Glee‘s “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project” feels more like a series finale than a season finale. Even though there are 13 episodes left to go before the show’s real end, I’m sure most of that time will be spent tying up loose ends, as the New York crew is going their separate ways and there is a growing hole where that rambunctious glee club used to be.
Brittany’s unceremonious return to the fold, while short lived, adds back an extra level of fun and frivolity that has been missing from the group dynamic. Fans were unsure if we’d be seeing the lovable blonde turned unlikely math genius again after the actress who plays her, Heather Morris, left the show to have and bond with her first child, son Elijah. Lucky for us, Heather and her sweet dance moves are back. I’m hoping the Mercedes mall tour storyline keeps her on the show more regularly; her on again, off again lover Santana is suspiciously absent from the season closer. Some have speculated Naya Rivera, who portrays Santana Lopez, won’t be coming back after rumors of running tension between her and Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, but Rivera and Glee‘s reps have stated she will be returning for season six.
While the mall tour storyline might seem a little strange, it is undoubtedly an homage to Glee‘s own humble beginnings, which included a lot of malls in places like Tallahassee and Cleveland. “Shaking My Head” is terribly catchy and the past few episodes have shown that Mercedes is capable of holding an audience all by herself.
The writer sent to write the pilot for Rachel’s untitled project is truly unbearable, and not in a funny way. She makes Rachel look like a saint- not an easy feat. If you find yourself feeling a little bad for Rachel, you aren’t alone. Still, it is worth each teeth-gritting moment to see Rachel eating a sheet cake while taking a bath and Kurt in that dinosaur costume.
Darren Criss’s version of John Legend’s “All of Me” is fairly similar to the original version, but Blaine always finds ways to make songs his own. His stripped down, lightly accompanied versions are always emotive and raw. What isn’t great is the overly dramatic fight between Kurt and Blaine that follows. Whomever wrote the paper bag rage scene should have to wear a paper bag on their head as a form of public shaming. Sure there are some Kurtesque tendencies exhibited, but turning him up to eleven emotionally while they are also intending to sell him as one of New York’s up and coming men about town doesn’t fit, particularly his flying off the handle physically. More bitch stares and snarly, less punching unsuspecting brown bag lunches please!
And the pigeon metaphor is contrived. I’m not sure two young men, even those typically written to be ten years more mature than every other male character their age, paper bag scene withheld, would be quite to the point of using parables about birds and flying to heal their broken relationship. Still, believable or not, there is a chemistry and playfulness that shows the comfort and trust that exists between the two characters, even on a bad day. The energy that bounces between the characters and the actors is also evident during the “American Boy” performance, which is the perfect way for Blaine to apologize to his fame-hungry honey.
While it’s tragic to see the great New York exodus, “Pompeii” might be the best song, both lyrically and as a grand gesture. “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project” is a bittersweet yet hopeful end for Glee‘s final full season.