As I mentioned in the other thread, I wasn’t wowed by the second-to-last episode of the season (written by Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt) “Old Dog New Tricks”, but thought it was fine as a filler episode. After seeing “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project”, I kind of wished they’d just ended the season with “Old Dog New Tricks”. That episode wouldn’t have been a very good season finale, but the finale we got wasn’t a very good finale either, and struck me as a lot sloppier, more amateurish, and inconsistent than the one written by the guy who’d never written a TV script before.*
There were some enjoyable parts in “Untitled Rachel Berry Project” and the songs were mostly pretty good, but a good chunk of the episode was inexplicably devoted to an unfunny show-within-a-show sequence that I guess was supposed to be a parody of Girls or something. Worse still, this episode either forgot or undid much of what has happened since the show moved to New York, making much of this season – heck, much of the last season, and some of the season before that – completely pointless. Take Sam’s lifelong dream (introduced six months ago) of becoming a model. It’s abandoned in this episode, the moment he achieves his first success. He leaves New York and heads “home” to Ohio, although it was established way back in season three that his family doesn’t even live in Ohio anymore. Kurt and Blaine have pretty much the same argument they’ve been having since early season three. Blaine tells Kurt what he thinks Kurt wants to hear and can’t live up to it, Kurt is angry for a little while, but ultimately winds up not only forgiving but apologizing to Blaine for Blaine’s own dishonesty. I guess this is at least consistent characterization, but neither they nor the writers seem to realize they’ve been down this same road many times before.
Then there’s Rachel, whose lifelong dream of becoming a Broadway star was established way back in the first episode of the show. In this episode she decides to throw it all away to go to Hollywood and shoot a TV pilot. Two episodes back the show at least attempted to give us a reason why she’d be tempted to skip a performance and audition for a role on a TV series, but it didn’t seem like the writers were even trying to justify her decision to quit Broadway for Hollywood. It’s not like she even got along well with the writer sent to develop the pilot with her (played by a sadly misused Kristen Schaal), and the first script she’s given is terrible. But Rachel sings at her for a while the Schaal character comes up with a new script that is apparently pretty much the pilot for Glee.
I don’t object to the show going meta, but I do object to undermining everything we know about who the main character is and what she wants. We’ve heard Rachel talk about her Broadway dreams for years, and seen her work to make them come true. Often the only thing keeping her character from being totally insufferable was knowing that she was working very hard to achieve her goal despite all the odds. But just a few weeks after her big opening night she’s suddenly decided for no reason at all that she doesn’t really care that much about Broadway, or her contract, or even the continued employment of the rest of the cast and crew of Funny Girl. So why should I, as the viewer, care about this character anymore? Even if I suspend my disbelief and accept that her new dream is to become a television star, I can’t root for her to succeed when I know how easily bored she becomes once she gets what she wants and how many people she’s willing to stomp on to get there.
*FWIW Colfer did previously write the screenplay for the indie movie Struck By Lightning, which I didn’t see but didn’t get very good reviews, and is also the author of a successful children’s book series The Land of Stories, which I haven’t read but has received pretty good reviews.