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Glee: Season 1 - Journey (Final episode reviewed)

Glee

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

AFTER 22 fun-filled episodes, the first season of Glee finally drew to a close on E4 (Monday night) with a surprisingly bittersweet end that was designed to ring out the tears as well as leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

With the long-awaited Regionals finally upon the glee club, it was time to see whether Will Schuester’s ragtag bunch of students (aka New Directions) had the ability to mix it with Vocal Adrenaline and secure their own future.

Failure to do so, of course, meant the breaking up of the glee club, as well as the realisation of a personal dream for sparring cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). Surely, the unthinkable couldn’t happen? Surely, Glee had to finish on a high.

Well, partly. Credit to Glee‘s writers, then, that the unthinkable did happen… and not necessarily in the way that some might have been able to predict.

First off, celebrity Sue got herself on the judging panel. Second, her ‘famous’ co-judges Olivia Newton John and Josh Groban (both returning guest stars, nice touch) couldn’t really give a toss. Third, Vocal Adrenaline were better… just. They had the choreography to their routine down pat. There’s was a victory of clinical efficiency, over the heart and soul of New Directions.

Perhaps most shocking, however, was that New Directions didn’t place. They came in also-rans, despite stirring the crowd into rapturous applause with their medley of Journey classics, including the now seminal Glee moment, Don’t Stop Believin’.

So, what of their fate? Ironically, it all came down to Sue. When judging, she felt inclined to back New Directions, having been ruthlessly berated for her non-celebrity by her more illustrious companions. But even that wasn’t enough.

Rather, it was left to Sue to play her final blackmail card to school principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba), thereby securing the future of the glee club for at least one more year.

The scene between her and Will was the crowning achievement of a consistently impressive season finale. At first full of gloating, Sue eventually allowed her sensitive side to peek into the open, declaring to Will that a new year without the conflict provided by New Directions would be meaningless.

As ever, Lynch shone. She’s the villain we love to loathe, yet she’s also capable of random acts of kindness that you just never see coming. She’s destined to become one of TV’s all-time great creations (if she isn’t already!).

That just left a final performance from Will, singing Over The Rainbow for his students as he thanked them for inspiring him over the course of the year.

But, as with all good season finales (and Glee has been picked up for at least two more years), there was still plenty to mull over going into its sophomore run.

Can New Directions mount a spirited comeback? Will Will and Emma (Jayma Mays) finally get it together now that he has confessed his love for her?

Will Sue go back to her bad old ways? Can Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele) stay together? What will Rachel do when she finds out that her mom (Idina Menzel) has adopted Quinn (Dianna Agron)‘s baby? Like we said, plenty of sparks to turn into flames.

And still there was plenty to reflect on from this final episode. Not least, a brilliantly delivered (pardon the pun) split sequence between Vocal Adrenaline’s performance of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Quinn’s birth scene… comedic and touching.

Or Rachel’s offer to her mom to come and co-coach New Directions… because she still had so much to learn from her.

New Directions own performance of To Sir, With Love, meanwhile, epitomised everything that’s great and inspirational about the show. The song was designed as a thank you to Will, which cleverly reflected on the achievements of each of the New Directions members.

It was delivered with heartfelt sincerity, reducing Will (and even an onlooking Sue) to tears, as well as anyone with a heart who was watching. And yet it was inspirational too.

Glee may be the uncoolest show to admit you like (and a surprising amount of people still insist they don’t), but there is undeniable quality surrounding each and every episode. Not everything works, of course, but overall Glee hits far more than it misses and fully deserves its global success.

Journey, the final episode of a great first season, had it all: tears, laughter, joy and pain. It was the perfect ending to an almost perfect first season. The hard work now begins in matching those achievements all over again.

What did you think?