Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The RBI Report: "New York"

Hello friends, new and old!  Last week at DR SHE BLOGGO was a Snark Tank, and I hope I don't disappoint you when I say that this week will not be.  The review for "Funeral" got a lot of attention, both good and bad, but we've got new episodes to conquer!  Namely, "New York!"  And then after that, none whatsoever until September.  (...oh.)

But you should stick around because I will likely be retroactively reviewing Season 1 in the oh-so-shiny "Retro RBI Report" specially designed for summer hiatuses!  And perhaps some other fun stuff.  But before we all sign each others' yearbooks and part ways with Glee for the summer (KIT, Glee!) let's dig into the last episode of Season 2.

"New York," written and directed by Brad Falchuk

This week, we were treated to a Double Falchuk!  Yes, Mr. Falchuk had the difficult task of taking as many unfinished threads from this season and trying to weave them together into something that was remotely cohesive.  And that wouldn't give the audience whiplash while doing so.  It's a tall order, and I can't say that the episode didn't deliver where it counted.  But man, was there a lot going on, and I also can't say that some of the events made me look back at the season as a whole and think, "Wow, that was kind of a mess."  Regardless, let's take a look at each thread that was addressed in "New York."

So, Quinn was supposed to stir some shit up this episode, right?  We had the promise from last week that there was a serious plan up her sleeve for potential destruction of everyone's happiness, because I imagine that when Quinn Fabray gets angry, the result is something like the face-melting at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I mean, it's just a hunch.

No, instead of emotional terrorization, Quinn instead succumbed to a mess of feelings, spilling over onto Brittany and Santana about the heartbreak of not being loved.  First things first: how much do I love that Quinn finally got some material with the two people who were the first friends she had on the show?  The Quinn-Brittany-Santana dynamic has been the biggest stone unturned, and I for one want to see what delightful bugs are lurking underneath.  (Please excuse how disgusting that metaphor is.  It's late.)  

But this episode delivered that!  Quinn broke down, and Santana and Brittany were there to offer support, and maybe also a threesome.  Or a haircut, whichever.  I will say, I'm of the opinion that the only person who needs to love Quinn Fabray right now is Quinn Fabray herself - which is something she shares in common with one Santana Lopez.  So here's hoping that these two very similar characters with very similar struggles will actually lean on each other in the process of figuring themselves out and accepting their own identities.  Perhaps a common arc for next season, mm?  Hopefully this is the last time the writers saddle Quinn with bitchy plotting and get her started on her character arc - and with Santana along for the ride?  Count me in, please.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me just say this: Kurt and Rachel are so divinely joyous, it's as if heaven itself opened up and gave us these two characters with their most glorious and beautiful dynamic.  I don't think I can fully express to you how much I love them, with Kurt bouncing on Rachel's bed, perfect hair and all, so they could get dolled up for breakfast at Tiffany's.  Oh dear.  I think sunshine may have burst out of my body.  (Not Sunshine, though.  We'll get to her in a second.)

What's beautiful about Kurt and Rachel's interactions in "New York" is that they were a celebration of how far these characters have come.  Their first duet on the show was a competition, singing "Defying Gravity" as they vied for the solo they both so desperately wanted.  And now, they're standing on the "Wicked" stage, having broken in like adorable gangbusters, singing about how they've changed each others' lives.  How beautiful is that?  (Seriously, I'm beginning to think that this happened not because of a kiss but because of the hopeful, teary-eyed, loving expressions on the faces of Lea Michele and Chris Colfer's faces as they sang "For Good."  I mean, I sure felt like that.  I believe in the magic of Hummelberry!)

Of course, Kurt and Rachel's scenes mostly dealt with the idea that there is Ohio, and there is New York.  There is Finn, and there are dreams.  This set up the construct of the episode, which has been one that's lurked all season long: Rachel Berry must choose between Finn, and her future.  Which leads me to...

Firstly, I don't entirely understand why the construct exists that it has to be Finn vs. Future.  The show has set this up, albeit a bit haphazardly, since "Original Song" or so, and I don't quite get why this is the drama that is defining this couple.  Truly, I don't know what to think of it.  The feminist in me doesn't like the idea that Rachel has to choose, and the realist in me knows that young teenage couples don't make it past high school, and it's a real issue.  The storyteller in me thinks, "This is an awful lot of resolution for something that doesn't need resolution right now," and my confused self is happy to not think about it too much.  

So I'll just say this: I want Rachel to achieve her dreams more than anything, and I'm not sure why it has to come at the expense of a relationship, especially considering that Rachel is a junior in high school.  Finn and Rachel have had their ups and downs, good moments and bad, but barring all that, I think what makes me uncomfortable is the idea that it's either/or for Rachel's current goals.  And I don't think the issue with Finchel is that Rachel is unwilling to "take a chance" on Finn.  To me, that colorizes the situation, because we want Rachel Berry to take chances.  She sang "Taking Chances," for Pete's sake.  It's not that Rachel choosing Finn is her taking a chance.  Honestly, it's her taking a risk.  There's an itty bitty difference there, all to do with perspective.  To Finn, and the audience who's behind his POV, it's a chance.  To Rachel, and the audience who's behind her POV, it's a risk. 

I do appreciate though, that at episode's end, the attitude was a laidback "Got any plans 'til [graduation]?" because the less drama surrounding these two, the better.  Be happy now, you crazy kids, and hope the writers don't saddle you with backwards-moving character arcs!  See you in Season 3!

Oh, and can we take a moment to appreciate Rachel Berry in her natural habitat?  That 360 shot of Rachel standing in Times Square as though she were on stage and waiting for the curtain to open and the spotlight to click on was simply glorious.  And hey, Patti LuPone!  I could not handle Rachel Berry's face when she realized that Patti LuPone was asking her her name.  The idea that Rachel Berry can sometimes have doubts about her future is at once heartbreaking and charming, in that it's so unexpected for a character with such self-confidence.  Rachel Berry, one day everyone will know your name!  Let Kurt remind you, sweetheart.

Oh yeah, remember them?  Well, Sunshine's participation in this season was fumbled and dropped, but the writers had the decency to redeem Rachel for what she did to Sunshine (I still can't get over the crackhouse device... sigh) and allow Sunshine an eensy arc within the episode.  Even if it did involve the idea that Sunshine felt the need to flee the country in order to escape Vocal Adrenaline.  We'll breeze past that.

It's fitting that Rachel's repent came in the bathroom, the location where she and Sunshine first dueled in duet, and I appreciate the idea that Rachel apologized, admitted she was threatened, and cheered Sunshine on.  Was Sunshine a necessary plot device this season?  Not so much.  But there's not anything we can do about it now, and I salute the writers for at least wrapping it up with as much panache as they could muster.

As for Dustin... well, it's a damn shame that Cheyenne Jackson came on the show and didn't sing.  The resolution for Mr. Goulsby was not nearly as put-together as Sunshine's, but does anybody really care?  Let's move on from this.

Honestly, the biggest disappointment of this storyline wrapping up was that there was no Cheno.  What gives?  It could be my ulterior motives sneaking in (because, hello, CHENO) but logic seemed to stand that if we were going to see Will confront CrossRhodes, we would actually see Ms. Rhodes in the process.  But, alas.  Will's dedication to the kids shone through, as one janitor thinking he was awesome was enough for his stage dreams, and he can go back to Ohio a fulfilled man.  Works for me.

So, Santana and Brittany have been on their own journey together in the back third of this season, and "New York" saw them solidify their bond as best friends who love each other.  Honestly, I wish that something stronger happened in their final scene.  I loved so much that Brittany seems to have embraced the Glee Club the most, with her strange brand of optimism and calling-it-like-she-sees-it, and that she is a lot smarter than people realize.  I also appreciated the reaffirmation that Brittany and Santana love each other more than anything.

However, these two were in the company of someone who was having a meltdown over the fact that she doesn't have love, and it would've been such strong storytelling if that scene with Quinn were a call to action for Santana.  The episode set up the idea that Quinn does not have love, and wants it, and Santana has love, but is too scared to embrace it.  It seemed only natural to pay that off with Santana finally taking the plunge.  But alas, we're only slowly building back to it.  Which frankly, is a valid decision, in the grand scheme of things.  I'm looking forward to what Quinn and Santana's storylines will be in Season 3 as a result of this parallel construct that's emerged in the latter parts of Season 2, and hopefully it will be well paid off.

Oh yeah, Jesse was there to help triangle it up a little more.  Jesse's return is frankly unnecessary, since they're piling on the drama with Finn and Rachel rather thickly.  (And, may I point out for a moment that the Finchel reunion drama has nothing to do with what plagued their relationship in the first place... it's all just new, constructed drama weighing down and covering up the original issues.  Jesse is really unnecessary in this capacity.  Plus, no one likes a character who exists only to be a romantic rival.  Sigh.)  I'm curious to see what happens with Jesse in Season 3, or if he'll just disappear.  Maybe April can cast him in her show and they can be delusionally daffy together, with heaps of success on Broadway.

Kurt and Blaine shared their first "I love you" in a moment that I actually found rather darling.  Instead of an overwrought emotional sequence, we just saw the fact that Blaine was motivated to share his feelings based on the fact that Kurt was so nonchalant about losing, and peaceably focused on the bigger goals.  And Kurt replied with a simple, "I love you too." No fuss, no muss.  I appreciate those choices.  Small moments speak volumes.

Now.  Hold everything right this very minute, because you guys, this episode gave us the introduction of Sam and Mercedes.  SAM AND MERCEDES.  Not gonna lie, I am on board.  I am ready.  I may or may not have squealed, and I may or may not have thrown my arms in the air in exultation.  That's how ready I am for this.

In a way, this new development with Sam and Mercedes is a hallmark of what Glee does best, and what it's done all season long.  Glee is not afraid to shake things up, and the standalone merit of that is excellent.  However, when Glee doesn't shake things up, it holds onto them like a dog with a bone, and that becomes frustratingly repetitive.  And of course, sometimes Glee likes to shake things up so much that what was shaken up in the first place gets shaken up again before anything real or meaningful can happen with it. 

And that is perhaps the best way to describe what happened in Season 2.  We were given many new things, some of which were good, some of which were not-so-good.  Some of these things wiped away quickly and easily, and some stuck around.  And some things were held onto with a dogged tenacity that grew tired after awhile.  I suppose these are really the only options when it comes to storytelling, so I hope that the writers can assess what events need to go in which categories for maximum effect.  Season 2, as a whole, was something of a storytelling mess because of this confusion, and the writers are fortunate to have a strong core message (family and acceptance... hey, look how smart Brittany is!) and a talented cast to fall back on when characterization and plot arcs get away from them.

As for Season 3, I hope the writers approach it with a cohesive plan for each of their characters, and allow for what's set up to be paid off, as each kid moves forward on their arc, and hopefully isn't stuck in the revolving door of conflict.  And, while I'm wishing for things, can I ask for more friendships and more balance among the characters' storylines?  Those tiny choices would go a long way.

So with that, readers, I sign off for the recapping of Season 2.  I do hope you'll stick around over the summer-long hiatus, as I promise I have things planned!  (Some things also might happen at my Tumblr, should you be interested in seeking me out there.)  And, of course, I must thank you so very much for reading along with my thoughts as we've moved through this season together.  You've not only endured my long-winded thoughts, but you've encouraged them, and I can't thank you enough for loyally reading along.

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: B
Dance Numbers: B
Dialogue: B
Plot: B
Characterization: B
Episode MVP: Brittany Pierce, for not only bestowing us with "My Cup" but also with a healthy dose of self-awareness rarely seen in any other character on the show


  1. I may have more thoughts on this episode later, but I have to say one thing now:
    Based on everything we've learned about Rachel over two seasons, she would definitely know that 'Cats' was no longer playing on Broadway. That didn't ruin the episode for me, but it was stupid.

  2. You have been much kinder to this episode that many others have been. I thought it was pretty ho-hum with just enough delightful morsels to keep me on board for season 3. I might be deluding myself but I think there's a lot to look forward to ie Sam/Mercedes, where to for Quinn?, and I think we're in for one hell a ride with Santana - thank goodness for Naya Rivera, who was the season savior in my humble opinion with an honorable mention to Heather Morris. Whilst there seemed to be a lot pointless flailing about this season, Naya nailed her storyline to the mast and sailed it square through the guts of the show - pity we had to wait until the last third of the season. On a final note, I enjoy Rachel and Kurt - I really do, but perhaps a little less of both of them in season 3 would be a good thing overall.

  3. Yay! I'm glad Brittany is the MVP of this episode. :D She's come a long way!

  4. Brittany and her fantastic (and silly) song were indeed among the best in this episode. Sometimes I believe Glee is at its best when it displays this kind of quirky, surreal humour. S1 used to get me on the verge of tears at least once per episode, but this season that seems to be gone, so now the funny things are what keep the show afloat for me.

    Regarding the rest of the episode, I felt it was completely underwhelming. The song choices were very poor (the original songs, imo, were completely forgettable, and the very fact that they waited until THAT late to write them completely destroys my suspension of disbelief). I guess it was all a plot device to have them lose at Nationals (we knew it wouldn't happen yet: there's still S3 to go), but when plot devices get in the way of the plot being interesting, there's something wrong going on.

    I don't know. If I compare it to last year, where their Regionals performance was thrilling and emotional, we had Quinn's baby being born, we had Vocal Adrenaline's amazing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, and New Directions' thankful song for Will, after a personal thankyou from each of it memebers... this season finale felt completely emotionless.

    I just hope all the interesting plot lines left hanging will be developed in a satisfying way in S3, and as you say, we'll have more equal oportunities for each of the characters (dear new writers, your are our last hope!).



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...