Whether or not you enjoyed watching — spoiler alert — New Directions lose the big competition for a second year in a row on Glee, there's no question that the club's journey to Nationals took a backseat to bullying, the Warblers, religion, drinking, prom and a whole lot more this season. In the end, we still got a moving duet between Rachel and Kurt on Wicked's Broadway stage, a couple of new, pretty good original songs, an "awww" moment between Kurt and Blaine, and an even bigger one between season MVPs Santana and Brittany.
And yet! While the writers managed to tie up some of their many arcs nicely — Bye Terri! Welcome back, Finchel! — we've come up with seven unsolicited suggestions to help them ease into next season based on what culminated in Tuesday's finale. In no particular order, they are:
1. It's time for a new Sue. Most weeks, Sue's story line has gone something like this: Trash Will's buttery hair, hatch a plan to make the glee club go kablooey, watch said plan go kablooey instead, resolve to do better next time. Fortunately, Jane Lynch is so amazing, it's never a chore watching her go after the kids time and time again. That said, after bonding with Will (Matthew Morrison) — real, genuine bonding! — in last week's "Funeral" episode, she appears to have called a cease-fire. (No last-minute sabotage in the finale either.) Some will expect her to return to form next season, and by no means does it look like Sue will suddenly become a good person, but it does seem as though the writers want to take her somewhere new, somewhere perhaps less routinely cartoony. They've already proven they can do it: Given the right story, the complexity of Sue has been undeniable — her feelings about religion, her kindness toward Becky — and with the death of her sister, her longtime anchor, we suspect significant changes are ahead.
2. Graduation. Make it happen Glee writers. No doubt legions of Finchel fans panicked when at the end of the finale Finn referenced the fact that he and Rachel would be graduating next year. Can the show survive without Lea Michele and Cory Monteith? Will it find a way to have the New Directions lovebirds stick around Lima, Ohio? (How crushing it would be to make Rachel stay when Broadway beckons!) But graduate, some of the glee clubbers must. Why? We're not traitors, but one of the takeaways from this season has got to be getting the cast back down to a manageable size. Can you remember Mercedes' juicy story lines? She didn't have any. Puck was MIA until Lauren (Ashley Fink) showed up. And as much as we like the adorable Asians Tina and Mike... There's no way to service a cast this big! Bottom line: Less might be more when it comes to an ensemble bursting with talent. And that includes...
3. Bring in all the guest stars, just make sure they've got stuff to do. No one was more excited to see Charice and Cheyenne Jackson in the season premiere. A diva-off between Sunshine and Rachel! A new nemesis for Will! And then something, or rather, nothing happened on the way to Nationals. After being given a king's welcome in the media, John Stamos got to rock out during the show's ode to Rocky Horror Picture Show and then stood by, off-screen, while Carl's quick marriage to Emma was written out without him even in the episode. And why bring Jonathan Groff's Jesse St. James back at all if he wasn't going to do much except make a half-hearted play for Rachel at the end? Did Glee dream too big — and too quick — recruiting all these, in addition to Max Adler, Carol Burnett, Kristin Chenoweth, Darren Criss, Ashley Fink, Dot Marie Jones, Chord Overstreet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stephen Tobolowsky, Iqbal Theba... ?
4. Let Will realize some of his dreams, or at least try to. So, it was a little disappointing, if not entirely expected, to watch Will choose New Directions over Broadway. (Couldn't he have done a summer run in April's show?) The point is, Will needs something to do outside of women. No, it wouldn't hurt for him to get together with Emma after two seasons, but it doesn't seem to be the most important, or interesting, thing to do with him. (Not to mention, his divorce was messy, his whirlwind romance with Holly was just that.) What we'd love to see is for Will to do what Rachel almost did in the finale — love his glee clubbers, but love himself more. When he wasn't writing the weekly themes on the white boards, Will's best and most poignant moments happened at season's end, when the return of April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth) reminded him of all his own plans and unrealized music dreams. In many ways, Will is not unlike the kids he teaches — stuck in Lima, content but not always. It'd be nice to see him have his own thing going on.
5. Maybe plan fewer big events and pop artist tributes (unless they're all like "Rumours!") To be clear, we enjoyed — really enjoyed — the Britney Spears episode "Britney/Brittany," the Lady Gaga-inspired "Born This Way," the religion-themed "Grilled Cheesus," the Rocky Horror Glee Show, "A Very Glee Christmas" and all the rest of the special hours as much as the next guy. But each of those episodes, be it in its promotion or the execution, felt a bit like an event, in which individual story lines gave way to the greater theme. Add them all together and it feels like a lot of starting and stopping, not to mention a lot of stories crafted around songs (as opposed to the other way around.) "Rumours" was the rare exception, in which all of the glee club's ongoing conflicts came to a head and were set perfectly against the Fleetwood Mac album, born out of relationships in turmoil.
6. Trouty Mouth should lend Mercedes his funny bone. We're just going to say it: Mercedes (Amber Riley) is the least funny and/or interesting high schooler at McKinley. Perhaps it's no one's fault, and she's merely crowded out by an extraordinarily big cast of characters, most of whom have been given real arcs. (And by real, we mean not waging war over tater tots, or becoming a diva for half an episode.) Sam, in comparison, got to chase after Quinn, date Santana, demonstrate an uncanny knack for impressions (Connery, McConaughey and Na'vi, oh my!), and get knocked down by the recession. Maybe his good stories will rub off on Mercedes. The good news is we're already intrigued by the attempt to hide their romance.
7. No, really, we don't wanna know! This is more of a request: The occasional spoiler is one thing, but we miss the days when the songs or themes in any given episode were a surprise. Maybe that's just us...
What else do you want to see happen next season? What did you like best about the finale? Least? Let us know in the comments below.