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Glee: Journey
mjacton

Spoiler Alert!

Drama abounded in last night's finale of Glee.  As they have all season, and presumably will attempt to do into their second and third seasons, the writers walked the fine line between cheesiness and brilliance.  As usually happens, fell off the line to the side of cheesiness, but those only served to highlight how good the show is.  Overall, while the ending was a little too quick and easy, the episode as a whole lived up to the high standard Glee has set for itself.  The cast, especially Lea Michele as Rachel in her essential Rachel Berryness that we haven't seen as much of lately, and Dianna Agron as Quinn, were on top of their game here. 

There were two main plot points in the episode (Regionals and Quinn's baby), with one major side plot point (Rachel's relationship with her mother) that carried the episode.  Since the structure of the episode was somewhat different, I'll run down these points with my thoughts.

Regionals
In the very first scene, we found out that Sue Sylvester had been appointed as one of the celebrity judges at Regionals.  This set the mood for pretty much the entire episode.  There was a lot of crying, but of course Will rose to the occasion and inspired the group.  I thought making Sue the pivotal figure in this story line was a good choice because she has always played that role.  As much as she has tried to destroy Will and New Directions, she is often the cause, directly or indirectly, of its success.  Usually it has been by giving Will some mean-spirited advice that Will has turned into something positive.  In this case, she realized on her own a world without glee club wouldn't be a very fun place and that she actually admired Will for his work.

However, I did think the main flaw in this episode occurred here, in the ending.  I couldn't put my finger on it as I was watching, but someone else pointed out to me that it was just too quick and easy.  Sue, as revealed in a flashback, voted for New Directions to win the competition, but we didn't get to see the inner battle that led her to that conclusion.  We only heard at the end that she believed that she would benefit from having the competition of the glee club.  It would have been better to see more of how she arrived at that conclusion during her discussion with the other judges.  Instead, we only got a hint of that, enough that it wasn't a surprise it was revealed that she had decided to vote for New Directions.

I really thought that the competition itself was handled in a creative way.  There was really nothing predictable about the outcome.  As far as anyone knew, New Directions had to place at Regionals in order to keep their funding.  So, if I had to have guessed after the performances, the outcome of the competition, I would have guessed that Vocal Adrenaline would win and New Directions would place second.  When it was revealed that the other choir was the runner-up, I thought there would be a tie.  I did not see them losing, and I was depressing.  I thought it was a pretty amazing bit of story telling, though.  It showed some courage on the part of the producers.

Oh, and Finn said those three little words to Rachel.

The musical tribute the gleeks gave their teacher, of course, would not have happened if they had won or placed.  I will give my thoughts on this performance, along with all the others, at the end in the musical recap.

Quinn's Baby
While New Directions was performing, we got a glimpse of Quinn's mother in the audience.  This, to me was another slightly unwelcome addition to the episode.  Another somewhat disturbing image was the flashback scene of Puck and Quinn in bed on that fateful day.  However, while I thought these were unpleasant elements to this episode, I don't consider them flaws.  They were well-written and fit into the flow of the episode well.  I just wish there had been another way of telling the story.

By far, the highlight of the episode, in my opinion, was the birth scene.  Of course, it was melodramatic.  Of course, it was unrealistic.  Of course, it almost crossed that aforementioned line into cheesiness.  But, in my opinion, it didn't cross it.  It was brilliantly paced, with its slow build-up and dramatic apex and slow calming effect.  I did wonder why Rachel wasn't with the other gleeks in the waiting room, but apparently she kept up on the news.  And, I can understand that, as the captain and daughter of competition's coach, she had a reason to go back to watch Vocal Adrenaline's performance.

I've also liked the Mercedes and Quinn friendship as it has developed.  I was critical of the episode in which it began, but the scene that started the friendship was the best of that episode.  And, the way the friendship has developed has been one of the best things about the last several episodes.  They're two people who wouldn't seem to go together, but it has worked.  And, Quinn wanting Mercedes in the delivery room with her was a touching detail.

Oh, and Puck, in his own way, said those three little words to Quinn.  I actually kind of believed him.

I am also glad that the writers found a way to give Quinn a chance to give up her baby and give us at least a chance to be able to see her again later.  It just goes to show why I'm not writing Glee because I wouldn't have thought to have Rachel's mother/Vocal Adrenaline's coach adopt the little girl.  This brings me to the other plot point of the episode.

Rachel's Resolution with her Mother
After Vocal Adrenaline's performance, Rachel visited her mother in what I assume was the Green Room and proposed that Shelby come and co-direct the McKinley High glee club.  Shelby refused on the grounds that she wanted to start a family.  She was tired of putting her own life on hold for others.  She regretted not having a relationship with Rachel, and she wanted take the chance to reclaim that with another child while she could.

Again, someone else pointed out the possibility to me that she would adopt Quinn's baby when she showed up at the hospital.  I immediately realized the prediction would come true because it makes so much sense.  Not only does it allow for the possibility that we'll be able to occasionally check in with the baby's growth, but it also gives the two female rivals, Quinn and Rachel, another loose connection between the two of them.  It remains to be seen how much contact Quinn will have with Shelby and the baby, but the possibilities are there.  And, in a manner of speaking at least, Shelby's adoption of Quinn's baby (Beth) makes the baby Rachel's sister.  I see some good possibilities there, and I'm sure the Glee writers are more capable than I am of seeing the possibilities.

Favorite Sue Quotes
Face itI'm a legendIt's happened.

I have to be honest, WillI'm having a really difficult time hearing anything you have to say today because your hair looks like a briar patchI keep expecting racist animated Disney characters just to pop up start singinabout livin' on the Bayou.

SueWilliam, I resent the implication that I don't play by the rules.
WillYou leaked our set list at Sectionals, Sue.
Sue:  I have no memory of that.

Newton-John, you're dead to me.

As you all know, glee club is such an important...and I honestly can't even finish that sentence.

The 2010 Midwest Regional Show Choir Runners-Upfrom Ft. Wayne, Indiana, the not-at-all stupidly named Oral Intensity.

It looks has barren as me in here, Will.

Favorite Line
(In an episode that was so dramatic, there were a lot of funny lines I couldn't appreciate at first viewing because of all of the drama.)
Will:  We have got something that the other groups don't.
ArtieWhat?
WillFinn's dancing.

Musical Recap
"Faithfully"/"Any Way You Want It"/"Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'"/"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey--Technically, these were three separate pieces, but they were in such rapid succession that they were effectively one.  The performances here were spectacular.  I think the arrangements were great but too simplified in order for New Directions to appear inferior to Vocal Adrenaline.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen--This was Vocal Adrenaline's best performance ever.  The harmonies were sophisticated in a way that no other Vocal Adrenaline arrangement has required.  In the past, the Vocal Adrenaline pieces were a lot of dancing with mostly unison musical arrangements.  This, with the addition of Jesse St. James' solo and piano playing was clearly musically superior to the New Directions Journey medley.

"To Sir With Love," movie theme written by Don Black and Mark London--This was New Directions as they could be.  The arrangement was still simple but subtly more challenging.

"Over the Rainbow" (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version)--Matt Morrison does his best with this type of song, in my opinion.  This reminded me of his rendition of "Leavin' on a Jet Plane" in the Pilot.

Well, that's it.  It's been a long ride.  Watching it again as I wrote this, I realized what fitting end this episode was to this seaosn.  The pilot aired first in May and then again in September.  Over a year after Glee appeared on our television screens for the first time, the first season finally comes to a close.  Seasons 2 and 3 have already been ordered.  I'm looking forward to it.  I hope you are too.