TV: ‘Glee’ season finale unimpressive until the last scene

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl    
Rating: 2.5/ 5    

TURBP_Stills_(8)The worst season so far in Glee’s career finally came to an end tonight. Up until the end, it felt more like a regular episode than a season finale, but how much can you expect from a season that gave you an episode about twerking and a Lady Gaga versus Katy Perry battle?

First, it’s important to note a key piece that was missing from the episode: Naya Rivera. Rumors have been circulating about a feud between Rivera and Lea Michele and about Rivera being fired. While none of that might be true — but it probably is, let’s be honest — it is true that Rivera was cut out and written out of the finale. Her reps and Glee say she isn’t fired yet, but I’m guessing that announcement will be coming soon. So for tonight’s purposes, Santana (Rivera) is in Iowa filming a new Yeast-I-Stat commercial.

Yet, Brittany (Heather Morris) still came back. Do you mean to tell me that before coming to visit her girlfriend in New York, Brittany didn’t check to see if Santana was even in town? What else are they supposed to do to cover up whatever drama is happening behind the scenes, but seriously it was such a noticeable hole. But props for them acknowledging Santana’s absence unlike what they did for Cory Monteith’s absence in the last two episodes of season four when they simply never mentioned Finn.

The Klainers had a rollercoaster of emotions tonight as things went from bad to worse to great. Blaine (Darren Criss) was unable to convince June (Shirely MacLaine) to allow Kurt (Chris Colfer) to perform in his showcase, so naturally he sings “All of Me” alone at the piano. This was the worst usage of this song! This is a beautiful love song that should be set to a cute montage or sang to someone and not just thrown in to cover up the lost time that was created from cutting Santana out. Also, Criss’ vocals just weren’t there for me. I felt no emotion.

Speaking of that, Blaine finally told Kurt the truth about the showcase. Kurt is so mad he smacks the packed lunch he brought to share with Blaine off the piano. Gasp! Maybe those who actually are still invested in the show and actually believe it’s a decent program found that to be good drama between lovers. I, on the other hand, found it as one of the same old cogs in the same old mechanism the show has been using with this couple for years. They talk about how much they are in love with each other, but I don’t see or feel the love. Anymore, Kurt seems in such a stasis around Blaine while Blaine does puppy dog eyes at him. They need a new dynamic that proves to me they are in love. I just don’t see any chemistry anymore. I think there’s equal blame on both the actors and the writers for just assuming the audience is naturally in love with this pair and that they’re the OTP. Reality check, they’re not.

birdsAfter a weirdly long metaphor about birds, Kurt says he will choose to trust Blaine. Oh, well that’s good that you trust your fiancé. Glad it only took you a year. Seriously, how are we supposed to believe these two want to get married when they are only conquering the basic steps of a relationship? They are supposed to be much further developed than what the writers are displaying.

At the showcase, Blaine and June sing “No Time At All” and blow me away. It was the best performance of the night. They have adorable chemistry and I think their voices mesh really well together. After, Blaine announces the lesson he learned that “talent is nothing without passion,” and he is most passionate about Kurt so he calls him on stage to duet with him to “American Boy.” I definitely identified with MacLaine in this scene. At first, I was very hesitant about this song choice and this duet, and then it won me over. Also, go back and re-watch the end of the number when MacLaine side steps her way into the gang’s dance. God, I love her and the divas.

Though that relationship is sustained, another pair wasn’t so lucky. Sam’s (Chord Overstreet) and Mercedes’ (Amber Riley) careers are pulling them different ways. First, let’s talk about the original song in tonight’s episode. As a part of her new mall tour — do they really still do those? — Mercedes sang “Shakin’ My Head,” Glee’s wannabe “Whip My Hair”-esque single. I was not a fan. I loved seeing Heather Morris dance once again and Kurt’s head bobbing was fantastic, but those were the only good parts of the scene.

Meanwhile, Sam sang “Girls on Film” as dozens of girls climbed all over him during his photo shoot. Sam’s entire storyline tonight revolves around his troubles with his abstinence pledge, with the shoot being an all too obvious way to highlight that. Everyone in the gang thinks the two should break up, worrying that Sam won’t be able to stay loyal while Mercedes is on the road.

It all comes to a head when the flirty photographer (Beau Garrett) from the first shoot calls him back for another. Proving she is just a model and not an actress, Garrett attempts to seduce Sam, who’s all blocked up from his pledge. The two kiss. We think they did more but, Sam confesses he cried after and ran away. However, Samcedes break up in order to for their love to survive, otherwise Sam would just resent Mercedes for making him wait. Riley’s performance was great in this scene, but I was disappointed with Overstreet’s blank-face performance. Way to really show this relationship was real.

The title of the episode, “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project,” obviously falls in Rachel’s (Michele) storyline about getting a pilot written around her for Fox. In a very meta moment, Rachel explains her plan that while she may anger Sidney now, she can come back to Broadway after TV. The network sends “genius” writer Mary Halloran (Kristen Schaal) to hang around Rachel & Co. Unfortunately, Mary is crazy. Even worse, it’s a stereotypical wacky instead of a funny cuckoo.

URBPThe first draft doesn’t go over so well when it places Rachel in situations where she is eating a cake in the bathtub lamenting about her two gay dads or at an impromptu coffee rave in the apartment. It might be a terrible rough draft for Rachel, but for me, it was the best scene of the episode. There are certain moments where I can definitely see more Lea Michele in a scene than Rachel Berry, and I don’t mind it. That bathtub scene with Kurt in a dinosaur costume made me laugh for the first time tonight, and this show is slotted as a comedy.

To get her more in her direction, Rachel takes Mary to the Spotlight Diner and explains her ideas through song by singing “Glitter in the Air.” This does the trick and Mary does a rewrite that is more truthful to Rachel.

They all run outside when Sam sees his picture on the side of the bus. He finally fulfilled his dream, and he’s going to go out on top. He declares he’s going to quit modeling and go back home, especially because everyone else seems to be scattering. Thus, the monologues about friendship and nonsense take place and it ends in a promise to meet up in six months. And finally, the worst transition into a closing number that I have ever heard: While in a group hug, Kurt proclaims, “I would kill to break out in song right now.” And they do. Dancing down the street, they all sing “Pompeii.”

On the surface, it’s your typical big closing number: Big choreography through a big set, montages, etc. But a closer look reveals how good of an ending it is to the show’s old archetype. A line of original cast members dance down the street before they all part ways. It’s one last glimpse of what we are used to seeing each week before next season when apparently everything changes. We see Blaine move in with Kurt and Rachel, Artie at film school — seriously, can he please be gone for season six? This is the only thing going for him — and Sam back in McKinley, looking into what used to be the choir room and is now a computer lab. We see one last view of the room we used to frequent and realize it’s not the same anymore, just like the show isn’t the same anymore. That Glee is gone. This is especially noted when Rachel gets the call that the network has picked up her show; she’s moving to Los Angeles. Thus, the song ends with Rachel amid a sea of extras. She sings the last chorus before glancing up at the camera and walking off-screen.

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Let’s look at the last lines of the song: “How am I going to be an optimist about this?/ If you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?” This is what Rachel sings before she look at the camera. I’d like to think the writers were brilliant enough to purposefully do this or maybe they just wanted to go with a Top 10 song again, but that’s a great parallel to the end of this season. The show has undergone an enormous amount of change in this season with the loss of Monteith and McKinley High School. Everything in this show is different, but if you close your eyes, isn’t this the same show? Technically, no. However, I like the beauty of that last shot. It’s a lyrical throwback to the beginning.

According to a Q-and-A with press, Ryan Murphy revealed the final season will NOT be New York-centric but will be “a lovely, fitting season that dwells on the original people on the show and what happens to them and how they give back. … It’s a really interesting, very sweet, satisfying ending to the story.” It also includes a time jump, something I suggested for season five. It will be a waiting game, especially since Fox’s new schedule revealed Glee won’t be back until 2015. Here’s hoping the extra time will actually allow them to write the show off well. It’s unknown for now how many episodes it will get, but let’s pray it’s closer to the 13 end of the scale than the 22 end. There’s no way the final season would work if it is stretched that long.

I’m not even sure what I’m looking for in the final season. The show will never be as good as it used to be, but I guess I’m hoping they can play these characters off with justice.

What did you think of the season finale? What do you want to see in season six? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl

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