Listen To Your Heart When He's Calling For You
Adam doesn't know where Glee's going and he doesn't know why, but shut up, you're crying!
Homestretch, people! It was an eventful week and I know your time is precious, so let's get right to it. In Glee's penultimate week on our TV screens, what should your heart listen to, and what should it tell goodbye?
Take A Nap, Nickelodeon
Choreography rehearsal. All the moves have ridiculous names. Will and Rachel want everyone to pay more attention to their faces than getting the moves exactly right (what we in the business call by the technical term "don't make crazy dancer face"). The still-nameless and still-Dalton-jacketed Warblers are very concerned about getting the moves exactly right, reminding everyone that if they don't win Sectionals then there will be no more Glee Club. They've been spying on Sue, and Vocal Adrenaline has been training on hot coals. They also want the boys of New Directions to be moved to the back, noting that Spencer dances "like a blind man with a back brace who hasn't taken a dump in three weeks."
She'll Make At Least One Of Us Cry
Roderick and Spencer commiserate over their lack of dance-ability, and decide they need Kitty's help, even though she'll be mean about it.
Sam Evans, College Counselor?
Sam gives Rachel a list of performers who finished their college degrees before they "jumped to Broadway or Hollywood." (It looks like a really short list but I'm going to say a lot of them did?) It does include Patti LuPone and "Marielle Streep," though, so at least he's sort of barking up the right tree, Rachel-wise. Rachel was prepared for this, though, and has her own list ready of successful performers who dropped out of college or didn't go at all, including Lady Gaga and Barbra Streisand herself. Rachel thanks Sam for his concern and asks for his support. Look, guys, here's the thing: NYADA is a musical theatre conservatory, and not even one attached to a liberal arts college. It's not like Rachel's BFA is going to prepare her for a fallback career as a rocket scientist. And most performers, even successful ones, have fallow periods and wind up waiting tables or temping because those are the jobs that allow you to go on auditions, regardless of your degree. Yes, having a degree means you can go to grad school for something else or whatever, and no offense to my friends who went to the real AMDA, but come on.
A Little Groff Of Heaven
This is technically the same scene but I'm splitting it because good god, skip the talking but watch this. Brad the piano player has watched this whole exchange and he knows a Roxette ballad cue when he sees one. And he also knows that Rachel needs to sing it out and listen to her heart. I've never been the biggest Rachel Berry/Lea Michele fan but damn it's been a long time (the season premiere?) since she's just stood center stage and belted, and it's kind of what this show was built on, you know? Suddenly, JONATHAN FUCKING GROFF appears in a spotlight in the house and he, too, implores Rachel to listen to her heart before he tells her goodbye.
At a certain point there's a fine line between a disclosure and a humblebrag, but full disclosure: Groff is a friend, and I'm totally biased here, but this is a best thing that's happened all season. I've never entirely bought Rachel and Jesse as friends, but I absolutely don't care. This feels more like a reunion between the friends that the actors are in real life than anything but it has more life and joy in it than almost any song this season.
When the song ends, they get into actual character, and they ask each other suspiciously what they're doing here. It turns out Jesse is playing the male lead in the Russell Simmons musical and had a hand in getting Rachel cast opposite him. He's come to convince her to take the part. "Your mistake wasn't leaving NYADA... Your mistake was leaving the show too early to do that stupid sitcom." TRUTH, Jesse St. James.
Ivy Lynn Knows How This Ends
Will (which is exactly who they said they didn't want) and Kitty coach Spencer and Roderick on the dancing. It's going badly enough as it is and then Spencer Chorus Lines his ankle. It's just a sprain (despite the bone-cracking sound effect), but it's a bad one. Beiste says that "the only way you could put weight on that thing, let along dance, is if you got a cortisone shot," but he's not recommending that, because "it will take away the pain, but it won't fix the damage." Uh, then why did you mention it at all to an impressionable and eager high-school student, you professional football coach and only adult character on this show I still like? Spencer is prepared to take one for the team and deal with the consequences.
NYU: Your Safety School For When You Get Kicked Out Of Band Camp
Rachel is stress-organizing in the dressing room when Kurt comes to talk to her about Broadway vs. NYADA. He's concerned that she wasn't happy last year because she didn't have any time to enjoy anything, which is why she shouldn't jump straight into being a professional working adult and go to school. Yeah, she was also doing Funny Girl and going to school and waiting tables which is literally impossible to do so maybe just let her go be on Broadway the right way? Huh, apparently I will never stop being mad about this. Okay, moving on. Kurt thought Rachel and Blaine were crazy for coming home to teach their old glee clubs, but now he's so glad they did and that he came with them, because they got to inspire all these kids. He's excited to go back to school and be inspired himself (and Blaine's gotten into NYU, apparently), and thinks she should do the same.
It's Raining Glitter!
The New Diwarblers receive a bunch of boxes in the mail from "GLAAD," only they're not from GLAAD, of course, they're from Sue, and they turn out to be glitter bombs. Everyone reacts like actual bombs are going off, though there doesn't really seem to be any danger. The stunt ends with the piano blowing up in a cloud of silver confetti, which is legitimately destructive. "That was very very pretty," Blaine notes.
Lick It Up, Baby. Lick. It. Up.
As Will runs off to confront Sue, Sam throws up on his shoes (actually, he throws up under his shoes, because that's how lazy this show is). Will looks for the nurse to find people vomiting everywhere and Sue gloating in the teachers' lounge. She's poisoned the school's water supply. Will's car explodes in the parking lot (which really seems a step too far and an arrestable offense). Sue heads to the salon for a celebratory Carol Brady blowout, but a bewigged Will has taken the place of her stylist. He duct-tapes her mouth and straps her to the chair. What the hell even is this show anymore?
Sue "Lex Luthor" Sylvester
In the McKinley locker room, a bald Sue shows Vocal Adrenaline videos of Nazis marching (for the precision). Beiste again reminds Sue that he and Will were the only ones who stood up for her, and demands that they leave. It seems Sue's sole reason for holding this meeting here was to arrange this confrontation.
Are You Ready For Sectionals?
Are we ready for sectionals? I really thought this wouldn't happen until the finale! As in every competition episode, we first meet the judges: Ohio's Vice Comptroller, Donna Landries, Anchorman Rod Remmington (of Sue's old show), and the Westminster Kennel Club trainer of the year Butch Mellman and her champion standard poodle, Trixie. The first group to compete is the Falconers, from the John James Audubon Institute for Rehabilitative Ornithology. Hee. They and their falcons perform Mister Mister's "Broken Wings." Double hee.
We don't get to hear much of the song, as Sue threatens Rachel and Will in the audience. Blah blah blah "human hair wig" (guess Jane Lynch didn't want to wear that bald cap for more than one scene), blah blah blah "end times are here." If the rest of this episode is just show-choir sight gags, though, I'm here for it.
Knee Deep In The Hoopla
Vocal Adrenaline is up next, performing Starship's "We Built This City" in silver tops with the set from a non-Equity touring production of Rent. I am, always have been, and always will be a fan of this song, and I like this arrangement a lot, but after all the build-up of how great VA is and how Sue is such a brilliant task-master, this performance kind of...sucks? The choreography is more involved than the New Diwarblers', but that doesn't mean it's not terrible. It's doubly painful knowing Jesse St. James is in the house. But then, I can't think of a single person who's ever been on Glee, including every eliminated Glee Project contestant, who wouldn't be better than Clint.
VA change into cheerleader costumes (I'm a sucker for an onstage quick-change) and go into Toni Basil's "Micky." This choreo makes more sense, and it's actually pretty impressive. Flags and cannons come out, and this is straight out of Sue's Cheerios playbook. Rachel, Will, and company look pretty scared.
Is It Dusty In Here?
Backstage, Will welcomes the gang to "the most sacred of New Directions traditions, the show circle," but then hands the pep talk over to Rachel, since she's the reason they're all here. "A couple of months ago I crawled into this choir room with a mission. A selfish one. I needed you guys to help me get my groove back. And it came true. Now the world is opening up to me. And the best part is that in this moment, I don't care. All that matters to me is you guys, and the strength of this circle that we've created. So go out there and enjoy it! Enjoy the lights and the applause and the cheers, because you guys have earned it. And I know we all know that this could be the last time that the New Directions performs together, so as a member of the old guard, I just want to say that we couldn't be more proud that you guys are the ones bringing us home." SHUT UP, I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING.
Is There a Hormone Shot I Can Give This Storyline?
Spencer is about to get his cortisone shot when Roderick stops him. He has an idea.
Reflections In The Waves Spark My Memory
New Diwarblers time! Roderick kicks off Hozier's "Take Me To Church" with a solo, the rest of the club filling in the risers behind a scrim dancing and singing backup. It's tight. The dancing looks great and they're perfectly lit. (We briefly see Myron with a blonde wig backstage and I wish I hadn't looked at the song list in iTunes before watching.) Kitty joins Roderick as the rest of the group comes downstage. Everything about this is classic Glee.
Next up, Madison sings Sia's "Chandelier" backed by four Warblers (never mind that there are clearly female vocals in the mix). It's a perfect blend of the New Directions' and Warblers' styles, with the boys doing the Whiffenpoofy steps while Madison parks and barks in front of them. Kitty comes on with more Warblers for the next set of lines, then the entire group. Myron enters through the house in beige leotard and wig, doing the choreography from the video pretty perfectly as far as I can tell.
This seems to be a surprise to Rachel, Will, Kurt, and Blaine, and maybe Madison too? Strange choice, but the crowd loves it. The Warblers do VA-esque acrobatics. Roderick's idea was to have Spencer actually swing from a chandelier so he doesn't have to dance. Again, something you might have told the others, but it gets a big cheer. And I don't know if this is a choice, or if these actors are just better than the VA actors or are just genuinely having a better time, but it's something I've noted earlier this season too: everyone looks like they are having so much fun. When Glee is good, it always gets this joy (uh, glee, one might say) part right. It is impossible to hate on this.
Finally, Mason takes lead on an a-cappella-ish (there's a piano, but lots of vocal oohs and ahs and bips and bops too) Styx's "Come Sail Away." Madison joins him. Spencer hops out on crutches. The band kicks in, as it must. Even though I can't hear this song without hearing Eric Cartman's voice in my head ("you guys"), I'm crying again. SHUT UP, YOU KNOW YOU ARE TOO.
What Has Got To Be The Lowest Form Of Entertainment Ever Known To Mankind
Huh, okay, there are fifteen minutes left. So here's the same joke we get every season with the judges who have nothing but contempt for show choir. Donna hated all of them. Vocal Adrenaline "was like sitting through Fallujah," and "by the time fatty was singing 'Take Me To The Church' I was like, 'Okay, as long as the service we're attending is my funeral.'" All right, that's a decent burn. Rod Remmington thinks the New Directions "might not be able to dance or sing" (ummm) but thinks the girls are hot (UMMMM). Butch points out that her invitation was actually addressed to her dog, so Trixie is the one who's doing the judging. Thankfully, they don't drag this out nearly as long as they could, and we go right from arguing to...
And The Winner Is
...announcing the winners. The Falconers are in third, obviously. Kudos to the editors for making the announcement of the winner actually feel tense, even though it seems pretty unlikely that the New Directions is getting shut down. But yeah. The winner is the New Directions! Much cheering. Sue glares.
Well, Susan, Looks Like This Is It
Sue intercepts Will in the hall. He gloats about her loss, and she says "you're welcome," claiming to have thrown the competition so that the New Directions could remain at McKinley. Because Will and Beiste stood up for her with Geraldo, Sue decided to repay them by sabotaging Vocal Adrenaline from within. She did research on the judges and designed the routine to trigger each of them. Donna has a fear of acrobats, Rod was "briefly in an acrimonious group marriage with all seven members of Jefferson Airplane," and the dog trainer "is an actual idiot." The projectile vomiting was to help the New Directions lose weight, and the glitter bombs were to release stress hormones to burst alertness, leading to relaxed euphoria when they walked onstage. Blowing up Will's car was just for fun. Okay, then! Will doesn't say thank you, so Sue vows to go back to trying to destroy him. Such a shame we won't get to see that.
All That Life-Or-Death Teen Adrenaline, All That Drama
Rachel finds Jesse in the auditorium. He misses the drama of it all. "Give me a medley or a mash-up or a Broadway tribute, anything to get me back up there on that stage with my friends singing and dancing for my life." But onward and upward to Broadway! He invites her to stay with him in New York, flirting, and she tells him that she's picked NYADA. "I think I was afraid that going back to college would be a step backwards, but I think it's a step in the right direction." He says he's proud of her for going with her gut and not taking the easy road back to Broadway. They flirt some more, then kiss.
A Group Of Very Different People Put Aside Their Differences And Formed A Team
Will gives a nice little speech about teamwork and support. Rachel and Kurt will be moving on soon, but they'll always be supporting them. Rachel looks at their old trophies and gets misty. I DON'T, NOPE, IT'S MY SPRING ALLERGIES STARTING UP. Kitty sees this and proposes that they get the old trophies and mementos and put them in the case with the new ones, and we flash back to the old gang winning those trophies, before they all got Botox, with lots of shots of Finn. Sue looks in, smiles and nods.
Huh; that really felt like a finale, didn't it? Like I kind of don't want to watch next week. It started pretty dire, and I was expecting this to be a "skip everything except the songs" kind of week, but once Rachel started singing it was pretty much all uphill. It's almost as if music, and manipulating audience emotions therewith, is what Glee does best? Like the last couple of weeks, this is the kind of thing I've wanted from this season all along. The focus on Rachel is solid, and it makes sense in the long arc of the series. To be clear, I don't think she's making the wrong choice by going back to NYADA, I just wish it were being presented as it was when she chose to do Funny Girl in the first place. It's that she has more to learn as an artist and a person, and maybe the best place to learn that is in the structure of a classroom. This whole "go to college or you'll wind up in the gutter" thing from Sam, who seems perfectly happy being an assistant coach at his old high school, is the thing that bugs.
ANYWAY. The new kids' presence was again a welcome one, and while nothing was really about them, the fact that we know who they are now lets us care about them and the future of what is ultimately their Glee Club (Jane's continued dislike of the Warblers is especially on point). And last but certainly not least, the songs: more than we've had most weeks this year (guess they were saving the budget), and a classic Glee mix of '80s hits and modern numbers I've actually heard of. If this is how Glee is going to go out, you won't hear me complaining (more than usual).