May 25, 2011

Episode Review: GLEE, "New York"

As much as it pains to me to write this, "New York" may have finally opened my to eyes to the fraud that is Glee. The finale was composed of a lot of good moments that added up to an episode that didn't accomplish much, and it was beyond maddening.

Everyone kept saying how the last two years have been adding up to Nationals. The thing is you couldn't tell because they came to New York without their two new original songs, and were expected to put together something in a few days that would be competition ready. New Directions decided to use New York as inspiration, so they put off writing in favor of gallivanting around the city. While the kids were enjoying their time in NYC, Will took one step closed towards his Broadway dream by performing on a stage in front of an empty theatre, but of course he was still conflicted.

Enter Dustin Goolsby who tried to convince Will to leave Lima for the Great White Way by pointing out how much of a pain teenagers can be, and he even spilled the beans to New Directions. Thanks to Dustin, Will realized that his real passion was teaching and he decided to stick with being a high school glee club coach over a Broadway performer.

It shouldn't have shocked me that Will's road towards his dream ended so abruptly because it was only introduced a few episodes ago, but I was expecting more out of this story because it could have really made the character interesting again. Instead of getting enough time focused on Will debating where he would end up, he just gave in and decided to stick around Lima. His ultimate decision would have been moving if we actually saw him come to the conclusion in a natural way instead of having it rushed to fill in the alloted space. That being said, Puck hugging him may have been the show's best moment ever.

After dumping Quinn, Finn was going to do whatever he needed to in order to get Rachel back. He even pulled off one of those cheesy rom-com dates, and Rachel was about to fall for it until she met Patti LuPone and decided to dedicate her attention to performing...again. After visiting the Wicked stage with Kurt, Rachel was ready to pick career over love, and she even rejected Finn's advances. That is until they were on stage where they decided to kiss in front of everyone which cost the team their shot at the National title.

Out of everything that was thrown at us during "New York", the Finchel drama was the only exciting element. It was nice seeing Finn pull out all of the stops to win Rachel back, and their Big Apple Date was too cute for words. Rachel's choice to focus on making it to New York instead of being held back was extremely predictable and repetitive, but it worked within the context of the series and this particular episode. Even their kiss on stage was oddly sweet although wholly inappropriate, and their final scene together was a good way to wrap up their current journey while setting up their next steps.

One of my major complaints about "New York" had to do with the fact that it introduced other stories that would have been more interesting than what they gave us. For example, we got a really great scene between the ex-Cheerios where Quinn questioned why they were there, and she reminded us that they're supposed to be popular and don't belong with New Directions. The sadness, heart break, and anger that Quinn must have been feeling was more gripping than anything that involved Will or the new songs, but it was glossed over as soon as it was brought up. Heck, Quinn was even supposed to have some big plan for New York (which I guess was tattling on Rachel and Kurt so they could lose the competition), but even that opportunity was squandered. Instead of her anything substantial happening, she got a hair cut...that's it. At least it was a good look for her.

Unfortunatley, I shouldn't be surprised by this missed opportunity because Ryan & Co. have not been able to effectively write female characters with the exception of Rachel and Santana. A prime example of this ineptitude could be seen in the dueling scenes between the boys and girls: the former had a meaningful conversation while the latter focused on girls having a pillow fight. Typical Glee writing, which is a shame because they could transcend the typical teen drama if they had some seriously strong young women on this show.

Another low light was the overly sweet end to it all. Instead of honest feelings about losing, we were subjected to scenes where everyone kept talking about how they had such a great year, and how everyone loves everyone else, and a lot of kumbaya stuff that all felt false. Even the introduction of a new couple came off as hallow and forced. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a happy ending, but for some reason this one wasn't organic.

On the Music Front: This episode did not benefit from kicking things off with the "I Love New York/New York New York" mash-up, which was my least favorite performance ever. I get that they wanted to take advantage of filming in the big city, but it just didn't work for me. Matthew Morrison's "Still Got Tonight" was decent. "Bella Notte" was fun because I'm starting to like this gimmick of having the boys following each other around and acting as a traveling chorus to impress the girls. Of course, "For Good" was great, but nothing new. "Yeah!" was an atrocious waste of time. I was disappointed that Vocal Adrenaline has been relegated to being back up singers/dancers, so I didn't care for "As Long As You're There". The final two original songs, "Pretending" and "Light Up the World" were not as good as their previous attempts.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • This really should have been the second episode of a two-part finale because everything felt hurried and half-baked. It's not like "Funeral" was such a great episode that it couldn't have been replaced with an extra hour in New York.
  • I'm always willing to cut this show some slack, but they really ended up in NYC without their songs completed. Seriously? Had they cut this plot point out, we could have dedicated more time to the important stuff.
  • Watch Mike when Tina wants to get her "frolic" on. Good stuff.
  • For someone who is all into Broadway, you'd think Rachel would've known that Cats had closed years ago, but her getting scammed was kind of funny.
  • I love Heather Morris and Brittany, but she was featured way too much this episode, which didn't quite make sense since she's not a strong singer like Mercedes and Tina. Same song, different verse I suppose.
  • We seriously wasted time on "My Cup"? It sure wasn't "Trouty Mouth" or "My Headband".
  • Rachel, Kurt, Blaine, and Finn in New York while Will rebuilds New Directions could be a fun fourth season.
  • The scene where the guy let Kurt and Rachel sing on stage was a nice little moment.
  • Kurt and Rachel's friendship was by far the best development of Season 2.
  • "For Good" was essentially Lea Michele's audition for the movie version of Wicked. I still need to see that show.
  • I've missed seeing the Cheerios together.
  • Is getting your hair cut really that much of a pick-me-up?
  • Puck hugging Will gets me every time.
  • Goolsby and Will just need to make out already.
  • Did anyone really think that they were going to win Nationals?
  • 12th out of 50 is not that bad.
  • What happened to the Vocal Adrenaline that gave us "Rehab" and "Mercy". At least last year's Regional performance was more epic in scale than whatever Charice put out there.
  • The Portland Scale Blazers For The Win!
  • We need an entire episode where Santana curses out people in Spanish. So hot!
  • Am I the only one who felt that Kurt's "I love you" wasn't genuine?
  • I like Sam, and I kinda like Mercedes, but I'm not feeling Samcedes. Hopefully this pairing will give Sam more to do next season, but oh how I doubt it.
  • The pinkies are back!
  • The symmetry of Finn putting his arm around Rachel and Will doing the same with Emma was a nice touch, and a good callback to Season 1.
  • "Can we just talk about the Jewish elephant in the room? Ask her out dude."
  • "This is your shot dude. If I was in love with a girl and not homeless, I'd totally go for it."
  • "He's cute."
  • "Bring him along. He'll be great if we have to move anything heavy."
  • "I think I know how to make you feel better." "I'm flattered Santana, but I'm really not into that."
  • "Your tearing up. People are starting to stare. I bet they think I just broke up with you."
  • "I couldn't stay away." "From the show or her?"
  • "Don't you think this would look so hot on Lord Tubbington? I'm going to go find an extra large."
Ultimately, "New York" was one of those episodes where the parts were better than the whole, which isn't unheard of with this show, but I had higher expectations for the season finale. Maybe I need to stop giving this show too much credit, but I know I'll be back next season with fingers crossed for a return to form because I still believe in this show...for now.


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