Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Glee Season Finale Preview

Give yourself a long big hug.You deserve it. It’s been a long premiere season of ups and downs, and this last show is a warm embrace that — let’s face it — you just don’t want to let go.With Regionals on the line, will New Directions win (or place) and save its program from extinction?It doesn’t help that one of the judges for the competition is the world-renowned cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, whose main agenda is to “crush the Glee Club.”

Will Schue is furious. But he can’t do anything about it. He seeks some adult solace with Emma, whose biggest news is that she’s been seeing her oral hygienist and that they haven’t done the dirty deed yet. She does remind him of the happiest moment of his life. (No, it wasn’t that kiss).

Next thing you know, he stops his car in the middle of a highway, listens to a song on the radio and has an NPR moment, holding back the ’80s tears. He smiles. He knows what to do.

The kids, meanwhile, worry that all their hard work will be all for nothing. They soon get inspired, though, by Mr. Schue’s theme for Regionals: Journey. The band and the method of their success.

With Josh Groban and Olivia Newton-John in the audience, they break out an infectious medley of “Journey” songs. From the dramatically romantic duet of “Faithfully” between Rachel and Finn, and the exuberant mix of “Any Way You Want It” and “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin,’” to the nerve-tingling golden finish (with key change) of “Don’t Stop Believin,’” it’s a powerful potion of raw talent and pure heart. You realize just how incredibly far this ragtag bunch has come with their sanguine expectations and personal struggles.

They get off stage, where waiting there is Quinn’s mom, who tells her that she was proud of her and that she kicked out her dad, whom she found out had cheated on her with a tattooed freak. Quinn replies: “My water just broke.”

All hell breaks loose. Most of Glee, except Rachel, rush Quinn to the hospital, as rival Vocal Adrenaline perform a standout cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And it wasn’t just a snippet, either; it was the whole 6 minutes or so. Led by a magnetic Jesse St. James, the show-choir group delivers an outstanding performance with breathtaking lifts, intricate choreography, risky yet nuanced movements and edgy sensuality.

This was interspersed with scenes of Quinn delivering a baby — a brilliantly edited cacophony of sounds and sights that leaves you yearning for more. Two words: award-winning.

The judges’ deliberation, though, was a one-sided show that surprisingly wasn’t all about Sue. The winner’s pronouncement leaves New Directions dejected. They didn’t even place.

Meanwhile, the birth of Beth ties neatly to Shelby Corcoran’s hankering for a daughter of her own, since her own flesh-and-blood is a stranger to her. Rachel, though, does try to recruit her as McKinley’s show-choir co-director. Shelby says no. That’s not what she wants. Instead, she adopts Quinn’s and Puck’s baby.

In the principal’s office, we see Emma unbound, which we’ve never really seen before. She’s so distraught over Sue’s underhandedness that it catches Will off-guard. In a moment of weakness, he professes his love for her, giving Emma a long, languid kiss, to make her forget about that dentist.

Touched by the musical passion of their teacher, the Glee kids perform a tribute to Mr. Schue by way of Lulu’s “To Sir, With Love.” It’s somewhat disappointing then that they didn’t intersperse this with flashback scenes of what’s happened to them all season — just as the flashback dance-moves made the mid-season finale so unique. It could’ve been so much more.

The sappiness, though, eats up Sue with guilt, who stands sentinel in the back of the auditorium, witnessing a bittersweet parting that doesn’t bode well with her good conscience. She talks to Principal Figgins and tells Will that Glee has another year. (And he gets another season for her brand of abuse).

In honor of such a reprieve, Will breaks out a Kamaka tenor ukulele and sings to his students a Pacific-tinged lullabye of “Over the Rainbow” by Iz Kamakawiwo’ole, an arrangement so soothing it almost lets you forget about the Regionals loss. Still, it’s a perfect coda to send us off in a season filled with sweet dreams, likeable underdogs, addictive ballads and memorable quotes. As they say in Hawaii, mahalo and aloha.

Until next season, Gleeks.