...

Holy crap. If I wasn't a Gleek before, I sure am now! That was easily my favorite episode from this season, if not both of them. I loved getting to see the New Directions who started off as underdogs, fulfilling their dreams in the big city. The scenery really set the tone for the episode as well, considering that the show is supposed to take place in Ohio but is filmed in LA and there aren't many "outside" scenes. Finn & Rachel actually made me scream a few times this episode, in a good way of course! Their Central Park date was positively adorable and I completely understand why Rachel was so hesitant to kiss him. He's hurt her several times, refused to forgive her and she didn't want to have to choose between Finn and broadway. I was very happy they decided to use one of Matthew Morrison's songs from his album and put it into the show. It seemed so fitting to his situation. The thing that made me so happy in this episode had to be when Rachel and Kurt snuck into Wicked and sang "For Good". No one can do Idina/Kristen justice but if anyone could be an incredibly close second, I'm glad it was these two. Their emotion was so raw and real that it made the performance amazing. The fact that they were actually on the stage of Wicked and had the scenery was perfect as well. I'm thinking Wicked songs should be only sung by Kurt and Rachel from now on. That musical is practically made for them to star in. I was slightly upset that Quinn's "big plan" was diminished when she cut her hair but then I realized that sometimes people need to change something about themselves in order to get that weight lifted off. I'm not saying people should have surgery or anything, but maybe a hair cut is just what she needed in order to symbolize getting a fresh start. I really enjoyed that Rachel and Sunshine made up in the bathroom (ironic that all of their scenes are in bathrooms, huh?). Rachel helping out Sunshine made me remember how far she's come since the pilot episode. She used to be very crazy and self-centered but now she has friends and is actually caring for people other than herself. I really liked Vocal Adrenaline's song but you're right, it doesn't even come close to Bohemian Rhapsody. That performance last season was just shy of flawless and As Long As You're There just wasn't as good. Also, VA has amazing dancers and their talent just wasn't captured in this number considering that it was such a slow song and didn't last very long. However, New Directions two songs were amazing! Never did I think that original songs would be good on glee, but they just work so well! Pretending was freaking precious. It was obvious that Rachel still loved Finn, and visa-versa but it was nice seeing how well that song fit their particular situation. That kiss! It was perfect. Slightly awkward for the crowd to watch but well worth it in the end. I realize that the kiss may have played a part in them not winning but I think that it will be even more special when the Glee Club wins Nationals their senior year. I'm sure it'll be well worth the wait to see them win in their last competition as a New Direction. On another topic, Klaine was just the cuuuuutest. I completely agreed with Kurt. I'm not mad that they lost, it was still a fantastic episode regardless. And Blaine's "I love you" was just perfectly timed as well. Lastly, Finchel. Library. KISS. That little conversation was so cute that I just had to watch it three other times after the episode ended. It seemed so genuine and although we will have to come to terms with Rachel moving eventually, we still have a year. I'm looking forward to where their senior year takes us. Well, I guess that's it for now! Can't wait to see what Season Three has in store! :)

Nick said...

Nice review to end the season!

Can't really say the same for the episode, though. A few good moments - Kurt and Rachel, I really like it when they team up, Quinn's new hair, Blaine making an appearance at least (no Coach Beiste again...what a waste).

But did they honestly expect anything better? They went to New York WITHOUT having written their setlist, and who knows how they even managed to practise enough to string their show together. And the kiss really was unprofessional, I agree with Jesse...all in all, 12th place isn't really a surprise.

(Though I'm starting to think that even winning Nationals won't make them stars at their school...)

Patryk said...

They placed 12th because 11th would be too predictable. That was my bet since i learned that 10 glee clubs advance.

Harry Earle said...

Thanks to all of you regular commenters for seeing out the season with me and sharing your own takes on the episode. Especially props to Marissa for your own mini or not so mini reviews each week.

Felipe, my rewatch suggestion was an allusion to the fact that we never had a review for the Pilot of Glee, and that's the next review I'm planning to do whenever I get the time. I don't like having Season One incomplete!

ChrisB said...

Good end to the season, but like Harry, I felt that it had highs and lows.

Loved the kids in NYC and their sheer joy in being there. Having lived in the city for eleven years, it is easy to forget the excitement of one's first time in Manhattan. I've always thought that NYC is a great place to spend your early adult years, but then you have to get the hell out and go find a life. Without exception, all of the people I worked and played with for all those years did just that.

For those of you who are so anti-Will, I was surprised that you let him get away with what I thought was pretty reckless behaviour. He's off singing on an empty stage while a bunch of sixteen year olds are running around a strange city unsupervised? Hmmm...

Loved that Rachael ran into her idol at Sardi's. What a cliche -- but a lovely one. That place is such a tourist trap that it is my guess that PL wouldn't be caught dead there. Also, huge continuity error -- when Rachael and Finn are walking down the street at the end of the night, she no longer has her flowers, although they were on the table at the restaurant. Oops.

Loved the scene of Rachael and Kurt singing in the theatre. The joy in their faces was infectious. I really hope the writers stick to their guns and send both of these characters to NYC at the end of next season. Yes, it will change the dynamic of the show, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

Harry, I have to disagree with you about Quinn. I think her plan was to sabotage the show, but she was talked down by her girls. Yes, it was given short shrift, but a lot of the plot lines were. Will giving up Broadway in, literally, two seconds flat? I didn't buy it.

I adore the Kurt/Blaine romance -- frankly, it's the only one I care much about. Their final scene was charming and I just grinned through it. The Finn/Rachael relationship is fine, but so what. It's too obvious, which is why I kinda like the Sam/Mercedes pairing.

Overall, I enjoyed the season. Some great moments, some awful moments, but mostly good. In Harry's terms, I would give it a solid B.