The final episode of ‘Glee’s’ fourth season was entitled “All or Nothing”, and that seems to be what we, as viewers, were left with. There were, of course, answers to many of the questions that had been raised over the course of the season. That said, there were several cliffhangers and a fairly radical timeshift that will have repercussions for the show’s next 2 seasons.
So let’s get a little housekeeping out of the way – yes, ‘Glee’ has been officially renewed for seasons 5 and 6, not least because nobody at Fox wants to be the idiot who kills the goose that continues to lay golden (iTunes) eggs. However, season 4 did not wrap up with the official end of a school year, and it’s been widely reported that the beginning of next season will continue this current school year. The fourth season finale harked back to ‘Glee’s’ very first season finale, in that there was a Regionals competition and a Wemma kiss at the very end. But unlike that very first finale, the emotional punch didn’t quite hit home.
The writing staff was left with the task of writing off one fan-favorite character while completely ignoring another, all on extremely short notice — and it showed. The episode opens with the night’s largest subplot, Brittany’s admission to college. We see her across a table from a couple of graybeard profs in a posh MIT office, listening to them talk about her nearly perfect SAT score versus her .2 GPA. Oh, and she filled out the Scantron sheet for their math exam in crayon (which broke the scoring machine, hee!) and managed to completely fail the test. But she also unloaded all the numbers in her head onto the back of the test (so that her brain would “stop feeling so tickly”), and the “Brittany Code” earns her early admission into the school.
Meanwhile, back at McKinley, Ryder is still texting with “Katie” and Mr. Schue has stepped into the choir room to announce that the club will not be traveling to Indianapolis for Regionals after all. The HoosierDaddies’ home school declined to host the competition due to tornado-related safety concerns. So this meant that the (new) New Directions had home field advantage; they also avoided having to sing against the NunTouchables, since that team was excommunicated by the Pope due to a sexting scandal at their school. Finally, Schue asked the glee clubbers to send good thoughts to Rachel, as she would be performing at her last ‘Funny Girl’ callback at the same time. (It’s worth mentioning that Finn is conspicuously absent from the McKinley storylines, owing to Cory Monteith’s unanticipated stint in rehab. His story arc this season has been one of the most interesting, and his absence was keenly felt.)
Rachel’s beautifully-done final audition is one of the only two times we see any of what’s going on in the Big Apple, and the last time we see her this season. Her storyline suffers unnecessarily from a hasty rewrite that seems to forbid mentioning even Finn’s mere existence. A few lines of exposition would have gone a long way toward making his absence seem less artificial, but the writers (unlike Lord Tubbington) don’t seem to be so insistent on continuity.
Back in Lima, Blaine’s trying to pick Sam’s brain for pointers on how to propose to Kurt. Sam, no dummy when it comes to emotions, tells Blaine that they’re way too young for this whole marriage thing and he should just let it go. Blaine ignores this stellar advice and decides to proceed anyway. They enter the choir room, along with Joe and Sugar (hey, missed you guys!) just in time to watch Brit-Brit come in and lay down some obnoxious smack about her star power and solo demands. She also dumps poor Sam via text right there in the room, and then throws some pretty vicious shade at the rest of the group, before telling Schue that she’s just living his lesson of “all or nothing”. By the way, my favorite bit of Brit’s cray-cray this week was her nailing 95 crayon-written reasons for quitting the Cheerios on Coach Roz’s office door and then lighting her uniform on fire in the metal wastecan. (We know it’s ‘Glee’ when Roz douses the blaze with a slushie…)
During the final rehearsals before Regionals, things come to a head with Ryder and “Katie” and the whole catfish story arc. This was a plot that could have been more interesting, if there hadn’t been so many other characters’ stories to move along. As it was, fans were promised a twist and instead got an angle that Stevie Wonder could have seen from space. Ryder, rightly angry at being jerked around by someone in the club, announces that he refuses to perform unless the catfish comes clean. A couple of beats of silence, and then Marley ‘fesses up to the whole dirty business. Ryder declares himself done with glee club and storms out.
Later on, Blaine has dragged Sam and Tina to a lovely jewelry store to look for an engagement ring for Kurt. (Cuz if ya like it, then you better put a ring on it, right?) The amazing lesbian auntie running the place starts quizzing Blaine about whether Kurt’s his soulmate and such, as well as whether he has anybody gay to advise him in this matter. He says he doesn’t, and she invites both of them to Breadstix for dinner with her partner.
Back to Brit’s storyline, and this time Sue and Schue are sitting in Schue’s office, expressing their dismay at her recent behavior. She refuses to back down, and says she’ll only discuss matters on her own terms — in an episode of ‘Fondue For Two’. She then proceeds to completely divert the conversation from herself to Schue and Emma’s impending wedding, as well as the identity of Sue’s celebrity sperm donor. (Michael Bolton, for anyone who still cares.) Brit’s crazy has gotten to the point that Sam alerts the cavalry; he calls Santana for help.
Because there’s so much to cram into this episode, we’re whisked back to Breadstix for the lovely conversation between Blaine, Kurt, the amazing lesbian auntie and her main squeeze. They talk to our baby gays about how long they’ve been together, the trials the boys won’t have to endure, and then our amazing lesbian auntie says that Blaine’s enthusiasm has inspired her to make an honest woman of her partner, and everybody in the restaurant cheers. All together now: “awwwwww!” (Gotta say I’m surprised that folks in Lima are so accepting, given that 4 years of this show has driven home how awful it is…)
Back at school, and we finally get an official admission from Unique that she’s been catfishing Ryder, and I’m hard pressed to care at this point. There’s a flashback to her tearfully talking to Marley about it, as well as offering Ryder a chance (in the present) to punch her. Ryder charitably refuses to take such a cheap shot, and promises to perform at Regionals, but also vows never to speak to Unique again.
The last installment of ‘Fondue For Two’ of the season is supposed to star Santana, but she shuts off the camera and calls Brit-Brit out on her bizarre behavior. This prompts Brit to announce that she has news that’s going to change everything. After the introduction of the competition’s requisite ridiculous judges, the (new) New Directions are gathered in a show circle in the choir room. Brit reveals that she’s accepted early admission to MIT and she’ll be leaving McKinley right away. She gives an emotional speech about what the glee club has meant to her and damn if it didn’t make me grab a couple of Kleenexes.
After the the 3 performances from Regionals, it’s clear that the (new) New Directions will emerge victorious, and darned if they don’t. Even though this is a competition episode, the singing contest is really secondary to everything else going on. Once our winners have escorted their trophy back to the choir room, Emma walks in (wearing white, no less!) with a priest in tow, to announce that she wants an intimate wedding ceremony in a special place, surrounded by the people they love. Kurt nearly plotzes at the prospect of a surprise wedding, the kids form up two lines and start humming Wagner’s wedding march, while Sugar flings rose petals onto the floor in front of Emma. The vows are beautiful and nobody gets jilted at the “altar”, but it hurt my heart just a little that Mr. Schue completely ignored Finn’s absence as his best man. We’re left with a happy ending and a final shot of Blaine holding a ring box behind his back. This is an ending that doesn’t feel like an ending, and I just need some closure. But all in good time, I guess.