Written by Duana

I cannot tell you how seriously I considered getting on a plane to New York while watching this episode. Like, passport in hand, wearing only what I have on, I could be there in two hours. It’s the best. The show celebrates the city so hard, and why shouldn’t it? It is the greatest ever. Sorry to those who are on the West Coast (hi Lisa!) but there’s nothing like the energy of those streets, and I regularly want to break into song in Times Square, and I know I’m not the only one. I am lucky enough to live close enough to NYC that I can look forward to trips there the way we used to look forward to the amusement park. But there’s nothing as intoxicating as your first time. You can adjust for my own jazz choir nerdism, but I teared up when Patti LuPone appeared.

There’s something about New York, in summer, in winter – it’s special and magic. Like Christmas. And certainly the energy of the city made this episode exciting and fun. That pulled me in one direction. The ridiculousness that is the storyline involving these children’s self-centred teacher, who’s all “I’m going, I’m staying, as if I have the talent to be on Broadway at all…” well, I tried, in the spirit of season finales, which is something like the spirit of Christmas, not to let him get me down.

I guess this is how I feel about the Kurt and Rachel friendship. I started to roll my eyes when spontaneously they were friends this week – and then I started remembering that I’ve known people like that. That person with whom you don’t really have all that much in common. In fact, a lot of the time you find yourself pulling away from them. But they want that same thing you do. They alone will obsess with you for hours over every possible permutation of how that dream plays out. The people who make you squeal with excitement (see above re: LuPone) don’t even register on the radar of the next-most tuned-in friend you have.

I won’t tell Rachel the other part. That when one pulls away, grabs the dream harder, goes further, that there’s nothing left for the two of you to talk about anymore. Because you don’t have a shared experience. Maybe that won’t happen. Maybe she and Kurt really will both make it. It’s not that they’re both not talented, and in the world of Glee they both have extremely supportive parents. And there’s certainly room for that spinoff when they get too old for the show. Rachel told us a million times she’s going to New York, and I’d love me a musical Will and Grace with the three of them sharing an apartment. Fine, it’s (sorta) Christmas, I’ll let that dream live…

And now three stray observations:

This guy who’s playing the other Glee club’s leader – the one who was from 30 rock? How do you think he markets himself? “Slightly smarmy brunette, tall?” Also HA to “They look like they haven’t been baked properly”.

This choir in their white baby dolls looks like it’s about to drop a series of choreographed babies on the stage. It’s not ideal.

How much taller is Lea Michele than this actress who plays Sunshine? Heels aside, she’s TOWERING over her! Especially when I discover these are slightly stumpifying boots she’s wearing.

And we’re back…

FYI to all you aspirants – the lights are NEVER so low that you can find people in the audience. But because it’s Christmas, I’ll accept that Rachel makes things right with Sunshine, and because I firmly believe that a girl brought up on a diet of musicals and other moral tales would be bursting to find her moment to make things right, to sing her Swan Song.

Quinn, on the other hand – I don’t know that she would let herself have such a breakdown in front of her subordinates. That kind of tantrum is usually reserved for that girl’s long-suffering mother, isn’t it? And she wasn’t even drunk to compensate for it. Why are we doing this? Why are we keeping the most mean, unlikeable character on television, and allowing ourselves to believe that while Rachel, who made up with someone she hasn’t seen all season, is ‘unlikeable’, that Quinn is completely changed and renewed via one strategic haircut? Why are we doing this? How many people want Dianna Agron that badly? Seriously, show yourselves.

I’ve been to these choir competitions. SO many kids all have their hearts in their mouths, believing so much that they are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing for the first time. Something like “Light Up The World” isn’t just an easy, three-chord hit, it feels like it is your blood. Pouring out onto the stage. You look vaguely insane while you’re having such a good time showing everyone that you are passionate beyond anything else anyone has ever felt. So, you know, too bad they wrote it that day. I could point out that, foundation garments aside, there is no reason Lauren Zixes couldn’t have worn the same style of dress as the others and I sincerely hope it was a choice on the part of the actress, not some bonehead who thought we wouldn’t want to see her arms. But instead I’m focusing on how nobody thought to point out that the song Rachel and Finn sang wasn’t that great, and that’s what took them out of the competition.

In the spirit of Christmas, however, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith have maintained a chemistry long after their pairing should have been played out. It makes the utterly icky Jonathan Groff thing a joke, and has no real tension to it. But they’re real, and I find myself pulling for them. I get ever more terrified of the succubus that is Quinn, but maybe that’s better. If they must vilify the saintly blonde to make Rachel a viable option, well, I don’t agree it’s necessary, but I endorse it.

Likewise, Kurt and Blaine, who could have been a stunt, a photo op – nothing more than an Entertainment Weekly cover – are real and emotionally genuine and I kind of believe that they love each other, and are ridiculously winning, despite the plot twists they must march through.

So that’s where we leave off. Lots of kids who are absolutely charming, whom I want to see more of – and stories that don’t make me want to see them. Suddenly Mercedes and Trouty-Mouth are dating? We couldn’t see that come to pass? Quinn’s inevitable summer stint losing weight and refusing to go to therapy? A hint would have been nice. I’m the least interested in Brittany and Santana of anyone, but I can see how they capture hearts.

Why this is all happening – other than that Glee, as you know, is not a show but a vehicle to sell iTunes songs – is beyond me. The characters have layers and depth –they just get leveled off each week until they’re needed, like a collapsible-cup. The writers have created a situation that’s ripe for real, actual drama – and then they cut themselves off at the knees every time, and I can’t think of why. It might be that they believe each episode should be like a musical – ultimately comforting at the end, without making the little Broadway aspirants who beg to go have any uncomfortable nightmares. I don’t know.

But I wish they’d see what they have – a cast of really, really endearing people who are, dare I say it, still not media saturated (at least not during the production season, I’ll probably eat my words after the Live Tour) and write the songs around that. They don’t have to sugarcoat what they have and whitewash it for 7 year olds – even the 7 year olds will catch up and appreciate real emotions and drama, I promise you.

A million thank yous to all of you who read every recap, emailed me whether you loved it or hated it, tweeted at me and made me feel I wasn’t alone. Hearing from you is what made it fun. That, and Lainey laughing at me each week when I realized it was Tuesday.

Merry Christmas.