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'Glee' recap: New Directions hearts New York

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"Glee," which concluded its second season Tuesday night, has always demanded from its viewers a willingness to go with the flow -- and not get too picky about unrealistic details. After all, "Glee" fans, like all musical-theater aficionados, fervently embrace the premise of everyday people bursting into song to shed light on their emotional states or further their storylines. That alone requires a certain suspension of disbelief.

Often, viewers' flexibility is amply rewarded. Take, for example, the moment in Tuesday night's episode in which Kurt and Rachel break into the Broadway theater in which "Wicked" is playing, and the security guard gives them 15 dream-come-true minutes to sing on the stage. You don't want to distract yourself from a delicious moment like that by thinking, "Yeah, like that would ever happen." That would be silly.

At the same time, it's fair, I think, to expect a show like "Glee" at least to be true to the realities of its own universe and characters. And the season finale, in which the New Directions gang finally makes its long-awaited trip to New York to compete in Nationals, features a few plot points (big and small) that don't feel right and are hard to overlook:

1) The kids arrive in New York to compete in Nationals, which they've only been talking about for two seasons, not knowing -- or even having written -- the songs they expect to compete with? And Mr. Schue, who cares so much about their dreams that he'd give up a chance to realize his own, leaves them to come up with the songs on their own, in a hotel room in a strange city, the day before the competition? And we're still expected to feel that a win at Nationals is somehow high stakes?

2) Rachel's choice -- Finn versus New York – also seemed like a false one. When she told Kurt, during their adorable breakfast-at-Tiffany's moment, that she planned to return to New York to go to college, and he said he and Blaine were up for moving there with her, he suggested that she bring Finn too. ("He'll come in handy if we need to move anything heavy," Kurt observed.) Rachel said Finn was too much of a small-town boy. But after he planned the perfect New York date -- Finn knew which picturesque Central Park footbridge to meet on, which iconic Broadway haunt to take her to (Sardi's! Where Patti LuPone told Rachel that Finn was "cute"!), and which adorable block to walk down -- he sure seemed to have his city swagger on. Couldn't she at least have asked him?

3)  Rachel didn't know "Cats" had been closed for 11 years, but Quinn did? Did the writers forget who these characters are?

On the other hand, the episode presented us with a few perfect little moments (looking at you, Ms. LuPone) and handily wrapped up some of the season's major storylines, allowing us to go on summer break without wondering what will happen with Finn and Rachel, Santana and Brittany, and Mr. Schue and his jazz-handed reach to fulfill his Broadway dreams. For that, we are grateful.

Here were some of the episode's big payoffs:

1) Ode to New York: The Big Apple seduces the small-town kids. We get to watch them dance on the fountain at Lincoln Center and skip down paths at Central Park. (What was the image of Santana and the police officer on the bench supposed to mean, though?) Cliché, sure, but cute.

2) The Finn-Rachel kiss: It was "the Superman of kisses," Finn said. "It came with its own cape." Who cares if it (maybe) cost them Nationals? Unlike Santana, I wasn't terribly disappointed by New Directions' failure even to make the top 10. As Brittany said, this year was never about winning. So, yes, Finn, it was totally worth it.

3)  Mr. Schue gives up his Broadway dreams (but Matthew Morrison gets a big boost for a single off his new album, also released the day of the finale): I'm just glad this storyline is over.

4)  The Santana-Brittany hug: And how satisfying was it when Santana said to Brittany, "When did you get so smart?"

5) The Sam-Mercedes hand-hold: Finally a love interest -- and a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T -- for Mercedes!

6) The Rachel-Sunshine thumbs-up: Rachel does right by former rival Sunshine Corazon by giving her a thumbs-up before Sunshine hits the episode's musical high note (Brittany's incredible "My Cup" notwithstanding) with the original song "As Long as You're There." When Finn asks Rachel what she's doing, she says she's making things right. It may not make up for sending Sunshine to a crack house, but it's a step in the right direction.

What did you love/not love about the episode? Did the original numbers work for you? Were you disappointed or satisfied -- or both? Did it make you want to shout "Pip, Pip, Hooray" or buy a "hot" T-shirt for Lord Tubbington?

And also, favorite lines? Please share. 

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-- Amy Reiter

Photo: From left, Ashley Fink, Dianna Agron, Lea Michele, Heather Morrison, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera. The glee club visits New York City for Nationals in the "New York" season finale of "Glee."  Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / Fox

 
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