I swear, cramming one season into 13 episodes, and it being the final season at that, has made Glee like a show on steroids — but in a good way.
In The Hurt Locker, Part 2, Sue ups herself on the crazy meter, galvanizing a funny, eventful hour in which Kurt and Blaine resume their romance, whether they admit it or not, and the new New Directions steps up as a kick-butt ensemble in its own right.
While Sue’s sham “invitational” competition brought two more dazzling but hyper ’78 to ’84-era songs by ND’s rivals — this time the Warbler’s You Spin Me Round and My Sharona — Klaine were tricked and trapped in a faux elevator for forced togetherness, taking Sue’s mad mischief to a whole new level.
And if kidnapping wasn’t bad enough, her tiny horror-movie talking doll with the fright face on a tricycle ordering the boys to kiss (“really go at it”) was one of Glee’s most amusingly twisted moments since — well, last week. Before that, I’d have to go back to Season 5’s warped Christmas show.
But this zany episode had warmth and meaning too, from Rachel and Kitty’s confessionals and new friendship as Kitty rejoined the glee club (how they needed her!) to Sam recruiting surly jock Spencer for the club by citing Finn as “the quarterback here, and when he joined the glee club, it changed everything forever.”
Again, such references to Glee’s past were touching, without being maudlin. No room for that in an hour so wrought with weirdness.
But in the end, it all came down to songs, as it should on a show whose strength always — always — has been the superb musical numbers that have made it a true TV original. Thanks, writer Ian Brennan, but thanks too to reliable executive music producer Adam Anders, who took a sweet but corny chestnut by Air Supply and turned it into one of Glee’s most stirring performances.
When I first heard ND’s new All Out of Love in its full-length studio version days before the telecast, it floored me with its soaring, soulful singing. It’s some of the best I’ve ever heard on Glee, from the Steinmanesque choral flourishes to Jane’s passionate runs to the longest and most fervent “glory note” ending since Season 1’s Somebody to Love. Gives me chills just to think about it.
Then when I heard and saw it on the show, I was grateful for the performers’ stool-sitting simplicity in contrast to VA’s and the Warblers’ frantic prancing. When the music is good enough, you don’t need all that movement and showboating. Let the music move us in its own ways. Trust your music.
That’s the thing about Glee. On the surface, it’s a cute little show about a high school glee club, but at heart it’s a stirring testament to the emotional — and often unifying — powers of song.
With Roderick — the great Noah Guthrie — on lead, George Michael’s Father Figure was soulful in its own way, and ND’s opening It Must Have Been Love by Roxette (it’s about time, Anders — a fellow Swede) nicely set the stage for Sue’s tears to come.
Hey, she wasn’t the only one who was moved by ND’s three-song performance.
So again Glee delivers, and in so many ways. This last season is no phoned-in, grind-it-out slog to the finish line. Oh no — Glee is going for it in Season 6, giving us its creative best.
Now it’s on to songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, a composing team well worth one of Glee’s tribute episodes, in next week’s What the World Needs Now.
Oh, I know what we need — we need more great Glee. And damn, we’re getting it.
— Bruce Westbrook