Glee Season 5 Review “New Directions”

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Okay, I’ll admit it – I may have been a bit harsh on Glee last week. With this, ‘New Directions’ serving as the second half of the show’s 100th episode extravaganza, then, we can judge it as a whole, complete thing. But, I wonder, maybe it doesn’t need to be judged for the scenes included or the content of the two hours itself, but the feeling it gives to fans and the sense of finality it manages to achieve without completely bumming us out. ‘New Directions’ was in no way perfect, but it was exactly what I wanted.

In other words, the nostalgia and heart that Glee does best of all. This could have been a series finale, and time will tell whether it should have been, but for now it’s all about saying goodbye to McKinley, the glee club, and over half of the current cast. That should be sad, but post-season three Glee has been so disappointing and misjudged that there’s more of a sense of clearing the air than there is of effectively firing lots of promising young actors. Very little about this episode felt sad or mean, and that’s a glorious thing with all it had to achieve.

Who survived? Well, Rachel, Kurt, Sam, Artie, Blaine and Mercedes are all heading to New York, while Tina, Mike, Quinn, Puck and the rest are all going off into the sunset in one way or another. Then there’s Brittany and Santana, taking a long vacation to Lesbos Island (one of the many great zingers of the night), planning to return to New York when they’re done reconnecting. Loose ends were tied up – Rachel and Santana’s fight, Tina’s acceptance to Brown, Quinn and Puck’s relationship and Will’s employment prospects – leaving the show free to bin what it wants and start afresh in the Big Apple from next week onwards.

The episode itself had just as much wasted time as the previous one, with far too much Gwyneth Paltrow, not enough ‘remixed’ songs and the usual haphazard approach to structure and logic. Highlights? Well there was Tina’s amusing Friends-esque dream sequence – seeing the character off in style – everything with Brittany and Santana and, of course, that magnificent final number. I’m happy they didn’t save the glee club, because it would have been weird imagining Will continuing to teach Marley, Ryder etc. without the audience involved, and the cancellation of New Directions brought up a lot of the melancholy and, again, nostalgia that has always characterized Glee at its best and most effecting.

I had my doubts about yet another rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ on the show (mostly because it’ll inevitably pop up again during season six and also because it was one of Cory Monteith’s last numbers on the show) but somehow ‘New Directions’ made it feel fresh and relevant again. There’s no doubt that this is an iconic part of Glee, and probably this decade’s television in general, but to have it still matter to the characters is truly wonderful. Likewise, rather than feeling like the new cast members were invading something that belonged to our originals, having them involved felt like a real celebration.

So we have bid farewell to the Glee we knew, and now the extended journey to our series finale next year begins. Will moving characters over to New York full-time save the show, as we have been predicting all along, or will it just be another city for the show to meander in? We’ll have to wait and see but, with this being an almost-finale in itself, let’s hope the move is worth the wait.

What did you think of the episode? What was your favorite/least favorite part of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.