Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 7 ‘Transitioning’: Genre Bender

glee transitioning

The first five episodes of Glee’s final season were written by its original creators, who know the show best and take it to heart most. The last two have not been, and with last night’s Transitioning, it showed.

Episode 7 was well-meaning enough, but also uneven, preachy and riddled with more plot holes than usual for Glee’s musical fantasy.

Why is so much of the old glee club still in Lima? Why did Karofsky so quickly and easily bow out so Blaine could move on to Kurt? Why did Vocal Adrenaline fiercely value rehearsal time, then go to McKinley — twice — for idiotic pranks?

Transitioning also felt like one of Will’s old lessons-of-the-week, with its title signifying not just Beiste’s sex change to a man as Sheldon (with “she” in the name?), but also Rachel bidding goodbye to her childhood home and Will finally quitting his impossible job as VA’s coach, where his own lesson of “tolerance” fell on deaf ears.

For a show that’s long mixed comedy, drama and musical genres adroitly, this hour was weighted — if not weighed down — by the “dra” in Glee’s dramedy. Will’s head-butting with his ruthless show choir was downright unpleasant, and the bullying scenes were equally painful.

Even some upbeat scenes had a dramatic kick, climaxed by a large transgender choir backing Unique for a stirring I Know Where I’ve Been to reassure Beiste he wasn’t alone.

But even that felt gimmicky, stuntlike and overblown. And I’m sorry, but I’ve never warmed to Unique’s smugly self-absorbed character.

That’s in part because Alex Newell isn’t much of an actor. But as The Glee Project first revealed when he sang I Will Always Love You, he can belt with the best of them, and it was good to hear him turned loose at the end — and at the start, with Will for the bashing-gay-bashers Same Love, the night’s best number.

In between those singing sermons were three lighter songs at a party in Rachel’s basement to bid her just-sold home goodbye, none of which resonated emotionally or carried the plot forward an inch.

While I liked All About That Bass, Somebody to Love and especially Time After Time (did Rachel and Sam “do it” upstairs before that duet?) they were so disconnected from plot and characters that I couldn’t embrace them with any real feeling.

Still, it was good to see Jayma Mays at last as Will’s sweetly understanding wife, and I loved the opening nod to Glee’s first-ever shot of a muffler dragging on pavement, as well as Rachel’s wall-sized scrapbook. Those nostalgic touchstones as we near the end are greatly appreciated.

In fact, up through last week’s rousing Bacharach romp, Season 6 to date has had me spoiled. That’s in part what made Transitioning seem like a letdown.

That doesn’t mean I’m down on Glee. After such a strong start to Season 6, and with a wedding — or weddings — next week (is that ep’s promo the best ever?), I expect Transitioning to be a solitary misstep in Glee’s celebratory farewell run.

And don’t let Fox’s promos confuse you: There are now six episodes left, airing over the next five weeks, with the finale combining two hours. Yet Fox keeps citing weeks as “episodes.”

Will Fox count the two-part finale as just one episode when it sells Glee’s strip syndication package? I don’t think so.

That’s my lesson for the week, along with one that Glee taught us from the top, and one I’ve always kept close:

Don’t stop believin’. The best may be yet to come.

— Bruce Westbrook




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