The long-awaited first season finale was a fitting end to a weird first year for Glee. We had storylines wrapped up – with excellent timing in Quinn’s case – amid loads of musical numbers and emotional high points. The episode title, Journey, was all the more fitting for the highs and lows the series has had.
I won’t recap the full episode for you, but the highlights for me were Sue Sylvester – as ever on top form with biting wit and goading Will Schuester like she was his own personal demon sent to torment him. Watching Vocal Adrenaline perform Bohemian Rhapsody intercut with scenes of Quinn delivering her baby was thrilling, especially when she began to yell the “let me go” part at the people around her.
And reprising their Don’t Stop Believin’ was a masterstroke. It showed that Glee is aware of its own impact on pop culture, and it was the right decision to run with a Journey medley, culminating in that now-iconic track. I loved how they mixed up the arrangement of it, allowing Puck and Tina and Artie to have moments with the lead vocal. They could have simply re-run the original arrangement, but the regionals version was a great way of showing how together the New Directions gang have become.
Taking a quick tangent: as we all scoffed at the name Oral Intensity, it occurred to me that New Directions = Nude Erections. Or am I late to the party with that one?
Quinn’s storyline took a front seat during Journey as well. Through the magic of flashback, we see the bedroom moment when Puck and Quinn make a baby, then the aftermath of that nine months later. To complicate matters, Quinn’s mother shows up at regionals claiming to have kicked out her overbearing (and completely hypocritical) father. Quinn promptly goes into labour and is rushed off to the delivery ward.
Because this overlaps with Rachel’s storyline a little bit (Rachel’s bio-mom Shelby eventually adopts the baby, who Puck chose to call Beth), it inadvertently makes you aware that Rachel’s biggest fans – her two gay dads – haven’t been seen once this season. Not a big deal, but maybe we need to meet these guys in season two?
Elsewhere, Finn declares his love for Rachel just before they’re about to perform. That adds a nice romantic tension to the Journey medley. As a couple, we know they don’t quite work in the real world, but there’s clearly still an attraction there.
As the episode wraps up, Sue has pissed off all the other judges at regionals enough to make them vote against New Directions. However, the other judges upset Sue so much, she voted for the group.
Still, this ensured that New Directions lost. That was kind of an important point. It would have been too twee to suggest that they were outright winners at the end of their first season. Better to give them a taste of defeat and make them work harder next season. I applaud that decision from the writers.
And the only person who could get glee club reinstated was Sue Sylvester. I liked that. And I also liked that she didn’t do it for any saccharine reasons, she did it because she respected Will Schuester as an educator. She’s used those words enough times throughout the series for them to ring believable on this occasion. And of course, she’ll be looking forward to making Schuester’s life miserable next year as well.
A good season finale, and I liked how they ended on a more relaxed song Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Schuester and Puck’s rendition was beautiful, although personally I was almost moved to tears by the Journey medley of the title. It was nice to see how far the bunch of oddballs and misfits had come, and how well they worked together.
Quotes from Journey
- Sue Sylvester: “I’m having a really difficult time hearing anything you have to say today because your hair looks like a briar patch. I keep expecting racist animated Disney characters to pop up and start singing songs about living on the Bayou.”
- Artie: “What’s the point Mr Schue. Coach Sylvester’s one of the judges. She’s going to crush us.” Schuester: “Artie, you don’t know that.” Santana: “Yes we do. She told us at Cheerios practise.”
- Announcer: “She’s fresh off her fifth national cheerleading title and author of the soon to be published memoir, “I’m a winner, and you’re fat.”, Ohio’s own iconoclast coach, Sue Sylvester!
- Schuester: “We’ve got something the other groups don’t…Finn’s dancing!”
- Rachel: “Break a leg.” Finn: “I love you.”
- Sue Sylvester: “Newton-John, you’re dead to me. Remmington, Forcie, have a seat and listen up. I don’t care who comes first, I don’t care who places second, but I have a very strong opinion about who comes in third.”
- Newton-John: “Oh please, talk about blatant tokenism. That whole “We’re inspiring, we’re a rag-tag bunch of misfits” thing is so 2009.”
- Newton-John: “Brunettes have no place in showbusiness.”
- “You have a lot in common with those kids of your school’s, Sue. Underachievers with delusions of grandeur.”
- “I know you think I’m heartless Will. And you may have a point. I spend large segments of each day picturing you choking on food. And I recently contacted an exotic animal dealer because I had a very satisfying dream that the two of us went to a zoo and I shoved your face into one of those pink inflamed monkey butts.”