Review of Glee ‘Swan Song’

Sophie Warnes

rachel 300x225 Review of Glee Swan SongSPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 9 series 4 of ‘Glee’

This series blog is following the Sky 1 broadcast schedule of ‘Glee’ in the UK.

This episode picks off where the last one left us – just after Marley (Melissa Benoist) faints. The judges rule that the Warblers are the winners because the show choir can’t leave the stage for any reason. It seems a bit harsh, but fine.

Everyone’s concerned about Marley for approximately two seconds, in which time Kitty (Becca Tobin) demands that she drinks some juice and looks suitably guilty. After that, however, there’s not a single mention of Marley’s eating disorder or indeed any mention that Kitty is responsible. In fact, the only real outcome is that everybody in New Directions is angry with Marley – particularly Tina – and Kitty is still allowed in the club for some reason which is beyond me.

I think using an eating disorder as a plot device is pretty low for even Glee. But all of five minutes is spent on the Marley/bulimia situation. Everyone else carries on, just bitterly angry that they’ve lost out on Sectionals and now their season is over.

They lose the use of their choir room as Sue books it out. But – in keeping with the inconsistencies in the show, where huge storylines are forgotten in an instant – they also can’t use the auditorium. Even though April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth) bought the auditorium specifically for the New Directions way back in season one. This habit that the writers have of completely dropping the ball and forgetting what’s happened in the past is irritating and I suspect that this is at least part of the reason of why ratings have been going down.

So, with their dreams crushed by this setback, the New Directions members scatter and join different clubs at school. Wade ‘Unique’ (Alex Newell) joins the floor hockey team, Joe (Samuel Larsen) joins the interfaith paintball league, Artie (Kevin McHale) joins the marching band, Ryder (Blake Jenner) and Jake (Jacob Artist) join the basketball team, and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Blaine (Darren Criss) join the Cheerios. Their choices say something important about the characters – Unique, for example, joins the floor hockey team as the helmet can help hide her wig, and Joe believes that Christians should be friends with other faiths. It’s a good subplot and yet it’s never fully explored, because before we really get to see the other side of these individuals, they are all back in the Glee club again.

What of Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Brittany (Heather Morris)? Well, it turns out they both really like each other – they sing Somethin’ Stupid by the Sinatras, and their vocals are quite complementary. Some of the duets are painful to watch but this pairing makes sense both in looks and in vocals. A lot of fans probably won’t be too surprised but again, this seems far too obvious and easy for the writers – it worked well when they were good friends. And let’s not forget that Brittany says she’s cautious because the lesbian blogger community might be annoyed that her and Sam are together. Talk about stereotyping.

This week, what’s far more interesting is what’s happening in New York. The NYADA Winter Showcase is coming up and it’s rare for freshmen to get invited, let alone perform. But of course, Rachel (Lea Michele) is invited and she has another argument with Cassandra (Kate Hudson) about how she isn’t ready to perform. They have a sing-off and dance-off to Chicago’s All That Jazz. Both of them are excellent, pulling off great moves and proving they can both sing. I’m always glued to the screen when Kate Hudson is in an episode – she’s effortlessly brilliant in this part as the super-bitch teacher, and her every movement is mesmerizing. This scene really stands out and it’s got some tough competition this week.

Later, at the Winter Showcase, Rachel blows everyone away with Barbara Streisand’s Being Good Isn’t Good Enough. This is Lea Michele at her best. On her own, taking on huge songs with lots of emotion. Rachel’s second song, O Holy Night from Company is also great and she receives a standing ovation for her efforts.

The ‘surprise’ of the night comes when Kurt is asked to perform spontaneously, having not even prepared a song. He sings Streisand’s Being Alive, a rendition so impressive that finally, after two auditions and subsequent rejections, Kurt is invited to join NYADA. It’s worth noting that Whoopi Goldberg as Carmen Tibideaux puts in an excellent and compelling performance even if she has minimal screen time. Silver screen veterans like Goldberg and Hudson really lift Glee when its dragging its heels on a regular cast that sometimes isn’t quite up to the task.

Though the plot was predictably naff and the writers have forgotten Glee’s history, I loved the songs in this episode – particularly the way that they have been used to the best effect. Chord Overstreet and Heather Morris don’t have the strongest vocals but putting them together works in a strange way. Both Chris Colfer and Lea Michele excel at mesmerising performances without props, dance routines or other gimmicks.

The episode ends on the Glee club singing Don’t Dream It’s Over in the school grounds. Great song and relevant to the plot, but it grates a little that Kitty is welcomed back into the fold; that there’s no animosity between her and Marley in spite of the fact it’s Kitty’s fault Marley was ill. Still, it ends on a positive note, and the New Directions will be back strutting their stuff next week I’m sure.

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  • Lynsey

    Not to be nit-picky but “O Holy Night” is actually 19th Century French Christmas carol and doesn’t appear in the Sondheim show, Company. However, “Being Alive” is from Company and it’s primarily the 11 O’Clock number for the male lead, Bobby. Barbra Streisand has covered it but so have many West End and Broadway singers too.

  • Stupidity Exterminator

    I keep coming to see your reviews :D Great work! Keep it up please! Oh, and I watched the last episode ;-) x

  • Stupidity Exterminator

    Yes, you are nit-picky so what is you point. Looking to get praised? Well, kudos to you. Next time, write something more creative such as “I agree with your review; however… blah blah blah.” or “I don’t agree because… and list your arguments”. Or you can critically analise the review.
    Please, tell us you are more creative than your pettiness. Well, after all you are writing in comment box and Warners S. writes the review so…

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