Glee recap/review: Swan Song

Thanksgiving recap/review

This episode of Glee may have been called Swan Song, but perhaps a more appropriate title would have Crossroads, because that’s where we found ourselves.

In Lima, New Directions found itself at a crossroads. Without anything to compete for after being disqualified from sectionals, which direction would the club members take? Would they take the fork to splitting up and moving on to different things that may not be their first love but that they felt gave them purpose, or would they take the fork to staying together, enjoying glee club for what it was but not having a clear cut aim?

For Finn, the decision was easy. Even without competition he wanted the glee club to stay together, because that gave him purpose. His struggle to keep everyone involved, and his despondancy over watching those around him let go, was interesting to watch. I’m not often a fan of Finn, but in this episode I really liked him.

His first try at keeping the gang together didn’t work, which I’m glad of, because it meant we saw Blaine and Tina (mostly Blaine) in the uniform of the Cheerios, and we also got some humourous moments with Unique on roller blades, Artie in a helmet no one should be wearing, and, best of all, Joe talking about the Interfaith Paintbal League, hands down one of the funniest moments of Glee, and definitely a highlight of Joe’s.

In fact, this episode of Glee had a lot of laugh out loud moments which really reminded me how funny Glee can be – from the little to camera pieces about everyone’s imagined future (Blaine: “I’m performing on the bathhouse circuit”) to Sam and Blaine’s cute little partnership over getting Marley a juice box after she fainted, and of course Brad the pianist’s genius rant/thank you to Sue for causing New Directions to disband.

Still, after all the funny came the serious bit. Because if New Directions disbanded, what was everyone going to do? Sure, they all had their own clubs, but when speaking about why they joined them, no one mentioned passion for whatever they were joining, or love, or even enthusiasm. And when they realised all those things were missing, they came back to glee.

This was one of those episodes where New Directions remembered the reason they’d originally formed in the first – for the music and by extension the friendship. It may have taken them a while, but they were all drawn back together at the end of the episode for a proper New Directions singalong, and a great one it was too.

With the snow falling and their voices blending together (please can we have more Blaine and Tina singing together?) there was a little bit of magic in the air for the club – magic I’m sure will extend to them somehow getting back into the glee club competition for regionals.

Brittany was also facing a crossroads over whether she should pursue a relationship with Sam. This has been a slightly strange storyline, firstly because Glee has taken the time to let it build, which it rarely does with any plot. Secondly, I’ve found it strange to see Sam so into Brittany and in this episode confessing he’s always been into her, because not so long ago Sam was pursuing Mercedes like love was going out of style. It seems Glee‘s writers have completely erased Sam and Mercedes from their minds.

Anyway, apart from those two points, I think Sam and Brittany are very sweet. For a lot of people Santana and Brittany might be endgame, but Brittany has always presented herself as bisexual, so I have no problem with her being with Sam. Also, Brittany’s speech about fandom possibly hating her for pursuing Sam after being with Santana was a genius bit from Ryan Murphy, who was clearly putting his own words into Brittany’s mouth, and putting fandom in its place. 

Over in New York both Rachel and Kurt were also at a crossroads of a sort – take the path well trodden or take the path to being everything you are?
 
Rachel was being Rachel, and basically that means she was getting everything handed to her on a silver platter. Yes, she’s very, very talented, but I’m bored of seeing her get everything without a struggle. No, fighting with her highly inappropriately acting dance teacher Cassandra is not the definition of struggle.

The scene where they had a dance/singing battle over All That Jazz didn’t excite me. I feel like this is the sixth time we’ve seen them trying to outdo one another by performing something in skimpy clothing while wearing masses of eyeliner, and it’s dull. Of the many, many unrealistic things about Glee that annoy me (beyond normal televisual artistic licence) one of the things that annoys me most is that Cassandra is just a highly rubbish teacher, and would get sacked for acting the way she has with Rachel, and that Rachel doesn’t udnerstand that she is the pupil.

Much better was Rachel’s performance at the NYADA winter showcase, although I was put out by the fact that she seems to be so loved by everyone that Carmen Tibbideaux gave her an invite to perform. Still, since we’ve only really seen Rachel in dance class maybe she is doing brillianrtly elsewhere.

Her performance of Being Good Isn’t Good Enough was brilliant, and deserved a standing ovation, but I didn’t see the need for her to do O Holy Night, her second number in a row and her third in just one episode. I also didn’t like that while singing the latter we were shown clips of Finn, because we get that Rachel and Finn are broken up but still connected, but I don’t really care.

Similarly, I didn’t need another Rachel and Finn phonecall in my life, although thank goodness this one focused on glee club and not their tortured romance.

I think the reason I don’t love Rachel is something I said above, that she seems to get everything handed to her unlike other characters, who really struggle. The biggest contrast to Rachel is Kurt, who wants similar things to her, who is equally as talented if not more, but who since episode one series one of Glee we’ve seen constantly fighting for success.

Brilliant then, that at last in Swan Song Kurt Hummel got a standing ovation following his performance of Being Alive, which was phenomenal, not least because Kurt said he finally understood the meaning of the song, having found love and then (sort of) lost it again.

We’ve seen Kurt happy and sad and everything in between, but Carmen hasn’t so I completely understood when she said she’d seen no depth from Kurt before. This time, with Being Alive, Carmen saw nothing but Kurt Hummel, stripped down, raw emotions, and it was superb. As that tear fell down Kurt’s face when he saw the crowd standing for him, a tear (almost) slipped down mine as well. 

Best moments
There was a lot I liked this episode, but for things I haven’t mentioned there’s Brody and Rachel’s kiss. I’m highly in favour of Brochel, even if it’s not endgame. I also liked Sue and Finn’s fight in the choir room over the trophy, the song choices throughout the episode, and I liked something I haven’t seen yet but hope to – Kurt’s NYADA audition tape of Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

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