TV Report Card | 'Glee' Season 5 Review

Overview: Glee Club was disbanded as viewers bid farewell to Lima. Recent graduates Blaine, Artie and Sam joined Rachel, Kurt and Santana in New York and Mercedes made a much needed return to the series.

Storyline Direction Pros: The goodbye to Lima, while painful, was done with remarkable class. As was the loss at National’s which also served as a follow-up tribute to Finn. Talking about his loss felt a lot better and more natural than the previous tactic of radio silence. It was also extremely cathartic.

The best thing about the second half of the season was the return of Mercedes. She brought some much needed warmth and maturity to the show. Her storylines also reflected her integrity and stayed true to her character. Her relationship with Sam was also fun. The group seemed to meld cohesively in New York and the genuine bond of friendship was apparent between them.

Sue Sylvester finding a fleeting true love with an acerbic critic named Mario (guest star Chris Parnell) in "Opening Night" was hilarious and gave some much needed levity to the remainder of the season, which had become a tad dour. Santana similarly brought comedic flair to the season.

Special episodes focusing on social issues were well-done and direct. “Glee” always goes about telling those stories in a unique way that is educationally informed, whilst featuring a ton of heart and this season was no exception.
Storyline Direction Cons: The biggest con of the entire season was the dissolution of Glee Club. Even though the show understandably had to move on to fully focus on New York, Glee Club could have remained alive in Lima. After saying a goodbye that was outside of the series’ control, purposefully saying goodbye to the Glee Club (the soul of the show) was especially bitter and unnecessary.

Letting it live on, off-screen, wouldn’t have done any harm. Instead, the underdogs and the spirit of the Glee Club were served a devastating defeat. It simply didn’t feel right to end Lima’s chapter on that note.

Rachel, Kurt and Blaine’s story direction seemed to change weekly. After spending 5 seasons hearing Rachel talk about her big dream of starring on Broadway in "Funny Girl", it finally came true. She barely savored it and shortly after accomplishing her life’s ambition, she flushed it in favor of having a TV show. When did Rachel ever discuss wanting to star on television? It came out of nowhere.

No matter the outlandish antics that she’s pulled throughout the series, it was all in the name of her Broadway dream. Her dedication, while a bit nearsighted at times, was commendable. For her goal to change so suddenly seemed an about-face and quite frankly, it was just disappointing.

Kurt and Blaine’s on-again/off-again relationship continued its tempestuous progression. Shortly after moving to NYC, Kurt demanded a break and Blaine ended up moving out. After spending an entire season apart, it was hard to believe Kurt could grow that sick of Blaine so quickly. Distance had always been to blame for their previous issues. The uncertainty of their union echoed the overall tone of the season, hesitancy to commit to a singular direction. 

Performance Quality: The whole cast did a fine job and under unimaginable circumstances. Lea Michele continued to deliver her performance of the perky Rachel with resonance. Darren Criss remained entertaining as Blaine with his refined mix of dramatic emotion and comedic sensibility.

Amber Riley was essential to the remainder of the season, a live wire who sizzled with genuine sentiment and her vocal performances were among the highlights of the season. 

Musical Score: Amber Riley’s stirring original ballad “Colorblind” and her soaring rendition of Aretha Franklin’s classic “You Make Feel Like (A Natural Woman)” electrified the season’s soundtrack. Other highlights included Lea Michele’s beautiful performance of Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” and Darren Criss’ cover of John Legend’s ballad “All of Me”.

Overall Grade: B-, considering all the season had to overcome, it did so with magnificent grace. The splendor of “Glee” is that it can just as easily make you take a step back to think or put a spring back in your step, over the course of an episode.

Its powerful storytelling, quirky characters and spectacular songs will take a final bow next season and after a year of goodbyes, I choose to look forward to the last season as an opportunity to say one more “hello”.

[Image by FOX]