Glee-cap: Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made
Another week, another Glee episode – but this one is special. It’s one of the few that takes place away from the hallowed halls of McKinley High, the perfectly typical high school backdrop from some perfectly typical high school issues. And maybe that’s why this episode seemed to lack a bit of the quirky charm that we’ve come to expect from Glee. In my opinion, “New York” is completely devoid of that uplifting underdog thing that Glee is more or less all about. It has almost no snappy one-liners (well, that’s what happens when you take away screen time from one Sue Sylvester.) The social issues that are tackled this time around don’t have the same kind of impact that say, Kurt’s whole bullying storyline carries.
Overall, as far as season finales go, it’s a bit of a letdown. Entertaining, yes. But an episode that I’ll regard as one of my all-time favorites? Probably not.
We start off in Times Square, the most iconic (if not annoying) part of New York City. The gang is as charged up as ever, but I’m personally a bit concerned about the fact that they seem more interested in ordering Manhattans at the hotel bar and having pillow fights than in the competition itself – they haven’t even written (let alone rehearsed) the original songs that they’ll be performing at Nationals. Come on now, what would Jesse St. James say about that kind of attitude? But while The New Directions frolic the filthy streets of Manhattan, Matthew Morrison…uhh, Mr. Schu is busy pedaling his original songs on the Broadway stage – and it’s not just a throwaway moment – Mr. Schu is told that he has a genuine gift. And I couldn’t agree more – those abs are a GODSENT.
Also taking the Broadway stage are Kurt and Rachel. After an extremely romantic “professional” date with Finn (and a run-in with Patti LuPone!) Rachel finds herself at her very own Cross-Rhodes: she’s regained Finn’s affections from that wench Quinn (more on her later), but she realizes that New York City – and the spotlight – is her home. Being in the city fills both Rachel and Kurt with such a sense of belonging that they vow to move there after college – and for Rachel, fleeing Ohio also means leaving small town boy Finn, and all the things he stands for, behind. So Kurt helps her make her choice in the only way he knows how: by taking her to a Broadway theatre where the two aspiring stars are given the chance to perform on a real stage. They do a perfectly lovely duet and Rachel decides that she doesn’t have to choose between love and a career because her one true love is the stage.
The costs of ambition seem to be the unifying theme of this episode. Will eventually realizes that he loves his kids more than anything (sorry, sometimes I start to think of them as HIS children – and I think he does too) and that watching them grow is the best it’ll ever get for him. And Rachel decides that she can wedge some time for love into her hectic schedule of posting MySpace videos and sewing animal-shaped appliqués onto all her sweaters (sidenote: is it just me or has she sort of abandoned her signature style? I kind of miss those animal sweaters.) I have to wonder – does Rachel’s decision to “take a chance on” Finn have anything to do with his newfound ability to write a competition-worthy song? This week, we’re treated to decidedly ambitious sides of Finn’s personality, and it makes sense that her ability to renew that relationship would come from this. Maybe she’s more willing to incorporate him into her superstar lifestyle now that he’s beginning to show some star quality himself – after all, she fell for him when he was the undisputed New Directions frontman, and her feelings for him are easily pushed aside every time Jesse St. James enters the scene. I would have enjoyed it if they had explored this a bit, and maybe they will next season. Regardless, I love this pairing, and an unscripted onstage kiss (which may or may not have cost the team Nationals, you decide) is all it takes for these two to get it together.
On the other hand, there’s Quinn. Sure, she’s pretty reprehensible most of the time but there are moments when she makes herself vulnerable, and in those moments, the character seems totally human. Like in this episode: she cries and threatens to ruin The New Directions’ chances at Nationals, but it’s only because she’s lonely. She obviously loves the idea of being loved more than she loves Finn and she doesn’t understand why girls like Tina and Zizes can find something that she can’t. It’s totally whiny and self- congratulatory (like “oh, I’m so pretty! Why doesn’t anyone love me?”) but it’s real. Quinn may be beautiful and poised and hold the entire world of high school in the palm of her hand, but when you take that context, she doesn’t have a whole lot. No dreams, no direction, no sense of purpose (what will she aspire to after her shot at winning Prom Queen is over?) I think that’s why she latches on to any boy that seems like he could give her something that goes beyond high school – because her future – as it stands – seems like a great big question mark.
Ambition loses out to love in this installment, which is evidenced by The New Directions loss (they don’t even place in the top ten). For now, all is well in the world of Glee. Blaine and Kurt are in love (can I get an “awwwww?”), Rachel and Finn are back together, Will and Emma are as up in the air as ever, as are Brittany and Santana, and there’s a little romance blossoming between Sam and Mercedes (but SHH! It’s a secret!)
So here’s my verdict: “New York,” like many recent episodes was uneven, abrupt, and anti-climatic, but it was filled with moments and, more importantly, characters to love.
So what did you think, Gleeks? Are you satisfied with the way things wrapped up? Were you surprised that The New Directions didn’t win? And most importantly, how do you plan on getting through the next few months without new episodes?
Rachel: “He did seem crazy, he charged my credit card by swiping it through his buttcrack”
Dustin: “You’re tearing up. People are starting to stare, I bet they think I just broke up with you”
Puck: ”You need to ask her out tonight. Take her on one of those big awful dates you see on those unwatchable romantic comedies that you grow a vagina with if you watch all the way through.”
Finn: “It was the Superman of kisses, it came with its own cape”
Kurt: “I’m spending my summer composing Pip, Pip, Hooray! The Broadway musical about Pippa Middleton.”
Is anyone surprised that I’m giving this round to “For Good”? Okay, so it doesn’t compare to last season’s Kurt/Rachel Wicked duet (“Defying Gravity” was in a league of its own), but I always favor some Rachel vocals and a Broadway number, and the sight of these two musical theatre naturals taking the stage totally does it for me. I especially loved the way they were singing to each other at parts; I love Rachel and Kurt’s friendship, and this song is quite perfect for it. They really have changed each other; they’ve made each other believe that it’s okay to want things that other people don’t understand – and, like the song says, they truly apologize for all wrongs they’ve done each other. Perfect song, perfect scene, perfect pairing.
Oh, and that 30 seconds of “Yeah” we saw….also pretty awesome.