But for the fact that this was the season finale of Glee, you wouldn’t have known it. New York represented New Directions getting to Nationals in the show choir championships.
However, with their new mission to write original songs, Will Schuester locks the group up in a hotel while he goes to rehearse on a Broadway stage. Finn and Rachel continue their tortuous will-they, won’t-they almost-romance, right up to the end. And Schuester ruins the suspense about whether New Directions will win by making a gauche prediction halfway through the episode.
And not a trace of Sue Sylvester anywhere…
The Houston Chronicle summed it up perfectly when they said the Glee finale went out “not with a bang, but several strange whimpers“:
Could they have thrown more storylines half-heartedly into this final hour? There was Mr. Shue and Broadway, Quinn’s big revenge, Mercedes’ secret paramour, Rachel and Finn, Rachel and New York, Rachel and Kurt and New York, Rachel and Jesse, Rachel and Sunshine Corazon, and, oh yeah, the actual competition.
I told you back in the Rumours episode review that Glee hadn’t been essential viewing for me this year. The finale confirms this for me – and I think it’s the flip-flopping of the characters that’s most annoying. Schuester is secretly persuing his Broadway dream, until he gets ratted out and decides that, actually, one performance to an empty house was enough. Dream over, back to school for Schue.
Seriously? Schuester throws away his dream for a squishy group hug? Un. Con. Vincing.
Equally shabby – as pointed out by someone on Twitter earlier – was Rachel “Broadway Star” Berry not knowing that Cats closed in New York years ago. Impossible that with her encyclopedic knowledge of Broadway that she’d be blind to that fact.
As a season finale, what’s frustrating about New York is that it resolves nothing and sets nothing up for the next season. That’s what a season finale is supposed to do, right? Tie up the loose ends from the last twenty-something episodes and set up the themes for next year. Preferably with a gripping cliff-hanger to keep us guessing.
If the Glee kids winning Nationals was supposed to be the high point of the episode, Schuester bursts that balloon midway through the episode – by telling the kids that they’ve got the competition in the bag. Virtually guaranteeing that they’d lose Nationals. And surprise! Finn and Rachel share an impromptu kiss on stage which is ill-received by the judging panel and lands them in a pathetic 12th place.
And still no Sue Sylvester to sneer at them when they return…
Things that worked: Santana’s hotel-room meltdown, everything to do with Brittany. Kurt and Rachel’s Wicked duet was my favourite musical moment of the night. Rachel making her peace with the girl from Vocal Adrenaline was an odd loose end to wrap up, but it worked in a cheesy way. Kurt’s wide-eyed love of his experiences in New York, despite losing. Mercedes and Sam – an unlikely and unexpectedly cute couple.
Things that bombed: That New York song the group did early in the episode. Ear-bleeding stuff. Rachel and Finn – I’ve lost count of the times this bizarre mismatch has got together and broken up. As a romance, it’s kind of lost credibility.
Way to make the Schuester storyline better: Fire him! It’s the season finale – the writers could have taken that one risk. Why not have Schuester leave McKinley for his Broadway gig, leaving New Directions in disarray and the fans stunned. Bring Holly Holiday back as the new glee club coach in Season 3, but make her fail at it. The kids work out they need Schuester back, so they go to New York to plead with him. Meanwhile, he’s become disillusioned with the Broadway life (insert many ways Schue could get screwed over in NYC) and dreams of coming back to ‘save’ New Directions. Doesn’t that sound like a perfectly plausible Glee storyline to you?