Glee Season 1 Finale Recap: “Journey”

‘Glee’: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believin” rock the ‘Glee’ finale


TThumbnail image for Glee-Fox-Cast-320.jpghe first season of “Glee” has come to an end, and I have three initial thoughts: 1) I’m not kidding about that Queen episode, Ryan Murphy; 2) If Jane Lynch doesn’t get an Emmy there is no justice in this world; and 3) I started the season with pretty high expectations, and “Glee” surpassed them by a mile.

Regionals: After discovering that Sue will be a judge at Regionals, our heroes immediately start bewailing the Glee Club’s demise. The other judges on the “celebrity” panel are a still-hilarious Josh Groban, Olivia Newton-John (who’s dead to Sue), and news anchor Rod Remington. “Aural Intensity” (…really?) is first up, performing a Groban/ONJ mashup that we regrettably don’t get to see.

Inspired by the kids’ performance in the beginning of the season, Will chooses a Journey medley as New Directions’ piece. Seriously, what have they been rehearsing all season? Songs for when they sing at the mall and retirement homes? (Ah, choir memories…) They begin with “Faithfully,” performed with beautiful harmonies and powerful vocals by Rachel and Finn, who pulls a “Cutting Edge” and confesses his love to Rachel seconds before they go on. Aww!

The group moves into an energetic “Any Way You Want It” and “Touchin’ Lovin’ Squeezin’.” They close with “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the song that hooked me on the show from the beginning (well, that and Emma’s joke about Rachel’s lack of gag reflex, which proved this wasn’t just a musical version of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”). Puck and Santana share a verse, and Puck gets a big cheer from the extremely enthusiastic crowd.

New Directions puts on a tough act to follow, but Vocal Adrenaline is more than up to the task. In a blatant (and successful) attempt to win my favor, they perform “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with Jonathan Groff absolutely killing on lead vocals. Say what you will about Jesse, but the man can SING. They’re certainly more choreographed than New Directions, which I suppose you can say lacks soul (Rachel certainly believes it does — or at least that Jesse does), but you’ve gotta admit it was an awesome performance.

At judging, Sue initially doesn’t care who comes in first or second, but has “a very strong opinion about who comes in third.” Rod votes for Vocal Adrenaline based on the fact that he partied “hard” with Freddie Mercury back in the 70’s — you know, when labels weren’t so important. ONJ votes for Aural Intensity, since they’re the only group that chose to “honor her in song.” It’s unfortunate — I can tell she’s funny, but without the ability to form realistic facial expressions, ONJ just can’t land the punch lines as hard as she’d otherwise be able to.

At any rate, Josh Groban thinks New Directions had heart. ONJ disagrees — not only were they SO 2009 with their “ragtag bunch of misfits” brand of tokenism, but they dressed like a “poor person’s school” to boot. Plus, everyone knows brunettes have no place in show business. Ha! (And ouch.)

Sue actually steps up to remind everyone that they’re ragging on kids, but ONJ doesn’t relent — talent is talent, and Sue doesn’t even have any, for that matter. She’s no celebrity — she just tries hard. Ouch. Rod agrees, calling Sue and the New Directions kids “underachievers with delusions of grandeur.” Double ouch. Even Josh Groban is confused as to why Sue’s a judge in the first place when they’re all supposed to be celebrities. Snaaaap.

Results time! Sue: “Thank you all for coming. As you all know, Glee Club is such an important- and I honestly can’t even finish that sentence. So let’s just get to it.” The “not at all stupidly-named Aural Intensity” are runners-up, while the top prize goes to Vocal Adrenaline. New Directions doesn’t even place. Aww. I hope they learned a valuable lesson about how Queen is always the right decision.

The Aftermath: Stripped of their choir room, the Glee kids all gather in the auditorium to thank Will for the myriad ways he’s helped them all. It’s seriously touching, especially when Finn basically calls Will his surrogate father. They “won” because Will was their teacher (cheesy but sweet), and thanks to him, Glee Club won’t ever die. Um, except in the literal sense? And they sing a very appropriate “To Sir, With Love.” Even Santana is crying! And so is Sue as she watches from the back of the auditorium.

Sue won’t admit it to Will, but she actually voted for New Directions, putting Vocal Adrenaline in last place, even! She tells him that she doesn’t want a world where she can’t constantly ridicule his hair, or make fun of him for “tearing up more than Michael Landon on a sweeps week episode of ‘Little House on the Prairie.'” Ha!

And so Sue’s demanded that Figgins give Glee Club another year, telling Will she admires him and his work with the kids (and relishes the thought of another year of constantly besting him). One last threat to puke in his mouth as he thanks her, and she’s off. Man, I’m definitely going to miss my weekly Sue fix this summer. Can we get all the local FOX stations to air a “Sue’s Corner” each week, at the very least?

After telling the kids the good news, Will treats them to a song of their own: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Random choice, but very pretty. He plays a … ukulele? And Puck accompanies him on normal-sized guitar and sings backup. I can’t wait to explore the secondary characters even more next season — one of the show’s biggest strengths is the depth of its roster, and there’s still plenty more to be mined there. Puck and Santana both have fantastic and underused singing voices, for example.

A Gleek is Born: Quinn goes into labor right after the New Directions performance, bringing Mercedes and Puck to the hospital along with her mom, who’s taking Quinn back now that her dad is kicked out for having an affair with some “tattooed freak.” It was kind of cheesy and obvious, but I really loved the cuts back and forth between “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Quinn’s labor. I mean, if you’re gonna do it, you’d better really go for it, right? I also loved Puck during the whole ordeal, listening to Quinn yelling about how much he sucks and looking super grossed out when he sees the baby coming.

Based on the flashback we got of Beth’s conception, the “you suck” is totally deserved — Puck is basically pouring wine coolers down Quinn’s throat, assuring her he’s got protection and that she’s not just another hookup. Not that Quinn wasn’t responsible for it too, but Puck kind of does suck. Or did suck, at least. Seems like he’s cleaned up his act a little since then.

Beth is a beautiful little girl in the way that only newborn TV babies can be, and she’s snapped up right away by a loving mom: Shelby! As Shelby told Rachel after she asked Shelby to come co-coach at McKinley, she needs more in life than just coaching Glee Club — her experience with Rachel helped her to realize that. She doesn’t want to miss out on the chance for a family again, and so she adopts Beth.

Hmm. While I’m certainly happy with the development, I’m a little skeptical that there wasn’t already an adoption arranged since that was the plan all along, and I’m surprised that Shelby was able to adopt so quickly. But on a show where characters randomly break into song, I can’t really complain about the lack of realism, can I?

Will vs. The Dentist: Will visits Emma early in the episode for guidance on how to deal with Sue. Emma provides said guidance, but also mentions that she’s been seeing her dentist. Hmm. On the one hand, it makes sense that she’d want to date someone who cleans teeth for a living. On the other hand, it seems like she wouldn’t want to date someone who puts his hands in strangers’ mouths all day. Maybe that’s why they haven’t done it yet (and seriously, I can’t believe Will asked).

After Regionals, Emma gets into a screaming match with Higgins when he gives the choir room to the “Mock UN” You know, I probably still wouldn’t know Azerbaijan existed if I hadn’t represented it in Model UN. Will’s given up on Glee Club, but Emma still wants to fight. You know, for the kids’ sake. Not for Will. Will: “I love you, Emma. There. I finally said it. And you love me, and dentist or no dentist, this thing isn’t over between us.” And he kisses her! Oh, good — I’m glad that’s ending on a positive note.

Odds and Ends:

  • I’m pretty okay with the Vocal Adrenaline win. Their performance was pretty freaking sweet, and this way the Glee kids have something to work toward next year!
  • How did the audience get glow sticks during Vocal Adrenaline’s performance? It kinda reminded me of when I went to see “Xanadu” on Broadway, where they hand out glow sticks as you go in to wave around during the final song. Someone in the balcony dropped theirs, and it hit me on the nose! Try explaining that at work when people ask how you cut your face.
  • Congrats to Jane Lynch on her marriage!
  • Maybe the Glee writers could spend the summer actually writing “I’m a Winner and You’re Fat.” I’d totally buy it, especially if it came packaged with a copy of Sue’s journal!

Sue’s Corner:

  • “I know you think I’m heartless, Will, and you may have a point. I spend large segments of each day picturing you choking on food, and I recently contacted an exotic animal dealer because I had a very satisfying dream that the two of us went to a zoo and I shoved your face into one of those pink inflamed monkey butts that weeps lymph.”
  • “…Your hair looks like briar patch. I keep expecting racist animated Disney characters to pop up and start singing songs about livin’ on the bayou.”
  • “It’s as barren as me in here, Will.”


  • “Faithfully/Any Way You Want It/Touchin’ Lovin’ Squeezin’/Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, performed by New Directions
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, performed by Vocal Adrenaline
  • “To Sir, With Love” theme by Lulu, performed by New Directions
  • “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” performed by Will and Puck
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