Glee s6 ep 12; s6 ep 13

In the first episode of this series-concluding double-bill we’re taken back to 2009 and to the events of the pilot episode, filmed from the points of view of some of the main characters. (Which means that, for example, we get to see Will’s appalling pregnancy-faking first wife again.) The best of these vignettes was probably Kurt’s, as we recall the despair he was in before the glee club gave him a purpose; and, quite possibly, saved his life. As ever Mike O’Malley, as Kurt’s father, is terrific, and the awkward way in which he claps Kurt on the back reminded me of his anguished admission, after Finn’s death, that he hadn’t hugged him enough while he was alive.

Revisiting the pilot – and what a pilot it was – in this way is a clever device, although it has to work around the vacuum where Finn used to be. The writers manage this pretty well, in particular by making a key plot point out of a conversation which perforce would have taken place behind his back: whether to allow him back into the glee club. But then, all of a sudden, there Cory Monteith is, leading the New Directions in the now-iconic performance of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ from the pilot, the one which convinced Will to stay at McKinlay. My God, they all look so young.

‘2009’ is a very good episode and a salutary reminder, as we near the end, that the glee club was originally for friendless outsiders, no matter how talented – Rachel, for example. In which context it’s also worth acknowledging that Lea Michele is excellent as the Rachel of six years ago. There’s been a discernible Michele backlash in the past few years, which I suspect to have been driven, at least in part, by people thinking that in real life she embodies some of the more diva-esque aspects of Rachel’s personality. I have no idea whether that’s true or not, and nor do they. What is true, though, is that Glee never got luckier than when it cast the enormously talented Michele in a key role.

And so to ‘Dreams Come True’, the series finale. In truth it isn’t a great episode, but it doesn’t need to be: it’s all about closure, very probably for the actors as much as the audience. In fact, while watching the episode’s first musical performance – Matthew Morrison’s acoustic ‘Teach Your Children’ in the choir room – I jotted down a note that the cast’s tears looked unfeigned; later, I discovered that was the very last scene to be filmed.

Anyway, New Directions win Nationals – of course they do – and, in consequence, McKinlay High is turned into a performing arts school with Will as principal. Yeah, whatever. As well as present-day farewells we get a series of flash-forwards, in which we see that everyone gets their happy ending: Artie as director, Kurt and Blaine as actors, Sue as Jeb Bush’s vice president, and so on. I’m fine with this – it’s Glee, I want happy endings, and so should you.

The first moment which really got me, though, was Rachel’s speech after winning a Tony award (heavily pregnant as the surrogate mother of Klaine’s child), in which after thanking everyone she made a special point of expressing her gratitude to Will above all. I may have had something in my eye at that point, and it was still there when the McKinlay auditorium was renamed after Finn, and everyone who’s ever been in the show – and I mean literally everyone – joined in with the final song. Which was OneRepublic’s ‘I Lived’ – not my favourite, but not a bad way to end. (Actually, the best performance in this episode was Kurt and Blaine’s adorable ‘Daydream Believer’.)

With which we’re finally done with Glee, perhaps a season or two after its natural ending point. Whatever else can be said about it, the show made the performing arts cool again. More importantly, it should be fondly remembered for its significant contribution towards equality for LGBT people, which I still think others have underplayed. This week Blaine and Kurt, a young married couple, kissed; and it was entirely unremarkable, as it should be. It certainly wasn’t when Glee started, and I don’t think they’d have got away with their visit to the Harvey Milk Elementary School Career Day then either.

Worthy though the PSAs were, ultimately Glee has to be evaluated on its merits as a TV show. It was never quite as good, as I’ve said before, after its remarkable opening 13 episodes, and the death of Cory Monteith finally robbed the show of its innocence. Mind you, there were plenty of excellent episodes after that, even if I was, by the end, just about the only person watching.

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Glee s6 ep 11

Sectionals. And the latest – and hopefully last? – Sue blah blah glee club blah blah battle with Will, although even by the show’s standards this one is going it a bit: she sends glitter bombs to McKinlay (including one which blows up the piano); she poisons the water supply so that they all start vomiting; and she sets fire to Will’s car. Shouldn’t the police be involved by now? As is now standard, the show tries to lay the bet off by having Sue give some nonsense explanation about how she was sabotaging Vocal Adrenaline from within, and it was all designed to make sure that New Directions performed well at Sectionals, but Will isn’t buying it, and nor am I. (And, unless I missed it, Sue breaking into Sheldon’s locker room in order to show footage of Nazis to Vocal Adrenaline passes without further remark, apart from Sheldon’s dignified horror.) Anyway, are we now finally done with this?

New Directions win Sectionals, of course, beating a team from the John James Audubon Institute for Rehabilitative Ornithology, who perform ‘Broken Wings’ – with their birds – and Vocal Adrenaline, whose routines are absurdly and entertainingly over-the-top, including prosthetic legs and human cannonballs. By contrast ND generally content themselves with good singing and a little bit of dancing, although Myron in bodysuit and wig is disturbing, as is the chemistry between Mason and Madison.

Rachel’s still trying to decide whether to go to NYADA or Broadway, and after Sam and Kurt have their say Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) comes wandering back into her life as well. So now there are three men providing her with advice. Still, the rapport between Groff and Lea Michele is likeable and unforced – given the kiss, is Rachel and Sam no longer a thing? – and the scene at the end, with old trophies and flashbacks, is just a little moving. There’s some nicely bitchy humour at the start as well – “Julianne Moore” and “super gay Warbler” being the highights. So all in all, probably a score draw of an episode, and one last double-bill to go.

The music is a mixed bag: I don’t much like ‘Come Sail Away’ and ‘Take Me To Church’, but both were performed well; ‘We Built This City’, ’Mickey’, and ‘Broken Wings’ were, as I said above, delightfully excessive; ‘Listen To Your Heart’ and ‘Chandelier’ were fine.

Glee s6 ep 10

Dalton Academy has burned down, so the Warblers are invited to join New Directions. Sue objects – blah blah glee club blah blah – and Becky, of all people, thinks this is a step too far, so reveals the existence of the Hurt Locker, whereupon Sue is fired, and her conduct and fabrications exposed – ‘The Rise And Fall Of Sue Sylvester’ – on national TV. The only two people to stick up for her are Beiste – fair enough – and Will, which beggars belief, given that he’s been a front-and-centre witness to her behaviour over the years, now passed off as some sort of tough love. Which won’t do, it really won’t. To be clear: I liked nasty Sue in the first few seasons of Glee, but the show should at least own it. And then Sue, very recently categorized as unfit to teach, and entirely antipathetic to the very idea of glee clubs, turns up as coach of Vocal Adrenaline. At which point it becomes clear that the writers really don’t give a shit, and I shouldn’t either.

The other storyline is potentially problematic: Rachel goes back to NYADA to beg Tibideaux for another chance, agreed by everyone as the right thing to do. But then she gets told that she was successful at a Broadway audition a few weeks ago, and even after NYADA confirms that she can go back there she’s all, what do I need NYADA for? Broadway here I come! Which is, of course, exactly what she did before, when it all went wrong, and it’s only Sam who points this out. Both courses of action are defensible, I suppose, but if this is going to end up as a man saving a woman from herself that would be regrettable.

The music’s nothing special, although I quite liked the way in which we got to see the reality of Will and Sue’s ‘The Final Countdown’ smackdown. ‘Rather Be’ is standard Glee. ‘Far From Over’ is standard Vocal Adrenaline. Sue and her mother (an excellent Carol Burnett) performing ‘The Trolley Song’ is quite sweet, and the last song, ‘Rise’, is apparently a Darren Criss original, and isn’t bad.

Glee s6 ep 9

The new kids get a proper run-out this week. Spencer’s in love with good-looking slacker-ish dude Alistair, and for some reason everyone pretends that he’s been really supportive of Roderick so that Alistair will make out with him. And Mason likes Jane – and who can blame him? – but he’s being cockblocked. By his sister. I actually quite like this season’s newbies, but we’re really only getting to know them now, and with a handful of episodes to go it hardly seems worth getting invested.

Meantime, Sue’s trying to impress the school superintendent, who asks her in return for the glee club’s assistance with his 13-year-old nephew Myron’s bar mitzvah. Myron is a piece of work, it should be said, but at least he actually looks as if he might be of school age (*ahem* Alistair *ahem*). By the end he’s been recruited for the glee club, which gives Sue something of a conflict of interest when contemplating the latest – and presumably final? – iteration of her ongoing battle with Will and New Directions. I suppose you could view the resumption of this plot arc as an acknowledgment of the show turning full circle in its dying days, or as an indication that inspiration has left the writers’ room.

What saves ‘Child Star’ from end-of-series irrelevance, though, is the music, which is ridiculously good. The worst thing is probably New Directions performing Echosmith’s ‘Cool Kids’, which is a not-very-interesting version of a not-very-interesting song, but in other weeks would probably have been among the better performances. Myron’s full-on ‘Lose My Breath’ is great fun, as is Spencer’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’. The real gems, though, are the three performances from Myron’s bar mitzvah: Mason’s pointed ‘I Want To Break Free’, aimed at his sister, soars; ‘Uptown Funk’ is custom-built for the Glee treatment; and the ND version of Ariana Grande’s ‘Break Free’ is very nearly as hot as the original.

Glee s6 ep 8

It’s the week of Brittany and Santana’s nuptials, and in true let’s-just-do-the-show-right-here style the Glee team rocks up at the barn in Indiana where Brittany was born, and turns it into a wedding venue. Santana tells Sue that she isn’t invited, for perfectly sound reasons, but this hurts Sue’s fee-fees. Because she’s actually all sensitive. So Sue proves herself by dragging Santana’s abuela to the wedding, then contriving to get Kurt and Blaine to the altar as well. (Good Sue line: “Will you give America what at least 52 percent of it will legally tolerate?”)

The problem, of course, isn’t that the prospective spouses are the same gender; it’s that they’re all so young. At least Mike Chang is sensible enough to reject Tina’s proposal of marriage, although he’s a lone voice of reason; the show, for example, manages to turn Walter’s touching evocation of all that he lost while staying in the closet – “You’re right at the beginning of it all. I look at you and I think of the lifetime of love I could’ve had if I hadn’t wasted it pretending to be someone I’m not. You’re lucky, Kurt. Go be lucky” – into an argument for getting married when you’re barely out of high school.

Still, once again the episode shows how far society has come in the past few years, and I will never tire of praising Glee for the part it played. If anything, the proof is that this episode, featuring two same-sex marriages, is dull rather than incendiary. The music was nothing special either: ‘Hey Ya!’ was OK, but could have done with being a little less disciplined. ‘I’m So Excited’ was probably the pick of the bunch, with Gloria Estefan – there as someone’s parent, I think; I lost track of the parents – helping out on vocals.

Glee s6 ep 7

There’s a lot to like about Will’s job as Vocal Adrenaline coach: the money, the car, the massages, the money. But there’s a lot of pressure, no fun, and VA are actually rather unpleasant. Their philosophy – as stated by Clint – is that “winning is everything”, and they’re not remotely interested in Will using showchoir practice as an opportunity for one of his little moral homilies; in fact, they want to intimidate the opposition in any way they can. It starts relatively tamely with them egging Rachel and Blaine, but escalates very quickly to the abuse of Coach Beiste – back this week, post-transition – by defacing his car with a hate term. Will kicks Clint off the team, but is told that he has to reinstate him. So Will has to decide between money and principles. This being Glee, there’s only one way that’s going. Still, at least Jayma Mays makes an appearance.

As well as Beiste, the other transition taking place this week is Rachel finally leaving childhood behind – about time, one might think, given that she doesn’t really look 18 these days – by moving out of her home. The Glee gang marks the occasion the only way it knows how: through the medium of song and dance. So there’s a houseparty at Rachel’s, with duetting couples selected via a wheel of fortune.

There’s fallout, of course: Rachel and Sam make out, then Kurt and Blaine sing together and kiss, which leads to Blaine realising that he really needs to do the decent thing and split up with Dave. He, in turn, manages to part from Blaine with dignity and affection, which still doesn’t make me forget the way in which he used to bully Kurt. So will he and Kurt now get back together? Well, no, because Blaine didn’t know about Walter, and he runs to McKinlay just in time to see Kurt and Walter leaving on a… date? Klaine is still very obviously the endgame, though, so it’s hard to get too worked up. About that or anything, really; a so-so episode at best.

Musically a mixed week: I’m with Vocal Adrenaline on Will The Rapper – it should never be allowed to happen again. But Mercedes and Roderick singing ‘All About That Bass’ was good fun; Unique and the trans choir at the end singing ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ made its point; and the highlight was Rachel and Sam’s take on the glorious ‘Time After Time’, which wisely the writers didn’t meddle with.

Glee s6 ep 6

After the who-gives-an-eff? shrug of the last two weeks, a welcome return to something like proper Glee. Rachel and Sam are still toying with dating, which would probably interest me more if I bought them, for a second, as a couple. Still, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, there really isn’t anyone else left for Rachel, unless the writers introduce a new love interest for her with only a handful of episodes left. Her professional happy ending, though, looks as if it’s in place: Mercedes sets her up with a Broadway audition, which she’s persuaded to go to, and she nails it. Even if everyone’s a little too ready to forgive Rachel for walking out on her last Broadway show to make her stoopid TV programme.

The other main storyline is Brittany and Santana’s wedding. Brittany is trying to get Santana’s disapproving grandmother Alma (the returning Ivonne Coll, who seems to have the pious abuela market cornered at the moment – she’s also in Jane the Virgin) to attend, and resorts to a little subterfuge. One of the very best aspects of the episode, in fact, is the way in which Brittany has been recalibrated; she’s now being written as a good-hearted and eccentric savant, rather than as someone with – let’s be honest about this – learning difficulties. This pays off when she tears into Alma for continuing to reject the idea of her and Santana getting married: I could believe in both her pain and her love, which wouldn’t always have been the case.

There’s a lot of music as well: eight songs, but since it’s wall-to-wall Burt Bacharach, drawing on one of the best catalogues there is, it’s all good. I’m not sure if anything was better than Rachel and Sam’s ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’, although ‘(They Long To Be) Close To You’ was sweet, ‘Arthur’s Theme’ was surprisingly effective, and Lea Michele’s audition performance of ‘Promises, Promises’ was unsurprisingly amazing.

‘What The World Needs Now’ is much, much better than the last couple of episodes: even the obligatory meta humour is deployed sparingly and effectively (Brittany hires Artie as wedding planner, partly because he’s had “nothing to do all year”). It’s also nice. This sounds like damning with faint praise, but it really isn’t. Niceness is something else that there’s just too little of.