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'Glee': Journey's end

And so the journey is over.

After an incredibly long and bumpy road (very bumpy, I might add), it was time for our favorite kids to face the music – and the judges – at regionals.

One thing I’m sure viewers can agree on is, when the show turns on the emotion, it certainly knows how to keep the waterworks running. I don't think there was a dry eye in the episode, and everyone except Figgens seemed to shed a tear.

Though I went into the finale peeved at how incredibly messy last week’s episode was (last week’s show was switched with the Gaga episode from two weeks ago, and the switcheroo was a poor excuse for leaving last week's storylines unresolved), I hoped deep down in my heart that Ryan Murphy and the gang would tie up some of the loose ends that had been dangling around all season.

Question is, did they succeed? The beauty of the show always has been how individuals see it, and I’ll allow  loyal readers to debate their level of satisfaction with the finale, which I thought was a success, even if parts became disjointed.  

What I truly loved the most about the episode, despite its unevenness at times, was how it showed the kids truly coming full circle. It was only appropriate that the theme of the regionals performance was "Journey" – a nod to both the song that started all this phenomenal madness and the metaphoric journey the kids have taken over the course of the season.

The back nine episodes proved to be hit or miss. And I look forward to the often-heated discussion with Gleeks on my weekly recaps and on Twitter. These episodes should have been the start of Season 2, with episodes in between to develop the plot lines that had potential to flourish but floundered: Jesse and Rachel; Rachel and Shelby; Will and Emma; and although Quinn’s pregnancy took the backseat in the back nine, it was incredibly rushed (yes, I know, I’ve always hated it and wanted it over, but parts of it were ignored in the back nine).

CGlee_Ep121-Sc25_045By losing two valuable hours to pay tribute to Madonna and Lady Gaga and showcasing guest stars we didn't always need (I'm looking right at you Miss Molly Shannon), we lost a great deal of story development – though we can all agree the saga of Kurt, his father and Finn truly played out, and regardless of how you may feel about the story in your own living room, none of the other story lines in the back nine got better treatment than that one.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about how the finale wrapped up lingering stories.

I love you, 'faithfully'

No matter how long and windy the road was, Gleeks will always be Team Finn. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching their love affair unravel on screen because it’s the one story that felt organic to me. This budding – but complicated – romance is a nice tribute to the first love often experienced in high school -- you know, full of complications, heightened emotions and more break-ups to make-ups than a couple on "The Hills."

We’ve seen the two completely fall head over heels for one another, and the romance translates into song extremely well (I still play “Borderline/Open Your Heart”). Even when things got all awkward with Jesse coming into the picture, we always knew these two would find a way back to one another.  Who melted when the two were backstage prepping and she told him to break a leg and he told her he loved her?  This before launching into “Faithfully”! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek (that's the shriek that transpired in my living room, thank you very much).

Will, Emma and a dentist?

Blame the fact that things went from hot to cold in about two episodes, but I’ve completely stopped caring about these two – as a couple, of course.

Don’t get me wrong. In the first half of the season, the will-they-or-won’t-they game was hotter than the Fourth of July, but like every other forbidden-fruit storyline, once Will was single, it just wasn’t the same. God, I just sounded awful writing that. No, I don’t condone affairs by my fictional characters. But I do condone Will courting Emma the way she deserves. Instead, he acts like a frat boy and makes out with Shelby, shares his bed with April (although they have incredibly chemistry, by the way) and gets all awkward when she attempts and fails at losing her virginity.

So excuse Emma for asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” when he comes to her office asking for guidance. And excuse her for moving on – to her dentist (to be played by John Stamos next season, who in case you forgot has an awesome voice).  Sorry Will, Emma said it best when she said you two had your shot. And that kiss? It did nothing for me, unlike in the first half when I was actually rooting for you two. I want to see where the dentist storyline goes; it could play out great and leave an opening for April to return and a slow buildup of tension. Or things could go awry (just look at "Ugly Betty" post-Henry. No mas.)

'My water broke'

I’ve never been shy about voicing my disdain for Quinn’s pregnancy storyline. It wasn’t because of the whole teenage deal -- I’ve never lived on George W. Bush’s fantasy island and realize this is a tough reality for a lot of teens -- but there were a number of elements that made me turn up my nose: Quinn lying to Finn, Quinn blaming Puck, Terri attempting to bamboozle Will. That whole thing was a disaster, and thankfully it cleaned up nicely in the fall finale.

The story, however, never quite recovered, and that could be the reason it took the backseat. I forgot she was preggers until she actually was showing. But I commend Puck for stepping up in the back nine, though I hate how the financial burden was thrown out the window. So imagine my complete surprise to see Quinn’s mother resurface in the finale episode.  After leaving Quinn’s father because he cheated on her with some tattooed freak (sorry Sandra Bullock, I promise I didn’t laugh), she was ready to be a supportive parent and even caught her first Glee performance. Um, OK. It was touching that Quinn had her mother and Mercedes at her side. Last week’s awkwardness aside, I like these two as friends, and having her birth scenes cut with Vocal Adrenaline’s intense performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” was brilliant.

I totally wasn’t surprised that Quinn carried through with her plan to do what’s best for the baby and give the baby girl (I cried a million tears at Puck naming her Beth, like he said he would) up for adoption. Did anyone catch the fact that he never answered when she asked him if he was sure, or did I imagine that? It’s sweet that Shelby decided (seemingly on the spot) to adopt Beth – does that completely write her off for next season then? It will be interesting to see Quinn next season; will she have moved on, or will she be dealing with the emotional consequences of giving her daughter up for adoption?

'I relish the thought of another full year of constantly besting you'

What Sue wants, Sue gets. Well, that’s not always true.

The only shocker of the episode for me was her realizing she’s much like the Glee kids – she wants more for herself, but her adversaries will tell her otherwise. Even though Sue and Figgens seem to have been the ones to give the kids the toughest time the entire season, a few slushies from the football team only leave stains on egos and polyester. Like any great school, the administration is always your biggest threat. But Sue was put in her place (actually owned) by Olivia Newton-John, which confused me given their “Physical” love a few episodes back. But after some taunting, Sue was Team New Directions, even if she’d never admit it, and she actually voted for them to win first place. And, as predictable as that loss was, I still got all watery eyed like a little baby -- that Journey medley was absolutely epic. Even if she just wanted to spend a year crucifying Will’s immaculately groomed hair, she used her blackmail tactics to secure the kids another year in the choir room. Would we really have it any other way?

Though the episode was an emotional journey, there were some great laughs. Here are a few choice lines – largely thanks to Sue, as usual:

Rod Remington: I partied with Freddie Mercury back in the '70s, and I partied hard, if you know what I mean. Back then, people weren't so obsessed with labels.

Sue: I have to be honest, Will. I'm having a really difficult time hearing anything you have to say today because your hair looks like a briar patch. I keep expecting racist animated Disney characters to pop up and start singing songs about livin' on the bayou.

Olivia Newton-John: When Josh Groban was their age, he was already in the Mickey Mouse Club or whatever.

Quinn: I'm the president of the celibacy club. I took a vow.

Puck: So did Santana and Brittany. And I did them.

Sue: It's as barren as me in here, Will."

Sue: From Fort Wayne, Ind., the not-at-all-stupidly-named Aural Intensity!

Sue: I know you think I'm heartless, Will. And you may have a point. I spend large segments of each day picturing you choking on food. And I've recently contacted an exotic-animal dealer 'cause I had a very satisfying dream that the two of us went to a zoo and I shoved your face into one of those pink, inflamed monkey butts."

Olivia Newton-John: Brunettes have no place in show business.

I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the season finale of “Glee”? Comment below, and be sure to come back to Show Tracker this week to see my recap of my favorite performances this season (will your favorite song make the cut?) and see my thoughts on how the show can make Season 2 even better.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy


Photos: Fox


Complete Showtracker coverage of 'Glee'

Comments () | Archives (23)

I really like this episode and even though I was hoping for a New Directions win, i wasn't expecting it.

and Vocal Adrenaline was AMAZING! they reminded me of some hybrids of some show choirs I have seen here in Indiana (stunts, singing and all).

I wish Quinn and Puck's storyline was played thoroughly, just like Jesse's and Rachel's but maybe they don't need to be...somethings are just complicated and we should figure out ourselves what they should be. I'm mean since I am a teenager I have seen complicated relationships like that before, and its not a suprise that things became confusing....its called high school.

I love that Sue stepped up after she was owned by Olivia-Newton John (and it wasn't surprising hence Sue said to her before judging "Olivia, you're dead to me." )

You forgot to mention the song at the end!!!! It was absolutely wonderful and I am so glad they got another year (well, i mean they have two seasons renewed)

I found out that John Stamos is going to be the dentist that is on the quest for Emma's heart, which actually seems good....

I hope that next season is a bang! and that the show doesn't get too crowded...from the characters i heard that are going to be on it (the three new characters) they could just incorperate it in the minor characters...Santana can be a threat for Rachel...and the other black person (god, his name just slips) he could be the Christian character...

but anyway I am very satisfied with this half of the first season, can't wait for more and I am going to watch the show every thursday for recaps!!! I heart glee and can't wait until September!!!

I don't think Shelby adopting Beth is her exit from the show. I think it's going to bring a whole new layer of the Rachel/Shelby drama, and new rise to tensions between Rachel and Quinn since Rachel's "Mom" could be perceived as having chosen Quinn's baby over Rachel as a baby, etc. ....unless Shelby tries to break into show business again, since she said she doesn't like coaching glee anymore. But I think she'll soon realize that if she wants to raise a baby, she's going to need a definite, steady income (so she'll probably scrap the performing dream for the sure thing of teaching). Anyway, there needs to be another face off between New Directions and Vocal Adrenaline, and New Directions needs to win this time. They got completely slammed by Bohemian Rhapsody. Also, I thought Aural Intensity was Oral Intensity, which would have been much more suggestive, but makes as much sense since singing is both an oral AND aural activity. And finally - as always - Sue Sylvester stole the show... again!


Remember at the end of "Bad Reputation" Sue revealed that Olivia bilked her out of money, so she was done with her! LOL. Which is a bummer because it could have been a great ongoing thing to have Olivia on the show!

"To Sir With Love" for best song of the season! <3

I haven't enjoyed the pregnancy storyline either, which has annoyed me as Quinn has gone from normal sized to 7+ months pregnant sized in between episodes, and also because of the futility and soap style drama it produced in the beginning. While I would like for the show to remain sensitive to mothers (parents) who give up babies for adoption and maybe have Quinn have some conflicting emotions next season, I'm very ready to move on and not have the show be about pregnancies anymore (the pregnant backup dancer from last week anyone?).

At this point, I have accepted that at this point it's not about continuity from week to week, nor is it about character development EVERY week. Just some weeks. And so I can enjoy it more. If I were to get caught up in that there'd hundreds of questions that couldn't be explained (what happened between Rachel and Jesse? etc.) Still, I have enjoyed where many of the characters have gone from the beginning of the show. Everyone sans Other Black and Other Asian have grown, or you have at least gotten to know things about them.

For next season I hope they tone it down with the celebrity guest spots, even if I'm sure that won't happen. With celebrity guests it can only go two ways, one is if the celeb plays themselves (ala Olivia Newton John, which was pretty game of her) or that they don't (which worked very well with NHP, not so much Idina Menzel for me because I couldn't look past it being her), and while I realize the show it's all about being "realistic" how weird wouldn't it be if JLo showed up as the arts and crafts teacher? I personally find stunt casting distracting (How I Met Your Mother being a good example of how not to do it), but if they're going to do it, I hope they try to find a good balance. The cast is already good, and will increase for next season, so I don't really see the need to add a bunch of cameos (John Stamos is going to be on??), but we'll see. I'll continue to watch either way, but this is a little pet peeve of mine.

Anyway, great recap. I'm looking forward to the list of songs! I don't think I remember all the songs from the whole season, especially the earlier episodes.

"No matter how long and windy the road was, Gleeks will always be Team Finn. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching their love affair unravel on screen because it’s the one story that felt organic to me." I have to respectfully say that I could not disagree more. I always felt this romance was forced and that they have no chemistry. Plus, I could never figure out why Finn is always the male lead. He can't sing all that well (Kurt can sing much better), he is definitely not the cutest guy (that would be Puck) and he doesn't have that much personality on stage.

I still love this show, but I didn't love this episode all that much, mainly because I didn't think their performance was all that great. Last week's Funk episode showed off much more of their personalities.

I do agree that the best storyline of the season was Kurt and his dad.

i gotta say i loved everything about this episode...my favorite part was finn telling rachel he loved her...the journey medley was amazing as was somewhere over the rainbow...i hated to admit it but i loved bohemian rhapsody...puck's face through labor was priceless and i really enjoyed his interaction with quinn outside the baby's room and then with shelbey...i predicted her adopting quinn's baby as soon as rachel told her she had her...i think it opens up a lot of opportunity for story lines such as the already mentioned jilted rachel not to mention puck possibly wanting to have her in his life...the only thing i can complain about it is the fact that i really wanted to see puck holding the baby and talking to her privately...and i too would like to know what happened to rachel and jesse after he came back...my other thought is that since jesse is a senior and won't be going back to high school if he will come back as the vocal adrenaline coach...i read in spoilers somewhere that we haven't really seen the last of him and maybe college doesn't work out...seems like a perfect opportunity because new directions beating vocal adrenaline in season 2 won't mean as much without jesse being part of it...i love that in the end sue stuck up for new directions but i wish they would have at least placed second...and i can not wait to see john stamos on there...season 2 has great opportunities for story lines and i am sure it won't disappoint!!!

I didn't like Vocal Adrenaline's song. Okay, it was mostly because I don't like them due to the fact that they're huge jerks, but Queen HAS to be sung with emotion. C'mon, "Bohemian Rhapsody" isn't meant to be some mindless pop song. I must admit that it was sung and performed well but that doesn't mean I liked it. xD

I agree that I don't like the guest star casting, although I really would love to see a Susan Boyle cameo.

I didn't like Olivia Newton John in the previous episode because it didn't make any sense and took away from the show. But it mades sense for her to be in this episode as a celebrity judge in this episode and she really nailed it. Otherwise, I want them to focus on the kids in the group and let them sing or act. I don't want to be distracted by guest stars that seem forced into the drama.

I didn't think they showed a reasonable reason for Sue to stick up for the kids. She was trying to get them to come in last, then Olivia says the priceless line of "brunettes don't belong in show business" and Sue changes all of a sudden to defending the kids. I don't know if they filmed more of the scene where there was more of a reason for Sue to stick up for the kids and then cut it out. But I just wish I had seen more of a reason for the conversion. It just didn't make sense to me, but I think it might have been an editing decision.

I didn't really like the pregnancy thing especially since they showed her singing and dancing up to the minute her water broke. Lets be realistic and not show a 8-9 months pregnant girl dancing around. I loved that her mother came back to her.

"Or things could go awry (just look at "Ugly Betty" post-Henry. No mas.)"
Thank you. When she said she's dating a dentist I yelled "NO! NOT DR. FARKAS!!!!"
You are amazing. :)

I really loved, a descent episode for a season finale. Tears , I cried a lot with To Sir with love , very toching.
I hope next season Ryan Murphy e cia try to develop more the characters , not trying to destroy every relationship that they build.

I have to go back and watch again, but I think Sue's change of heart began when ONJ asked if McKinley was a "poor person's school." Sue's methods may not be orthodox -- or even legal! -- but she does see herself as an educator. Plus, when she pointed out that "not all kids are afforded the same opportunity as others," I'm sure that she was also thinking of her sister (as she did when she made Becky a Cheerio).

Thanks to Jane Lynch's nuanced and vanity-free performance, Sue isn't just a narcissistic villain nor a cast-iron marshmallow; she's actually a recognizably contradictory human being, even when she isn't written that way.

My two favorite scenes of this final episode -

Finn telling Rachel he loved her. I just wasn't expecting it.

When the kids told Will how being in Glee helped them and then them singing To Sir with Love. Brought tears to my eyes.

Mostly to shawn and WI_Dilettante:

Sue's opinion changes when they begin attacking her and saying that she doesn't belong in their company, then they link her isolation from the three "real" celebrities to their opinions that New Directions did not deserve to share the stage with Aural Intensity and Vocal Adrenaline. This clearly allies her with the kids, because they represent her by proxy. Not because they come from the same school but because they are the underdogs of the group, derided by those who are 'better' than them.

Gerrick, I've enjoyed your reviews over the season, so thanks for that.

The Journey was an okay episode, but I enjoyed Sectionals more. There were still too many messy/underdeveloped plot lines from the back nine that were not even addressed in the finale (ie Rachel and Jesse, Kurt apologizing to Finn, Burt and Finn's Mom). I agree with most commenters and you, Gerrick, that this due to too many random songs (just to boost itunes sales), guest stars, themed episodes, and recycled plot lines. Most of all, I'm tired of the plot revolving around lessons and the potential disbandment of the glee club by Sue, Figgins, Bryan Ryan, or whomever. Continuity between episodes would help! Can't the kid's lesson/motivation from a previous episode carry over to the next at least a little bit. I'm tired of Mr. Shue's repeated 'inspiring' lessons and lectures. Tired of them moping for the same reason repeatedly. High schoolers certainly mope, but there are many other things that could happen that they would then have to overcome!

All of these issues on the show have left me BORED! I appreciate the talent of the characters and think they do a good job with what they are given, but there is so much more potential.

The best thing that the writers could do is bring back characters’ thought monologues. They were often insightful, poignant, and had hilarious shots to accompany them. Lest we forget that this is how we were introduced to Rachel…that monologue is what sold me on the show! It was brilliant. No you can’t sell the monologues on itunes, but it will further character development and plot, both of which are grossly lacking! And maybe it can help cut down on the themed episodes and allow plot arcs to form organically again (like quinn’s inner-head chat that led to rachel's makeover, babysitting, sexting, etc). We still got a couple of Sue's journal entries, but I cannot recall one other character's thoughts being reveled to us in an inner-thought monologue in the back nine.

Also, bring back Sue's Corner. I liked her zingers when they had a focus outside of will's hair and the glee club.

One more idea would be to have the announcements done by some of the characters...many things could come from this. Imagine Brittany, Sue or Chris delivering the announcements? Or maybe Mike Chang...that kid could have some personality! I know this has been done in past shows/movies, but it is another medium to let the other characters shine. I'm sure they use that HS PA system for more than just blasting Madonna when Sue demands.

All of the characters could do with some more development, especially with the friendships between kids. Does Rachel have any girlfriends? Also, can’t we see these kids lives outside of glee/school? Isn’t there a high school hang out? I really hope puck and finn start a band outside of the glee club that leads to some house party or shows at breadsticks (since there seems to be no other establishment in Lima outside of the high school and kids' homes).

Maybe the season premier will show the kids just before school is starting, so we can see how they spent the summer, who hung out with whom, and see Rachel stressing out about the rumor of a new girl coming on to challenge her lead spot (for which they are currently casting). It could also give some great romantic shots of perhaps Rachel and Finn/Jesse and it would update us on the status of the couples.

Ryan, Ian, and Brad have some work to do.

I too loved this episode. I think it tied up all of the major story lines of the season to clear the way for all new drama in the fall. September can't come fast enough! I just hope it brings Jesse with it in some way, shape, or form. Don't get me wrong, I like Finn a lot. He is definitely a better fit for Rachel in the dependable kind of way but lets be honest - Jesse just stole her ( and my) heart. There are still too many unanswered questions and I still hold to the idea that there are some feelings for Rachel there. Besides, I'm hoping Finn isn't a rebound for Rachel. Poor guy has been through enough!

Love, love, love Quinn and Mercedes! Easily my favorite pair at the end of the season.

I really hope they bring Puck and Quinn together. I want them to make something of this major life event and not just fall back into how things were. This changes people and I hope it does them.

And Sue - Seeing her cry during To Sir, With Love just did me in. Gotta love how she lets Will know about the extra year. What would we do without her?

Thank you Ryan Murphy for making me such a happy girl!!

Did anyone else notice Mr. Schue's dig at Finn's dancing?
I thought that was pretty clever. They may not exist in
the real world, but they sure read the blogs and peoples
comments on the internet. Hee hee.

Hey Gerrick, Thanks for your thorough synopsis of the season finale. I watch it courtesy of iTunes and tuned in during my cross-country flight on Virgin American from D.C. to LAX this afternoon. Bet the people beside and behind me were jealous!

The episode was inspiring, as usual, and transformative. And I loved the moments between Rachel and Finn the best. And not just because I've got a bigger crush on Finn than even Kurt could brag about. He's adorable.

Somebody else might have elaborated on your question about the issue between Sue and ONJ. Remember at the end of the episode where they performed "Physical" together that Sue met with her sister and explained that Olivia had cheated Sue of her share of the proceeds from the song/video. I'm guessing the harshness between them was residue and what the writers were alluding to.

Thanks, again, for your thoughts on the show!

To Sir, With Love is my favorite song of the entire season. I actually saw the movie when it came out in the theater in 1967 (just show my age). It was Lu Lu (the student) sang to Sidney Poitier (the teacher) toward to end of the movie. It brought tears to my eyes then, 43 years later, the Glee club at MHS brought out the tears again.
Glee is the only show that my two teenagers and I would enjoy watching it together. In the meantime, the 3 Glee music CD’s that I have, should get me through the next season.

Late to the party - the glory of being able to watch things on DVR when works keeps you late.

My 2 cents: Suddenly they wanted us to be emotional at every turn of the episode, when they hadn't spent anytime developing ANY of the storylines in the back nine. Mr. Shu and Emma - don't care. Too hot and cold, with no momentum. Rachel and Finn - don't care. I never understood why Finn suddenly loved Rachel, and why Rachel loved Jessie after wanting Finn for so long. Forced. Rachel and Shelby - too rushed. Mercedes and Quinn - weren't they moving in together? What happened to that? I wasn't even nervous for regionals - can't say enough about the lack of momentum. And Sue Sylvester's sudden change of heart - I don't buy it, just a mechanic to give them a reason to come back next season. Too many hanging story lines - the switching of the episodes explains a little bit, but that doesn't make it excusable. They took 2 seasons worth of material that could have been explored, drawn out, and mapped out beautifully, and shoved it into 9 episodes. The songs always please (even evoke some emotion - especially Faithfully which I've been singing for a few days as a result) – but they don’t do much to help the momentum of the storylines. The only brilliant scene was Quinn/Queen - LOVED it.

I think I'm so down on it because I loved loved loved this show in the first 9 episodes - fresh, new, characters we could get behind. Disappointment is the worst feeling ever when you really want to love something.

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