The Glee Project Season 2 Finale Recap: And the Winner Is... [Updated]

glee project final 3Say what you want about The Glee Project, but it’s one of the few reality series on television that doesn’t add an extra hour or two of padding to its season finale. So tonight, instead of a bloated two- or three-hour endurance test to get us to an announcement that took all of 10 seconds, we got an action-packed hour that shone a spotlight on the respective strengths and weaknesses of the Season 2 Top 3: Aylin, Ali, and Blake.

What we didn’t get, alas, was relief from the “boys rule” doctrine that’s dominated music-centric reality competition series for half a decade now.

In crowning Blake Jenner as the Season 2 champ, executive producer Ryan Murphy rewarded the competition’s second most-consistent player — sorry, folks, but the top spot still belongs to sixth-place finisher Shanna — who also happened to be its No. 1 draft pick for creating a heartthrob sensation in the vein of Darren Criss.

[Side note: Anyone else catch Ryan Murphy’s Tweet from earlier today? “Who will win THE GLEE PROJECT 2? Writing such a great role for the winner! And just wait until you see who they are dating…” Please post your theories/suggestions below!]

Anyhow, while it’s true that in the wake of Shanna’s ouster, I’d joined Team Aylin — and her rip-roaring rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” did nothing to dissuade me from hoping she’d win the seven-episode guest arc on the Glee mothership — but I can’t get upset over Blake’s win. His singing voice may be more solid than spectacular, but he exhibited twice the acting talent of Season 1 champs Samuel Larsen and Damian McGinty during their combined Glee Project runs, he’s got a tremendous head of hair, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. I’d definitely rank him in the Top 3 or 4 contestants of Season 2, so don’t look to me for any garment-tearing or teeth-gnashing or hand-wringing.

Okay, maybe just a wee bit of teeth-gnashing, since it seemed as thought the judges/mentors pretty much ignored the final video shoot of the season and the final set of last-chance performances in the process of choosing their winner.

But let’s start at the very beginning. (“A very good place to start.” –You) We kicked things off with a homework assignment of “You Can’t Stop the Beat” (from Hairspray) in which no one particularly stood out, maybe because 10 of the 11 previously eliminated contestants, or perhaps just Lily, were drowning them out. (I kid, I kid!) Guest judge Chris Colfer declared all three finalists as winners, which resulted in a strange moment of “You get a mentoring session! And you get a mentoring session! And you get a mentoring session!”

Then it was time for the main shoot — a video of Hot Chelle Rae’s “Tonight, Tonight” set at a senior prom that found Ali as the flirty mean girl, Aylin as the chick who had to sneak out against her parent’s wishes, and Blake as the popular but humble prom king.

And while Aylin needed her lyrics sheet in the studio, I thought she best embodied a real life high-school student getting her party on. That girls’ room hair shake, followed by a spell behind the turntables, wasn’t merely convincing, but proved yet again that Aylin’s got some on-screen magnetism that pulls focus from the folks wading in the background. (Side note: Regarding said background players, I kept finding my attention drawn to Shanna, and somewhat surprisingly, to the often subdued Dani, who looked unspeakably gorgeous.)

Ali, meanwhile, dug into the best-defined role of the mini-movie like a Weight Watchers subscriber using up their Swing Points in one sitting. I liked that she managed to score some genuine laughs with her screentime, a skill that seems to get short shrift in the Glee Project universe, despite the fact that Glee is — at least as far as Emmy sees it — a comedy. Credit to Ian Brennan for visualizing Ali in a broad, bitchy role, as we all know Tracy Flicks do exist in real life.

Blake, for his part, gave what felt like his least compelling video performance of the season. His stage dive into the crowd was disappointingly half-hearted, and where the heck was his prom-king swagger?

Oh, and I almost forgot that Damian McGinty showed up as a surprise guest, though honestly, he seemed about as vital to the proceedings as he did lurking in the background through the latter half of Glee‘s third season. (Cue sad trombone here.)

Finally, it was time for last-chance performances:

* Ali chose “Popular” from Wicked, in keeping with Ian’s vision of her as a promiscuous bitch, and this seemed like a smart strategic move to me. Indeed, while there are still moments where I find Ali’s singing voice to be slightly strident, there’s no arguing she was the most successful in fully bringing to life a fully realized character during her time on stage.

* Blake chose a Dalton-esque blazer, a hoodie, and Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” all of which flew in the face of trying to show Ryan Murphy new and intriguing sides to his personality. The performance itself was good, but I wanted to jump up and cheer when Ryan asked if Blake’s microphone-tossing trick was supposed to “the thing I haven’t seen before.” Au contraire, countered our eventual winner, who then whipped out a poem about being the guy who’s been hurt, who’s steadfast, who’s funny, etc. I’d have prefered a dramatic reading from Hamlet, or maybe even Overboard (which is an awesome movie, BTW), but I’ll give points to the guy for calling himself “the whitest half-Cuban ever.”

* Aylin, for her part, gave the night’s most mesmerizing vocal performance by tearing the head off Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” then roasting it with a honey glaze and some sprigs of rosemary. (Okay, that made no sense…but she sounded really, really great, with impressive amounts of emotional intensity.) Amber Riley’s “Sing, Heffa!” grin pretty much told the tale.

When Ryan finally polled the Glee cast members and writers who’d attended the final performances, it seemed like loyalties were pretty evenly dispersed among the Top 3, but then Charlie — who was eliminated in Episode 6, and therefore probably didn’t have much sway with the people making the actual decisions — had to go and yammer on about how Aylin had the power to “take the bridge of fear and intolerance that has defined the post 9/11 decade in this country and burn it to the ground.” Talk about putting the “dbag” in “windbag”! The only thing dude burned to the ground was his girlcrush’s chances at victory! Argh.

For a second, I hoped Ryan might go back on his word and declare more than one winner — or at least name one winner, and a pair of consolation prizes giving Aylin and Ali (and maybe Shanna?) two-episode arcs on Glee as well — but it wasn’t meant to be. At least not for now. Let’s end with a poem.

He’s that guy with the windswept Bieber mane
He’s that guy who says that he’s known pain
He’s the guy who’ll be joining New Directions
He’s that guy who’s the object of affections
He’s that guy with a seven-episode arc-ie
He’s that guy who’s more sincere than snarky
He’s that guy who’ll hook up with [name redacted]
He’s that guy, let’s be thankful he can act, yes?

And now it’s your turn to hit the comments with your thoughts. Did the right person win Season 2 of The Glee Project? If not, who should’ve taken home what Zach Woodlee thinks is “the biggest prize on television”? And how did Season 2 compare to Season 1? Sound off below, and for all the recaps of reality-competition series you can possibly handle, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. A says:

    Though I like Blake, I think he’s hot, good singer, good actor. I really wanted Aylin to win. I think her story hasn’t been told. Blake is just another white guy in a sea of white guys already on Glee. This is coming from someone who is white. Aylin’s story has more spice to it.

  2. YowzaPowza says:

    Blake is a solid actor, but his singing voice is mediocre at best. I never really understood the endless praise for him. I was rooting for Aylin. That girl is unique, much more talented, and her story on Glee would have been interesting to me. I liked Lily also. Great personality, gorgeous and a better voice than Blake. Blake really should not have won. I don’t see what’s interesting about him and never did. Very disappointed.

  3. Daniel says:

    Once again Murphy and/or his Fox puppeteers chose whitebread/cuteboy/generic/blah over true talent. What a shame. Aylin and Ali both should have spots.

  4. LAR says:

    This was my first season watching The Glee Project and I LOVED it! I hope there are more seasons of Glee just so there will be more seasons of TGP :) I think they made the right choice, if only because Blake was clearly the best actor in the group. I think Ryan Murphy wants to write a full time part for Aylin rather than a 7 episode arc, and that’s why she was not chosen.

    • kavyn says:

      I find myself enjoying TGP a lot more than I do Glee. I can’t wait to see what happens to Nellie soon, that girl is pure talent.

  5. Allyson says:

    I was so disappointed when Damian was announced as one of the winners. He couldn’t act and it was painful obivious as the season went on. I was rooting for Ali, but I am not surprised Blake won. It seemes to be a trend for young male stars to win a competition. Blake can actually act so I give Ryan props for not making another mistake like he did with Damian.

  6. Caroline says:

    I feel like Blake wasn’t really an underdog because of him being solid the whole entire season. I honestly was hoping Ryan would choose a girl this season considering there were two guy winners last season. I will give credit to Blake though for being a good performer but I honestly thought that the poem was a little cheesy. It also seemed (to me at least) that most of the previous guest mentors were leaning towards Ali. I wished that this season would have been the season that the other runner-ups got a 2 episode arc but that’s just me.

  7. Dijon Talton says:

    Eck, I hate that this douche bag won. Lets be honest he only won because of the way he looks. If he was ugly, he wouldn’t have made it that far.

  8. tracy says:

    I was disappointed with Blake winning. I was really pulling for Ali or even Aylin. I thought the girls had so much talent and just shined. Ah well…

  9. Coolio Jackson says:

    Ryan Murphy wasn’t content to ruin Nip/Tuck…then he destroyed Glee and now The Glee Project. Blake has zero charisma. This will be another failed casting stunt. I don’t know when the Glee Project finale was filmed but I thought it odd that Damien was there since he’s been booted from the show. They did the same with Ashley Fink last year. FOX needs to take Glee away from Ryan Murphy and reinvent it to give it a chance for survival.

  10. John E. says:

    For a show that boasts about its diverse cast from the get-go, it sure has a knack for choosing the cute white boy as its winner every single year.

  11. sky says:

    Just saw a promo where Unique joins the New Directions. Now McKinley’s New Directions will be more diverse. This is something that I’m not looking foward to. Alex was a pretty dull actor last season. Maybe, he got better over the summer break. The New Directions needed a replacement for Finn. Blake has those qualities and some of Sam’s. That way he will be his own personality. I know the others were not mentioned to be a part of the show as a runner up, but it makes one wonder that Glee will somehow introduce them in some compacity. If Glee could introduce Lindsay, Alex, Damian and Samuel in one season, they could find a way to do the same season 4. IMO, Lindsay was the all around better talent. Alex can sing like crazy. Damian was charming. Joe had the I’m different personna. Glee can do the same this year. We’ll have to wait and see.

  12. Scout says:

    Meh. Remind me to never watch this idiotic show again. Blake is a perfectly nice guy. He is also perfectly boring and mundane and ordinary. They already has his character on this show so I can’t figure out what he is bringing that is “new.” Acting? Really. He’s no Marlon Brando. He is competent. So was Aylin and Ally – who could sing circles around him and both brought something interesting into the Glee universe. Ally nailed the bitch character by a mile. That would have been fun to watch. I miss the “fun” Glee. Now, it just takes itself too seriously. And Ryan comes off as a colossal douche. Apparently, only completely nondescript yet adorable little boys are the thing that seem to “inspire” Ryan. Utterly ridiculous. Will not waste my time again.

  13. cookielove says:

    So right, Slezak……no girl will ever win Idol or Voice or this. :( GO MELANIE!!!!!

  14. 4D says:

    Should have been Aylin….sigh. Blake is just Corey Monteith 2.0

    LOVED The Glee Project…excited for Glee in September!!!

  15. Sookie says:

    I don’t know about Ryan but Blake’s poem totally inspired me! I see his character now as an obviously white guy in a Cuban gang. He doesn’t know why he doesn’t fit in. He only speaks Spanish and Brittney keeps calling him Finn.

  16. gleeknomore says:

    Blake is so boring! The girls definitely outshine him. Glee Project = Gay Sex Project! RM’s just choosing the cute boys over the talented girls – he probably just want a piece of them. Disgusting!

  17. Cate53 says:

    After Damien’s win last year for being Irish and cute, despite limited singing and dancing and zero acting talent, I think they have been smart in choosing someone who is a good all rounder. Blake is a decent actor and singer and unlike the girls, his storyline can go in a few directions. I’m not sure Aylin had the experience to wake on what would have been a controversial role. The writers may have doubted her acting capacity, but also she has been a bit inconsistent on a da today basis. I also think Charlie’s pontificating didn’t help her. However, she did well with Rolling in the Deep. Good voice.
    I was kind of rooting for Ali. I think she’s very talented, but she’s going to find it hard to be cast in stage roles professionally. I liked the idea of the bitchy character she was building, but again, her acting talent was not assured, and you couldn’t really introduce her as a bit part, swaying in the background character.
    Last year proved that the most talented don’t always win. I think Lindsay and Alex are more talented then all of this years cast, but I liked Nellie a lot, although she probably appeared a year or so too soon for her in terms of self confidence. Lily was very talented, but seemed like a bit of a nightmare to work with. I liked Abraham’s look and style, although he turned out to be rather diva-ish and more mouth than true talent.
    The Glee Project is a great fun show, and disagreeing with the decisions and the picks is part of the fun. Blake will probably end up as another minor character like Joe, and I’m happy to give him a go, and wish him good luck.

  18. Dan says:

    Ali had my vote. I think the judges/producers screwed themselves last season. I would much rather see all 3 of these finalists on Glee than all 4 from last year.

  19. Vetle says:

    SOME people dislike Blake because he’s built like a standard jock – but wouldn’t that be like saying that he doesn’t have a suitable look? I think if casted correctly, he could break a stereotype – people are way to quick to judge. He has already proved he is a great actor. I think Samuel would’ve been a better character if it wasn’t so boring. It didn’t seem real. I pictured him as a Puck-light type of character, only smarter. Not that conflicted Christian guy. Very forced. Cameron would’ve been better, from last season of the Glee Project then. And, uhm, let’s not talk about Damian… k?

    However, I’m all kinds of sads that Aylin didn’t win. Hopefully both her and Ali get a couple of episodes. And Nellie… And Shanna…

    • Andy says:

      “People are way too quick to judge.” Isn’t that exactly what you just did?!!! Here’s where I think you went astray: A.)”Bland” Jenner was touted repeatedly, ad nauseum, as a great actor by Ulrich and the mentors to brainwash you, the audience, into taking their opinions as the absolute truth. I found nothing about him that screamed great actor…..nothing…What’s the old saying? Say something often enough and eventually it will be accepted as the truth. B.) Samuel would have been more palatable to you if he hadn’t been written as such a boring character. Hmmmmm……On whose doorstep should we place the blame for that mistake? Three quarters goes to the actor for not being a good enough actor to bring the character to life (specifically in Larsen’s case) and the other quarter goes to the writers who wrote the crap in the first place…..Sorry for being so blunt! C.) Cameron proved repeatedly that acting was not his forte in TGP1 and actually said so himself—he didn’t want to be an actor. He struggled through each episode of TGP1 and became progressively more awkward as time went on. Murphy saw his struggles and didn’t want him until Cameron himself said that he wanted to go home. (Hell hath no fury like a Ryan Murphy who’s been scorned!) He’d had it and, frankly, from my point of view, I think he was a little miffed, didn’t like the constant criticism he was getting and basically threw in the towel. Quote, unquote, “If I’m in the bottom three again this week, I’m out of here!” Remember him saying that, folks? Yeah….Cameron was basically trying to save face by quitting (I don’t blame him as they were pretty hard on him some times but NOTHING like they were to Damian McGinty! They basically “ripped him a new one” every chance they got!!) Plus, I’m sure Ulrich and Murphy were promising him they’d promote his singing until the cows came home if he really didn’t want to stick around—–which is exactly what they’ve done even up until this very day almost a year later. Cameron got exactly what he wanted—promotion by the Glee bigwigs and he came out smelling like the proverbial rose. Many of you have crowned him “Saint Cameron”. He’s not. He’s just an ordinary very nice young man with some musical talents who happened to get real lucky—–i.e. Glee promotes him quietly in the background. D.) “And, uhm”…..let’s DO talk about Damian! He was an incredible actor and singer a LONG LONG LONG time before Glee succeeded in getting their grubby little claws on him. He performed in a world renowned stage show called “Celtic Thunder” for almost 5 years starting from the age of 14 up until he was 18. He’s traveled the world over and performed in such prestigious venues as Radio City Music Hall in NYC, PBS specials,The White House for Barack Obama and various U.S. Senators and Representatives (plus many other dignitaries), etc. for audiences of up to 15,000. (He also had a tutor and did all his schooling while on tour! Try doing that, you nay-sayers! Don’t think you could!) You do NOT, I repeat NOT!!! get hired by a multi-million dollar enterprise of that magnitude to perform in such venues if, “uhm” (your word), you are an incompetent amateur actor/singer!!! (as you intimated.) I’m going to point the finger of blame squarely where it belongs on this count— Murphy, Brennan and Falchuk (and other culprits) are the cretins who succeeded in convincing you that he wasn’t the exceptionally talented individual that he is! They desperately tried to hide his talents (just have to ask yourself WHY the heck they would do such an underhanded thing, dont you? What was their motive?!) in almost every episode he was in….didn’t succeed by the way….The kid just “popped” on the screen every time the camera passed by him much to the chagrin of Murphy and his partners in crime, I’m sure! Shame on them a 1,00,000,000 times over for trying to destroy this young man’s career and reputation!!! I have NEVER heard a man sing like this young gentleman can sing; and mark my words, some day you will be bragging that you got to see him when his career just started to explode. Check out his music from his “Celtic Thunder” days, in particular “A Bird Without Wings”, “Bauchaille en Eirne” (sp.?), “Ireland’s Call” and corny as it may sound, “Puppy Love” to see what this man is capable of. The other 3 TGP1 contenders who won a slot on Glee can’t hold even the “eensyest weensyest” candle to this young man’s talent…..NO amount of vocal coaching can produce a voice like Mr. McGinty’s and that includes any auto-tuning (etc.) shenanigans the Anders’ family might employ in the recording booth…..Just ain’t gonna’ happen! E.) Aylin and Ali very well may turn up in an episode of Glee. Murphy is the boss and what he says goes. Don’t count on it though because the writers will be too busy servicing the “Rachel Berry and Alex Newell Show” to write for any other characters. That’s the truth and you know it!…….It is what it is…Murphy’s got the power to do just about anything he darned well pleases!….And he does……

      • J P says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Damian’s voice is amazing and his expressions were 1000X better than Alex and Sam put together (I am so tired of Sam’s “bad boy” squint. He hasn’t any other face). I enjoyed every episode Damian was in, and none that the other two were in. Lindsey was a dream to listen to and watch so I enjoyed her as well.

        I was rooting for Aylin, but honestly, the last 3 were all my favorites and I would have been fine with any winner this season.

  20. J P says:

    Maybe Ryan goes with the ones who move him most (anyone else notice that all the winners–Sam, Damian, Blake–are male)?

    I thought that Blake is a really good choice, but I found my eyes watching Ali the most this week.

  21. Sabrina says:

    I like both TGP1 and TGP2. Was rooting for a girl, but I don’t hate Blake. I think I kind of love them all. But, I think the wise actors should just view TGP and Glee as just one of their projects. The “icing on the cake” and continue pursuing other avenues. Ryan cannot be expected to look out for any of these actors. There are too many of them in Season 4 for any real plot development. Damian will be back, but I think he is smart enough not to put all of his eggs in this Glee basket.