Glee recap: "Swan Song" takes a swan dive
Titled "Swan Song," and ironically so, this episode seems more like a fresh start than a final exit.
Forget "Glease." Forget the reunion of the alumni, and the new class.
For me, the most anticipated episode quickly became seeing the bulimia story line play out, accompanied by some poetic justice for Cassandra (Kate Hudson), and the Brody (Dean Geyer) and Rachel (Lea Michele) love triangle. This was supposed to be that episode.
What happens? Kitty (Becca Tobin) gets zero punishment, Marley did actually manage to ruin Sectionals for everyone, and Cassandra versus Rachel never amounted to anything (ignoring the massive elephant in the room).
But, here is what I will say — it still was an impressionable episode. Even if how the previous episode ended wasn't elaborated on in this one. Some highlights include: Rachel displayed her impeccable talents, Kurt (Chris Colfer) matures (if only temporarily), and the glee club splits up, only to realize what "glue" binds them together.
Has McKinley seen the last of the glee club?
Obviously not. When Sue (Jane Lynch) brings the bad news to the team about how it got disqualified for leaving the stage and how the Warblers won Sectionals, I figured, "OK, they'll find a way around it or past it." What I wasn't expecting (perhaps it's because I haven't been in high school for more than a decade now) that when you lose the only competition that qualifies you for the "season," there's no point in a continuation in practices.
So the glee club is dissolved and the room is cleared, the Cheerios take over, and the New Directions parts ways to join new clubs and teams. The extent of Finn's (Cory Montieth) disappointment was endearing because his new role as mentor really suits him well (and oh my, my, my, that tan does, too!). Although the club had gone different ways, Finn pleaded with them to come together for the one thing that is most important to them — the music. He can thank Rachel for her pep talk (over the phone) that restored his faith in himself and his purpose. Oh, how inspiring. Although apprehensive, they all do come back and all hope for a future in the glee club appears to be restored.
Marley = Annoying?
I say "appears to be restored" because no one other than Jake (Jacob Artist) seems to be talking to Marley (Melissa Benoist). She has always been my favorite sweetheart on the show. But her obvious willingness to stay in the glee club and to try to get everyone to regroup was done in vain as obviously there was resentment for her fainting stunt during Sectionals. I couldn't tell whether she was victimizing herself or just being silent about her remorse, but all I could focus on was on how disgruntled she looked this entire episode.
Budding romance between the biggest airheads
With all that drama at McKinley, Brittany (Heather Morris) and Sam (Chord Overstreet) found love in a hopeless place and make out — eventually. This romance could have been spotted miles away, but it is Brittany's concern for Sam's safety that had me intrigued. She delays going out with him because of her concern for the lesbian bloggers that will shun them since she has now chosen to date a male. Worried for the backlash, she says ultimately that people just like seeing two hot popular girls together. She ends up taking the risk anyway, and moving on from Santana (Naya Rivera) with Sam. The fact that I actually understood what she was saying and respected her for it blew my mind.
Calling all Rachel Berry fans (if you exist)
The episode features Rachel back in New York throughout, and she is no longer the girl she once was. Wow. Just wow. Her nasal voice, awkward whiny personality, and poor romantic decisions led me to have some serious criticism about her character. Her "talent" didn't stand out to me, because her arrogance and childlike "woe-is-me" mentality was irritating. But this episode dispelled it all.
She gets invited to perform at the NYADA Winter Showcase by Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg — omg!). Before her performance, in the highly promoted Chicago dance-off, Cassandra and her put their best foot forward to see who reigns on top. Well, Rachel lost — by far. Cassandra was flexible, creative, and ruthless with her dance moves — all leading up to Rachel's self-discovery that she is a far better singer, and that will be her focus for the showcase.
At the showcase, she is adorned beautifully in a long, flowing, ivory gown — and Dean shows up, bewildered by not her appearance, but her sense of calmness. It is there that Rachel actually does surprise us with how composed she is, and the kiss she plants on Brody. My only qualm? Why is it that every time she has an epiphany, it also involves validating it with some guy. And not to mention, even though she kissed Brody, she still calls Finn after her performance... ? Well, to say the least, she crushes the competition, and never have I ever heard her voice so beautiful and eloquent. It is the performance you don't want to miss. She ends up winning the showcase.
Where do we stand on the resident cougar?
While Rachel seems to have a renewed balance of sensible confidence and defiance during her scene with Cassandra (if there could be such a thing), she never addresses the hook-up between Cassandra and Brody. During their dance-off, even though it was obvious who technically was the winner in terms of ability, Rachel walks away classy and mature, and suddenly Cassandra seems to be the inferior one. Challenged, Cassandra is a bitter, bitter, hot woman. I didn't hear Brody's name mentioned, nor a tear roll from Rachel's eye, so I assume that plot twist will be explained later.
Does Kurt still have the "X" factor?
Even though it's easy to kind of dismiss Kurt, this episode features him in a significant role. He had applied to NYADA and had not received acceptance. At the showcase, although very dejected as he had tried to talk to Carmen personally about it to no avail, he gets a shout-out and an invitation to perform in order to gain admission. Surprised and anxious, he contemplates his abilities. The admission had depended not on his ability nor presentation skills (because it was obvious he had that) but his lack of passion. In the brief exchange he had with Carmen, his entire character had made sense to me. Finally, I understood why he was so different from Rachel — her flaws aside, she has heart. In the 11th hour, and thanks to a pep talk from Rachel, he gets accepted into NYADA via letter, post his soulful performance.
Tracks featured in this episode:
Rachel in Being Good Isn't Good Enough by Barbra Streisand
Rachel vs. Cassandra in All That Jazz by the Chicago cast
Kurt in Being Alive from the musical Company
The New Directions in Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House
Sam and Brittany in Something Stupid by Frank and Nancy Sinatra
Will I ever get closure for the other sizzling story lines? Who knows. But next week's episode definitely looks like a fun one! Don't forget to watch!