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Glee: Nationals

Rachel: "When I first met you, I was just an annoying Jewish girl with two gay dads and a very big dream. Today, I still have two dads, I'm still Jewish and probably just as annoying..."

Glee hasn't been blowing me away this season. But this episode brought my love of Glee back to me, because (1) they finally, finally, FINALLY won the national championship, and at the best possible time; (2) Rachel and Finn rocked "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," a performance perfect for their characters that reminded me of their spectacular version of "Don't Stop Believing" in the pilot episode; and (3) the obvious poignancy associated with the fact that a number of the characters are graduating, and some of them won't be back next season.

As if that weren't enough, we had an emotional "To Sir, With Love" moment with Will winning Teacher of the Year (and Matthew Morrison proving he could still act, even after the way his character has been assassinated the past couple of seasons), complete with an emotional Will hugging each member of the Glee club, and the big closing "We are the Champions", which came off as just so slightly unprofessional and emotional, as the real thing would undoubtedly be. They also finally gave us a resolution of Will and Emma's when-will-they-ever-do-it follies, sparked by the hilarious "When It's Finally Time to Have Intercourse" pamphlet (a very Emma way to tell Will it was time).

There were a lot of small, fun moments, too: the ridiculousness of the huge Chicago beer mug that Finn bought to smash at the wedding; Artie eating popcorn as he watched his classmates imploding from stress; Mercedes literally on steroids; Rachel signing her first autograph, and realizing that she had just signed her first autograph. I particularly loved the triumphant club returning to McKinley and being doused with confetti instead of slushy (which made me go "awww"). Also loved the visual of Artie in his wheelchair carrying that immense trophy on his lap.

The guest star judges did nothing for me, although I thought Perez Hilton instantly blogging everything Lindsay Lohan did was amusing (probably because that would totally happen). The complete defanging of New Directions opponents continued with Jesse throwing Thibodeaux right back at Rachel again. Like I said, NYADA inevitable, not a surprise.

All in all, an exceptional episode that was quite powerful for what was, in effect, a string of musical numbers. And with that, I'll throw the review over to Samantha.

The music, according to Samantha:

Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga - Performed by the Trouble Tones (Santana, Mercedes, Tina, and Quinn):

As the final song sung by the Trouble Tones, this felt really on point. I really loved Santana's start and Quinn's nice harmonizing with Tina. It didn't have the most inspired choreography, but the costumes were visually striking. Again where did they get all the extra girls as their background dancers? The only problem I had with this song was that it felt a little short.

It's All Coming Back to Me Now by Céline Dion - Performed by Rachel:

Again, I don't like power diva ballads, and it was Céline Dion, but this was a nice performance. Rachel felt like Rachel again, if that makes sense. She really sold the performance, and I loved the shift in demeanor when Whoopi showed up. Her grin made what I would normally find to be an annoying song engaging. Not the greatest Rachel performance, but I definitely liked it.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf - Performed by New Directions:

This was almost my favorite performance of the episode. It had the right blend of trading up lead vocals, strong choreography, and excellent rhythm. This was New Directions at its best, and I really loved how much fun they seemed to have. The transitions between the tonal shifts were handled really well, and I swear Finn was channeling Meatloaf a little. I just wish Kurt and Blaine had a bigger role in the performance. Still this was awesome, and made me remember why I like this show in the first place.

Starships by Nicki Minaj - Performed by Unique backed by Vocal Adrenaline:

I like Unique, s/he feels like a strange and fun character. I wanted to like this song more, but I thought the vocals were far to synthesized. Maybe there was a reason, but it took away from the authenticity of the performance. Don't get me wrong, Unique's charisma and stage presence was engaging, but the performance wasn't. Not bad, but not great either.

Pinball Wizard by The Who - Performed by Unique backed by Vocal Adrenaline:

On the other hand, I felt this was a really nice change of pace. It had the big show number feel needed to pay tribute to Tommy, and it had a much better tone then their first number. I assume it was intentional irony that they needed to use giant props, when New Directions chose to ditch props in the last episode. Those props were a little distracting, but having a pinball machine on stage is almost required for this song, just not four of them. I really enjoyed this one, and I hope they do bring Unique into the cast next season even if it's for a guest role.

We Are the Champions by Queen - Performed by New Directions:

Moving and perfect. It actually choked me up a bit, call me a sap. I loved how each of the sections were handed to one of our leads, even Quinn. This had the right balance of emotional connection to the events of the scene, as well as, a literal moment for the characters to shout triumphantly about their success at Nationals. Again I have to single out Rachel and Finn. I believe this episode had some of Finn's best vocal performances, and Rachel finally felt free and fun again.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

-- The black and red costumes were outstanding. I'm glad they wore them for all of the performances in the episode, too, because that felt genuine.

-- Wade/Unique said he might transfer to McKinley next year. Not a surprise.

-- I liked that Lohan referred to Freaky Friday, since we got it in the previous episode.

-- The Portland Scale Blazers. That made me laugh out loud.

-- Despite the usual zingers, Sue was almost sweet. It should bother me, but I sort of liked it. Her over-the-top meanness got old. Of course, she had a stake in this one. Even so, she still grinned at Will when he won "Teacher of the Year" and that was *after* she got the Cheerios back.

-- Figgins gave "Finchel" a wedding present of five whole dollars.

-- So Vocal Adrenalin lost, even though Unique got the MVP award. Does that mean the newly kind Jesse no longer has a job?

Quotes:

Mercedes: (re: Sue) "She's a miracle worker."
Sue: "It's amazing what a little TLC, some cortisone and a witch doctor will do."

Mercedes: "I have so many steroids running through my body right now that I may turn into the Incredible Hulk if you piss me off."

Wade: "All I ever wanted to do was wear a dress and sing. And now I'm the poster child for any kid that's different."

Figgins: "I only have a few moments before I chastise the cafeteria cooks for selling our frozen vegetables on the black market."

Sue: "I led your tragic band of misfits to a victory at Nationals, I defeated my Nubian nemesis, and of course, the Cheerios welcomed me back with open arms. And I did all of this without missing a single day of work, and in spite of the fact that I've been pregnant now for an indeterminate number of months."

Mrs. Hogberg: "I plan on using my retirement to finally kick my addiction to painkillers. A reminder that my episode of Intervention is at the end of June, and my Hoarders episode airs in early August."

Definitely a major episode of the series. Harry, I'm sorry you didn't get the chance to review this one. :)

Four out of four inappropriately massive trophies,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

6 comments:

  1. Where did they get the backup dancers? The same place they got the band silly.

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  2. I think the back-up dancers are some of the Cheerios?? Then again, this is Glee. One does need a bit of suspension of belief to watch it.

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  3. Yes, a 4 indeed.

    The first half hour was pure magic; the music, from both groups, was simply excellent.

    Well, since Glee was originally planned as a movie, this ep was basically the end game. I'm very reluctant to watch it next season, especially if we won't see the entire actual staff.

    (I'd have preferred that they'd end it here, to make a perfect stop to the series)

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  4. Been struggling with this whole season so far, but man, this was a great episode. Their Nationals-winning setlist was pretty decent, actually, and all the key moments like their return to McKinley were done so well. 3 seasons leading up to this and they didn't disappoint.

    Oh, I was hoping Will would tell Finn he framed him with drugs just to get him to join Glee, but you can't have everything eh :)

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  5. Loved Paradise by the Dashboard Light, in its entirety and also for some lovely touches, like allowing the same-sex couples to have some moments too, and the full use of the stage. I also noticed that it's role-reversed for Finn and Rachel, because the "before we have sex, are you sure you really love me, and please please marry me" character this season was Finn. Who had better have quite the stomp if he's going to break that beer mug.

    I always love the crazy judges, especially when they're wacky versions of themselves. And the results were appropriate -- VA's performance would have been nothing without Unique, while ND has a better ensemble and are the better performers. I prefer a choir to have depth.

    As for Jesse, with the way he brightened up when Thibideaux finally complimented him, perhaps he's considering going back to performing (he should). See, it pays to be nice and help others instead of being cruel.

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  6. Thanks so much Billie and JD for doing Props and Nationals reviews, and you're right, this was a very special episode. As the culmination of everything the New Directions have been working towards, it delivered pretty well everything I wanted to see.

    I think my highpoint was Dashboard Light, it may not quite be another Don't Stop Believing, but it had a similar epic feel to that and Bohemian Rhapsody. They even included the 'Reach to Nowhere' dance move that Serena always pointed out in her Glee reviews. Also, check out Finn doing the complex dance routine with Blaine and Mike at the start of the song. He's really improved!

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