The second season of Glee ended on Friday night as only Glee can: romantic underpinnings, comedic moments, about 300 Broadway references, and a handful of well-choreographed musical numbers.
As I wrote back in November, I had taken an interest in Glee in the lead-up to Season 2 - and I stuck with it, tuning in dutifully each week to follow the antics of the New Directions team ... until mid-December, when I just lost interest. It struck me as repetitive, each new week working off the same ideas as the week before and not really offering anything new.
I watched the rest of the season in fits and starts: some weeks I would watch the whole episode and some weeks I would skip it, but most weeks I would fast-forward through the musical numbers and any scenes that didn't grab my attention immediately. As a viewer, I'm far more interested in characters, so anything that doesn't serve development is frustrating to me.
Glee is perfectly capable of this, by the way: penultimate episode Funeral, in which Sue Sylvester's sister dies, was a great character-driven episode of the musical show.
However, Glee has a loyal following, so rather than review it myself, from my negative-leaning, fair-weather-viewer perspective, I enlisted some help. So join me in welcoming Jess Etheridge, an online reporter for Fairfax, the biggest Glee fan I know, and a good friend to boot. Here's her take on the finale, and her thoughts on the series as a whole:
The final episode of Glee season two follows the club to New York for the national glee club competition. The opening shots of the billboards, the bustling pedestrian traffic, the bright lights and Rachel's first line were perfect. They had finally made it.
Will puts the club on lockdown as they still need to write their two original songs for the national competition. Quinn is looking for ways to sabotage the group's chances after Finn dumped her in the previous episode, realising he is truly in love with the difficult but gifted Rachel. Santana is still having issues with her feelings for Brittany, and Kurt is just happy to be there.
[Quick note from Chris: That they did original songs for Nationals was baffling to me - the show has made its name on choir arrangements of pop songs, and it seemed odd to abandon that for the finale.]
Quinn first suggests the group heads out into the city, saying exploring New York will be inspiration enough to pen a couple of tracks. Throughout the episode, Quinn also starts a pillow fight and threatens to have members of the Glee club kicked out for disobeying Mr Schue's instructions. But after all that, Quinn, with the help of Santana and Brittany, realises she just needs a haircut to get rid of all her bad energy. Hopefully the new haircut will do wonders for her storyline come season three - her last year of high school.
Continuity isn't Glee's strong point. Throughout season two there has been no mention of baby Beth, and Quinn has worried more about being prom queen than anything. The way the character of Quinn has been written is ridiculous, to say the least. As a huge fan of Quinn, I've seen her go from strong, independent and loving herself at the beginning of season two to a sad and very upset girl. Season three is supposedly the last season before most of the glee club graduates high school and I really hope to see Quinn start to love herself again and maybe realise her true potential.
Finn decides it's time to start wooing Rachel again but his plans hit a bump in the road called Kurt. Rachel is taken to Gershwin Theatre on Broadway by her Glee friend Kurt in order to show her what true love is - performing on a stage. This is the real Rachel Berry. At this point Finn has no chance at getting her back so he tries taking her on a romantic date. After a near-kiss, Rachel runs off saying she simply can't kiss him, leaving Finn devastated.
All season, Finchel (Finn and Rachel's coupling name) have been on and off, after apparently being madly in love over the previous summer break. They seriously annoy me even though they're supposed to be the main characters of the show. It's frustrating how much Rachel glorified Finn, especially after how he's treated her. I miss the Rachel Berry of season one and I believe the writers have pushed her into an area she isn't emotionally ready for.
One of the highlights of season two's finale is Brittany and Artie's original song called My Cup. The club is desperate for two songs to perform at the competition so Brittany writes from her heart about a cup that she likes to drink juice and gin from. In the end they don't choose My Cup, which is extremely disappointing.
During the competition, Finn and Rachel sing a duet called Pretending, apparently written by Finn. The big shocker is it ends with a long and ill-timed kiss, one which Jesse St James calls "unprofessional".
The group number, Light Up the World, is all right but not as good as Loser Like Me from the Regionals episode, which was actually relevant to the storyline. Light Up the World is over-produced and some of the lines don't even make sense in the context of Glee ("you gotta give up the bark and bite"?). It seems the judges of the competition agreed.
New Directions fail to rank in the top 10, subsequently ending their nationals journey with most of the club blaming Finn and Rachel for kissing on stage. As much as I despise the two, I thought it was actually an interesting twist in the story, but who knows whether it affected the outcome in the end.
[Another quick note from Chris: I actually thought having New Directions miss the Top 10 was really clever, as the convention in this type of story is to have this kind of moment - a reignited romance - be the one that pushes the group over the top. To have them miss the Top 10 after such a scene was an interesting twist that probably turned audience expectation on its head. Heck, I was surprised.]
I put it down to the fact the club wrote their songs a day before competition. But the show isn't actually about winning a competition, it's about being your own personal winner. The club coming together as a family and supporting each other through their own personal issues is the real heart of the show.
The writers and cast of Glee have openly admitted that episode scripts may never be completed until they start shooting the episode. As a pretty big fan of Glee, I find this to be fairly disrespectful and the feedback from critics and fans seems to say the same.
In season three, I hope to see more depth and thought put into what characters do and say in the show, plus the songs performed need to have relevance and mean something again. They've hired a couple of new writers though, so there is hope - but I won't hold my breath.
I'll be happy if we see the end of the infighting and a lot of lifelong friendships being developed. Mercedes and Tina need more storylines and solos instead of worrying about tater tots and having boyfriends. Mercedes (Amber Riley) has an amazing voice and deserves a really happy ending.
Overall, season two was OK. I did enjoy it quite a bit but looking back, and looking at the finale, I feel that some characters were forgotten about. The good news is that the final episode featured one thing to look forward to next season: the secret budding romance between Mercedes and Sam. There have been some great episodes, such as Duets and The Sue Sylvester Shuffle, and some brilliant mash-ups, like I Feel Pretty/Unpretty and Thriller/Heads Will Roll.
What was your favourite episode from Glee season two? Did you have any favourite songs from this season? Were you disappointed at any point, or did you think the season was flaw-free?
Jess Etheridge is on Twitter.
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