The Final Countdown

Did you think Glee would leave us without one last Sue Sylvester meltdown? Think again.

Apparently, last week's Glee was divisive, at least among those of us who write about Glee on the internet. The folks who didn't like it felt it was a waste of time when we should be wrapping up the series with the original characters. Who cares about these new kids who we barely know? In theory, I agree with them. In practice, though, I found the previous few weeks to be a total drag. They introduced these guys in the first two episodes of the season and then treated them like extras, and it turns out they're pretty charming! (Not Myron.) I was never a fan of when Glee split into two shows that had nothing to do with each other. Either one might have worked on its own, but I'm very on the record about my dislike of the New York branch. The show is called Glee. It's about a high school glee club. If the first batch of new kids had been their own characters instead of pale imitations of the originals cast on a reality show to play themselves, maybe the last few seasons would have been better. There would always have been excuses to bring the original cast back or take a field trip to see Rachel in a show, but I think that's a show I would have liked longer. Last week, that's the show we got, and it's too late now. I wish the balance had been different this season, with the focus on Rachel as a teacher to the new kids, peppered with checking in on the alumni, instead of two whole episodes of Jig-Sue. Save the reunions for Homecoming and the finale, maybe the wedding in the middle. There's no need to rehash stuff from six years ago. Anyone still watching was there.

Anyway, this is what we have. Three episodes to go. And now that they've set up the new balance so late in the game, where does it leave us this week? What should you watch and what should you skip?

When I Am With You There's No Place I'd Rather Be

"All right, let's see what you guys have been working on," says Will from the tech table in the auditorium. Hasn't he been, y'know, working on it with them? Whatever. Jane sings lead on Clean Bandit's "Rather Be," with Kitty and Madison dancing backup and a heavy string accompaniment. The rest of the gang joins in on a heavily riser-choreographed group sing. I've never heard this song before, but it's peppy and fun and perfectly Glee (and the official video has a really cute kitten in it), just right for the new kids. Mason does some acrobatics. Jane does some vocal riffs. They all look like they're having a great time. During the number, Kurt leads in an upset-looking Blaine from the side of the auditorium. Will asks them if they have any notes on what they just saw, but that's not why they're there. There was a fire at Dalton; it's burned to the ground.

Warblerections...Wait

Will has called an "emergency glee club meeting" of the New Directions and the Warblers, announcing the merger of the two groups into a "show choir supergroup." I find it hard to believe that a school like Dalton wouldn't find someplace to set up temporary shop (do all those kids just stop going to class forever in this world?), but it does mean we get to stop hearing about the New Directions not having enough members, so okay. In an astonishing display of continuity, Jane looks super-uncomfortable. Sue is entirely not okay with this, but Will has already cleared it with the Superintendent. "Doomsday has arrived," Sue announces.

Boy, This Never Gets Old

Becky (ugh) yells at Sue that it's unfair to not let the Warblers join the New Directions, but she's unintelligible, so her cute boyfriend translates (ugh some more). It's been clearly established that these two are in college, so what are they doing here? Sue has received letters of support from various Republican politicians. "The notion that two rival show choirs would suddenly just join forces out of nowhere is both morally repugnant, and convenient." Well, Orrin Hatch has a point there. "I've performed all those unspeakable acts of loyalty for you," Becky wails. "Hurting kids from a burnt-down school is my moral limit." Guys, Becky is done. Maybe it's time to give this storyline a rest?

I Can't Think Of A Funny Fake Thing "NYADA" Could Stand For

Rachel is back at NYADA, boringly voice-overing about how much she's changed since she was here last. Madame Tibideaux's secretary greets Rachel and tells her not to get her hopes up, as Tibideaux's "been looking forward to this." 

A Whole Locker Full Of Hurt

Sue goes to a meeting with the Superintendent, and is surprised to find Will already there. Will is surprised, too. Harris has called them both there because someone (we don't see who) has shown him Sue's Hurt Locker, where he was deeply disturbed to find a voodoo doll of Myron, the shrine to Klaine, and -- most shocking of all -- a copy of Penthouse in which, it is implied, Sue is the centerfold. Sue stammers a defense, but she's fired.

I Honestly Think The Woman Has Some Sort Of Mental Illness

Sue appears on a Geraldo Rivera special report on Fox News to attempt to set the record straight. Geraldo, backed by his fact-checkers, questions the majority of said record. Oops. Kudos for the two-second, completely unnecessary Carnie Wilson cameo. Geraldo calls Sue a compulsive liar. Sue has claimed that Michael Bolton is the father of her child; cue Bolton on screen denying it. The old anchors from Sue's local news show come on to call her crazy. Sue digs in deeper, claiming she gave up wealth and power for the kids at McKinley, who have always been her #1 priority. The sad thing, and the weird thing about Glee and Sue, is that that last part feels true. Geraldo shows footage of the original cast talking about all the awful things Sue's done to them. Glee Project nightmare Samuel Larsen (did his character even have a name?) makes a brief appearance to say, "She cut my dreads off!," and you guys, he looks SO GOOD without those dreads! Who knew? Geraldo reveals that it was Becky who tipped them off to Sue's treachery. "I am so much happier now that I am free from Sue and I got hot boyfriend." This sequence feels endless. I actually wrote "watch" and then changed it to "skip" halfway through. We need a new category: "Watch until you get bored and then fast-forward."

The Daughter That I Just Couldn't Love

During a commercial (because this is still happening), Sue appeals to Geraldo. She wishes he'd interviewed some of her successful Cheerios. He says everyone that she suggested declined to be interviewed. And that he lied, they're still on the air. Sue rants some more. Geraldo shows an interview with Beiste supporting Sue. "My parents were Nazi hunters!" claims Sue. Cut to Geraldo interviewing Sue's mother, who I'd forgotten is played by Carol Fucking Burnett. "No, we weren't Nazi hunters. Her father and I just told her that so it would give us a good excuse not to be around her....She was nasty from the day she was born." Sue gets up and punches Geraldo. Okay, that's worth watching. Will gets the last word and does the whole having-a-nemesis-is-valuable thing, making him work harder and be better: "She's an outstanding teacher, and a born leader, and McKinley High is a worse place without her. She deserves a second chance."

Clang! Clang! Clang!

The band plays a dirge for Sue in the auditorium (where she shouldn't be allowed?), and I never ever harp on stuff like this on this show (well, except the autotune), but it is clearly a garbage MIDI track even though we see kids with instruments. Try a little. Sue thanks the band for being "the soundtrack to my melancholia," and turns around to confront her mother, who technically didn't lie about loving her "because I never really told you that I did love you." Sue has spent the last few days at an Oprah self-help seminar and wants to apologize for all the booby traps and biting when she was a kid. Carol Burnett admits that she and Sue's father weren't the best parents either, always wanting Sue to do whatever they wanted even though she clearly wasn't interested. "I remember how much I loved those old movie musicals, and you couldn't stand them. Every time I took you to a matinee, you'd start crying and screaming and biting and trying to set me on fire." Sue insists that sitting through a musical is torture: "How do people just burst into song? How does everybody just magically know the lyrics?" Carol Burnett apologizes for not being a good mother. Sue asks her if she and Sue's dad were ever really in love. "Well, of course we were!" says Carol Burnett. "We fell in love when we first met. On a trolley." A trolley? Wait...what? No... "And you would like to sing about it, wouldn't you?" Sue asks. "I will sing with you....I love the sound of my own voice!" And then, god help me, Carol Burnett and Jane Lynch perform "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me In St. Louis. Or if you prefer, from Saturday Night Live's Sweeney Sisters sketch. I truly can't decide if it's the best or the worst thing that's ever happened. But it's joyous, and it's an apology from Sue to her mom, and it's Glee, so it works. And just generally, I'm in favor of more Carol Burnett belting on my TV.

You're Just Reaching A Little Bit

Back in the teachers' lounge, Rachel reports on her meeting with Carmen Tibideaux (because they couldn't actually get Whoopi Goldberg this week). Tibideaux told Rachel to get out of her office, which Rachel read as "she could see that I was humble, that I was sorry, which means that I can't give up, there's still a chance." Mercedes is skeptical. Sam thinks NYADA is a school for witches, because Brittany's not here. Rachel writes a letter to Tibideaux begging to get back into school. That ship really seems to have sailed. Rachel gets a phone call from the producer of the show she auditioned for, which she "totally forgot about." I'm sorry, what? Rachel Berry forgot about a Broadway audi-- you know what, forget it. She got the part! She realizes school isn't the answer, and excitedly goes off to tell Kurt.

Our Look Is Iconic

Dance rehearsal for the New Diwarblers. It's not going well. The Warblers don't think the McKinley kids are good enough. The New Directions don't like that the Warblers are still wearing the uniforms from their "sexist empire," making it clear that they're on different teams. Will decides that since they attend McKinley now, the Warblers' uniforms have to go. Head Warbler (seriously, he is credited on IMDb as "Head Warbler" -- even the show can't be bothered to give him a name) makes a heartfelt speech about the jackets being all that they have left of Dalton, which means as much to them as McKinley does to the New Directions. Nobody cares. Oh, sorry, the characters care. I don't care. Beiste enters to announce that Sue is the new coach of Vocal Adrenaline.

You Made Your Choice And Now My Chance Is Over

Clint gives Sue attitude right off the bat, calling her out for getting fired from her old job and hating show choir, yet somehow being their new coach. Sue: "Correction. I may be your new coach. If I deem you worthy of crushing the New Directions." She subjects them to an insane workout, all while performing Frank Stallone's "Far From Over" from Stayin' Alive. I can't be mad about this. Interspersed with the workout montage, Sue burns the contents of the Hurt Locker. 

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You Don't Even Go To This School

Rachel enlists Sam's help with the jackets, which she's decided is the least they can do. Sam thinks she's making a mistake taking the role instead of going back to school. She gets another call and looks very upset while we almost hear a voice that could be Whoopi Goldberg say words like "lucky day" and "hit by a CitiBike." It seems a slot has opened up, and that Rachel can go back to NYADA if she wants to. But she's not going to. She wants to go back to New York a winner. Why can't Sam be happy for her? "What you wanted was a second chance to get it right," says Sam. "If you throw [school] away, you're going to be making the same mistakes all over again." Rachel storms off.

Will Things Ever Be The Same Again?

"I just think in this day and age it's insane not to get a college education," says Sam, who has not gotten and is not getting a college education. Will points this out, and Sam says he doesn't want Rachel to make his mistakes. They're interrupted by the sound of an organ playing the unmistakable intro to "The Final Countdown," and find Sue playing in the auditorium. Sam runs for help. Sue tells Will he's crossed her for the last time. "Do you have any idea how many times you've said that?" asks Sue. Will points out that he and Beiste are the only people who stood up for Sue in the Geraldo interview, but Sue is unmoved. She gets up as Brad takes over the organ and starts the song from the top. Will scoffs: "Oh don't even think that you can out-Europe me, Sue. I saw them play live at the Franklin County Fair in 1993!" Suddenly we're in a full hair-band concert, with Sue and Will battle-dueting in terrible wigs, and it's everything I love about this show.

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The Glee kids fill the house, but they just see Brad at the organ and Sue and Will in their regular clothes playing air guitar. "Oh my god they've gone crazy," Rachel says to Kurt. "We can't let this happen to us." The song ends, they snap out of it, and they really might be mentally ill. What if that's the true endgame of Glee? What if it ends with Will and Sue in an institution? Who has the snow globe?

It's Difficult To Try To Stay Awake

Will apologizes to Blaine, Rachel and Kurt for his erratic behavior. But they have worse news: Superintendent Harris told Myron that if The Warnew Directlers doesn't win, all arts and music programs will be cut from McKinley. Kurt resolves that this is just the beginning of a new fight. Blaine says that they've at least solved the costume battle, and introduces The NWeawrDbilreercstions in grey slacks/skirts, white shirts, ties, and red blazers with white trim. So it's like the Dalton uniforms but in McKinley colors. Everyone looks good. They sing "Rise," which apparently is an original song. It's in keeping with a lot of the new glee club's peppy anthems, and it works well here. The band joins in, but it starts with a real a cappella sound, and has lots of "ooh"s and "aah"s throughout, as befits the new larger group. I like it.

Verdict

This isn't a great episode. The lows (Becky, Geraldo) are very low, but the highs (all the songs) are even higher. And while the new kids are definitely relegated to the background, they feel like they exist and matter in a way that they haven't before. We know something about them now, and at least at the end of the episode the fight to save the arts at McKinley is for them. I could do without yet another Sue vs. Will event, but Lynch and Morrison sell it, especially going balls out in "The Final Countdown," and I can't not love that. With only two episodes left, it does make me wonder what the endgame is. Is this Will's story? Sue's? Rachel's? Finn's? We're leaving together, but still it's farewell. And maybe we'll come back to earth -- who can tell?

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