Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 10 ‘The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester’: Winter Camp

glee rise and fall 2

I’m seeing some grumbling in the Twitterverse about Glee’s Episode 10, The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester. Some say it was boring. And I say to them: Huh?

This was one of the most eventful and entertaining shows — albeit in a warped way — in many a Glee moon.

Sue gets fired as McKinley principal, has a wildly explosive interview with Geraldo Rivera exposing her legacy of lies, then gets the reins of Vocal Adrenaline, mixing her fury with their steroid-style rage to goose its hell-bent lust to beat New Directions. (Dullsville?)

Dalton Academy burns down. (That big? In its entirety? No fire protection?) So ND and the Warblers unite as one super glee club, ending with new unis and a stirring new song. (Yawn?)

Rachel gets cast in another Broadway show and will return to New York, only to learn she’s also been invited to go back to NYADA, a move boyfriend Sam staunchly supports while applause-hound Rachel resists, though she calls him “the person who matters the most.” (Zzzzzz?) (Samchel anyone? I think they may, in fact, be endgame.)

And what about Becky rebuking Sue after years of henchman-style loyalty? Or Joe (Samuel Larsen) popping up? As for Sue’s mom (Carol Burnett) arising again, no plot turns hinged on it, and their lovably old-fashioned The Trolley Song (from 1944’s Broadway-inspired movie musical Meet Me In St. Louis) may have caused some younger viewers’ boredom.

But come on: Glee in large part is a tribute to musicals and their broad tapestry of standards. Heck, Glee IS a musical. (“How do people just burst into song?” Sue asks — then does exactly that.) Hate on musicals and you’re hating on Glee.

This plot-powered hour also spurred compelling questions and new directions — no pun  — while setting up Glee’s final three episodes. (Contrary to Fox’s misleading promos, remaining are three individually titled one-hour episodes, with two airing back to back for March 20’s finale.)

Will Rachel choose NYADA or Broadway? Will she pick a returning Jesse St. James (seen in next week’s preview) or Sam? And will ND and the Warblers win Sectionals and save arts education for McKinley, or will Vocal Adrenaline trample their dreams?

For some answers, I note Ryan Murphy’s long avowal that he wants Glee to be about supporting arts education. You don’t end a personally motivated series by arguing against yourself. And in other ways, too, I’m looking forward to more gratification along the lines of Episode 8, A Wedding, as Glee keeps finishing strongly.

As for this night’s music, both The Final Countdown and Far From Over were hilarious — more camp than I’ve seen since I spent a month at Central Texas’ Camp Longhorn as a kid. There, we had “girl taming” (dancing). Here, we had Sue and Will face off in a gloriously overblown fantasy reboot of The Final Countdown by bombastic ’80s hair-rockers Europe — if anything, hurling it even more over the top.

The two earnest ND numbers were grand in their own way, from the infectious bounce of opener Rather Be to the rousing closer of Rise, one of Glee’s rare originals, co-written by original Warbler star Darren Criss. For this first “supergroup” number, his old show choir rightly resumed being good guys (initially enlightened Warblers attacking ND never felt right) while blending with husband Kurt’s group to wear Dalton blazers in bright McKinley red.

Bored? I was grooving to the spirited music, laughing at the zany humor and enthralled by the slew of plot twists in this crazily crammed episode. Those who missed that, sorry. Glee is a broad ensemble, and each show can’t concern your favorite “ship.”

Now it’s on to the competition and what looks like one of Glee’s most sensationally song-drenched hours, We Built This Glee Club. It’ll have six sure-fire numbers to raise our spirits and take us to the unsettling precipice of the series finale.

I’ve said all along this would be a season where Murphy and company would work hard to give fans what they want. The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester may not have been what everyone wanted, but it supported Glee’s arts and Broadway causes, and it set the stage for what I believe will be a soaring, triumphant conclusion.

That’s right: I, for one, haven’t stopped believing.

— Bruce Westbrook



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