Glee "Swan Song" Review: A Showcase Full of Sloppiness (Brittany's Dating WHO?)

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Dec 07, 2012

Glee S04E09: “Swan Song”

According to the rules of Sectionals, leaving the stage for any reason during a performance is grounds for disqualification, and just like that, the New Directions competition season ground to a startling halt before it even truly began. With no reason to rehearse, there was no justification for the glee club to continue taking up real estate in the choir room, which Principal Figgins quickly handed over to Sue to use for rehearsing with her Cheerios side project— Sue du Soleil.

Facing a school year devoid of extracurricular activities, the glee club members quickly scattered to other clubs around the school. Artie joined the marching band. Joe joined the interfaith paintball league. Unique joined the floor hockey team. And last, but certainly not least, Blaine and Tina joined the Cheerios. I was hoping that there would be more shenanigans concerning that particular storyline, but alas, everyone came crawling back to the glee club once Finn wrote them a Breakfast Club letter that wasn’t even all that Breakfast Club-y, aside from the soundtrack. Where was the “Each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal?” There was such an opportunity to draw connections between the students as individuals and as members of the club. I thought it was interesting to see where everyone ended up when New Directions was no longer an option, because they didn’t randomly scatter. No, their choices were made with very specific factors in mind; Unique chose floor hockey because she could still wear a wig under her helmet. Joe’s Christianity is important to him and he felt that interfaith paintball allowed him to embrace it freely while still maintaining a diverse and understanding group of friends. Of COURSE everyone had to come back to New Directions, otherwise what’s the point of Glee, but every team is made up of individuals who have wants and concerns outside of singing at sectionals and it was nice to see that highlighted.

Oh, and Finn? Sweetums? It was TOTALLY healthy that the New Directions kids channelled their disappointment into other constructive activities. Yes, even the Cheerios.

But for the competition-starved viewers in the audience, there was still Rachel to hang our star upon. Whoopi Goldberg returned as Carmen Tibideaux to host the Winter Showcase at NYADA. It was talked up as a big ol’ coming-out party for the best of the best at NYADA and freshmen were hardly EVER invited to participate.

So of course Rachel was invited.

Still, freshmen NEVER win.

Rachel won. Rachel won and then she called Finn to give him a pep talk about how competing isn’t everything and he needed to get the gang back together so that they could experience the important parts of New Directions, like the friends and the romances. Her self-important monologue would have meant more if Rachel hadn’t spent the first half of the episode trying to outdo mean teacher Cassandra who refused to acknowledge how wonderfully talented Rachel is, then the second half prepping for her competition, which she won against all odds after she kissed her new almost-boyfriend.

That was pretty sloppy, Glee. Kind of like Marley’s magical bulimia that comes and goes as the story sees fit with little consequence to anyone or anything outside of prematurely ending the New Directions' season, except worse because we know that Marley’s issues are just a plot device but I think the show was actually trying to make a point with Rachel’s phone call.

After Rachel won all the awards (as usual), Tibideaux was touched by the overwhelming purity of Rachel’s performance, or she had a stroke or something, because she decided to let Kurt audition for the spring semester at NYADA right there during the school's best-of-the-best showcase. I’m sure the other faculty were thrilled. Earlier in “Swan Song,” Kurt had gotten all stalkery and desperate for Tibideaux to give him a second chance, which she quickly rejected, but at least we got to hear her reasoning: While Kurt’s initial audition was great, and in many, MANY ways, better than Rachel’s, it lacked the depth, complexity, and emotion that Tibideaux looks for in “real artists.” That actually made a shocking amount of sense. I mean, it’s great that Kurt designs his own costumes, but no matter how much glitter you throw on a cardboard cutout, at the end of the day, it’s still a cardboard cutout. As he showed in his second audition, Kurt is perfectly capable of channeling the same level of emotion as Rachel. We knew that all along, but he had to show Tibideaux. Yay Kurt... but does this mean no more Sarah Jessica Parker?

And finally, I’m sorry to announce this, Brittana fans, but it looks like Sam and Brittany are a thing now. I personally think it’s a cute thing, but I also understand why Ryan Murphy might be getting a healthy dose of hate mail this afternoon. When you get into all of the real-world implications of removing Brittany from a loving lesbian relationship and replacing that relationship with a straight one, things get more icky and complicated than I think Glee is prepared to handle. My biggest issue with the relationship at the moment is the WTF-ness of it. Brittany and Sam worked just fine as silly besties and I’m not sure what the motivation is for getting them together outside of padding Glee's relationship ranks again after the mass break-up of a few weeks ago... and pissing off the Brittana fans.

How do you feel about Sam and Brittany as a couple? Sound off below!

Music Notes

– My Glee playlist: Kurt’s “Being Alive” from Company was simple and pretty. I also really liked Cory Monteith’s voice in “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”

– I would go see Sue du Soleil, but only if Sue stands in the middle and belittles the Cheerios with the bullhorn during the entire performance.

– “The Walking Dead isn’t based on a true story. I checked.”

– Let me get this straight—a student faints during a performance, everyone hits the nail right on the head and points out that she hasn’t been eating because the resident psycho has her convinced that she bears a striking resemblance to the Staypuft marshmallow guy, but NO ONE does anything about it? In fact, the general sentiment seems to be, “Marley ruined glee club.” W.T.F.

– Piano Dude is free! Freeeee!

– A “swan song” is typically defined as a final act before death or retirement. No one here died or retired and the glee club will certainly rise again in some form. The term is also a reference to the myth that actual swans sing one beautiful song before they die, which leads me to assume that Kurt and Rachel’s careers will now tank since they apparently gave their finest performances ever at the Winter Showcase. But really, it’s probably just Glee trying to be DEEP and sucking at it.

– So, Brittany/Santana is “Brittana”...what does that make Brittany/Sam?

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  • royfeni Dec 31, 2013

    Sloppy, indeed. If the ballerina bitch is dancing 'Sylvia', why is the orchestra playing the Mazurka from "Coppelia"? It's livelier and they probably didn't expect anybody to notice Let's send snippy emails complaining that we did notice and we are not amused.

  • mattl414 Dec 10, 2012

    Things that annoyed me in this episode:
    1) A show choir is disqualified for leaving the stage for ANY reason? Even a medical emergency??

    2) The national championship glee club is disbanded because they didn't win two years in a row. That's like disbanding the Super Bowl winning football team for having a losing season.

    3) No one pays a bit of attention to Santana rightfully pointing out that Kitty likely coerced Marley into being bulimic (and they all blame Marley for all their problems, presumably even the two guys trying to win her heart, since we never see them defending her honor).

    4) A single pianist being able to play "O Holy Night" or "Being Alive" on the fly, I could get... but an entire orchestra, completely ad libbing the song? Granted, I've long ago gotten used to the major suspension of disbelief when it comes to the stunning ability of musical performers on Glee being able to perform a song perfectly on the first attempt (Amusing side note: Watch one of the musicians on the right side of the screen after the lead musician tells them what Kurt is going to sing completely unplanned... He just turns a single page, like the music is right there in front of him after all.)

    5) Again, in the "no consequences" department, Kitty is welcomed back, hugged even by Finn, as she joins the Glee Club to sing outside in the snow.

    6) By the way, how are they keeping the wood, electrical and string instruments from getting wet from the falling snow (More suspension of disbelief)?

    7) And last but not least: They can rehearse on school property, clearly, so why can't they rehearse in the lunchroom? I would think Marley's mom wouldn't have a problem with that...

    With that many annoyances (ignoring the random Sam-Brittany pairing, Rachel winning... again, Rachel getting into a fight with her dance instructor... again), it might be time for me to let this show go once and for all. I find myself focusing too much on the inconsistencies, fluctuating character personalities and ginormous plot holes instead of the show itself.

  • delldell56 Jan 18, 2013

    two small nitpicks, since logic doesn't ever seem to be taken into account in glee. didn't that drunk bimbo played by kristen chenoweth (or whatever) buy the auditorium for the exclusive use of the glee club, so figgings could never ever again dispose of it for other purposes or make will pay for its use? it belongs to glee club even when they are not in competition. also, isn't brody a nyada student? he may not be a freshman like rachel, but still a student. that means him sleeping with cassandra would land her on the unemployement list immediatly and banned from teaching again. but then again, we are talking about a show where sue poaches a public budget transferring the cheerios funds to a personal account in the cayman islands (and never returns them), and punches a public officer on the face, on stage, during regionals, but doesn't get reprimended, let alone face jail time...

  • AndrewBarry Dec 10, 2012

    ..It's a show about a bunch of highschool kids singing. What in the world made you expect depth and consistency in that premise of a show?

    You should probably get over yourself, and realize you have issues just enjoying things. Who cares if it doesn't make sense. It's just supposed to be fun.

  • QMargo Dec 10, 2012

    I don't really get what all the fuss is about Brittany hooking up with Sam? Before Britanna Britanny dated guys and was in a relationship with Artie....I always thought she was a bisexual, so if she is into Sam now....what is wrong with that. They only problem I had with that whole issue was that the episode sort of painted the lesbian community as angry and violent but that was really stupid. But then again its Glee.

  • quasar9 Dec 10, 2012

    I had a feeling since the beginning of this season that Sam and Brittany would get together and now that they are I think its really cute. I like both characters a lot so its cool to me; although I was cool with Santana and Brittany too: I guess I just like Sam a lot :)
    My biggest complaint for this episode was probably how they dealt with Marley, like really? All her problems just magically went away I suppose - cause you know, dealing with eating disorders is so easy...not. And nothing else said towards Kitty?? Hmm.

  • bluemystique Dec 09, 2012

    Brittany +Sam= BAM
    - First I'll tackle why I loathe the Brittany and Sam thing. Where the hell did it come from? The issue isn't that Brittany is moving on after the kinda mutual split between her and Santana. It isn't even that she's moving on with a guy because she was clearly established as bisexual since the beginning. Her dating a guy after dating a girl stays true to her character and her representation as a bisexual character. I don't think it should be insulting to either homosexuals or heterosexuals. My problem is they took a pretty cool blossoming friendship that came out of left field and then out of left field threw in this ridiculous dating crap just to give them something to do, or meet a quota or something. A pretty, all Caucasian, completely heterosexual, these two should pretty much be the same character...quota. On a show that praises it's differences and what not. People loved Brittana because it was an interracial same sex relationship. Fair enough. People loved Brittany and Artie because it was the hot cheerleader with the cool nerd in a wheelchair. So on and so forth.
    I've always had an issue with Sam as a character because he's been damn near bipolar in how they write for him. In the beginning he was savvy and cool and genuinely sweet, somewhere in the middle he was dumbed down to being the male version of Brittany, dense and pretty and shallow. Then the homeless thing came up (which I loved that story line) and he went back to being the sweet, goofy, cool but nerdy Sam from the beginning. He was even that way when he returned. Then apparently this season they went back to dumbing him down etc again. I love the one Sam. I'm annoyed by the other. But what bugs me is his dating pattern. He's been in the most relationships and not in a flattering way because most of them were just never expanded upon in a way that did something for his character. He dated Quinn which made sense at the time. Fine. He moved on to Santana for the sex, but that was poorly showcased. Then he ended up with Mercedes which was the most insulting one of them all because they paired them together and then their ENTIRE relationship was pretty much offscreen! On top of that it never actually ended...or began,, for that matter. It was easily the most unorthodox relationship of the entire show...a show about differences and diversity etc and they never capitalized off of it. Never gave it for all the reasons they wanted it to happen the representation that it deserved. The majority of the Samcedes wonder took place in freaking Fanfiction for crying out loud. Plus as the one storyline that the amazing Amber Riley had going for her in her entire time that she was on the show it failed her miserably. Her dating experience on the show was pretty much non existent, the friendships she had somehow got iced out of and replaced. But that's an entirely different rant. The point being Quinn and Sam was probably the best showcased relationship of his however he's jumped from her to Santana, to Mercedes, and now to Brittany with no halfway decent writing to back up such whiplash inducing transitions and it somehow contradicts half of his character. His speech to Brittany pretty much implied that he somehow liked her most of all all along and somehow dismisses his relationships with the previous characters as if they never existed, whom he sort of said the same thing to each of them in an aroundabout way. But it's played up like he's genuine and sincere which makes it worse, because if he was just saying it to get into each of these girl's pants it would make sense, but hes saying it just to make young viewers swoon or something about how romantic and cute it all is when it's anything but. Like what? So no. I don't like Sam and Brittany. I didn't feel like either of them needed to be in a relationship, or one with somebody in the main case anyway. It was sudden and unnecessary, and ridiculous.
    -I too was seething over the fact that everyone eventually came to the conclusion that Kitty aka Quinn reincarnated, destroyed Marley's psyche...yet NO ONE did anything about it. I guess I should consider that an improvement from the previous seasons when no one even acknowledged that Rachel for example was being straight up bullied by Quinn and all the other instances of emotional degradation that took place that didn't involve Kurt.
    -Losing Sectionals. I did not see that coming so kudos. Now I wonder how they are going to end up going to Regionals because Glee w/o glee club seems implausible.
    -I wanted to toast Piano Dude. Loved his outburst. I feel you man.
    -NYC. IDC. But cool Whoopi was there and SJP. Other than that. I really don't care anymore.

  • ridiq00 Dec 09, 2012

    The problem with Brittany dating Sam has never been that he's a boy. This is the first mistake that people are insinuating. She has always been clearly bisexual, and no one has ever had a problem with this. The problem is, as mentioned in this article, that it eliminates lesbian (and mixed couple!) visibility in exchange for another straight white heterosexual couple. Another issue, and the bigger one at play here, is the one of double standards. It was a long road to have any affection shown between Santana and Brittany, long after they were dating. In their first "dating" episode, Sam and Brittany have already sang a duet together, kissed, talked about love, etc. Take all of this, and then throw in the meta-line about angry lesbian bloggers angry about Sam being a boy (completely incorrect, mind you), and we have some very serious issues. I think if Santana and Brittany would have been giving the opportunity to have their relationship unfold in a more respectful (and less second-class) manner, then we wouldn't be talking about this.

  • shocker713 Dec 09, 2012

    One last nitpick before I go: why do they keep forgetting that Finn and Kurt are stepbrothers? First Kurt is too busy swooning over Brody himself to run interference, then Rachel doesn't even mention Kurt's performance during the phone call?

  • StephanieStra2 Dec 10, 2012

    Errr...Finn told Rachel she was "free", literally packed her up to NYC when she was set to marry him and then he disappeared without a word for 4 months and Kurt's supposed to run interference? Kurt ogled Brody ONCE and that was more in a "look what's on our doorstep, Rach" manner (now he WAS major ogling Ricky Martin's David Garcia, with decent reason). I AM surprised that Kurt didn't call Finn himself, since (as shown in "The Break-Up" and a couple of other places, they have sort of settled into step-brotherdom pretty well.

    Back to the phone call, which I really liked. Rachel called Finn to give him a pep talk; SHE didn't bring up her own competition and her success, which was a pleasant surprise. But TV shows have limited time allotments; maybe it was decided not enough time to mention even "Kurt had a surprise audition and did really well". Dunno. Maybe it was that it would be something Kurt would want to mention himself, in case he didn't get in (so common courtesy).

  • bluemystique Dec 09, 2012

    Who knows. It's glee. It's just like how they forgot that before Kurt and Finn were stepbrothers, Kurt was basically in love with him.

  • pretty_sure Dec 09, 2012

    While I feels that Sam and Brittany are better as friends, the moment of Brittany telling him about all the lesbians in the world finding out about her and Santana, was my favorite moment of the episode.

  • bejt10 Dec 09, 2012

    that what happens when you take the best actor\dancer our of the equation for a while- Matthew Morrison... .
    Brad Ellis- rocked his part :)

    it's about time Ryan gave some more attention to AHS big sister...

    I 'all about rachel' not realistic.
    never cared about Britney- she's better off with one sentence punch line as in S1

  • genzianella Dec 09, 2012

    Samtany (sam&brittany;)

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