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'Glee' Season 2 Finale Recap

by Joel Keller, posted May 25th 2011 1:30AM
['Glee' - 'New York']

It's been very difficult for me to write about the second season of 'Glee' without sounding like a humorless grouch. There has been a lot to take in this year, from the event episodes to the Super Bowl spectacular to needing a scorecard to keep track of the different romances to the trifecta of Gwyneth Paltrow episodes to Sue Sylvester flying off the rails.

The 'Glee' cast invade New York in the season 2 finale
I could have made it easy on myself and just judged each episode by the songs, which it seems a lot of the readers would have preferred I do. After all, that's the most fun part of the show, right? But I couldn't do that, and I couldn't do that this week. I'm still too interested in the actual story about the kids in New Directions and their underdog plight to just gloss over the plots of each episode.

It's why tonight's New York-based season finale left me a little cold. Sure, the location shots were great. But, aside from yet another iteration of the Finn-Rachel story, there wasn't much in the way of story here. At least not enough to make sense of whatever's happened this season up until now.

We've talked about this before in this space, almost ad nauseum, but I'll state it again: I long ago stopped caring about who Finn, Rachel and Quinn date. There has just been so much swapping of mates within this glee club that it makes a person's head spin (even Brittany acknowledged all the date-swapping in her year-end speech to Santana). Sure, there's an element of "that's high school" in all that, but at least as far as the show is concerned, no couple has been together long enough for me or most of the audience to really get attached to them pairing.

Because most of this episode concerned how the New Directions would perform at nationals, and how they react to being in the Big Apple for the first time, the only plot we really had to hang our hat on was the Finn/Rachel drama. And, for the most part, it felt like a place we've been before, many times, just with a New York backdrop.

'Glee' - 'New York'Finn tells Rachel he loves her. They go on a hard-to-fathom date at Sardi's -- hope Burt and Finn's mom like paying for that meal -- where Rachel just happens to meet Patti LuPone. Then, as they walk around the Village, the rest of the guys in the group serenades the two of them while Finn makes his move, but Rachel recoils and walks away.

Sound familiar? The only part of this that is remotely new is that Rachel now has another lover, one that takes precedence over Finn: that lover is the Broadway stage. As soon as she and Kurt sneaked onto the stage at the Gershwin Theatre and sang a song from 'Wicked,' you knew it was over for Finn.

Even "The Kiss That Screwed Up Nationals" didn't have as much impact as it should have had, mainly because it felt like old news. Let's just forgive the fact that it didn't seem like the kids had any time to write, much less rehearse, a song like 'Pretending,' given all the side trips they took to explore. But, the moment might have had more oomph if they covered a song with a known heavy romantic hook.

The performance was good, don't get me wrong, but when they kissed, it didn't feel like some big-time, show-defining moment, even if the producers showed us in no uncertain terms that the world melted away for the two of them. "It was the Superman of kisses," said Finn, even as Jesse St. James tells the two of them that it was unprofessional. Uh, I guess so. Maybe it was just the Aquaman of kisses; still in the Justice League, but not quite as big a deal.

The rest of the plot threads that were set up last week either fizzled out or went nowhere. What was that big nefarious plan Quinn had for the trip to New York? She threatened to quit, she said she might sabotage the performance, but all she did was cry to Santana and Brittany about not having someone to love, and she got her hair cut. Will got far enough in his dream to work on Broadway to sing a Matthew Morrison original on stage and have a guard tell him he's "got it," mainly because Kristin Chenoweth wasn't available. But, after Goolsby tells the kids about it, and they encouraged him anyway, he broke down and said he wasn't leaving. So much for that.

And, despite the inspired performance of another original, 'Light Up The World,' you almost knew that, as soon as we found out that nationals were three rounds, that New Directions weren't going to make it out of the first. They can't win; that's not the name of the game on this show. Still, except for Santana -- who screamed to Rachel about her pride for being from Lima Heights Adjacent -- most of the kids were philosophical about it. After all, they got to go to New York and dance around it, mostly without anyone throwing things at them or exposing themselves. So just for that, it was a pretty good experience for all involved.

'Glee' - 'New York'At the end of the episode, we got a tiny hint of what we might see in season3, which, if Ryan Murphy is to be believed, is the last season for most of the current cast. We've got Kurt and Blaine saying "I love you" to each other, Sam and Mercedes trying to keep their burgeoning, out-of-nowhere relationship quiet, and Finn and Rachel smooching in the library stacks. Rachel still reiterates that she's going to New York after graduation and is never coming back, but Finn is using the "we've still got all of senior year" card to see if he can change her mind. Will he? Who knows? They'll probably break up and get together three or four times by the time they walk for graduation.

It's a big weakness that might hamper it in season 3. Murphy promises that the coming season will only have one big "event" episode that revolves around one artist, but I have my doubts that they'll be able to resist if, say, Katy Perry decides to come on as a guest star. But if that's the case, then the three producers and their new writers are going to actually have to start and maintain story threads that make sense. Right now, they're not doing that.

Then again, most of the fans might not care, and the number that do (like me) aren't significant enough that the show will suffer significantly if they drop off. For the most part, the show's gone from a campy, fun show about a bunch of underdog kids to a musical show with some dialogue. It's not the show that I enjoyed at the beginning of its run in 2009, and it's a show that I'm pretty sure I'm done with if it continues in this direction.

More fun stuff:

-- The part about the mash-up of Madonna's 'I Love New York' and 'New York, New York' (the song from 'On the Town,' not the Liza Minnelli song from the Scorsese film that Sinatra made famous... though, come to think of it, Sinatra made the other one famous, too) that was the most fun was the locations: Lincoln Center, Washington Square Park, Central Park, and the TKTS booth in Times Square, among others.

'Glee' - 'New York'-- Of course, with Vocal Adrenaline in the competition, we revisit Charice as Sunshine Corazon. She knocked the third original, 'As Long As You're There,' out of the park. And Rachel finally decided to "make it right" after sending her to that crack house. At this point, with her future firmly in front of her, she doesn't seem threatened by people like Sunshine anymore.

-- Kurt is going to spend his summer writing a musical about Pippa Middleton. Kate's so boring; I want to hear more about Pippa, don't you?

-- It is interesting that the supposedly less-popular girls in glee have love, while the three former Cheerios -- Britt, Quinn and Santana -- are alone.

-- Speaking of Santana, you can just see that she wants to grab Britt Britt and just plant a big ol' kiss on her. Brittany wants her to -- "I love you more than anyone I've ever known" -- but Santana just can't do it, at least not within the confines of the school. What I want to know is, if the two of them are both single and both know how they feel about each other, why can't they get together outside of school?

-- I did enjoy Kurt and Rachel literally having breakfast at Tiffany's, complete with those blue Greek coffee cart cups. Though, if you really want to be accurate about New York these days, the cups would more likely be from Starbucks.

-- Being from the NYC area, I'm always amazed at how people who aren't from around here look at the city with wonder and curiosity. It's heartening, even if I'm one of those cranks who walks around Times Square so he can avoid all the tourists clogging the streets. Anyway, that part of the glee club's New York experience came through loud and clear, which is all you can hope for. They may have had more relationships than most adults, but at least they're not jaded.

'Glee' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on Fox.

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Glee frustrates me.
I was one of those ultra-Gleeks when the show was still in its first season--and I guess I still am, kinda. It's just that the gooey, romanticized gloss has fallen off the face of Glee, and now I can see the trembling, duct-taped structure underneath.
Glee has so much potential to be an incredible show, if the writers and producers would just trust the characters they have developed and not be afraid to commit to a plot line. I don't mind that Glee caters to what the public demands--if fact, that's what has made it such a success. The hit songs and current issues play an important part in Glee's identity. I DO mind, however, that plot lines are cut and pasted, characters are forgotten and then re-booted, and any logical arc is non-existant. Seriously, I don't mind a love tetrahedron (because that's what the latest season seemed to be)--but at least rationalize it, and not chalk it up to the fact that Quinn is a needy, image-concerned teenage girl, because, really, I think Quinn has a bit more going on underneath all of that.
I want so much for Glee to succeed because it's a show that caters to relative, modern issues. Sexual orientation. Bullying. Self-image. Obesity. Faith. I think it has done a wonderful job lifting the blinds to some of these problems. But Glee is succeeding because it's (less-cynical) audience gets what they want. Glee episodes have become like a lunch-line goulash. (Throw together a rampage from Sue, a few Brittany one-liners, and one shocking relevation. Brown in a pan of pop culture. Season with Katy Perry and Broadway. Serve over-done.) Sure, it will nourish you for a while, but eventually you need a little more to stay healthy.

July 01 2011 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

BIGGEST FINALE DISAPPOINTMENT EVER!!!! Really, Glee writers? This is the best you can do for the season finale? It was so unbelievably boring and infuriating to watch it and I found myself switching to the Dacing With the Stars finale just to keep myself from throwing the remote at the T.V.

Watching the Glee cast lose from time to time is getting really old. And Rachel Berry is really getting on my last nerves. She's annoying as hell, and I know it's part of the "appeal" of her character or whatever, but the stories centered around her are so repetative and OLD. Everything in this show is getting old. I went from a huge GLEEK to being completely apathetic if the show gets another season.

May 26 2011 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Joel completely on this one. Every single point. This was a terrible finale. I actually groaned on Rachel and Finn's date on the streets of New York. Motivations, characters, story lines are too jerky and all over the place. The show was missing story arcs, which was the glue of season 1. Keep a semblence of a story arc and solid characters and you can be as crazy and weird as you want to be within that arc. At least the viewers can follow something. It's like you can almost scramble the season two episodes and air them in whatever order you want and it'll make as much sense as it does now. Which is none.

And I wish the posters who knock anyone who has a criticism would give it a rest. I love the show like a parent loves their kid even during a terrible music recital. I will watch the next season and cringe if it continues on this track, but keep on hoping it turns around. Murphy made me fall in love with the characters and I am waiting for them to come back, true to how they were originally written.

Only two good moments in my opinion:

-Santana's crazy rant after losing and Puck's "the kind of romantic movie where you grow a vagina if you watch it all the way through" comment.

May 25 2011 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mandy's comment

There's a difference between knocking criticism, and knocking bad criticism, thanks. Herd mentality, I guess.

May 26 2011 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Spot on, man. The show was interesting and addicting when it started; a lot of the allure was and still is the music, but the stories were engaging, there was intriguing character exposition, suspenseful "will-they-or-won't-they" moments. Granted, it's not The Wire, but as far as primetime teen soap-y gems go, the writing was going to some exciting places and the song choices made sense. There actually has been a fair amount of similar feedback from other bloggers, magazines (print/online), entertainment news shows, etc, and I do believe, as popular as the show may be, it can't run on just songs for that long. And it definately can't replace an entire cast after only 3 years with very little story and hardly any identity other than over-the-top musical numbers, celebrity cameos and bright colors. Plus, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who hits fast forward during the 2nd, 3rd and/or 4th song...

Here is the basic structure, in my opinion, of every Glee episode this season:
(remember the South Park "Cartoon Wars" episode with the manatees/balls/family guy? Think that)

Fantastic Karaoke in Magic Land (FKIML) + love triangle drama du jour + Matthew Morrison doing his best Harry Connick Jr while being "inspiring" and "relatable" + More FKIML + Jane Lynch says and/or does something unrealistically mean + someone kisses someone they shouldn't + 2nd string FKIML + Someone has a heartwrenching secret + Realization that everyone has secrets, differences and things in common via FKIML song

May 25 2011 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I went into this finale knowing that it was going to have to focus heavily on Finn/Rachel because they're basically the ones with a storyline right now. But the double standard the writers' portray in their relationship is seriously getting beyond ridiculous. The fact that the only reason Rachel is hesitating to get back together with Finn is because she has her sights set on Broadway stardom and he might not fit in don't really jive with reality. Why can't it be because he broke up with her and got back together with someone who cheated on him and treated him like a prize rather than a person. Why does Finn only have the right to be confused and basically throw himself at Rachel after just freshly breaking up with Quinn. How can this not have been addressed?
And don't go blaming the New Directions loss on that unscripted kiss. How about the fact that this glee club travels to NY for a competition without having even written any of the songs?? If I were in a glee club/show choir and watching this show, I think I would be offended at the completely unrealistic lack of preparation and planning. We don't have to actually see them practicing, but at least reference that some rehearsals are being done!

May 25 2011 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sam and Mercedes were hardly “out-of-nowhere” considering they went to prom together only two episodes ago. And the Finn-Quinn-Rachel has not been that complicated. Finn quit dating Quinn last year after he found out about the Puck-baby thing. He dated Rachel for most of the time from there to the end of the 1st half of this season. So you’re greatly exaggerating about them breaking up-getting together repeatedly.

That’s the main reason these reviews have been difficult. The criticism would almost be okay if it seemed to come from someone who actually paid attention to the show. Because a “fan” would actually know those things.

I for one enjoyed this season--and not just for the music (which has been hit and miss just like everything else about the show since the beginning).

May 25 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mchl105394065's comment
John from Raleigh

I agree, I wish TV Squad would get someone who likes the show to review it. Week after week, it is a downer review. What does someone reviewing a show about High School expect but a lot of BF/GF drama. As mchl105394065 mentioned, the Sam / Mercedes scene at the end was a logical extension of the prom scene. And as someone who pined for "Mary Jo Massey" my entire four years of High School only to get together then break up again, I totally get Finn.

Bottom Line, people watching Glee are not looking for "The Wire / Mad Men / Soprano's" we are looking for a light hearted high school drama with 4-5 pop songs interpreted by a show choir. Which Ryan Murphy does week after week very well.

My biggest complaint with the story last night was the same as Dalia's above. It was redicually to show up in NYC the week of competition expecting the group to develop a incredible new song. With that being said, maybe Ryan did that on purpose to ensure the team would not win, and sets up their final senior year.

In closing, unlike Joel Keller, if the show keeps going in this direction I look forward to the next season.

May 25 2011 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John from Raleigh's comment

Yeah, I'm not sure how Schu would've left them to the last minute to figure out the songs either. Kind of stupid.

May 26 2011 at 5:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

For a season finale, it wasnt HUGE enough!! I liked it but it felt like just any other episode! My favorite parts by far were kurt and rachel singing wicked and when kurt and blaine said " I Love You" to eachother!

May 25 2011 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Joel, your comment here is so RIGHT ON:

"For the most part, the show's gone from a campy, fun show about a bunch of underdog kids to a musical show with some dialogue. It's not the show that I enjoyed at the beginning of its run in 2009, and it's a show that I'm pretty sure I'm done with if it continues in this direction."

That is EXACTLY how I feel. What the hell has happened to this show? Did the writers just get lazy? I think greedy is more like it. Just pack the episodes with as much music as you can, even if dialogue and plot suffers, and you'll sell more CDs, downloads, and tours.

May 25 2011 at 2:10 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ArielDH's comment

I honestly hope the viewers like you *are* done. The delusions of perfection about season 1 and the looking-for-criticism perspective on season 2 leave no room for the show to be “gleeful” anymore.

May 25 2011 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
T Money

This episode was a let down. Every episode was all about getting to Nationals, but it was a bit anti-climatic. It just all felt wrong. The songs weren't very good, and aside from Finn and Rachel no one else in the cast really had much else to do. Sad way to end Season 2.

Check out my recap here: http://rantsofacrazyperson.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/glee-recap-season-2-finale-new-york/

May 25 2011 at 3:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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