Would it be an unforgivable pun to say that the high note of Tuesday’s ‘Glee’ season finale was the truly spectacular regionals production numbers? All season, we had been waiting for the grudge match between New Directions and Vocal Adrenaline that had been brewing since the pilot. The musical sequences did not disappoint, with New Directions exuberant Journey medley a delightful callback to the cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” that made the pilot soar. Vocal Adrenaline’s precise, Broadway style cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhaopsody” was arguably technically superior, though our heroes had more heart. That made Vocal Adrenaline’s victory at regionals a believable plot point.
Another season-long arc was resolved. Quinn (Dianna Agron) had her baby. Cutting back and forth between the Mama portion of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Quinn giving birth was a bravura sequence that could win the show an Emmy for editing. From the start of regionals to the end of the delivery, there was barely any dialogue. The entire story was told through song. It was by far the strongest portion of the episode.
The theme of the episode was, appropriately, journeys. The obvious journey was New Direction’s progress from a motley crew of losers to a close knit group of contenders. But everyone came 180 degrees from the pilot. The series began with Quinn convincing Finn (Cory Monetieth) that he was the father of her baby even though they never had sex. The season ended with Quinn giving her baby up for adoption, with the father Puck (Mark Salling) vowing to love and support her, though it seemed he was ready to be a father. Will (Matthew Morrison) went from an unhappily married man who pined for Emma (Jayma Mays) to boldly kissing her in the school hallway and telling her that he loved her. Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn got back together, rather abruptly, and exchanged the L word as well. Sue (Jane Lynch) went from attempting to destroy New Directions to secretly supporting them, casting the lone vote in their favor at regionals and persuading the principal to support the club for another year.
On a more meta note, the episode reflected ‘Glee’s journey as a show. The pilot was subversive, dark, and satirical, though it ended with an uplifting moment. The finale was as wholesome as the Disney channel programming that it mocked. There were two separate scenes of the Glee Club sincerely talking about how much they cared about each other and Mr. Schuester. They were quite effective. The New Directions version of “Too Sir With Love” may have brought a few tears to my eyes. But when it opened with a flashback to Quinn and Puck’s never before seen sexual encounter, it was a reminder of the show’s pre-hiatus tone. Puck callously seduced Quinn by getting her drunk on wine coolers, assuring her that he had also slept with other members of the celibacy club. She finally gave in after he said the three little words she longed to hear: you’re not fat. I have to admit, I miss that ‘Glee.’
There were plenty of funny lines in the finale, but what little edge there was came from the guest stars. Olivia Newton John and Josh Groban, playing themselves, mocked Sue for being a Midwestern loser who was only a celebrity in her own mind. All of the characters have become so nice. There is no longer any distinction between the ultra-popular Cheerios and the loser Glee club. Even Shelby Cochran’s (Idina Menzel) scheme to send Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) to infiltrate New Directions turned out to be a sentimental story about a woman who longed to meet the child she gave up for adoption.
‘Glee’ is now less about the plot than the music. People now tune in largely for the songs and the guest stars. That’s not a bad thing. It’s what makes the show unique. But the plots have become little more than excuses for the production numbers of a given episode. Major character arcs have been given short shrift. When exactly did Quinn and Puck fall in love? Why did Jesse and Rachel break up off camera? Will and Emma’s relationship had no place to go the moment the obstacles between them were removed.
This finale gives ‘Glee’ a clean slate for next season. The closest thing to a cliffhanger was Shelby’s decision to adopt Quinn’s baby. The finale laid in the possibility that Puck will decide to go after custody of his child. Hopefully, there will no longer be any ridiculous threats that Glee Club will be cut, since those never carried any weight. The writers have the whole summer to regroup and figure out exactly what ‘Glee’ will be in its second season. I hope that they will come up with some compelling longterm story arcs that find a way to strike a balance between the dark humor of the early episodes and the heart that has made the series a crowd pleaser.
What did you think? Were you satisfied with the way ‘Glee’ ended its season?