Glee “The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester” Review (Season 6 Episode 10)

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I would really have loved to have been a part of the Glee writers’ room discussion ahead of season six. “What we need,” they must have said, “is more Sue.”

“Let’s face it, everybody loves Sue, and we really haven’t worn that joke out over the last six years. She’s our most consistent character by far, and our greatest achievement outside of Will Scheuster and Irish Rory. Let’s centre episode ten of the show around her, and the rest of our farewell season for that matter.”

I imagine it went a little bit like that, but really it’s just one of a collection of strange things going on this season, from Clint having more solos than any of the main cast and the handling of Beiste, to the erasure of Blam and the inclusion of Karofsky in a controversial relationship we didn’t even get to see.

Glee is simultaneously a show that has too many characters and ideas than it knows what to do with, and a show that can’t let anything go. Sue was a good joke in season one, and a periodically effective antagonist at moments after that, but she has single-handedly dragged season six into the gutter, and taken up a hell of a lot of screen time in the process.

This episode, in which Dalton Academy – arguably a part of Glee mythology that transcended Blaine the character and Klaine the relationship a long time ago – burned to the ground, leaving the Warblers stranded and taken in by an initially reluctant New Directions, was, again, all about Sue. Not just a little bit about Sue, but about Sue for a good 30-minutes of its 40-minute running time.

Disappointing? Yes, very, but Glee fans have learned to take what they’re given and be happy at this point, and those 10-minutes of Sue-free episode contained some of the season’s most glorious moments. Some of the expose stuff was good (Joe!!!), and the psychotic duet with Will was genuinely amusing, but I’ve reached my limit with the character, and so the rest of this review will be a Sue-free zone. I hope you understand.

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We start off with a good group number from the New New New Directions, carrying over the good will from the previous episode. Half way through, Kurt and Blaine enter the auditorium – Blaine has his sad puppy face on, which is always a bad sign, and says that Dalton is gone.

At this news, Will couldn’t be more delighted, as not only has he almost immediately clawed back his precious show choir from Rachel and Kurt, but now he has a group of uber-talented private school kids just waiting to be adopted.

The dialogue is all about putting aside rivalries and having a friend to turn to in moments of need, but Will isn’t fooling anyone – he knew putting up a front with Blaine Anderson all those years would pay off one day, and at last his moment has arrived.

The transition from six awkward kids stumbling around the stage to a well-oiled, dapper, blazer-donning machine goes smoother than I expected, but absolutely every member of the new cast showed their value in those moments of tension.

I talked a lot about how much I loved the NNDs last week, but praise must also go to the new bunch of Warblers, who have managed to lampoon the old gang beautifully without insulting their memory (Trent, where are you?!).

Blaine doesn’t say much, which is kind of his trademark these days, but there’s enough on his face and in his actions that portrays where his head might be here.

Yes, Blaine fans and Dalton fans wanted a big nervous breakdown and a river of tears, but I’ve honestly had enough of the world beating him down, or at least him letting it keep him there. Dalton was his home and his safe place, but he’s married now, and his friends barely hesitated when helping him and his team out. This is a moment of triumph for him, and it’s about time he had one.

That’s only solidified when he brings out the blazers in the middle of ‘Rise’ (Darren Criss’ first original song to be featured on the show, in case you’ve been living under a rock) which, aside from allowing him to be in charge of the compromise on attire – Blaine’s a people-pleaser, but he’s also incredibly proud of those blazers – made the episode, at least briefly, about him.

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Rachel, meanwhile, is in a familiar position and looking likely to make some familiar mistakes. Rachel wants too much, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but her drive to succeed has tripped her up on multiple occasions in the past. She’s not very good at settling on anything, no matter how enticing it looked previous to the win, and, just like in season five, she’s stuck again between a Broadway role and a spot at NYADA.

Because this is almost exactly the same plot as one Glee has already tried, I feel confident that the outcome with either be the opposite – aka picking a college education over an immediate career – or a third as yet not-considered option.

What’s slightly off for me with the way it’s being done is the positions of Sam and, come next week, Jesse, because from what we can see from the promo, it’s going to be one man representing each choice Rachel could make.

One of the biggest problems with the show’s treatment of Rachel is how her decisions are often made for her by the men in her life, and I hope it’s eventually Rachel who works out what would make her happiest, rather than a love interest (even if it is Jesse St frickin’ James!).

Oh, and Whoopi Goldberg managed to be the best part of the episode (aside from Sam wearing that Dalton blazer) despite not actually being on screen. “She’s been looking forward to this” – I bet she has, and I would pay a lot of money to see the conversation Rachel and Carmen had in that room.

We’re two weeks away from the grand finale and, with Sectionals next week, I’m glad some of those little Glee details made their return in this episode.

Yes, it’s puzzling that, when there doesn’t seem to be enough time to spend with Sam, Kurt, Blaine or the rest of the old guard in the show’s final hours, we’re getting so much from Clint, Sue and Will, but 30-seconds can mean the world when it’s done in the right way.

The Warbler-New Directions supergroup is a force to reckoned with, suddenly catapulted to Sectionals-levels vocals and choreography, and, with Rachel heading to New York to pursue her dreams for a second time and Sue in charge of Vocal Adrenaline, the pieces are in place for one heck of penultimate episode.