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5/23/12

Glee 3x22 "Goodbye"

Glee is a difficult show to make.

Vague? Yes; that is intentional. But with a show that has an oversized ensemble, plot points galore and has gone on to become the over-hyped and heavily scrutinized phenomenon that it is, sustaining any sort of quality over a long period of time is damn-near impossible. If there is something that may even be more difficult to pull it off, it was putting out a season finale that not only wraps up this season, but effectively, the last three. Can you sum up the last three seasons of Glee? If so, how do you translate that into one final 40-minute episode?


No, I am not defending Ryan Murphy and his band of misfits for last night's bizarre (even for Glee) episode. But they really did have their backs to the corner as the pitchforks and torches were out for this episode long before it even went into production. My inner-conspiracy theorist looks at some of the plot developments and can't help but think that this was their way of making a power play for next season and to preserve the show as it is supposed to be perceived as - a cynical take on a bunch of small-town losers trying to make something of themselves. The road getting their was difficult as it took a controversial turn, especially the last few scenes, but they ultimately achieved that and it is a sizable consolation prize.

Let's face it: if every character got what they want, if every plot came to a happy conclusion and if every relationship left off with the thought of everlasting love, that would have felt wholly un-earned, occasionally boring and off-key for Glee given the undercurrent of despair that the show has. Does that explain some of their "AH-HA; we got you bitch" surprises they had in store for the final minutes? No, it doesn't. But what else could they have done?

I didn't like last night's episode because it was kind of lifeless and meandering. Maybe that is because we are coming off the heels of two near-impeccable episodes, but looking at it in itself, there was this place-holder feel until the final ten minutes or so, like a poorly-written, unsubtle fan fiction. The narrative run-through - with all characters feeling awesome walking down the hallways, talking into their heads about how far they have come and having clumsily-written conversations to establish the status quo for life post-high school - was uninspired as hell, excessively sophomoric and insincere.

The nostalgic quality was nice enough - especially the "Sit Down; You're Rocking the Boat" number and Burt's "Single Ladies" dance - but that well ran dry the moment the referential detailing overtook the actual show and when Will disclosed to Finn how he tricked him into joining the New Directions, only for the scene to end anti-climatically. Did anyone feel like anything was at stake? Puck's storyline a little bit (which by the way, I enjoyed way more then I should have). But even the whole NYADA/Pace thing did not have all that much tension, maybe because we all no-so-secretly assumed that everyone would be accepted and our three leads would all go to New York. Glee was always predictable on that major plot-point stuff - and considering the investment we had for Rachel and Kurt, you would think they would go for the easy payoff - so that final minute curveball really was shocking, even in an eye-roll inducing way.

I am usually skeptical of the Glee folk pulling stunts to garner publicity and conversation, but I did not get the sense of that here. They genuinely thought this out and are assured of this from a plot standpoint. If you are expecting any sort of realism or explanation as to why Kurt did not get into NYADA (especially after his fab performance of "Not The Boy Next Door") and Rachel did after a botched audition, this is the wrong show for you. I am not upset at that in particular, but in the big picture, I found the whole scenario unsettling and self-defeating.


Especially when you consider this ensuing scene. I may stand alone, but I loved the hell out of it for being so soap opera-esque and campy and unintentionally hilarious. They should have had Finn play the scene totally meta and not beat around the bush.

"Hey Rachel...you know that whole marriage thing? Yeah, I am not going to go through with that despite the build-up for it the entire second half of the season. Instead, I am going to break up with you and send you on a six-hour long train ride against your will that somehow will arrive at Grand Central Terminal in broad daylight. Oh, and I am going to Fort Bening and risking my life in combat in honor of my late father that I never met who died of a drug overdose. I love you!

Seriously, that scene was the gift that kept on giving as it went on and on and on. Oddly enough (and joking aside), this was practically inevitable because we had an entire season of hints that these two are not compatible. Finn and Rachel are the Ross and Rachel of the show - two people who could not be more different personality-wise, status-wise, talent-wise and future-wise, no matter what they do and say. And yet, they have this unexplained desire to be together. All well and good, but ironically, they never had more tension and chemistry until they were about to separate. Lea Michele and Cory Monteith are great actors alone, but nearly every other couple on the show was way more believable. 

Michele, in particular, is at her strongest and pluckiness when she is single or when she wants something badly and wails her lungs about it. Look at her Celine Dion number last week; a dramatic, beautifully-belted rendition of a diva ballad with Nationals and NYADA hinging on her performance. Compare that to her melancholy and insipid closing number this week and you see two different characters, with the latter one pretty irritating and disappointing given the three seasons we have invested in her. Seriously, that is where they messed up BIG TIME - Rachel.

This has more to do with character politics; namely, when is this Rachel's show? Sure, she is undeniably the lead actress and a huge element of the story, not to mention, one of the most talented. But the entire season shed light on the entire ensemble and you would think after all of the Klaine stuff (seriously, anyone else surprised that Chris Colfer and Darren Criss got mostly shafted?), Quinn and all of these other characters, you would not stage the finale as if the entire season was a waiting game until Rachel moves on to New York. That is what the "getting on the train" scene and number felt like...as if this was the moment we were all waiting for. Really? Really? Let me tell you; it wasn't. I could not care less.

Even worse, so many things were left off of the table, i.e Kurt's future now that he was denied NYADA, but Rachel is allowed to emote an entire number about...whatever she was singing about, despair or dying or something? Yes, she arrived at her final destination - good for you, Rachel - but what the hell? The air of insincerity was only increased by having everyone say goodbye to her at the train station and having the guy of her dreams profess his love for her despite breaking up with her. The whole thing feels like a Katherine McPhee in Smash moment; everyone around her is loving her and praising her and she has all of her hopes and dreams and she is leaving for New York and leaving behind everything holding her back...bitch please. Why was she edited to look like the victim of the situation and everything is bittersweet when she basically has everything she wanted and a hell of a lot more then when we were introduced to her? How are we supposed to cheer for her and root for her when what she represents is something completely unfathomable (determination breeds success at the cost of everything you know and love...say what?) and an entire character that simultaneously, bears no resemblance when we were introduced to her, yet has not grown at all? Only on Glee folks...

I really try to gloss over analysis this heavy, but this was the finale and that is the lasting impression? Is anyone even a little excited about the next season? Is the show even salvageable by this point? Worst of all, you would think that Glee has a hold as to what works for each character and what doesn't after three years, but it clearly has no clue. Yes, they had a difficult job wrapping up a season(s) so multifaceted, but that does not excuse what they were trying to do there and add in musical performances that ranged from lackluster to "oh, that's cute...and I'm over it," and I am done with the show for now.

I didn't hate this episode as much as a few others we saw this season, but it was the perfect culmination of the entire season, which unfortunately, has continued the downward tailspin started by last season. Confused and misguided, with its moments of brilliance drowned out over a seven month span of erratic programing. Take your hiatus Glee and check yourself...when the writing of your upcoming reality spin-off (which I may blog about; not sure yet) looks better then your actual show, back to the drawing room, try again and try harder. Enough already of these tantalizing errors that I cannot ever recall happening to a show so famous and could be so fantastical when it wants to.

Photo Credit: FOX/Glee
Photo Credit: Zap2It

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