Safe to say that the first season of Glee went out with more of a whimper than a bang. Once again they’ve pushed the reset button. What did they do this season? Work their way towards sectionals, then regionals. What will they do next season? Once again work their way towards sectionals, then regionals (and perhaps beyond). They have another goal to reach to keep their club, but now they have another year. How convenient! We’ll undoubtedly start the next season out with even more Finn and Rachel drama (which, frankly, bores me to tears). As much as it would irritate me all summer if they were to leave us on a cliffhanger, for the sake of good storytelling it would have been the best choice.
What really got to me – and it’s a problem that, in all my naivete, I believed would be fixed by now – were all the blatant inaccuracies and near-fantasy elements of the episode. For one, the timeline is beyond screwy. Mr. Schue told the kids, in the last scene, to take the summer off. Okay…? I was under the impression that they would continue on with their school year. Don’t the state and national competitions come after regionals? So, will Vocal Adrenaline be going to compete at state competition over the summer? I’ve done the high school choir competition thing, and we made it to state, and I’m from Indiana (which is next to Ohio, in case you didn’t know), so I can guarantee that state competitions happen during the school year. Just because New Directions didn’t make it, doesn’t mean that the whole show choir season has ended. It seems obvious to me, but then I suppose the show just wanted the timeline to line up with real time. While their viewers are having their summer break, and the show is on hiatus, the New Directions kids will also be taking a break. It makes sense in that way, but then again it seems completely unrealistic (and frankly a bit irritating).
Then there’s Quinn giving birth to her baby, which ended up being so beyond reality it was practically science fiction. She basically had the baby on a weekend, came back the next school week and (seemingly) never missed a day. Now, I’ve never had a kid, but my mom tells me it’s a bit more difficult than that. In fact, I think this is something that everyone knows. Again, I can see how it’s good to have Quinn there at the end, for full emotional effect, but the fantasy of it all was a bit distracting. This is not to mention that Shelby adopting baby Beth was so easy, another completely unrealistic twist to the finale. Since when has adoption been that easy?
Now, typically I wouldn’t be complaining about these sorts of things, these inaccuracies. However, I just fervently hope that, in the second season, Glee can strike some balance between those very real moments they have (Kurt with his dad, Will and Emma’s relationship, Sue with her sister, Rachel dealing with her quirks and the way others react to her, etc.) and those moments of fantasy. I’ve bought that a good portion of the musical numbers take place in some sort of hyper-fantastical form of reality, but shouldn’t there be some clear dividing line between that and the very true world that the rest of the show should exist in? They either need to add an element of fantasy to the entire show, even beyond the musical numbers, or they need to draw that line between the two “worlds” the show inhabits, and that means not pulling the fantasy card whenever it’s convenient. It all comes down to their seeming inability to establish a solid tone and direction for the show (a flaw that is becoming increasingly maddening). But complaining that this show is inaccurate and inconsistent is like screaming into the wind, so I’ll shut up about that now. Or at least I’ll try.
Putting my thoughts together about this episode is proving a bit difficult because, frankly, there were too many things going on. Nothing was given enough time to breathe. I feel like Quinn’s reunion with her mother should have been a more emotional moment than it was. Quinn never even had time to react to her mother’s apology and revelation that she’d left Mr. Fabray, who turned out to be a big stinky adulterer (although I don’t know why we should condemn him for that when at least 50% of the characters on this show have been involved in some sort of infidelity at least once).
They also rushed the entire, “What will happen to the club now that they’ve lost?” storyline. It had a lot of potential. That’s the kind of cliffhanger I would have deemed “ideal.” Why can’t the writers ever sit back and enjoy the moments of tension they’ve created, instead of insisting on wrapping things up as quickly as possible? It’s not a sitcom they’re working on, so the hurriedness is not at all necessary.
Finn and Rachel getting back together seemed tacked on, and it got serious way too fast. I’ve made no secret about my distaste for those two together (no chemistry, I hate Finn, etc.), but (almost) objectively speaking, it really was hurried. They got Jesse out of the way right quick – and still no explanation on that one – so they could revisit the infuriating dullness that is Finn/Rachel. Their insistence on getting that in there before the finale is partly to blame for the big plot hole that once contained the moment of their breakup, and any valid reason for Jesse’s unkind actions towards Rachel.
Also, why is it never acknowledged that Rachel is for real one of the most forgiving people ever? How many times has she forgiven Finn for being a complete jerk without so much as a hear-to-heart conversation between the two? There was the time he ran off on her in the auditorium without an explanation, the time he used her in his quest for a music scholarship, the time he accepted her offer to be co-captain and then skipped out on their photo session for the yearbook, and then his despicable treatment of her in that first episode back after the winter break. Every time she’s taken him back with little to no discussion about what transpired, and I will never actually accept that he’s learned his lesson. Why do she and the writers of this show constantly choose to ignore what a complete douchecanoe Finn is? I have no problem with douchy characters, like Puck for example, but they have to own it. Finn is a douche who gets to wear a hero’s cape. I seldom hear other viewers or critics mention this issue, so perhaps I’m delusional, but it’s really made me consider ending my relationship with this show, it irritates me so much.
With all that off my back, I’m ready to compliment a few of the things they did right in this episode. The music was wonderful. I loved the Journey medley – it was a nice bookend to a season that began on a Journey-related high note – during the competition, and I enjoyed that they let Vocal Adrenaline have a complete number as well, so the audience could have a real opinion about which should win. Considering how amazing “Bohemian Rhapsody” was, I’d say V.A. deserved the win. Seriously, why does Jonathan Groff have to leave? Dagnabbit. Strangely, I enjoyed how they juxtaposed that number and Quinn giving birth. It was fairly humorous and fitting, and it kept the birth scene from becoming too sappy or overly awkward (aren’t all birth scenes inherently awkward?). It also further justified their shining such a spotlight on our heroes’ competition.
“To Sir, With Love” made me a tad misty-eyed, and it was perhaps one of the most heartfelt moments in the episode. I would venture to guess that anyone who has been involved in a high school arts program could identify with that special relationship you develop with a director. The good ones demand your respect and your adoration, and although Mr. Schue could probably use some work in that “demanding respect” department, it is easy to see why the kids love him so much. I think it’s also just another argument for arts education in a long series of arguments the show has made in its favor. Mr. Schue (with Puck’s help) repaid their musical gift to him with a beautiful rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” It was clearly based on Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of the song, but I loved the added harmony and guitar part. It was a rather lowkey moment to end a season on, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I think that there were some solid moments for many of the characters in this episode. I was pleased that Quinn was adamant that she really would give the baby up for adoption. I half expected that she’d keep it, because that’s the sunshine and roses ending, isn’t it? I just hope that they don’t forget about the baby in the second season. It would be great to see an accurate depiction of the turbulent emotions most birth mothers feel when someone adopts their baby, instead of it being treated as a perfect cure-all, or an easy decision. I’d like to think that the chances are good, as I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Shelby or the baby. They’ve created an interesting scenario with Shelby being both the adopted mother of Quinn and Puck’s baby, and Rachel’s mom, and it would be completely idiotic to disregard that in the second season. But then again, Glee‘s continuity track-record is a bit spotty.
Finally, as much as I hated the swiftness and ease of the storyline, I did see it as fitting that Sue would vouch for the glee club. We know that she can be nice, but it doesn’t ruin her credibility as a “baddie.” Having the club around will benefit her as well, in some twisted way.
It seems that I simply have to accept that this show will never be what I want it to be, which is upsetting because it had such potential and I don’t feel that it’s meeting those expectations I had for it. I suppose that in the second season, I’ll have to decide whether or not I can learn to love the highs and ignore the lows of the show, or if I’ll have to end our relationship. Perhaps they’ll fix a few of those problems that so irritate me. But probably not.