RECAP: Glee S5 Ep20 – “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project”

Kooky Hollywood invades the NY Crew!

Kooky Hollywood invades the NY Crew!

Author Note: Two weeks of traveling and deadlines and I finally had the chance to watch/enjoy/write about the season finale of Glee!

Twenty episodes in a tumultuous season of GleeThe Untitled Rachel Berry Project wraps up season 5 and concludes the “New York City” arc with aplomb. Featuring a hilarious guest shot from Kristen Schaal, a visit from Brittany (Heather Morris), a few metaphors via the show Pippin, and some big numbers, it almost feels like a series wrap-up. Which means season six – the final and possibly shortened season – is bonus Glee; more time to follow the ups and downs and musical numbers of our Lima Not-So Losers.

We open at Monday Dinner in the Bushwick Loft of Communal Meals. Mercedes tries to feed her man yummy food but Sam is refraining – he’s got a huge audition for Treasure Trailz this week, they’re on the forefront of manscaping and all. Sam’s dream of being naked on the side of a public bus is so close to coming true! Mercedes – soon to be off on her mall tour – reminds him he has a girl, and she will be spray painting “mine” on all those buses.

Rachel finds their canoodling adorable – this is what her new show needs to be about! Old friends helping each other in the big city! And they should hang out in a coffee shop… No. Wait. Apparently the network is sending a super famous wunderkind writer (Mary as played by Kristen Schaal) to follow Rachel around and tailor the show to her. And besides her talent and ambition, her friends are part of that. Kurt tells Blaine that they should invite Mary to their showcase so they too can partake in small screen stardom; Blaine agrees and his ulcer worsens.

A knock at the door and it’s…Brittany! After losing her passport and breaking up with her smart phone, Kiki, Brittany is here to visit the gang; Santana is apparently in the Midwest filming a Yeast-a-stat commercial in a wheat field.

Sidenote: Naya Rivera was reportedly written out of season finale for reasons speculated and disputed and yet not explained. Bottom line: She’s not here and the tender Brittana reunion in “100” and “New Directions” continues to make little sense. Okay then.

Mary's vision of Rachel's life is a fever dream - and not the cool kind with dancing and singing like she's used to.

Mary’s vision of Rachel’s life is a fever dream – and not the cool kind with dancing and singing like she’s used to.

Mary the TV writer shows up in the middle of this, in a teal prom dress and immediately gets the “Lady Di’s” from the smell of the Chinese food the gang has prepared. In short order, she doesn’t plan to learn their names, calls Rachel Randy and disappears into the bathroom. It’s gonna be a blast!

Mary is the Queen of Quirk – she rolls out her Garfield sleeping bag and sits down to type (yes, old school typewriter) the “Untitled Mary Halloran Project.” She’s delighted to learn Rachel has two gay dads – do they by any chance work for NASA? Nevermind, they do now. She brands Rachel lazy for doing eight shows a week then talks like a robot. Things are going so well! Bored, Mary declares it opposite day and goes to snoop through Rachel’s bathroom.

Rachel isn’t quite ready for these crazy Hollywood types, and she used to live in Lima!

Mercedes is kicking off her mall tour with a performance…in a mall! Artie films while Rachel, Kurt, Blaine and Sam watch from the packed cheering crowd. With Brittany and a team of dancers performing back-up, Mercedes launches into the original “Shakin’ My Head,” rocking the crowd with her diva star performance.

It’s a fun number, the crowd roars and Sam jumps on stage to cheer his super successful girlfriend on. Looks like Mercedes is well on her way to make her dreams come true – on her own terms. Go Mercedes!

At NYADA’s all-purpose room, Blaine works out his moves on the stage. June arrives with Babycakes because she enjoys molding performers into stars by interrupting their rehearsals to feed them cupcakes. I like her. We learn Blaine measures the stage so in case he decides to freestyle he won’t fall on his ass, Walter Cronkite is dead and June isn’t budging on the Kurt thing. In fact? Blaine can either please her or not – and the latter will result in him being left out to dry.

She leaves and Blaine settles down at the piano for a simply gorgeous version of John Legend’s “All of Me.” It’s all soulful emotion and Blaine’s love for Kurt as Darren Criss does what he does best. Stunning – and Kurt walks in somewhere during the last third with lunch, a little perplexed at his husband-to-be’s heartbroken expression.

Blaine: “June doesn’t want you in the showcase. She never did.”

Kurt is hurt and furious; the lunch bag goes flying and Kurt throws out that he doesn’t know how to trust anything Blaine says when he lies to him. It’s very reminiscent of the hallway scene in “Grease” and yet another revisiting of an old issue. Trust.

Side note: Post-engagement, Kurt and Blaine’s story has been a dance through old problems and continued issues like communication and trust. The best love stories can happen after happily ever after, and this is what we’ve gotten with this couple. No one figures it all out, but working through the hard times is what it’s all about.

Sam is on a modeling audition, or a music video from the 80’s, judging by the wardrobe of the ladies. He’s snapping a rubber band on his wrist, telling a fellow model that it’s to stop any rogue chubbers from happening since it’s been awhile since he was intimate with a girl.

Fellow Model Dude: “I know! It’s been nine hours since I got laid. I’m going crazy!”

Super Hot Photographer Charlie Darling shows up to inform the group that Treasure Trailz model got sent to prison for running a teacup dog ring in Miami and with the billboards and campaign about to hit in a few days, they need someone fast. So walk – and if you can’t get into her pants with your walk, you don’t have it. The girls are there to…help.

Hey, it is a music video from the 80’s!

Duran Duran’sGirls on Film” erupts and Chord Overstreet struts his stuff with his fellow models for a fun and perfectly pitched number. Charlie likes what she sees – cause even a terrible yellow suit can’t dim the fact that Sam is her ideal Treasure Trailz man.

She gets into the song/dance, as everyone’s costumes seem to be shrinking. Apparently Sam has gotten into her pants…or she’s trying to get into his. Charlie drops him onto the couch and crawls on top. Maybe he’s a little backed up since he and his girl are waiting til marriage…but it’s working and he’s hired. Shoot tonight – which doesn’t sound wholesome at ALL.

Snap, snap, snap at that rubber band.

At the Bushwick Loft of Well-Meaning Confrontations, Rachel, Kurt and Brittany are sitting on the floor with bottled water and fruit and a question for the newly arrived Mercedes: Is she going to break up with Sam before she leaves on tour?

There is confrontation and snacks...

There is confrontation and snacks…

Meanwhile, at the Brooklyn Brownstone of Male Bonding, Blaine is telling Sam he should break up with Mercedes as they play video games with Artie.

There will be so much temptation while they’re apart! both groups insist.

Mercedes: “I got my posse and my Jesus.” Sam declares Mercedes is it. Both of them are committed to this.

Rachel points out that sometimes the best chance you have when you’re in love is spending time apart. Uh oh – which side of this argument will win?

Mary spends time with each of Rachel’s friends, getting to know her story. She hits on Artie (via the old “Donut in the Bra” trick) and renames Blaine “Slaine” (she loves his impatient attitude and tolerates his loafers) while Britt seems to be the only one who finds Mary fascinating. Or normal. Note to everyone: This should be your first clue something is wrong here.

In Rachel’s dressing room, Kurt continues his role as Rachel’s Gay Dad by telling her a) Mary’s crazy, b) she’s burning bridges by leaving Broadway and c) a + b is stacking the deck against her. If she really wants to risk leaving Funny Girl, it should be for a show about her voice – not the vision of a person who eats couch cushions.

Brittany: “The armrests are the sweetest meat.”

It’s time for the first read through of the Untitled Mary Halloran Project script! Blaine (Slaine), Brittany (Nitney), Artie (Blartie), Sam (Jam), Kurt (Cert) and Rachel (Rachel) sit around in the Bushwick Loft of Yes It Is Going To Be As Bad As You Imagined.

In what can only be described as crazy on acid, Mary’s project unfolds. Rachel eats a sheet cake in the bathtub, a depressive Kurt walks around in a dinosaur costume, Blaine sleeps with Brittany and there’s a coffee rave for Rachel’s birthday but she can’t enjoy it because her gay dads who work for NASA missed it.

Side bar: Hilarious.

Artie puts a stop to the reading with a “girl, you have to do something about this.” Rachel admits he’s right, and boy, Kurt was totally right. Either this show is her voice, or there’ll be no show at all.

Well-trained pigeons hold their breath as Kurt and Blaine leap over another hurdle in their relationship.

Well-trained pigeons hold their breath as Kurt and Blaine leap over another hurdle in their relationship.

Exterior Brooklyn Brownstone of Pigeon Infiltration. Blaine sits forlornly on the stoop feeding a pack of pigeons (but looking fabulously well dressed). Kurt arrives to inform him that they’re full of diseases and he won’t be able to do his showcase with Bumblefoot.

Blaine points out that humans can’t get Bumblefoot. Also he’s not doing the showcase because Kurt is more important.

Kurt launches into a soliloquy about birds being pushed out of the nest for the first time, and having to trust in their ability to fly. Relationships are like that – you have to trust that the person carrying your heart will take good care of it. Blaine apologies but Kurt gets it. The way he was talking about the showcase, he would have been mad not to be included. “I would have lied to me too.” Blaine is confused – if Kurt isn’t mad, what’s the deal with the flying?

Kurt tells him that trust is a choice – every day they’ll get up and go into the world, trusting that they have each other’s backs. And there’ll be mistakes and slip ups – but Kurt chooses to trust and love Blaine through everything. Blaine is totally relieved and he’s serious about the showcase. Either they fly together or he doesn’t fly at all.

But Kurt has another flying metaphor up his sleeve – he’s happy for Blaine’s chance, and he’s glad that Blaine will show the world what he’s capable of when he spreads his wings. Blaine finds all this bird talk and making up totally erotic and they rush upstairs to have sex.

Nice work boys! Sorry pigeons!

Side bar: And our trust story comes to a close. Kurt realizes that he has to make a choice and not expect perfection from Blaine or their relationship – and puts his support behind Blaine’s showcase. Blaine gets the showcase and sex. It’s good to be these crazy kids in love.

At the diner, Rachel tries to explain to Mary that she needs the show to be in her voice. Mary isn’t buying it – which is when Rachel pulls out the big guns. A Glee club style “let me show you what I mean through music” which Mary is not here for. But there’s no stopping Rachel and she delivers a stunning version of “Glitter in the Air” by P!nk. It’s been a great season of Lea Michele solos and this one is top five.

The audience is mesmerized – and so is Mary. Apparently Rachel has unleashed an unknown feeling in her – happiness! Maybe there is value in creating a show that doesn’t make people hate themselves…she’ll give Rachel’s version a shot, although it has no chance of getting picked up. Rachel happily hugs her and Mary asks her to leave – she has to shame eat now.

At the evening photo shoot, Charlie isn’t happy with sex buzzless Sam. So annoyed she kicks everyone out, then begins a predatory stalk on Sam around the studio with a Polaroid. He’s feeling a little scared – he wants this job, it’s a dream come true but he’s afraid if he doesn’t give her what she wants, he’ll lose it. Charlie tells him to lose the guilt, then moves in for a lusty kiss.

Mercedes is waiting for Sam with binge cupcakes at the Brooklyn Brownstone of Sad Mood Lighting but he’s too upset to eat. He confesses that the photographer kissed him – after which he cried, she took pics of him in his underwear while he cried and left. Mercedes tells him he didn’t cheat – and also that she loves him, enough to let him go. She’s not going to be ready to marry until she’s thirty and asking him to wait doesn’t seem fair. Sam protests because he’s got this feeling they’re meant to be together… Mercedes doesn’t disagree – but she fears they’re holding on too tight and creating a place where resentment could grow. This isn’t the right time for them so they break up in a sad, sweet moment. He promises that no matter who he’s with, he will always rather be with her. And she promises to call him if she decides not to wait.

Side bar: I applaud a story between these two characters that always stayed true to their morals and their personalities. They packed a lot into a few episodes but now I’m sold. I think Mercedes and Sam should get their happy ending when they’re ready.

It’s Blaine’s Showcase Night!

Everyone is there (save Walter Cronkite, who is dead) – Kurt, Sam, Mercedes, Artie and Rachel. June joins Blaine for a duet from Pippin, the wonderful “No Time At All” which encourages one to go for it, because who knows what the future will bring. A message song! Are we listening everyone? Shirley MacLaine is delightful and there’s an audience sing-a-long to boot.

Side bar: We had a Pippin reference back in “New New York” when Blaine declared he was going to find his “Corner of the Sky” – another song from the musical. Pippin, for those unfamiliar, is the story of a young man’s search the world over for fame and fortune, only to discover his true place of happiness is on a farm with the love of his life. His path is not the extraordinary but the ordinary. And in that place, he is finally happy. In many ways, Blaine is Pippin but the metaphor extends nicely to all the “New York” Glee kids. They’re all making choices when it comes to their path – but doing it on their terms is the best way to find happiness.

At the showcase, everyone is crazy about Blaine. They’re demanding an encore – and Blaine dashes away from Kurt and June to take the stage again. June tells Kurt he’s a good friend for rising above and still coming to support Blaine. Kurt, who honed his “I don’t think so” skills against Sebastian Smythe, reminds her he isn’t a friend.

Kurt: “I’m here because he’s the love of my life and nothing and no one is going to come between us.”

Oh so sweetly pointed, dear Kurt. June laughs but she’s clearly gotten the message. And if she didn’t…

Blaine thanks June for her patronage and this chance. And the lesson that talent is worthless if you can’t back it up with passion. So for the audience to truly get to know his passion, he’s going to ask the love of his life to come sing the last song with him. Kurt is shocked, June is shocked – and pissed – but Blaine is clearly at peace with his decision.

Kurt comes up and bless these boys for always having a duet in their pockets. How about Estelle’sAmerican Boy?” Sure, why not!

These boys are ridiculously cute and in harmony – this is the duet June should have seen in the first place. They’re in sync, they’re having a blast and the audience is delighted. June’s irritation slowly becomes interest and ends in a smile – especially when they get their friends to come up and dance. June joins them, as do the guests, and the evening ends with a flourish of applause.

Blaine apologizes but he “had” to do it. June doesn’t care – she’s going to take credit for the number and their successful performance. It’s been a long time since anyone has proven her wrong. June and Blaine hug it out and she tells him not to let anyone – even her – doubt what he’s sure of.

Not even June can resist the power of Klaine.

Not even June can resist the power of Klaine.

June puts the boys side by side – they remind her of her third husband. He was gay too… Time for a party!!

To recap: Blaine got everything – the career and the boy – by being true to his heart. Aces!

Another reading at the Bushwick Loft of Communal Readings and Meals. This time, Rachel reads the last line to the delight of everyone.

Rachel: “The thing about love is that it’s not a scarce resource. The more you give, the more you have to give.”

She always thought Fanny was the role she was born to play, but this is it. This is her story. And she thanks her friends for pushing her to do it on her terms.

Side note: Rachel’s dream for so long was Funny Girl on Broadway. But she’s grown and matured and lost and found a new dream, a completely unexpected one. Coming to that realization, surrounded by her friends who pushed and challenged her, is a lovely moment.

Kurt: “A toast – to two glorious years in the greatest city on earth.”

Sam suddenly freaks out and runs down to the street. Everyone follows – and discovers Sam’s dream come true. He’s naked on the side of a public bus! This is the start of a great career but Sam announces it’s actually the end. He’s going out on top. Or on the side. He did what he set out to do and now he’s finished. It’s time to go back to Ohio, where he can think a bit better in the quiet. Plus everyone’s scattering…

Everyone’s sad at the reality that it’s the end of another era for the Glee kids. So much has happened to them this year – Finn passing, the end of Glee Club. Change is hard and Rachel is afraid to lose everyone. No need to fear though – they all confirm they’re in this for the long haul. Their friendship goes far beyond all being in the same city.

Okay – Rachel tells everyone that they’ll meet in this spot in six months, so they all have something to look forward to. She declares them her life and they hug it out. Kurt wishes they could break into song…and his wish is the street’s command!

Bastile’sPompeii” proves to be a strangely perfect coda to the episode. The kids pick up a crowd of fellow citizens as they sing and dance down the street, up and over cars. We get flashes of the parting of ways – Sam lovingly sends Mercedes and Brittany off on the mall tour, Artie rolls down the hallway at film school, Kurt and Rachel put the finishing touches on the workspace Blaine wanted back in “New New York” – greeting him as he moves back in with hugs, Sam back at McKinley looking through the window of the computer lab now inhabiting the choir room.

And finally, with Kurt and Blaine cuddling on the couch, Rachel gets a call from the network. They loved the script – and they want to make it into a pilot. Rachel hangs up and the three of them yell and jump around in delight. She’s going to LA!

Side bar: Lea Michele yelling Oh My God might be the cutest thing in the episode.

Rachel is alone, singing the last few lines of the song on the street. Everyone goes back to their lives and Rachel pauses. She looks up towards the heavens then smiles at the camera before walking off.

And cut!


What a strange and difficult season five of Glee. With the passing of Finn within the story (and Cory in real life), things were altered greatly. We lost Ohio for a third of the season, sadly, but had a wonderful romp in New York. Well-loved characters disappeared but we got a fascinating close-up on some others. Much like the kids learned, things don’t always go as planned and you have to roll with the punches life gives you. Fans had to roll with a lot this year!

Now we wait to see what season six – the final season – will bring. Rachel’s off to LA. Kurt, Blaine and Artie are in New York. Mercedes and Britt are on the road. Sam’s in Ohio. How will they all come together again – and where? Sam’s look into the window of the choir room at McKinley might give us a clue!

Word has come down that Glee will be a mid-season replacement, airing in January. We don’t yet know how many episodes but we’ll most likely have a reduced order. I feel very safe in predicting a memory-filled, happy ending for the next year and look forward to finishing the journey.

See you guys soon!

You made it boys! Good work.

You made it boys! Good work.


Tere’s Episode Round-up:

What made me laugh: Kristen Schaal was absolute madness in the best way.

What made me sniffle: Sam and Mercedes uber mature and loving break-up was superb.

What made me side-eye: I got nothing. It’s in my top ten episodes of the season!

What I’m listening to on repeat: All the songs. “American Boy” was such a surprise delight.

What I’m looking forward to next week: Nothing! Such a long wait for Glee to come back. I think it’s time for a rewatch….