SOUND OFF: GLEE 100 - The Sequel!
Last night's second part of the celebratory 100th episode, titled "New Directions", written and directed by co-creator Brad Falchuk, delivered a recognizable vibe and welcome feeling of the first season of the show - as is all too apt considering the series is transitioning before our very eyes and ears to a predominantly New York City-set storyline. McKinley Goodbyes!
Party All The Time
For all of GLEE's run thus far, lo, 101 episodes in, the series has held as its heart in the halls of McKinley High in Lima, OH. Whether they are tread by Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Artie (Kevin McHale), Santana (Naya Rivera), Mercedes (Amber Riley), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Sam (Chord Overstreet), Puck (Mark Salling), Quinn (Dianna Agron), Brittany (Heather Morris), Blaine (Darren Criss), or, more recently, Marley (Melissa Benoist), Jake (Jacob Artist), Ryder (Blake Jenner), Kitty (Becca Tobin), Unique (Alex Newell) and the rest of the various New Directions members over the years, the halls of McKinley High have played an essential umpteenth role as a outright cast member in and of themselves - and, some could even argue, so, now, does NYC - and the end is near. Actually, the end has come.
"I've accepted it. It's done," Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) informed Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow) about the cessation of the Glee club - and so it goes. In the continuation of the story begun in last week's show, "100", this week's Glee was bursting with outrageous flourishes and unexpected moments aplenty - straight on from Tina's unfortunate hallucination thanks to a trophy smacking her in the head (and eventual FRIENDS homage, CHUMS) through to an outlandish Temple Grandin parody courtesy of HH and Broadway baby Kristin Chenoweth, re-appearing as series standout guest star April Rhodes in a Splenda-sweet turn (literally and figuratively). Speaking of turn - as in "Turn around," - the loss of her duet with Matthew Morrison on Jim Steinman's iconic pop epic "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" was a loss felt fully by those who happened to hear the GLEE: THE MUSIC CELEBRATING 100 EPISODES album. Nevertheless, let's hope it will be released in some form soon - especially given that it was filmed in an otherworldly setting at renown planetarium Griffith Observatory. In the meantime, check out the track, available here.
As for the musical material that did make the show - and it was copious - the succession of showstoppers was a throwback to episodes of early seasons, as was much of the plotting and presentational style evident throughout this ep in particular, surely paying tribute to what was before as we continue moving on to what will be. And, moving it was.
So, in a callback to last week's review, this being a sequel to the 100th episode, here are 10 more reasons - plus one!
10. "I Am Changing" from DREAMGIRLS. A spine-tingling and somewhat surprisingly effective cover of the supreme second act flourish made famous by Jennifer Holliday once upon a time, and, later by Jennifer Hudson in the film adaptation. No question, Amber Riley and Chris Colfer infused it with palpable passion and the final glances at the Glee crew as they stand (minus the deceased Cory Monteith) was a tear-inducing reminder of the impending major changeover. Additionally, the undercurrent of Rachel and Santana's feud informed the mise en scene well, with the ensuing bathroom confrontation a dramatic highpoint of the ep.
9. Holly Holliday, especially "Party All The Time". Eddie Murphy would have been proud of the wild and hilarious events to be experienced in this far out production number exploding with disco madness. Foam parties may be blasé to some, but the stripper routine - pole included - was a sexy showcase for Paltrow's ample dance skills, in a song highlighted by a huge vocal moment for the triple-threat, as well. And, as we all now know, she's single in real life, too! Get off Gwyneth's runway.
8. Santana & Brittany 4 Ever. Sweet, sensitive and especially surprising given the circumstances of Santana's position as an understudy for Rachel in the revival of FUNNY GIRL on Broadway, but at the very least she has dropped out of that and gone off on vacation for an extended period with Santana before an intended move to the big city and residential confirmation of their coupling. Indeed, she somewhat seems to be making eyes at the exit - could Santana and thereby Rivera be parting ways with GLEE, as has been rumored recently? Only time will tell.
7. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), Holly and April sharing a breakfast break together in the teacher's lounge. Who would have ever guessed?! Nonetheless, it was a sterling example of the wacky humor Glee can effortlessly conjure and somehow realistically employ, and, more often than not, sustain for even entire episodes without breaking a sweat. By the way, just how much Splenda did April spill?
6. "Just Give Me A Reason" (Pink f/ Nate Ruess) remade by Quinn and Puck was a lovely if brief musical coda to the characters and their tumultuous relationship as seen on the series thus far - baby adopted by Shelby (Idina Menzel) included.
5. "Be Okay" (Oh Honey) made diva duet courtesy of Rachel and Santana, who also shared a notable dramatic moment early on in the ep, as noted earlier. While Rachel and Santana side by side - with knives drawn, as it were - backstage at FUNNY GIRL may be a dream never realized, the dignified development of their volatile relationship was appreciable as seen here.
4. Goodbye for now to Marley, Ryder, Jake, Kitty and Unique! What an emotional film reel, made for Mr. Schue, Emma (Jayma Mays) and their intended offspring, too. What a tortuously tearful au revoir! Too sad to see them go - but, what will be will be. And, this is GLEE after all - no goodbyes last forever; except for that of the irrevocably gone forever Finn aka Monteith, of course.
3. "Loser Like Me". Blaine, Artie, Sam and Tina gave gravitas to the original tune penned for the series way back when. Too bad there haven't been many new tunes introduced on the show since - especially if some enterprising songwriters, famous or undiscovered, were looking to give a tune an introductory Glee airing. Anyway, this was a gem.
2. Graduation! The day finally arrived, and, now, they say goodbye to McKinley High - and hello to NYC. But, where does that leave Brittany? We shall see. "We were part of something incredible."
1. Schue saying goodbye. A very CHEERS-esque capstone with a final evocative moment of solitude for the man behind the music - and he earned that bow; and how! No gleek out there in the dark survived that scene without a tear - compounded by a masterful use of voiceover, which has always been a series trademark, after all. But, now, the music stool stands alone....
And, of course, the reprise of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", in honor of Finn. What more could we want than that?!
Next week? Glee takes a big bite out of the Big Apple. The show must go on - and, it appears, it will!