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TV Review: Glee – “All or Nothing”

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“All or Nothing” is an excellent mid-season finale or February sweeps ending for FOX’s Glee. Too bad it is the season finale. Because, despite the title, the episode did not give us either all or nothing, but instead, just plenty of great stuff with a lot of unresolved stories.

The New Directions make it to Regionals, where they kill with the combo of “Hall of Fame,” “I Love It,” and original song “All or Nothing.” This is enough to beat the pleasant bit of “Rainbow Connection” we see from the Waffletoots and the large performance by the Hooiserdaddies, led by Frida Romero (American Idol‘s Jessica Sanchez), of “Clarity” and “Wings.” Of course, we know all three groups must perform three numbers, much of which we don’t see, but the New Directions are good enough to make their win believable.

I won’t get into the reality problems that only having three groups in the competition brings again, but instead, this week’s complaint stems from the fact that “All or Nothing” only takes us to Regionals. And they win! I assumed, this being the season finale, that this would mark the end of their show choir season, with a guaranteed loss. Instead, they are on track to continue.

This middle-of-the-story-stop is a constant theme in “All or Northing.” Rachel (Lea Michele) has a wonderful callback for Funny Girl when she slays “To Love You More,” but we don’t find out this week if she got the part. Sue (Jane Lynch) makes an appearance at McKinley, but her job status is not addressed. Finn’s (Cory Monteith) absence from Regionals is still not acknowledged. Blaine (Darren Criss) buys a ring, but doesn’t yet propose to Kurt (Chris Colfer). The seniors are still months away from graduation. These are all threads expected to be tied up this week, but are not.

Does this mean Glee‘s fifth season (it has been renewed through season six) will start during this same school year? If so, will it just stay there for an episode, a few episodes, or the entire season? If not, will it really be satisfying to jump so far ahead and only hear, in the distant aftermath, what happens?

My guess is Glee probably will pick up in this current school year for at least one hour because of the lack of goodbye to those graduating. Artie (Kevin McHale) is poised to join the New York contingent for his college years, and practically everyone hopes Blaine will, too, but Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Sam (Chord Overstreet) would have no closure at all should this time period be skipped over. Glee usually takes care of its main characters, so I doubt Tina, an original cast member, and Sam, who has been quite central this year, would get ignored like this.

The one senior that does get to finish her tale, and it looks like “All or Nothing” will be her last episode, is Brittany (Heather Morris). Revealed as an eccentric genius, MIT offers her early admission, asking her to drop out of high school immediately to join their campus.

I don’t know how realistic it would be for a high schooler with bad grades to be allowed to skip the rest of their (second) senior year, and Brittany being brilliant comes out of nowhere. But this is a really sweet, satisfying story to conclude her run, giving her a happen ending. As such, it’s a fitting way to say goodbye to her character, and while she will be missed, at least we know she’s doing well.

Plus, the fact that her exes, Sam and Santana (Naya Rivera) put aside their differences to unite to help Brittany, whom they both love, makes this story even better!

We also get finality for Will (Matthew Morrison) and Emma (Jayma Mays) when they finally tie the knot. It’s true that their romance has rekindled far too quickly, not to mention off screen, but it’s still great to see them married. They’ve had enough drama and ups and downs. It’s time for them to settle in as man and wife and be happy together.

Having their wedding in the choir room, with the kids, including returning alumni in town, is perfect. It sucks  that not all the former students are there, but it’s understandable. Bieste’s (Dot Marie Jones) abesence is a little less excusable, since she’s local. But Emma needs the smaller ceremony, and we know her family causes her headaches, while she enjoys being around the New Directions, so it works very well. Not to mention, her vows are fantastic.

Love is in the air all around, and Blaine and Kurt get to have dinner with an older lesbian couple (Patty Duke and Meredith Baxter). This does diverge a little into preachy territory, yet, it’s hard to complain when the public so desperately needs to see the argument for gay marriage portrayed in such positive tones. It’s a scene that doesn’t completely mesh with the rest of the hour, but still makes the viewer feel good, and comes across as incredibly enjoyable, so it can be forgiven.

All of the plots I’ve mentioned so far are seriously good, well-executed stories, making “All or Nothing” a wonderful episode overall. It does have one weak point though, and that’s the outing of Unique (Alex Newell) as Ryder’s (Blake Jenner) “catfish.”

The fact that Unique is the catfish actually makes sense, and I liked Marley’s (Melissa Benoist) attempt to protect Unique. However, even as both Unique and Ryder’s attitudes and reactions are realistic and believable, I feel saddened that this new class, so recently formed into an enjoyable clique, now faces a schism. I assume Unique and Ryder will eventually make up and Ryder will be persuaded not to leave glee club, at least not for long, but until then, their arc will be depressing.

I also didn’t like how Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) and Joe (Samuel Larsen) just show up this week without mention as to where they’ve been, missing weeks of rehearsal leading up to Regionals.

In the end, “All or Nothing” ends up being a pretty great outing, serving a lot of various characters and threads, and tossing off the sting of the last couple of bad installments. I just wish it didn’t leave us in such an unfinished state.

Glee will return to FOX next fall.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nancy-Hecko/100000601536267 Nancy Hecko

    Yes, Brittany comes off as a ditz most of the time. However. She HAD to have a departure, though, if the stories are true about Heather Morris being pregnant.

  • LolaRose

    I dont even thing it gave us anything good. A real let down ep to a poor season. Incosistant writing lets down the, usually, pithy dialogue.

  • Guest

    Again, you didn’t address Ryder’s story. He finds out who the catfish and you don’t even mention it.