(S01E13) I would like to say that Glee saved the best for last, but I can't. You see, this wasn't the end. "Sectionals" wasn't the end of the season at all. What it was, in fact, was a great intermission in the middle of a terrific musical. And since it was just the halfway point, and since Glee has a brilliant way of honoring Broadway and musicals and great entertainment, there were songs in this episode that epitomized that spirit.
Oh, and if you're wondering if the dramatic elements in the show were addressed, they were. But if you think it was all tied up in a pretty bow, think again. There was so much great stuff in this show that my head is spinning. I'll do my best to sort it out. To see if I succeeded, and to share the joy of Glee, read on.
For much of the season, I've felt that the soap opera stylings of the show were bringing it down and getting in the way of the good stuff. I should have trusted the Ryan Murphy creative team more, because all the pieces fell together. The fake pregnancy and fake impregnation in the hot tub ruse was completely revealed. Quinn didn't hide from the truth; she embraced it and established her independence.
Terri needs to accept her independence because Will is not going back to her. I give her credit for trying, but Terri lied too much. Will also has to confront his own truth, that he didn't want Emma to leave McKinley. She had gone to sectionals for Will, not the kids, and because of her decision, Ken dumped her.
Will leaving Terri and Ken leaving Emma opened the door for a perfect romantic moment. But that wouldn't come until Will heard the kids' song for him, Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You." It was a message to him; the kids love Mr. Schu. Message received, but Will also heard another message. For him, life without Emma would suck.
This show might be the best of the season for many reasons, including Rachel's Star Is Born moment. It came from Funny Girl, but it was Streisand all the way. Her entire thread in the episode was a mini-Barbra movie. Rachel reaching out to Finn about the baby. Rachel's reaction to Mercedes' ballad. Both acts showed how far Rachel has come in New Directions. Those menschy moves set up her getting the star spot at sectionals.
Mercedes would not have called Rachel their star without that scene. Rachel had to rise to the moment, and live up to all those gold stars she believed she had already earned. It was the moment the previous twelve episodes had built to. Was Rachel up to it? Could she shine in the spotlight? Is Barbra Streisand really from Brooklyn? Of course, she is!
Rachel said. "Well, I do have something I've been working on since I was four." She wasn't kidding. "Don't Rain on My Parade" was the highpoint of the season for me, surpassing "Defying Gravity" (which they didn't even bring up as a possibility -- why?). The only thing missing were Rachel's two dads. Why weren't they there? Why weren't any of the parents there?
Anyway, Lea Michele's version of Barbra's song was a knockout. It had the audience on their feet and established New Directions immediately as something special. And they were. Less rehearsed than the other teams because they had to be spontaneous. They earned that trophy. Now it's on to regionals.
But that's not all. (You see what I mean about this episode? My head is still spinning!) Finn emerged as the leader Will always knew he could be.
And Principal Figgins found his spine. He confronted Sue for her duplicity and suspended her. He took the Cheerios away from her and he reinstated Will to Glee. Sue's reaction was expected; the battle had just begun. Or as she put it, "You just woke a sleeping giant. Prepare to be crushed."
Wait, that's still not all! There was the kiss. What a kiss! Will and Emma. I can't wait till the show resumes because there's so much story to tell. You see what I mean about this being an intermission? There's still another half (a season) to go.
Other points of interest
-- When the kids are determined to keep Rachel from telling Finn about her suspicions that Quinn's baby is Puck's, the split screen was an homage to Bye Bye Birdie, "The Telephone Song."
-- When Emma confronted the competition choir directors from Jane Adams and Haverhurst for cheating, she was the ultimate guidance counselor and she laid the guilt on. Shame on them!
-- The way Will embedded the idea of a song to Finn when he convinced him to rejoin New Directions was very clever. The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" indeed.
-- Mercedes' interpretation of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Goin'" was killer. It is the ultimate big girl song, and a starmaker. It worked for Jennifer Holliday on Broadway in Dream Girls, as well as American Idol's Jennifer Hudson in the movie version. It worked for Amber Riley, too. Her rendition was superb!
-- There was a real sense of melancholy because Mr. Schuester couldn't be part of sectionals. You felt it when he watched them board the bus. Damn that mattress! However, I think his reactions just listening over the phone were better than if he had been there.
-- The look inside the show choir sectionals judges' room was hilarious. They picked the group they hated the least. They had their own agenda, which one member said was not being there at all.