Unpopular opinion – I didn’t think last night’s episode of Glee was one of their better episodes this season. For as much as I love Blaine, Kurt and Klaine, their positive storylines (for a change) were overshadowed by Rachel (who is making me more and more frustrated as the season progresses, which I will discuss a bit later).
Without further ado… Swan Song
(SPOILERS/OPINIONS from here on out)
So, the episode picks up exactly where the last one left off. It is Sectionals and the New Directions brought Marley back to the choir room because she fainted on stage. Quick thinker Blaine thought he had a juice box in his bag (he did) and the choir tried to make sure Marley was okay. She wasn’t talking much, but Jake confessed she had been skipping lunch and not eating. Santana (ever the clever girl) knew it was because of Kitty that Marley was becoming anorexic. Mr. Schue told the kids to get back out on stage because of risk of disqualification. Sue strolls in and told the glee kids that the judges unanimously voted and the Warblers won Sectionals. (In all honesty, they deserved to… the ND’s version of Gangnum Style was just ugh.)
Minutes later, we’re in New York and Kurt and Rachel are cleaning up from the Thanksgiving Kiki they had last week. Kurt walked into the room, having just got off the phone with Blaine (aw – they talked twice in one night… reconciliation is happening, folks) and he relayed to Rachel that the NDs lost and that he felt bad for Blaine because if Blaine were still with the Warblers, he’d be on his way to Regionals. (Maybe Kurt is aware that Blaine gave up a lot for him by transferring to McKinley… too bad they don’t have conversations like this more often).
Then Kurt and Rachel talk about making the most of chances you have, and that becomes the overarching theme of the episode. (In case you didn’t catch that mantra the first time around, it’s hammered into your skull multiple times throughout the show.)
Turns out NYADA has this Winter Showcase where the faculty chooses 10 students to compete. These 10 students are given Golden Tickets (was there no Copyright from the Willy Wonka people?) and it’s a huge honor (obviously). Kurt is very active on the NYADA blogs, as he reapplied for admission second semester. He vows he’s only going to try one more time to get into the school because he doesn’t want to waste his time chasing something that he keeps getting rejected for. Kurt and Rachel’s conversation leads to Rachel getting handed a Golden Ticket from Carmen (Whoopi Goldberg’s character; a very important woman at NYADA). Of course Rachel gets a Golden Ticket.
(This starts my first diatribe with how much Rachel frustrates me. This girl is literally handed everything she wants. And even when she doesn’t initially get what she wants, she somehow still gets it. Like, NYADA… she botched her first audition twice. Kurt did his perfectly. And when it came time to get the acceptance letters, she got in and he didn’t. Or prom queen. She wasn’t even on the friggin’ ballot and she was given prom queen last season. And somehow, despite her selfishness and divaesque attitudes, she usually has at least one guy throwing himself at her. I just don’t get it… This will continue later.)
Back at McKinley, Sue and the Cheerios are destroying the choir room so they can use it to practice. Finn (Schue 2.0) tries to stop her. They have a verbal disagreement and then she tells him they need to go to Figgins’ office. Now.
Actual Schue, Schue 2.0, Sue and Figgins converse. The glee kids have nowhere to perform because other clubs who actually still have competitions to work toward are using all available space. Finn hands over to Sue the keys to the choir room, though I suspect sometime this season, he (or actual Schue) will get them back. You can’t have a show called “Glee” without a proper glee club.
Later in her office, Sue feels empty inside for finally getting the choir room keys. She feels concerned that she crushed the kids’ dreams and wants to figure out how to alleviate her guilt. (There was a brief clip of kids talking about their life choices after glee… the best was Blaine performing on the bathhouse circuit.) Just then, Brad (the piano player) walks in and speaks for longer than we’ve ever heard him before. She thanks Sue for what she did because he hates the glee kids. We’ve always suspected it, but now he’s vocalized how much he despises how they just throw sheet music at him and yell “Hit it!” Oh, Brad. How I love you so.
In the choir room, Finn tells the kids that there is no more glee. Tina blames Marley and tells Marley that she’s no Rachel… but actually, she’s totally Rachel. Putting herself first and letting the group down is totally something Rachel would do (even though in Marley’s case it was a horrible, horrible eating disorder instead of Rachel putting her talent and aspirations for stardom ahead of everyone/thing else). Finn tells the kids they can still practice and perform, and then tells them if this is their swan song, then they should make it the best they can. Tina claims to be unmotivated because there is no competition to look forward to. When Finn says they can work toward next year, Sam asks about what the kids who are not going to be there next year supposed to do? The camera cuts to the seniors and we are left asking the same question.
Back from commercial break, Brittany is in the hallway and sees a line of Cheerios on the floor (the cereal, not the cheerleaders). She lies down on the floor and begins to eat them, one by one. (Gross.) They lead to an empty classroom where Sam is waiting for her with a glass of milk. He did it because he knows she forgets to eat breakfast and she calls him a genius. And then Sam tells her that he is into Brittany (and she thinks he’s awesome) and that he’s sad they never got a chance to sing a love song together. They sing “Something Stupid” (which always makes me think of the dance routine from Just Dance 3) and Sam actively pursues Brittany around the room. When the song is over, he tries to kiss her but she pulls away, claiming lesbian bloggers everywhere would revolt. (And by “lesbian bloggers,” I bet RIB meant “Brittana Shippers with Social Media Access).
Meanwhile in NYC, Rachel is in dance class. She asks Cassandra July (CJ) if she can get some water and CJ ends up stopping the whole class and belittling Rachel’s request for rehydration. I get that you need to drink water during rehearsal (trust me, I have a water bottle on me at all times), but I thought Rachel was in the wrong when she said that she was working her butt… because it made it sound like no one else in there was working as hard as her. Rachel and CJ have another argument about how CJ doesn’t think Rachel is a good dancer and Rachel says CJ is blind to how good she’s become.
And then they have an “All That Jazz”-off, and I would give this round to CJ. Her dancing is better (as it should be), and I just don’t think Rachel has the chops to pull off Velma Kelly. (Yeah, I said it.) CJ tells Rachel she’s not good enough and Rachel agrees she’s not as good of a dancer, but she is as good or better at singing, so she’s determined to win the showcase with her voice.
After the commercial, Kurt visits Carmen in her office and she remembers him from his audition. She received his most recent application (with a video of him singing an acoustic version of Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”… really, Kurt?). She says he is devoid of complexity and depth. We as an audience know this is not the case, however, when Kurt is performing for others, he usually doesn’t let them see him. He lets them see a projected version of himself… overly confident and often dressed in a distracting outfit or using props/dance moves. She tells him he is surface, but she wants soul. This throws him off, but I was so glad she pointed that out.
HOWEVER, I was yelling at my television when Kurt asked for a second chance to audition for her and Carmen tells him, “I rarely give anyone second chances, and when I do, it’s on my terms.”
REALLY, CARMEN? Because when Rachel auditioned for you last season and messed up and begged for a do-over, you let her. And then she tracked you down and told you she wanted you to travel to Chicago to see her perform at Nationals. So… you do give people second chances. At least, you give Rachel Berry second chances. (#endrant)
Back at McKinley, we find most the glee club kids have joined other clubs. Artie is now in marching band (he’s the drum major… although marching band is totally a fall sport and would have been over by time he joined… #justsayin #formerbandkid). Blaine and Tina have joined the Cheerios (fulfilling a lot of Cheerio!Blaine fans fantasies…). Them joining Cheerios was actually super easy – Sue was pleased to have a “handsome non-flammable gay” and “yellow #4” join her squad for diversity purposes. Jake and Ryder joined the basketball team (so now they are Troy and Chad from HSM…), Unique joined floor hockey and Joe joined inter-faith paintball.
(Small tangent – I admit I was one of the people who were looking forward to seeing Blaine in his Cheerios uniform. While the material is hideous, the kid can rock that uniform. Plus, Blaine joining Cheerios is actually a realistic plot point. He wants to be a part of a winning team. Sue likes him – she’s always liked Kurt and has previously referred to Blaine as “young Burt Reynolds.” He’s athletic. He’s strong. He’s flexible, can do cartwheels and splits in the air and can dance. Blaine’s only fault is that he’s an awkward clapper… which I’m sure he can work on. I just need to see a full-out Cheerios routine with Blaine and Tina. That is all.)
Finn is mad that most of the glee kids have moved on. He tells them that they have holiday concert rehearsal at 9:54 that Friday night because that’s the only time he could schedule for them to rehearse. Marley said she’ll be there and Tina gets mad about Sectionals again. The kids file out of the auditorium one by one… Blaine is the second to last to leave and Marley is the last glee kid standing onstage with Finn. The lights go out… and for the time being, glee club is pretty much toast.
In the hallway, Brittany asks Sam on a date to Breadstix that Friday during the time Finn scheduled Glee rehearsal. When he asks why she changed her mind, she says she doesn’t want to miss out and that he makes her smile. They both make each other happy, which is cute (they are both simple in their own ways), and when they kiss, I guess it’s warranted. Brittany has previously labeled herself as bi-curious, so a relationship with Sam isn’t unheard of. But Brittana shippers must be furious. (I am not a Brittana shipper, but I will empathize with your cause.)
Back in NYC, it’s finally Winter Showcase time. A voice over indicates it’s a competition and celebration and that these students exemplify the best of what NYADA is trying to achieve (to which I audibly groaned, “Ugh. How is Rachel there?” and then proceeded to write those same words in my notes). The first girl up dances and I actually would have liked to see that. (I bet that they dressed her up like The Black Swan on purpose…)
Meanwhile on the steps outside, Rachel is there, decked out in a gorgeous white dress (thank god Kurt works at Vogue.com, am I right?). Brody shows up to support her and gives her a little pep talk. She is terrified, but confident. She says she’s going to sing like she’ll never sing again and then kisses Brody. (Seriously? At the beginning of the episode last week, she was ready to write the guy off – write any guy off for that matter – but by the end of the episode, vegan Rachel was man-handling a turkey in order to flirt with Brody. And she super quickly got over the fact that he slept with CJ. And now she’s macking on him some more right before her big performance. I’m not against relationships. But I am against characters who say strongly they are going to look out for themselves and then turn back on their words mere minutes later as soon as a cute guy comes back into the picture.)
So, Rachel channels her inner Barbra and sings “Being Good…” pretty much exactly how Barbra would sing it. And I argue – why can’t Rachel sing like Rachel? I mean, Barbra is AMAZING and to sound like Barbra is a feat in itself… but this is a showcase of talent. Rachel should have sung it like a Rachel Berry song… not like Rachel Berry singing Barbra Streisand. So, it was good, but it was Meh for me.
It obviously was outstanding for the crowd, and they all rose to their feet and asked for an encore. After getting the go-ahead nod from Carmen, Rachel asked the band to play “O Holy Night.”
But Rachel’s Jewish, right?
*sigh* I love “O Holy Night.” In fact, it is one of my favorite holiday songs of all time. I have a whole playlist of people singing this one song. But, I have a feeling Rachel sang this song because 1.) it can be belted like whoa and 2.) it’s on the first Glee Christmas CD AND the latest Glee Christmas CD and the Powers that Be are likely hoping this early taste will boost sales.
This song is juxtaposed with Finn being sad and picking up the choir room. Poor Schue 2.0. Also, Carmen looks over at Kurt reacting to Rachel’s singing and you KNOW it’s foreshadowing. (Or, if you didn’t, then I’m sorry for your inability to pick up visual cues.)
When Rachel finished, she ran and hugged Kurt, then Brody. Carmen calls her performance superb and then says when they get back from break; there will be a performance from Kurt Hummel.
Kurt is outside pacing and is super flustered. Rachel gives him a pep talk and this is the only time in this episode where I am thankful her character existed. When Kurt says he feels he’s only at his best with props, Rachel reminds him of his “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” performance (S2 E3) and says how that was one of his best songs because it was just him. He quickly goes through his repertoire and when he gets to “Being Alive,” Rachel urges him to do that. He asks who he’s supposed to dedicate the song to… he sang “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” for his dad in the hospital, but who now? Rachel says he should dedicate it to himself.
And so Kurt Hummel tackles one of (if not) the greatest Sondheim songs of all time. He uses his performance as a NYADA audition and is singing it because he finally understands the song.
Now, I don’t know how familiar you are with this song and the show it’s from (Company), but this is one of my favorite musical theater solos ever. I had the privilege of seeing the revival cast with Raul Esparza and I cried when he sang this (and every time after I’ve seen/heard him sing this song). The lyrics are so poignant and just stab into your heart and slowly turn with every line until your heart hurts so much you feel like you can’t breathe anymore.
Listen to the lyrics. Really listen. It’s a confession. It’s Robert’s confession to himself that he’s ready for a real relationship; ready for someone to come into his life and destroy him in the best and worst ways possible. It’s the antithesis to an earlier song in the show, “Marry Me a Little,” but works as a standalone number as well. For Kurt, this song works on multiple levels. It is about how he is ready to be there for himself. He’s ready to do what he needs to do in order to feel and be alive. Put himself first. At the same time, it speaks of his relationship with Blaine. You can’t sing these kinds of lyrics without having had and then lost somebody (not just some body) who means everything to you. And maybe you want that somebody back…
This was a very moving performance. I teared up at the piano introduction (those chords kill me), but didn’t cry as he sang. That doesn’t mean it didn’t affect me; it did. It was a real treat knowing that Chris Colfer was the one who insisted Kurt sing this song. It was perfect for his lower register. The emotions were all there. It’s just a really great song that can only be pulled off by certain people/characters. Well played, Colfer. WELL PLAYED.
I wish RIB would allow Kurt more men’s songs like this. Kurt is a guy and deserves to sing guy songs if the plot calls for it. Yes, he can sing high, but he also can sing low very, very well (and those songs are often his best numbers).
Back from commercial break, Rachel calls Finn (didn’t they break up again? And didn’t they agree they didn’t want any contact with each other? Am I not remembering this correctly?). She doesn’t want to gloat about his Sectionals loss and she tells them she had her own competition that night and that she won. He was genuinely proud/happy for her but asks her not to rub it in that she won and he lost. She tells him that glee is about love or music and people who normally wouldn’t be friends singing together. Glee was about romances and not just the competition. (Funny, I like more of the competitions better than the romances they keep shoving down our throats.) She tells Finn to not let the glee kids give up on their dreams and for him to not give up on his dreams either.
And so Finchel is still in the mix, as it always was and always will be. I shipped Finchel for part of Season 1, but I am so beyond over them at this point, especially when they get back together and break up every other episode these days. Have them together or have them apart, but to me… if a couple breaks up and makes up every five minutes, they aren’t exactly a stable/lasting couple. (Now Klaine on the other hand… or Tike… Bring. It. On.)
So, Friday night, Finn is sitting in the auditorium all alone until Marley shows up. She’s the only one, of course. She says she found somewhere the glee kids could practice.
Finn then goes all Breakfast Club on the club (complete with “Don’t You Forget About Me” playing in the background and all my Judd Nelson feels came roaring back and I had to calm myself…) and writes them out an email in the same vein that Anthony Michael Hall leaves that letter; voiceover and everything. He sends the email and it’s received by the kids… Blaine is hula hooping at Cheerios practice when he gets the email on his phone. (Brilliant sight gag, Glee. Well played… having Blaine multitask like that. Bravo.)
Turns out Marley’s practice location is the outdoor courtyard. It’s cold and snowy and only she, Finn and the band are there. Marley apologizes for being naïve, insecure, and self-centered (see, she is like Rachel… except that Marley apologizes for screwing over everyone else). They start singing “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and I am like, “Hey, I remember I used to like this song” and I sing along while I watch.
The duet becomes a group number as in pairs, other glee kids show up. Tina and Blaine arrive (sans Cheerio outfits, but Ryan Murphy’s tweets last night indicate Blaine will be a Cheerio all year… though please, dear Cheesus, don’t let this mean we lose Blaine’s ridiculous sweater/bowtie ensembles), followed by everyone else. I love Blaine and Sam’s color coordinating winter hats and that Sam hit Blaine on the arm in a friendly fashion (The Blam friendship makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy.)
The show ended on a positive note. The New Directions were singing together and Kurt got his NYADA letter… but this time he got in. While I was super happy something FINALLY went his way, part of me hopes he turns it down. I don’t think Kurt Hummel was meant to perform for a living. It’s a great hobby and it makes him happy, but I think that character’s future lies in fashion. Under the guidance of Isabelle, Kurt can work his way up the ranks at Vogue.com. At NYADA, he’ll be back with Rachel Berry and likely playing second fiddle to her Winter Showcase-winning self. I want Kurt to take the road less traveled and do something for himself that he wants to do, not just what he’s expected to do.
But yeah… those were my thoughts on the episode. I wasn’t over the moon about this particular episode. Even the “happy moments” were questionable, plot-wise (though I should definitely know by now this show rarely makes a whole lot of sense). That being said, I have higher expectations for next week.
The promo for next week’s episode, “Glee, Actually” showed Sam doing a number with the Cheerios, proposing marriage to Brittany and the Mayan Apocalypse. Burt surprises his son in NYC (and fans know that Klaine filmed an ice skating scene to “Winter Wonderland” together… awww) and Artie has an “It’s a Wonderful Life” flashback about what his life would have been like if he never lost the use of his legs. (Spoiler alert – Kurt still gets shoved into lockers :/)
What were your thoughts about the episode? Did you like it, love it, hate it, or were you just kinda “Meh” like me?