A bittersweet goodbye

Glee’s third season came to a close this week with the episode “Goodbye.” Since they’d already won at Nationals last week, they didn’t end with a competition as they had in seasons 1 and 2. Instead, “Goodbye” dealt with Glee’s graduating seniors and their plans for college (or lack thereof).

This episode was devotedly entirely to the seniors, so that’s who we’ll talk about — their journey to this point and their future after high school.

Mercedes – Remember that video of her singing “Disco Inferno” that Sam posted on the internet? Well, it apparently paid off, because she was offered a recording contract for an indie label in Los Angeles! So she’ll be moving there and taking classes at UCLA on the side so she can still pursue that whole “education” thing.

Mike – Thanks to some help from Tina and the support of his parents, he’ll be attending dance school in Chicago on a scholarship.

Brittany – She failed the year with a 0.0 GPA, so she’ll be repeating 12th grade next year. Is anyone really surprised?

Santana – She was going to go to school in Kentucky on a cheerleading scholarship, but she decides that’s not what she wants to do. When her mom presents her with a big fat check and tells her to chase her dreams, it’s decided: Santana is going to move to New York.

Quinn – As she mentioned earlier, she’ll be attending Yale. Oh, and she can now walk perfectly. It looks like everything is coming up Quinn, and I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be rooting for her; but man, is that a difficult feat. As she so humbly reflected, she is ending her senior year the same way she began her freshman year: at the top of the food chain, with great friends and a great future ahead. That still doesn’t make up for the fact that she has been consistently awful as season, with her most recent stunt being her exaggerating her paralysis to earn votes. So yes, she’s correct that she is right back where she started — she is just as crazy, manipulative, and evil as she was in the very first episode.

Puck – After Beiste pulled some strings to give him a second chance at the test that would let him graduate, Puck is still clearly struggling, and the chances of him passing don’t look great. Then Quinn decides to come to the rescue by… making out with him? By her crazy person logic, doing this will restore the confidence he had when they were dating. (I guess she forgot that she is currently involved with Joe the Hippie. Like I said, she is awful.) But it works, and as he walks to take his test he triumphantly reflects on his journey — they all do a lot of reflecting, actually — from sad loser at the start of the year, to the test taking boss hog that he is now. He passes with a C- and graduates, but college does not appear to be in the cards. We’ll see next season I guess.

Kurt, Rachel, and Finn – I’m grouping these 3 together because they make a pact to open their letters with each other (Finn applied to the Actor’s Studio Drama School, apparently). But before they can do that, they’ve got some reflecting to do: Kurt has gone from a sad, quiet kid stuck in the closet to an out-and-proud man diva, who has inspired other gay kids at McKinley to be themselves. Not bad. Finn has gone from a scared, futureless, peaked-at-eighteen jock to a college-bound future actor. Also not bad. As for Rachel’s journey… we’ll get to that. Finally, the time comes for them to all open their letters. Finn goes first, and discovers he’s been rejected. Next is Kurt, who is somehow also rejected, despite an amazingly good audition. Next comes Rachel, who gets accepted; but it’s bittersweet, as Kurt and Finn can barely muster smiles. And now for her aforementioned reflection: she’s gotten everything she wanted at the start of highschool. She’s marrying the quarterback, she was prom queen, and she’s won Nationals. And I think we’re all actually really happy for her. But she decides to defer her acceptance to NYADA so she can stay behind and attend with Kurt and Finn.

So it all seems pretty settled. But then, boom — plot twist! As Rachel and Finn head off to their wedding (yeah, that’s still happening), Finn instead drives her to the train station. He’s been in cahoots with her dads to send her off to NYADA anyway, because he couldn’t watch while she put off her dreams just for him. And then, horror of horrors, he breaks up with her! Finn doesn’t want to do it any more than Rachel does, but he claims that going to New York is something she should do alone. And then he reveals something that really, really kills me: he’s joining the military, so he can honor the memory of his father, who was dishonorably discharged. 24 hours ago he had dreams of becoming an actor and marrying the love of his life, and now all of that is gone and likely to never return. Basically, it was the saddest season finale ending Glee has ever had.

But I’d say it was also the best. Although musically speaking, it was somewhat underwhelming (the only highlight’s were Will’s “Forever Young,” which he sang as a goodbye to the seniors, and Rachel’s tearful “Roots Before Branches,” which she sang as she arrived in New York), the finale did wrap up a lot of the season’s plots, while still leaving a lot of interesting things to be explored in the next season. There are still a good many characters who are not graduating, and I have a feeling even our graduates will be returning.

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Two Glees for the price of one

Well, two episodes. And you’re not really paying for anything. Whatever. The point is, this week featured two episodes in one night: “Props” and “Nationals.”

“Props” was good, but I feel like its main purpose was to build up to “Nationals.” It starts with a recap that includes a not-so-subtle nod to the fact that Tina has been basically ignored all season. And Tina apparently realizes this as well — while they’re discussing the upcoming challenge they’re facing at Nationals, she blows up at everyone because the solo is going to Rachel (who is still trying to impress Carmen Tibideaux to make up for her poor NYADA audition). And while she does have a point, you can’t help but want to smack her. I mean, Rachel getting a solo could determine her whole future, whereas Tina, a junior, will have plenty more chances next year. Mike tries to talk some sense into her, but still she storms off, telling Rachel that all she wants is to be like her.

Later at the mall, as she texts Mike in a rage, she walks straight into a fountain and smashes her head on the bottom. Once she gets out, she is in an apparent head trauma-induced fantasy that comes straight out of my nightmares. In it, all the Glee members have switched. For example, Tina is now Rachel, and vice versa, Kurt switches with Finn, Blaine switches with Puck, Artie switches with Santana, Will switches with Sue; like I said, it is the stuff of nightmares. Anyways, in this fantasy Tina finally gets the solo she so desperately craved (Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” – barf), and she realizes that she should instead by trying to help Rachel win over Tibideaux. So they do just that, driving down to a school where Tibideaux is watching auditions, and explaining why Rachel deserves a second chance. And, because Tibideaux is apparently heartless, she basically tells them to get out. But before the two leave, they beg Tibideaux to come see them perform at Nationals.

Meanwhile, Puck is still feeling down about not being able to graduate. This is made even worse when the hockey jocks corner him in the hallway and start mocking him for being in glee, for not graduating, for his father — everything. This leads to a fist fight by the dumpster which reaches a whole ‘nother level when Puck whips out a switchblade. (It turns out to be fake, but it was still absolutely menacing.) At this point Beiste steps in and she and Puck have a little talk; he tells her how he feels like nothing and he has turned out just like his dad. And then they hug it out.

This apparently inspires Beiste to finally leave Cooter. He apologizes and promises never to “lose his cool” again, but she just stares him down. Then she casually mentions that she has been sleeping with a gigantic knife under her pillow — again with the knife violence! — and tells him she’s out. In a rage, Cooter asks Beiste who is ever going to love her, to which she replies “Me.” Have I mentioned before just how much I adore everything about Beiste? Anywho, then she and Puck sing Taylor Swift’s “Mean,” and it heals all the heartbreak that I have been accumulating over the episode.

Some other unimportant stuff happens after this, but we all know that all anyone really cares about is “Nationals.” And, as I suspected, that episode is where all the real action happens.

Now, I am going to tell you right now that New Directions wins. They act all uncertain about how they will do, and I think the audience is supposed to be worried too, but come on. They’re seniors, this is their last Nationals, they’re going to win. Sure, they throw in some obstacles along the way: Mercedes gets sick, Quinn is still shaky on her feet, and Vocal Adrenaline is fantastic, but ultimately they do fantastic, and their moment of victory is what makes the episode — in fact, the entire series up to this point — so worth it. It’s the moment they’ve been building up for three years, and it was awesome.

Now I guess I should mention what songs they perform. First, the Treble Tones perform Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.” Next, Rachel gets her solo with the song “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (oh and surprise — Carmen Tibideaux is there, and she looks incredibly pleased). Then they all do a crazy-energetic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” They are all lovely, but I’d say that Rachel’s power ballad was their best performance. It makes you realize just how ridiculously talented Lea Michele is.

And of course Vocal Adrenaline does a couple songs too. Wade “Unique” Adams is basically the sole featured singer in both songs: “Starships” and “Pinball Wizard.” I hate to admit it, but “Starships” is my guilty pleasure, and I was slightly displeased with Glee’s renditions. It sounded like Kids Bop, and they took some interesting liberties with cleaning up the lyrics, especially in the full album version (“Muck who you want and muck who you like?” EW). But their choreography was impressive; I never realized how acrobatic it was. “Pinball Wizard,” on the other hand, featured 4 giant rolling pinball machines, and it was super lame.

They have Lindsay Lohan and Perez Hilton as guest judges, and they exchange some embarrassingly bad dialogue for a few minutes before they come out and announce New Directions as the winner. Obviously. Then they have a victory montage set to “Tongue Tied.” It’s really really sweet, especially the fake slushying part. But then there’s the awkward, unnecessary Will-Emma sex scene which kind of seemed out of place… See for yourself:

Then finally, the time comes to announce the teacher of the year award, and it obviously goes to Will. New Directions comes out and sings “We Are the Champions,” then they pull Will onto the stage to hug him, and then I just implode with joy.

Whew! That was a lot. But we’re almost through — next week is the finale. “Graduation.” I am going to be a total mess, I am sure. I’ll probably cry. But this is definitely one episode you’re going to want to see, so make sure to watch! As always, it airs Tuesday at 8 p.m., on Fox. Bring tissues!

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Prom-asaurus makes my heart happy

In this week’s “Prom-asaurus,” Glee does their second prom episode. I would complain that they’re running out of ideas, but this episode was awesome so I am giving them a pass. I think what I loved was that not a lot happened. Lately they have been cramming so many plot lines into one episode that it was almost headache-inducing, but in this episode they were just enjoying their big night together and it was fun to watch. But it’s not like the episode was pure fluff, so let me give a brief outline of what did happen:

Brittany settles on a prom theme of dinosaurs. Prom court nominees include Finn, Santana, Quinn, Brittany, and two other people who will not win because they are not major characters. Finn and Quinn campaign together, which makes Rachel mad; Hair gel is banned which makes Blaine mad which in turn makes Kurt mad; Becky isn’t nominated for prom queen which makes her mad; Puck won’t be graduating so he is still sad. So they decide to throw an anti-prom at a hotel (it sucks). Quinn uses her paralysis to gain the sympathy vote for prom queen, even though she is able to walk thanks to her physical therapy. Finn gets mad and leaves to see Rachel, and he and the anti-prom crew all head to prom together. Quinn tallies the vote and finds that she won, but instead decides Rachel deserves it more and announces her as the prom queen. Then everyone has a jolly old time for the rest of the night.

So basically it was a nice, simple, cute episode! Obviously it wasn’t the plot that made it work (since the plot was probably the simplest one they’ve had all season), but the little things. So now let’s discuss those lovely little things right now:

  • Blaine’s hair un-gelled! This was a pretty great moment for me, because it looks so similar to Darren Criss’s hair before he came to Glee. Of course, this is coming from a huge Darren Criss fangirl, but still — seeing poor Blaine all worried about how people will react to his natural hair was priceless.

Left: Blaine's hair, sans gel; Right: Darren Criss's hair, pre-Glee

  •  Brittany and the dinosaur-headed Cheerios performing “Dinosaur.” This is certainly one of Ke$ha’s less popular songs, and it’s kind of mean to old people, but I do adore Brittany’s Ke$ha voice. Also, this performance really showcases Brittany’s dance moves, which is something that does not happen enough on the show considering that Heather Morris is probably the show’s most highly-trained cast member.
  • Seeing Finn yell at Quinn. It becomes apparent in this episode that Quinn is pretty much unchanged by her accident, at least in terms of personality. Her little sympathy-vote stunt proved that she is just as manipulative, self-centered, and crazy as she was before. And sure, she gave up her prom queen title to Rachel — but she still managed to put the spotlight on herself by hopping out of her wheelchair in the middle of Rachel and Finn’s dance as Prom Queen and King.
  • The Glee guys performing “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful.” I’m not a One Direction fan, but I kind of really like this song, especially the Glee version. …don’t judge me okay.
  • Rachel looked so lovely in her prom dress it made me want to cry.
  • Puck and Becky walking into prom as anti-King and anti-Queen, both adorned with what looked like pizza-box crowns on their heads. It was just sweet and adorable and I think Puck and Becky should be best friends.
  • Everyone’s photos on top of the dinosaur. Like this one. And this one. And others that I can’t find but are all just as adorable. These photos show how their senior prom is supposed to go — none of that sulk-y, yell-y, sad business that was going on earlier!

So yes, basically I really enjoyed this episode. Next week will feature not one, but two episodes – “Props” and “Nationals.” So, strap in! I’m assuming they will air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.? But it will air Tuesday, on FOX, as usual. Don’t miss it!

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Better two and a half months late than never

In this week’s episode “Dance with Somebody,” Glee pays tribute to the late music legend Whitney Houston. Although there has been little to no mention of her in the nearly 3 months since her death, Will decides the Glee kids are really broken up about it, so their assignment is to do a Whitney song. And although it took them a while to make it, Glee’s Whitney tribute did turn out pretty good.

“Dance with Somebody” was certainly not as good as their Michael Jackson tribute, but they did manage to do justice to most of the Whitney songs they chose — after all, they had some pretty quality source material. The one notable exception to this, I think, was the Brittany/Santana duet “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).” Brittany and Santana do sound great together, but Glee’s interpretation removes all the delicious 80s charm of the original. Instead they club-ify it, adding a strange bass beat and one of those horrendous swelling mosquito buzzes you hear everywhere today (think Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”) But other than that one miss, all of the covers were spot-on.

 

With 7 longer than usual songs, most of the episode took a backseat to the Whitney theme. Here’s what made it in between songs:

  • Kurt and Blaine had their first real fight. Kurt began exchanging flirty text messages with a boy named Chandler, who may be the most irritating, absurd characters ever to appear on the show. Blaine considers this cheating, and for a few moments you wonder if Glee’s super-couple is going to break up. But Kurt apologizes, and Blaine confesses that he’s worried about losing Kurt after he moves to New York. All is well.
  • Rachel and Santana admit that they are going to miss each other after they graduate, and they begin to regret not being friends over the past 3 years. They decide to make up for lost time, and Rachel gleefully declares them friends and tells Santana to hang a picture of her in her locker. Kind of out of the blue and kind of weird, but still nice.
  • Quinn and Joe (the religious guy with the dreadlocks) begin a relationship after Joe accompanies her to some of her physical therapy sessions. But Joe is torn between staying true to his faith and succumbing to “sins of the flesh.” So we’ve got that to look forward to in future episodes.
  • Will has a little breakdown trying to make sure all the Glee kids will be able to perform at his wedding. Seeing this made me wonder if all teachers get weirdly attached to their students, but then I realized that they have been with him throughout all of his life-changing events of the last few years. But he sees them all singing together in a non-mandatory Glee practice and his fears are laid to rest.

So there you have it, Glee’s Whitney Houston tribute. Good songs, interesting new plots arising — a pretty solid episode, all in all. Next week’s episode, “Choke,” will center around Kurt and Rachel’s NYADA auditions. It will also feature Whoopi Goldberg as a guest star, so make sure to watch next Tuesday, at 8 p.m.

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Glee’s triumphant return

After an entire two months of hiatus, Glee returns with the episode “Big Brother.” The episode, while not spectacular, was pretty great considering the cliffhangers they had to work with from the last episode. Remember those? The car crash, the “will they, won’t they” wedding? Those were wrapped up nicely within the first 60 seconds, setting the scene for the rest of the episode: Finn and Rachel put off their wedding due to the accident, and Quinn was left paralyzed and wheelchair bound.

Despite her new life as a paraplegic, Quinn acts surprisingly calm about all of it. She tells the Glee club that her spine was compressed but she may recover, and she is optimistic that she will be healed enough to dance at Nationals (although ten dollars says she is walking again within 5 episodes). Until then, she and Artie are wheelchair buddies, and they will continue to use this incident to milk the “never text while driving” message.

Over the course of the episode, the two of them share lots of bonding moments, like helping Quinn to overcome the terrifying mountain that is the McKinley wheelchair ramp. And of course there is the obligatory song — two, in fact. First, they sing “I’m Still Standing” to the Glee club, and while it was admittedly cute, the overall theme of the performance was, “Heh, get it? They’re actually not standing because they’re in wheelchairs. That’s the joke.”And then there is “Up Up Up,” which accompanies a montage of them shredding wheelchair rubber at a skate park for the physically disabled. However, Quinn seems to be unable to face the fact that she may not recover, and that this could be her life forever. Artie is understandably upset.

Besides the above-mentioned wheelchair business, this episode was extremely Blaine-heavy. This episode introduces Matt Bomer as Cooper, Blaine’s big brother. Turns out that Cooper is a semi-famous commercial star, and Blaine is clearly unhappy with his brother’s fame. They sing a duet together, a decent mashup of “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio,” complete with trademark Anderson fancy footwork and twirls. It was cute, but Cooper shoves Blaine out of the spotlight throughout the song. Later, Cooper is invited to teach a small acting seminar, where he gives them great advice like “don’t go to college” and “never look at your acting partner.” There are several Blaine outbursts, which lead up to an absurd rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter.” The song itself was fine, but, as much as I love Blaine, his angry dancing just reminds me of a stomping hobbit. I could not take it seriously. Thankfully, they eventually reconcile through – surprise – another duet, this time “Somebody That I Used to Know.” I thought this was the best performance at the night; for once, it really suited the situation the characters were in, and the performance wasn’t over dramatic. (However, I feel like they underutilized the flashbacks — baby Blaine was too cute!) When they finally hug and make up, you can really believe them as brothers.

Of course, we can’t forget the Sue’s big storyline! It was revealed last episode that she is pregnant (by an unknown celebrity donor), and by now she is at the end of her third trimester. Sue and Will accompany her to her ultrasound, where she discovers that her baby is a girl. However, it’s also revealed that there were “irregularities” during the tests. It is not explicitly stated, but it’s implied that her child has Down Syndrome; when Becky comes to congratulate her on having a girl, Sue tells her the baby is “just like you.” Becky also gives her a piece of advice for when she is a parent: work on her patience.

Throughout the episode, there are allusions to trouble stirring in Finn and Rachel’s relationship. Puck tells Finn that its unequal, and that Finn has to think of himself a bit too. Finn decides he wants to move to California so he can think of his own future as well, but Rachel is dead set on New York. All of the tension culminates in a little lover’s quarrel in the final scene.

I am not optimistic about next week’s episode, “Saturday Night Glee-ver.” For one thing, the episode title is a pun, which is never a good sign. And secondly, it is a disco episode. However, there are some pretty good new plotlines for them to work with, so we shall see. Catch Glee next week, back on schedule, Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on FOX 43.

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Cliffhanger of the highest caliber

This week’s episode “On My Way” was, to my surprise, the finale before Glee’s 2-month winter hiatus. The episode took on some pretty heavy subjects, and ended with an insane cliffhanger which I will get to later.

I feel I should start with the unquestionable highlight of the episode: the performance of “Cough Syrup.” David Karofsky, who had appeared in several previous episodes, was outed at his new school after being seen with Kurt at Breadstix. The performance consisted of Karofsky contemplating suicide and eventually hanging himself (don’t worry – he didn’t die), intercut with shots of Blaine singing. The song itself is fantastic, but it’s the performance that makes this such a memorable scene. It’s one of the first times in recent memory that Glee has really made me feel something; not to mention that it is wonderfully acted as well. If you missed it, you can watch the performance here.

Although Karofsky thankfully survived his suicide attempt, it still has an immense impact on the Glee club. Will rounds up all the members and has them all share what they are looking forward to in life, then confesses that he himself had almost committed suicide after being caught cheating. (Yes, really.) When Kurt goes to visit Karofsky in the hospital, they discuss what Karofsky has to look forward to, and the two seem to have taken a big step in their friendship.

Sebastian is also greatly affected; he had apparently been really cruel to Karofsky earlier, and his suicide attempt made him realize how vile he had been. He apologizes profusely to everyone in Glee and ends the little feud between New Directions and the Warblers, and has the Warblers dedicate their Regionals performance to suicide prevention. I don’t know if I totally buy this apparent repentance. Maybe it’s because Sebastian is just such a natural villain, but something about it just seems like an act. But I can’t see any reason for him faking so enthusiastically, so I guess we’ll see.

The rest of the episode mainly focuses on Regionals. The three choirs competing are New Directions, The Warblers, and some group we’ve never heard of called The Golden Goblets. The Warblers go first, performing “Stand” and “Glad You Came.” These were not their best performances; “Stand” sounded very buzzy and over-autotuned. New Directions crushed them with their performances of “Fly/I Believe I Can Fly,” “Stronger,” and “Here’s To Us.” Even though I usually hate mashups, “Fly/I Believe I Can Fly” was actually my favorite song of theirs; the two songs were combined seamlessly, and Santana as Nicki Minaj is absolutely glorious. Obviously, New Directions took first place.

Rachel and Finn, in yet another burst of spontaneity, decide to hold their wedding right after Regionals. Their entire wedding party consists of glee club members, which raises the question: do they have any other friends? Quinn has to run home to grab her bridesmaid dress, holding up the ceremony. Rachel and Quinn exchange frantic text  messages as Quinn speeds down the road trying to make it on time. Meanwhile, Finn’s and Rachel’s parents use this time to come up with plans to stop the wedding, which include objecting when the priest says “Speak now or forever hold your peace,” and faking an epileptic seizure. However, their problems are nothing next to what happens next. In the very last seconds, Quinn glances down to send a text message saying “ON MY WAY” — and a truck smashes into her car. (This part feels a bit like the kind of driving safety video you watch in school, but it is incredibly surprising nonetheless.)

Quite the cliffhanger.  Will Rachel and Finn go through with their wedding? Will Quinn survive? Since this episode marks the start of Glee’s winter hiatus, it will be a full two months until we find out. Until then, I’ll just have to try to survive myself.

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