15 Best Glee Episodes of the Series   Leave a comment

Admit it. At one point in your life, you’ve been a Gleek. You sing their renditions, followed their fashions styles, and though of throwing a slushie at someone else. Winning Emmys, Golden Globes, and even Grammy nominations, pop culture of the last decade has been hugely influenced by Glee, and despite the show’s continuous battle with relevance nowadays, it already has left its mark in pop culture history. And as the show celebrates its 100th episode this week, we revisit and choose 15 series best episodes the show they have produced in a span of five seasons.

(You can click on the title of the musical moments to lead you to the YouTube clip of such. ;))

S01E01

01. PILOT (Season 1, Episode 1)
Directed by: Ryan Murphy
Written by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan

And it all started with this. Back then, it was a gamble for FOX to lay their cards on a weekly musical show. But this story of misfits and loners who were all combined to form a dying glee club seems to strike a chord with the masses. We were then introduced to the individual stories of the original glee club members in this charming pilot episode.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: Don’t Stop Believin” by Rachel, Finn, Mercedes, Kurt, and Tina. In what remains to be the trademark version from the series, the New Directions’ performance of this Journey hit song not only started their glee club experience, but it ended up to a Grammy nomination for the group as well.

s01e05

02. THE RHODES NOT TAKEN (Season 1, Episode 5)
Directed by: John Scott
Written by: Ian Brennan

The show’s first big guest star happened to be Tony winner Kristen Chenoweth playing April Rhodes, a lost with her life, old colleague of Will Schuester.  Chenoweth’s presence added more prestige and fun to this slowly building buzz show, and it’s one of the best reminders when Glee still manages to incorporate their guest stars properly in the show without being so contrived. After all, this role landed her two consecutive Emmy nods for Guest Actress.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: Somebody to Love” by the New Direction. No, it’s not the Justin Bieber song (though they’ve also covered that come the third season). I’m referring to the Queen song that ended this episode. That high note Mercedes hit is a perfect way to end the episode.

S01E09

03. WHEELS (Season 1, Episode 9)
Directed by: Paris Barclay
Written by: Ryan Murphy

Chosen as one of the five best directed episodes of that particular TV comedy year, Wheels is when things started to show some clear signs in the New Direction. While they did use a storyline that sounded really ridiculous (Quick! Everyone will be on wheelchair this episode!), the whole episode was actually memorable and their Proud Mary in wheels is one of their more creative numbers.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Defying Gravity” by Rachel and Kurt. The show can’t hide its love for Wicked anymore. As if it’s not enough that they had both Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel to guest star in the show’s first season, they even did a diva off of this prominent Broadway staple by showcasing a battling Kurt and Rachel. Jury’s still out, but my vote goes to Miss Berry.

S01E13

04. SECTIONALS (Season 1, Episode 13)
Directed by: Brad Falchuk
Written by: Brad Falchuk

It’s a fact widely considered that if Glee did not work out, it was originally intended to be a 13-episode one season miniseries. This would have been the show’s supposed final episode. And though it still suffered from overstaying in the long run, we’re just happy to admit that at least this wasn’t the last we’ve seen from them. Oh, and they’ve won Sectionals so that’s new.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Rachel. Count it as her official slash unofficial arrival, Rachel Berry can’t hide the Fanny Brice in her when she opened their Sectionals performance with a solo number of this Babs classic. I actually think it’s the main reason why they won the Sectionals, though as Will Schuester would probably say it “it’s team effort.” Yeah right.

S01E16

05. DREAM ON (Season 1, Episode 16)
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Brad Falchuk

Dream On has been that rare special episode for Glee standards. For one, it was directed by Joss Whedon, so the episode felt quite different. Add the fact that special guest star Neil Patrick Haris dropped off the tux and his Barney Stinson character to play Bryan Ryan, Will Schuester’s alter ego. This was NPH’s only appearance in the show, and I echo the sentiment that he should have seen more than this time.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Dream On” by Bryan Ryan and Will Schuester. Well what would Neil Patrick Harris be for if he won’t end up stealing the whole episode again. Still his only Emmy acting win, this lung tiring, scream belching Aerosmith classic lives up to the title when handled by these two pros.

S02E04

06. DUETS (Season 2, Episode 4)
Directed by: Eric Stoltz
Written by: Ian Brennan

After the airing of their first heavy episode Grilled Cheesus the week before, this was the perfect equalizer when Schuester divided them in pairs to come up with duet collaborations. And sure they did deliver! It was one of the most fun episodes of the show, as it’s on of the rare instances where it wasn’t the Rachel, Finn, and Kurt show. Everyone got their fair share of the spotlight, and that ending with the Lady and the Tramp reference is the cherry on top of this sweet episode.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “River Deep, Mountain High” by Mercedes and Santana. This one is a bit tricky since it’s an episode full of unforgettable numbers. Whether it’s the sugary sweet Lucky by Sam and Quinn, the hilariously intended Sing! by Tina and Mike Chang, or the hilariously unintended With You I’m Born Again by Finchel, this episode delivered musically.  It’s a nail biting choice between Kurt and Rachel’s Happy Days Are Here Again, but in the end I have to go with Santana and Mercedes’ take on this Tina Turner classic.

S02E07

07. THE SUBSTITUTE (Season 2, Episode 7)
Directed by: Ryan Murphy
Written by: Ian Brennan

In probably the most relevant she has been since winning the Oscar way back in 1999, Gwyneth Paltrow’s first major TV appearance definitely started with a bang. Playing the substitute glee club teacher Holly Holiday, she brought out the fun in every member of the New Direction. This ended up with Paltrow winning the Emmy for Guest Actress that season and made her reach halfway of the EGOT territory.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Forget You” by Holly Holiday. It’s not even a debate anymore. Paltrow’s take became the clear and child friendly alternate to Cee-Lo Green’s explicitly titled original. The impact of this performance reached new heights and ended up with a duet between the two at the Grammy stage back in 2011.

S02E12

08. SILLY LOVE SONGS (Season 2, Episode 12)
Directed by: Tate Donovan
Written by: Ian Brennan

Glee has been fond of doing love themed episodes, but none has been sweeter by far than this sophomore season episode. At a stage in the show’s life when it’s starting to meet the critical backlash, this sugary sweet episode was a perfect reminder of how they can still manage to pull it off perfectly. It’s the second episode from the sophomore season that I’ve listed here, and both of them were episodes without Sue Sylvester in it. Probably a clue of what’s wrong with that season?

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Silly Love Songs” by Dalton Warblers. This is one heavy and musicallys tar studded episode as they tackle MJ and Queen. But of course, this ending performance of this Paul McCartney classic just swept us all off our feet.

S02E19

09. RUMOURS (Season 2, Episode 19)
Directed by: Tim Hunter
Written by: Ian Brennan

By this time, the show has already done a lot of tribute episodes. Whether it’s Britney, Madonna, or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, most of them usually ended  up flat or too much. This one though is where they got it right. Of course it does help that it’s Fleetwood Mac that they’re covering, but at least the connection of the music to the episode felt natural. Plus, it’s the debut episode of Brittany’s “Fondue for Two” segment, so there’s that.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Dreams” by April Rhodes and Will Schuester. Sure Chenoweth can be too much to a lot of people, but in this rare instance where her character was stripped off the theatrics, it’s just a match made in heaven.

S03E03

10. ASIAN F (Season 3, Episode 3)
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by: Ian Brennan

Definitely one of the more underrated episodes of the whole series, Asian F deserves more credit than it actually have. By the third season, it’s like the show has been too tired and has been repetitive with their storylines. So when this episode featured a lot of Harry Shum Jr.’s Mike Chang character, it gave a fresh breath of air to the show. Sure we still got the never ending Rachel and Mercedes feud, but who ever gets tired of the diva off? Definitely not me!

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “It’s All Over” by Mercedes, Will, Mike, Finn, Kurt, Santana, Brittany, Quinn, and Tina. The show has done a lot of copycat movie/Broadway performances, but this reprise of the Dreamgirls classic was totally in synch to the struggle of the episode. If only we could have continued it with Mercedes doing And I Am Telling You…

S03E10

11. YES/NO (Season 3, Episode 10)
Directed by: Eric Stoltz
Written by: Brad Falchuk

Okay so it wasn’t one of the msot perfect episodes the show has ever done, but it’s one that is really memorable. For fans of the series, a proposal from Will to Emma has been so overdue, and this was the right time to do so. And it’s surely as grand as one can get. We’ve seen Will walk in water just to pop the question, and all is well again. Whether it’s a sigh of “finally they’re engaged!” or “finally it’s been three season you know!”, at least it progressed the story of the both of them. Also, Helen Mirren plays as Becky’s inner thoughts. Come on, who doesn’t want a Dame to voice out your thoughts?

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “We Found Love” by New Direction. It’s as lavish and grand as one proposal can get. Jumping off the water, some water acrobatics, and walking on it? It’s too much over the top, but it perfectly suits the Glee environment.

S03E22

12. GOODBYE (Season 3, Episode 22)
Directed by: Brad Falchuk
Written by: Brad Falchuk

There are some shows that lives and dies with their characters, but you’d realize that it’s time to say goodbye to them. This is one of those shows. After three seasons, it’s pretty weird that we still have this near 30 somethings play high school students, and though Ryan Murphy isn’t really technically aware of the world reality, this is one concern that the show consistently gets. So finally, we’ve come to the end of most of the original New Direction members.  And of course they won’t go without a bang.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Roots Before Branches by Rachel. By now, we’ve already been used to the show stopping group performances every season finale, but this solo effort by Rachel gave us not only her usual dependable vocals, but also a reminder now that most of the original cast will be gone by next season.

S04E04

13. THE BREAK UP (Season 4, Episode 4)
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by: Ryan Murphy

The fourth season have shown more of the newbies and less of the original cast, so when an episode that mostly focused on the latter happened, it sure makes its way to the best of the show list. This episode, probably one of the saddest the show has ever produced, dealt with the break up of three longest couples on the show: Finchel, Klaine, and Britana. And as the episode progresses, it just went from sad to sadder and saddest. Definitely one of the “prepare your tissues” moments of the show.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Give Your Heart a Break” by Rachel and Brody Weston. Yes, it has The Scientist number in the end, but this stripped down version duet of the Demi Lovato pop hit bu Rachel and Brody just hits the high point in the tears department. While Finn was watching them perform, you already know that a break up is about to happen and as the song progresses, it simultaneously starts to crumble and you realize that the relationship is slowly faltering right in front of your eyes. 

S04E18

14. SHOOTING STAR (Season 4, Episode 18)
Directed by: Bradley Buecker
Written by: Matthew Hodgson

One thing I appreciate the most about earlier Glee is when they incorporate current issues into their weekly story. Like what happened when they dealt with Dave’s homophobia back in the second season. For this particular episode, they took the rampant school shootings angle and featured some of the most intense moments of the show. The end results and the whole episodes weren’t as pleasing as expected, but you gotta give them credit for at least trying. Also, it’s one of the few remaining episodes in the latter seasons where Sue was given something worthy to do.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Say” by New Direction. Well as for starters, there weren’t many numbers in this episode, but this closing number easily wins this title.

S05E03

15. THE QUARTERBACK (Season 5, Episode 3)
Directed by: Brad Falchuk
Written by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan

It’s rare that a show suffers from a  different kind of loss — one that does not involve contracts, salaries, or creative differences. When one of the show’s breakout stars Cory Monteith passed away last year, the show gave a proper send off tribute to him. While in the episode, they discussed the loss of Finn and not the actor himself, you know that all the emotions and sadness from the actors weren’t merely acting. It’s such a shame though that Diana Agron wasn’t present in this episode. The episode, starting with Seasons of Love group number, indicates that this will be a heavy episode but more than anything it was a celebration of one’s life. As a matter of fact, I’d speak for a lot of people when I say that they could have ended the show anymore with this since this episode is basically ending it on a high note.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: Make You Feel My Love” by Rachel. There’s the aforementioned Seasons of Love and there’s Santana’s if I Die Young, but who wasn’t bawling by the time Rachel was already signing this Bob Dylan classic? No one.

There you have it. I’m actually excited for the 100th episode since the original cast will be back and will be re-doing their favorite numbers from the previous seasons. It’s such a bittersweet feeling since they have lost a member of the original cast, but then again,  hope they’ll incorporate Finn somehow in the story. Anyway, how about you? What are your favorite Glee episodes? How about Glee numbers? From those not mentioned above, I have to include Teenage Dream by the Dalton Warblers, the Rumor Has It/Someone Like You mash up, and Mercedes and Rachel’s Take Me or Leave Me as some of my additional favorites. Happy 100th, Gleeks!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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