Will is moving slowly down the corridors when he hears a little ragtag group of kids singing something.... is it live, or is it memory? Is it both? He slips in and sees them.
Before they were champions...
Before they were winners...
Before they made the cover of magazines and turned pop culture upside down...
Before they were Emmy nominees, Teen Choice nominees, People's Choice nominees, Golden Globe winners...
They were five in number, and they were all stereotypes. The Black Sassy Chick, the Gay Kid, the Wheelchair Kid, the Shy Asian Girl, and that annoying Jewish girl with the big nose who was supposedly the only one with any talent.
They were singing Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat.
Now they are winners, they have awards on their mantles, and we all know all of them sing better than Finn does. Every one of them has proven themselves capable of outstanding solo vocal work. Will even let four of them represent the group in competition. They have also all five proven themselves to be more than their stereotype... well, maybe not Tina. Maybe next year she will get to be a real girl.
Mercedes Jones, Kurt Hummel, Artie Abrams, Tina Cohen-Chang, and Rachel Berry.
And there they are, singing Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat. It still kind of sucks, but it's also made of awesome, because they all are, and this was one of the things Brad got right.
As they end, Will gets all choked up, because this is a manipulative moment, and he gives them a manipulative theme that will lead to some really screwed up choices. They have to say "Goodbye" to each other. Funny how this is the first time in three years a senior has graduated from the Glee Club, unless that's what happened to Matt... but nobody sang for him! Poor Matt! Really, how DID they get a Glee Club made up entirely of Freshman and Sophomores? Mercedes wants to lock the doors and stay there forever, probably because she knows that she's about to get written out of the show almost completely. Brittany even offers up a plan that involves waste paper basket abuse, murder and cannibalism... I've heard of eating at Joe's, but this is ridiculous. Will decides he'd rather just sing to them, which is kind of nice. Matt Morrison has a really beautiful voice that is desperately underused on the show. It's a shame this particular song is so boring. He's singing "Forever Young", which makes sense not only because they will stay forever young in his mind's eye as they go through life, but because he's been reliving his own teenage glory days vicariously through them, especially Finn, for the last three years.
Kurt appears to be floating. It's a little weird, and I am not sure it was intentional, but he's floating down the hall and giving us a voiceover about his time at McKinley. At first he was in the closet; during that time, he was also frequently in the dumpster, because he wasn't really in the closet as much as he wanted to be, and Finn and Puck were both still assholes. Now he feels he's come out of this purgatory of a school stronger. We see two rather effeminate boys walk past; Kurt feels he's made a difference, and now kids at McKinley can be gay in peace because Kurt's the one that got beaten up and driven away and elected Prom Queen. Now all the little homophobic bastards got it out of their system, and they leave the new gay kids alone. Of course, effeminate boys still can't be elected Class President, given competition solos while wearing gender-appropriate clothing, or cast in singing roles for the school musical ahead of football players who don't want to be there... but...at least they can walk down the hall. Progress.
This is the first time Glee has actually suggested that Kurt Hummel changed the climate for other gay kids at McKinley. It will be interesting to see if the writers remember that next year.
Kurt breaks every Hummelberrian heart in the fandom by snarking about how he used to pretend he was in lust with Rachel to get out of dating Mercedes. Heh. Hummelberrians had kind of a rough episode all around, actually. Zero sum games create fan wars, ya'll. Kurt hopes he can get through the next few days without turining into a hot teary trainwreck... and he enters the auditorium to see his father waiting for him. And that would be... why? Is it the NYADA letter? Nope, if the NYADA letter came now they might have a moment to discuss their feelings about it and decide what to do next. Can't have that. But what we do have is kind of fun.
Burt wants to give Kurt his graduation present. It is apparently not a car; nor is it monogrammed towels. Burt admits that he never knows what to get Kurt... so Kurt chirps that he's easy and suggests that Burt get him any old thing from one of two Vanity places Burt has never heard of before and will not remember.
Then Burt goes into a monologue that almost did not work. Burt begins by telling his son that he "lost" him around Kurt's eighth birthday. (This was, not incidentally, also around the time that Kurt's mother died.) Before he turned eight, Kurt was normal. Then... he turned into.... THIS.
Watch it, Burt. THIS is pretty flipping wonderful, if you ask me. I'd be damned proud of THIS if it lived in my house, and the religious right can shove it.
Burt felt like he was living with an alien. OK, so Kurt begins to grow into his true self, and suddenly he's an alien. Once Kurt's mother died, Burt just couldn't keep up at all. Keep up... with what, exactly? His wants and needs, or the cutting edge changes in men's fashion? No, I do not think I'm being too critical here. As I was watching this scene for the first time, my daughter, who is a Mercedes fan, said, "Well, gee, THAT'S rude!"
That's my girl.
Fortunately, this is Burt Hummel, after all, and he veers out of the danger zone pretty fast. Burt is proud of the work they did to bond and grow together. Does Kurt remember when that started?
Yes, we all do, and the moment Burt says this, I realize something terribly, terribly sad. Kurt was a sixteen year old sophomore in high school when he and his father began to bond. This was also the year Kurt joined Glee Club and made friends. So... he had no friends at all, and he was estranged from his father from the time he was eight to the time he was sixteen? Dear heavens. Is there anything about this kid's life that isn't jaw-droppingly tragic and depressing? Was his sophomore year literally the only year of his life that didn't completely suck?
Kurt and Burt began to find their common ground and their love for each other in front of our eyes, during that magic season when Glee was good and Mike O'Malley got an Emmy nomination. It was in the basement of their old house... a camcorder set up to record one of the most famous dance scenes in Glee history. And suddenly, on the stage, here is Tina... and here is Brittany, flanking Mike in the costumes they wore once before... and Kurt suddenly realizes that Burt has not forgotten about Single Ladies.
Honey, they are going to show clips of Single Ladies at Chris Colfer's In Memoriam segment during the Oscars some time near the turn of the 22nd century. Nobody is EVER going to forget that. Kurt begins to sputter in mortified protest as his father sternly orders him to accept his present, and Glee launches into the funniest damned thing it's done all year.
Burt Hummel is dancing Single Ladies with Brittany and Tina.
Hee hee hee.
Hee hee hee hee.
Hee hee hee hee hee.
Hee hee hee hee hee hee
Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee
Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee
Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee
(The script reads, "And then America s***s itself.)
Oh. My. God. DO IT AGAIN! This will NEVER grow old, not either version. And we've got a dancing flashback of this cute little first season baby Kurt who has barely hit puberty intercut with Burt throwing himself through this choreography with gusto. Even Burt can't put on the unitard for Kurt. He does, however, have the glove. After a few moments of stunned, horrified bewilderment, Kurt begins to figure out just how sweet and special this is, and by the end he's laughing just as hard as the rest of us are. Best. Graduation. Gift. Ever.
(After all, he already has a car.)
Blaine, who was not around to see the power, the beauty, the grace, the hilarious glory that was the Original Single Ladies, doesn't understand. Was Burt dancing like a dork REALLY better than monogrammed towels? Oh, Blaine... you shouldn't have. No, really, you shouldn't have. Yes, Blaine is seventeen and he's giving his lover monogrammed towels. Is it possible he's somehow channeling Kurt's grandparents?
At any rate, it's time for Grandpa and Kurt to have their little chat about long distance relationships... you know, the elephant in the room that's been haunting Blaine since Dance With Somebody. Well, at least Blaine's not avoiding it by freezing Kurt out, and Kurt's not avoiding it by sexting goobers anymore. Kurt tells Blaine that he envisions the end of his life like The Notebook; an old man in a nursing home talking about his high school sweetheart. In this case, the person he's talking to is Blaine, and he is talking about their own love story. I sincerely hope that version of Blaine does not have Alzheimer's disease. Blaine wonders if that means they are going to be all right, because Blaine does not understand that long distance relationships look quite easy to a romantic like Kurt when he has not actually set foot in another city where there's lots of handsome gay men who will find him quite tasty. Of course, Blaine also does not understand that Kurt's dreams of leaving town are about to be torpedoed, either. Kurt promises he'll never say goodbye to Blaine, which means I guess that the old married couple Klaine will never speak to each other when leaving the house for work. They will figure out the whole long distance thing. Of course they will. The answer will come right to them and it will be shockingly easy. And then they don't kiss because they are really just best friends who had sex only just that one time. So... how is Kurt going to say goodbye to everybody else?
Kurt is the second person to trot out his Goodbye Everybody song, and this is a prime example of the Undeserved Payoff motif that's going to come up more than once in this recap. Kurt wants to dedicate his song to... the guys in the room. You see, the girls sang with him, had sleepovers with him, shared clothes with him, confided in him, comforted him, befriended him, and danced with him. The guys... stopped throwing him into dumpsters. Finn even stopped calling him a faggot who needed a restraining order and needed to learn that no means no... eventually. Of course, after they became brothers, they never, ever spoke again. Kurt has been quite forcefully, jarringly, noticeably barred from all the guys scenes. He didn't even get a shot glass from Puck. But now, he's dedicated his song of gratitude and friendship to them rather than to the girls because they.... uh.... yeah, I was right the first time. They stopped throwing him in dumpsters.
Oh, and Kurt... if, in that room, it does not matter if you are gay or straight, why did you even have to say that? With that, he launches into a sweet rendition of "I Remember" which reminds us all that Chris really can sing straight up pop reasonably well and there's no reason to limit him only to Broadway, especially since he's not going to Broadway. Yes, Kurt, sing to MERCEDES. OK, Blaine does deserve this song, that's OK. It's all very heartwarming and everybody is singing it to each other and to Kurt. If he sang to to the whole group for befriending him, it would be wonderful, but the idea of him dedicating to the people who largely ignored him at best is one of those times when the cloying sentiment intended by the script does not match the narrative history of the show. This is unearned. I do love the moment that Kurt sings "I've never been afraid to cry", promptly tears up, and then kind of rolls his eyes heavenward at the very fact that he's about to spill the waterworks at that particular line. However, he ends the song looking at Rachel. I don't recall her being one of the men in the room.
Rachel has been stalking again. You see, this was such a successful tactic for her in securing a NYADA makeup audition, she has decided to employ it as a technique for ensuring proper attention for herself and her guys from PACE and NYADA. She comes up to Kurt and Finn, who are talking at the lockers - see, they do have an actual relationship, we just never see it - and they express excitement at the idea that the letters that seal their success and doom are on the way. Finn is the one who has the good sense to be afraid of those letters. Rachel suggests that they make a pact; they will open the letters together, to assure that all the attention in that scene will be primarily on her rather than on either of them, because, as we learned in this episode, she is the only one of the three who actually matters as an individual; the others exist only to define her and provide contrast to her story. This is not something I realized most of this season.
Santana does not appreciate having balloons in her face. They are not her balloons, but they are in her way. What is causing this impediment to her progress? Why, it's Sam and Mercedes. That video Sam put on Youtube of Mercedes singing has led Mercedes to her Happy Ending. Mercedes is headed to Los Angeles. She has a recording contract; she will be a backup singer on an indie label while studying at UCLA. Yep, in the end... she's going to be a backup singer. She is indeed Kelly Rowland. Still, it's honest work in the business, it's a great result for her, and Santana is happy for her. By, Amber. It's been a pleasure. Maybe you will visit next year. And the first Muppet Baby is written off the show completely.
Mike has also reached his Happy Ending. He applied for Alvin Ailey, which is an appropriate dance academy that specializes in the kind of dancing that Mike has shown evidence of being very good at - modern dance, jazz, etc. However, the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago has offered him a scholarship to dance a style of dance for whom he has not had any canon training and for which we have had absolutely no indication that he has any interest. I did not know that Mike wanted to dance ballet. However, because the Joffrey is the most prestigious dance program in the country, that is enough reason for Mike to go there. I guess. Bye, Harry. It's been a pleasure. Maybe you will visit next year. Now... will Tina end up dating somebody else, now that her guy has been written off the show completely?
Santana, however, is not being written off the show completely. Therefore her own plans to go to the University of Lewisville, which is in neither Lima nor New York, must be, by definition, scuttled. She wants to be a star, like everybody else... Mercedes, Berry, Boy Chang, Lady Hummel... oh, wait, actually one of those people is a complete miserable failure, but Santana does not know this yet. At any rate, she wants to seek fame and fortune instead of more attainable goals, so she is going to ask her mother for advice.
Santana's mother, played by Gloria Estevan, opens a scene in Breadstix by talking about the fact that Santana is gay, because this is apparently the only portion of Santana's being that defines her anymore. And yes, she's talking only to Santana and Brittany, whom we can assume already know this. I am getting tired of the anecdotes about Halloween costumes defining people's sexual orientation. The gist of the matter is that Santana's mother does not mind that Santana is a lesbian, which we already knew. They remind us that Abuela rejected Santana, and then Santana, sitting in a restaurant dressed in her cheerleader's uniform, informs her mother that she does not want to go to Cheerleader School. She wants to be in New York with Rachel,
because that's where all the really interesting action is going to be. Her mother thinks Santana should go to college, because she does not understand that Santana is trying to avoid being written off the show.
We repeat the lame joke about Brittany and Purdue, and then we learn the narrative conceit by which the show's least talented actress and singer (and best dancer) has succeeded in remaining in the cast of this show. Brittany has flunked out with a 0.0 grade point average. This does not appear to bother her much. She tells us cheerfully that she will repeat her Senior year, and that this time she will go to class. (I guess choir is not a class at McKinley, as it was in my high school. I doubt she'd be getting a zero from Will.) Brittany would not do well at my son's high school. You need a 2.0 to be Class President or in any club, and you need a 3.0 to be a cheerleader. Santana wonders why Brittany is OK with this. but of course... it's because Brittany is not being written off the show. Santana ponders staying in Lima with Brittany.
Back to the classroom. Finn and the seniors want to sing to the underclassmen. He tells them that the Glee Club will take care of them if they take of it; I'd say that is true as long as you remind Will of himself as much as Finn does. They launch into "You Get What You Give", and there are lines for everybody except Kurt, who has already sung this episode. Most of these kids are dating somebody in a different grade from their own, so we have a lot of shots of seniors cuddling and saying goodbye to their significant other, and it all ends in something that looks a lot like ring around the rosie, juniors inside the circle. Notice that Brittney is on the inside with the younger kids.
And now.. let's discuss chairs. Yes. Rachel wants the expensive chairs for their wedding, and Finn wants the cheaper ones because he may already understand in his heart the asshole stunt he's going to pull at the end of this episode. Of course, the subject is not really chairs. That's just the segue. Finn thinks Rachel is settling on her husband, and I think he's showing some emotional intelligence. Rachel insists that she loves him and they are getting married, even if they have to sit in ugly chairs. The only important line in this entire scene is the moment that Finn realizes that Rachel is settling. He's right, and it will inform his decisions later.
Now it's time for Finn's voiceover. He is contented with his high school career; he has a football championship, a Show Choir championship, he "never hurt anybody real bad"... uh, I don't know about that, Finn... It appears to me that you screwed at least four people up very fiercely at one time or another. (Discussion topic, kiddees... see if you can identify who I mean and when!) Finn was terrified for his future at first, but he isn't anymore. He's going to marry a great girl, and move to New York to chase his dreams with his wife and his... gay stepbrother. OK, once again, why must the gay characters be defined solely by being gay? After three years of knowing Kurt, when will he just be his stepbrother? Is that gay thing a laugh line? Why?
Finn had an audition with James Lipton. Of course, what he applied to is a Master's Degree program. He'd need the performance of the century to be accepted as a college freshman with absolutely no acting experience whatsoever. We see Lipton ask Finn to start with his dramatic monologue, but we don't actually see the monologue. Finn thinks he nailed it, but we are not told why. It's obvious to me that Brad is very, very quickly getting Finn's experience up to speed with Kurt's; we've been ignoring Finn's ambition all year, and now we have to get caught up in three minutes.
OK, so now Finn and Kurt have both given auditions for their school that they think they nailed. Kurt, because we saw that he did indeed do that, and Finn, because he told us so. Up to speed? Good. Now, let's air some dirty laundry. Finn goes in to see the Teacher of the Year, and finds that Will is just finishing writing in Finn's yearbook. And it's pretty generic, appropriate stuff, not at all the kind of message that a teacher in need of friends his own age would write in the yearbook of the boy on whom he has inappropriately projected too much of his own skills and dreams. Finn is offended at first, but it turns out Will just feels too much to write everything he's feeling. What is Will feeling? Guilt. Continuity Alert! Way back in the very first episode, Will decided that New Directions needed a male lead, since Artie can't do that from a wheelchair, no clue why, and Kurt... must never be allowed to sing alone in public if Will can help it. So Will hears Finn straining for the high notes in the shower and decides to pretend that this is good, or at least better than Artie and Kurt. (Wrong on both counts. Three years later, Finn is still the weakest male singer in New Directions, and that includes Mike.) Will confesses that he planted pot in Finn's locker to get him to join New Directions. Finn sits in stunned silence before congratulating Mr. Teacher of the Year for being even cooler than he realized, and the writing staff can cross that little niggling point off their list of complaints people have with Will.
The long section of this episode dedicated to preparing Finn for his eventual disappointment continues as he goes in to talk to his mother and set up his backup plan for when those NYADA letters come. See, Brad thinks we will want to know what's going to happen to Finn. Finn is revisiting a storyline that got abandoned a few months ago; he feels like he let down his father, who got a dishonorable discharge from the army. Finn doesn't think he did enough to try to change that. Finn's dad did some great things; he saved some lives with heroic actions before his own life went off the rails. Now, all of a sudden, Finn is questioning his life direction again. First he wanted to be a soldier. Then he wanted to be an actor. Now he suddenly isn't sure he wants to be an actor anymore, because that does not give his father redemption. Yes, so Brad has Finn question the dream that's about to fall apart for him, as if to say, "Well, I didn't really want that anyway. No big deal for me."
Now, let's have the underclassmen sing to the Seniors? No, scratch that. Not The Seniors. Just Finn. Artie would like to thank Finn for taking time out of his typical day as a hotshot Big Man on Campus, popular kid, to be pleasant for these grateful little dweebs in the Glee Club. This actually marks the second time this episode that people who were being bullied sing a song of gratitude to somebody for simply choosing not to throw them in the dumpster. The song is In My Life, and as they sing, we can rest assured that
Of all these friends and lovers, there is no one, compares with you.
In my life, I love you more.
Yes, if we are to believe Artie, then Joe sings this to Finn, not Quinn. Tina sings it to Finn, not Mike. Sam sings to Finn, not Mercedes. Blaine sings to Finn, not Kurt. Sugar and Rory, of course, are both singing, so it's not to each other. Oh, look, Will has joined in the serenade to the Awesomeness that is Finn Not Being a Bully.
I think I saw Blaine catch Kurt's eye anyway, because the cameraman knows what the real relationships are even if the script does not. Actually, a lot of these kids are ignoring Artie's speech and gazing at the people they really care about. I guess that's a good thing, and it keeps the scene from being unbearable, but Artie's whole speech needed to be completely rewritten, and it needed to be about how they all made a home for themselves at McKinley together. There is a significant glance between Puck and Quinn. Their resolution.... is coming up.
Now Quinn is floating. She feels like she's ending her time at McKinley back on top, since she got into Yale and the Glee Club won Nationals. And oh, she was voted Prom Queen, even if she and Santana are the only people who know that. She thinks her friends are all growing into incredible people... and here she passes a group comprised of Santana, Mike, Mercedes and Kurt... and notes that notning will stop any of them. Well... maybe one person. Puck is in a classroom with Beiste, still trying to study for that exam. He's still not getting it, and Quinn decides it's time to Give Back.
How is Quinn going to Give Back? Why, by solidifying her friendship with Rachel Berry, of course, since all characters on Glee must be defined and validated only through her. She's also solidifying her position as a possible recurring character (probably not a regular) on the show next year by giving Rachel a train pass so that she can travel between New Haven and New York. She gives Rachel a blessing for her romance with Finn, if not the actual wedding, and Rachel puts in a very, very belated plug for the reunion of Quick. Why? So that the next scene will make sense.
Quinn is an honor student, smart enough to get into Yale. Therefore, she's going to try to help Puck study. Unfortunately, he's still not getting it, so Quinn throws out the bombshell. She's here because she loves him. There ya go, Quick fans. The moment you've all been waiting for! Check it off the writer's To Do list. She loves him because he was her first and there are no regrets, no matter how badly it all screwed her up. They had a baby together; they are bonded for life. Quinn feels like Puck needs his swagger back, his confidence back, and the way to do that... is to kiss him. Puck is afraid to accept the kiss at first, but then Quinn reminds him of how he won that one football game back in sophomore year... ah. So that football game DID happen. Was there a kicker in that football game?
And then Quinn kisses Puck. Yeah, sorry Joe. I suggest you look to find affection elsewhere, because this lady has unfinished business.
The kiss does its job, however. It brings Puck back to life. He swaggers down the hall like the BAMF he always was and grabs that test by the throat. He's going to succeed this time.
Now comes one scene in this finale that I was really, really glad to see - one of the best ideas Brad came up with in the whole uneven mess. Sue is no longer a villain and she no longer hates Will. That story is completely used up. What in green gills are they going to do with her now? Ahhh... here comes Roz. They trade some more insult strings and get down to business. Oh, look, Jane found her pregnancy pillow. She's actually showing this week.
Roz states that these two will never like each other - actually, I think they are going to be very best enemies for the rest of their lives, and will be meeting weekly to trade insults over coffee until that baby sticks them both in the Home. One of them is going to give the eulogy for the other and it's going to sound like a roast until the very minute she breaks down in bitter tears. But that's decades in the future. Roz has a more immediate plan; they are going to join forces and go after the school principal for being a complete, incompetent idiot. Although this is the first time Roz has mentioned disliking Figgins, it's such a worthy cause I can't help but applaud, and it's good to know they will both have something to do next year besides try to destroy the Glee Club again.
Then Quinn, who is stilll trying to wrap up her storyline, come in to give Sue back the uniform she hasn't really worn in almost a year. Sue wants Quinn to keep the uniform, to signify the importance of the bond they shared together. Sue used to think that Quinn was just like her, and indeed, she may have been projecting stuff onto Quinn just the same way Will does with Finn. However, Sue has decided that Quinn is better because she's slightly less evil... which I guess is barely true, and becoming more so. I think it's interesting that the show acknowledges that Quinn is often pretty evil, even if less so than Sue. Sue admires Quinn, and thinks she's going to go far. They recap Quinn's entire story very briefly, and end with a tearful hug. It is possible, although by no means certain, that this was Jane's last scene with Dianna, and the realization of that is palpable.
And now... we wait. It's a whole waiting party outside the geography classroom. Finn, Rachel, Mike, Santana, Mercedes, even Kurt if you look fast enough and don't blink (he's wearing a funny hat) are pacing the hall, waiting for the result as Quinn catches up. Puck hollers a warning shot... if he doesn't pass, it's open season on faculty tires! Ah, if seduction and studying don't work, try threats. The teacher opens the door, and Puck grabs his precious, precious test. Clearly the teacher values her tires.
Puckerman got a C-. He does not ever have to worry about the Rain in Spain again. There are lots of hugs, and then we have one of the strangest graduation ceremonies I have ever seen. There are a bunch of kids we don't know onstage in their red caps and gowns. Finn, stage left, is playing his drum kit (why does he not want to be a drummer?) and Puck has his guitar. Finn and Puck begin to sing "Glory Days." This is a very small senior class for a public high school - only about forty people. And, oddly enough, they appear to be doing this by extra curricular activity, because they only show us the Glee Kids graduating. Within that group, it's even weirder: it is not quite correct to say that they are graduating in random alphabetical order, because this is not random.
It's a curtain call for the eight Glee seniors.
The more important you are, the later you are, and we get a very precise idea of what Brad considers the pecking order for these eight people. Take a bow, guys. And they do. As Figgins and I call their names, the senior comes out from a curtain opposite the stage, and greets his or her loved ones in the audience as well as Emma and Will on the way to joining the others already on the stage.
- MIKE CHANG JR, played by Harry Shum, Jr. Did not get any spoken lines until the second season. Did not really sing until the third. He hugs Tina and we see his parents.
- QUINN FABREY, played by Dianna Agron. Villain for much of the show's run. We see her mother.
- MERCEDES JONES, played by Amber Riley. Solid supporting Muppet Baby. Does not have any family.
- NOAH PUCKERMAN, played by Mark Salling. May be here because it's the bridge and he has a moment when he does not have to sing lead. His mother is in the audience. His father, not surprisingly, is not.
- SANTANA LOPEZ, played by Naya Rivera. OK, now we get the big guns, the kids invited back next year. Remember when she was Quinn's minion? And... this is BIZARRE. We just SAW her mother. Where is blazes is she today? Yes, yes, there's Brittany, but... did Gloria Estafan get called away or something?
And now the mighty three:
KURT HUMMEL, played by the award - winning Chris Colfer. Remember when he was a Muppet Baby hanging out with Mercedes? Hey, remember when he was an Indian kid named Raj? And is the daddy bear there? You betcha. THERE'S MY BOY! THERE'S MY BOY! Good heavens, what is that THING on his robe? And Blaine has tissues for him. He's crying again.
Ah, the showmance...
FINN HUDSON, played by Cory Montieth, also an award nominee. He sings WHILE he's getting his diploma. And there's mama. Romy did not get called away after her one big scene.
And finally... because she's the star, and she's the one who really matters.... RACHEL BERRY, played by Lea Michele. Emmy Nominee, People's Choice Nominee, Golden Globe nominee, etc. Will gets real emotional about it all but... uh... OK, Jeff Goldblum, get your butt on this set and see your daughter graduate! You too, Brian Stokes Mitchell! Shame on you! Oh, but let's please have a Finchel makeout session right there on the stage. You know we don't get enough of those. The whole thing is so awesome and inspiring, Sue hugs Will.
Voluntarily and sincerely. I am still getting used to this concept.
And now... the scene that will live in infamy. One of the ten television scenes of my entire audience career that has made me the angriest. The debate is lively and we don't all agree, and that's OK, but this one scene just about destroyed the entire season for me, because it completely destroyed an important character who has been hanging by a thread of hope for several months.
There are three letters, sitting on a chair. One is for Finn Hudson. One is for Kurt Hummel. One is for Rachel Berry. Finn is the only one of the three who has considered what he might do if he's rejected. Finn, who senses the coming doom, wants to wait forever before his fate is sealed. But he's willing to go first. He's the one with the backup plan that he spent a scene discussing with his mother before this letter came.
Finn Hudson has had the dream of going to PACE since Saturday Night Glee-ver, seven episodes ago. He's been discussing the army for even longer. He's had a senior year dotted with personal accolades for a winning football team, and he was Prom King. He got to sing lead for Nationals. He had his shares of successes and failures. And it's good he has a backup plan, because this is a failure. Finn Hudson did not get into PACE. Fortunately, he'll get some time to talk about that in a few minutes.
Kurt Hummel has talked about absolutely nothing but NYADA since the idea came up 22 episodes ago. He was repeatedly rejected for being too effeminate. When he was named Prom Queen, it was as an insult for being effeminate. He never got to sing for New Directions because he was not willing to dress in drag. He has had no personal victories of any kind whatsoever all year long - except for one. He got to be a NYADA finalist, and he was told he did very well on his NYADA audition. And neither of those things matter in the slightest, because Kurt Hummel did not get into NYADA. And with that, his story is done for the year. He will not say another solitary word for the rest of the episode. There appears to be no need to give us any clue as to what's going to happen to him, or a moment to even cry with him as he faces this complete demolition of his status as an inspirational gay character. He's just a Lima Loser now, and he has no future at all. Of all the kids on the show, he is the only one for whom that is true. Sucks to be you, Kurt. Sucks to be us, Kurt fans. All. Year. Long.
So, now that Rachel's gotten everything she's ever wanted, she takes a few minutes to ponder on how all her dreams came true. She was the lead in West Side Story, and she sang lead at Nationals. She was Prom Queen, although it was an unearned accomplishment. She was Show Choir National Champion, which I don't agree with either, since the judges actually said they weren't the best singers or dancers. (However, the narrative really requires that they win this. It's just a shame they don't have the dancers to make it plausible.) And she's on her way to Broadway to study! Because of an undeserved second chance that would never, ever happen in the real world! I still wish Carmen just happened to be at Nationals for some other reason. That would have gone down MUCH better with me than the crazy stalking thing. Of course, the accolade I think she should have gotten went to Unique. Back room deals. Perez, I hope you are happy.
Strangely enough, Rachel is still sad. Finn and Kurt are not going with her anymore. Therefore, she's deferring her acceptance to NYADA for a year.
OK, let me see if I've got this straight. We've been debating nonstop about whether or not Rachel's stalker behavior to get a second chance from Carmen is insanity that should not have been rewarded, or evidence of tenacity that sets her apart from the rest of the flock and ensures her right to success. Then... as soon as Kurt and Finn fail, which was always very likely to be the case, she wants to take this exceedingly rare and precious gift she fought so hard for... and defer it? OK, you entitled little brat, are you quite sure that NYADA is going to TAKE you next year if you turn your nose up at your spot now? They are gonna just cross you off their list and go to the first runner up. Wouldn't it be funny if that person turned out to be Kurt? Wouldn't it be even funnier if he did not hesitate to go? Rachel, take your golden ticket and be grateful.
Santana is clearing out her locker. Her mother - hey, here she is again! - is calling her to come to her graduation celebration. She also has a present, which she finally decided not to put in Santana's pinata. It's a huge amount of money that her mama has put aside to help Santana pay for college. Since Santana is not going to college, she can use it to go to New York, and her future is now set. She's ready for Season Four. Apparently Brad feels like the audience cares about her enough to want to know how her story will turn out.
And now... it's the big day! Rachel and Finn are headed out to get married! Rachel is wearing a prim little red suit that screams Ohio schoolgirl. It's a great outfit for a trip to a wedding site in the sticks. It could get her mugged in downtown New York City. Her dads are still kind of uncomfortable about the wedding.... can't imagine why. And why is Finn driving the wrong direction? Wait a minute... this is an Amtrak station.
Rachel, my dear, everybody you love has been lying to you. Finn is not going to marry you today. He is sticking you on a train to New York City, and you do not have any say in the matter. Those dads who were so quiet about the wedding to you this morning are all part of this massive double-cross. They finally found a way to make sure you don't get married, and they are on their way to New York ahead of you to get you set up. No, you do not get ANY SAY IN THE MATTER. Yes, I know I just scolded at you for wanting to throw your golden ticket in the trash, but I wanted YOU to make the right decision.
They are not getting married today. Rachel thought it was her wedding day, but Finn lied to her. Finn lied to her. About THAT. Finn's motivations are noble; he does not want Rachel stuck in Lima for another year because of his own failure. However, his tactics are absolutely unforgivable. Rachel begs him to come with her, but Finn asks a superb question; is she 100 percent sure she wants to marry him? Well, no... and after the stunt you've just pulled, buddy, that percentage should have just dropped an absolutely whopping amount. Of all the crappy things Finn has ever done, this just might take the cake. At least Finn is self-aware enough to know that he's standing in her way, and that she needs freedom from him in order to fly, but this has got to be the worst method for breaking up with somebody you love that I have ever seen.
This poor little bride, ready for her wedding day... he's setting her free, whether she likes it or not. He's made all her life decisions for her, without her permission, and she hasn't got a single shred of agency in this matter at all. As far as I am concerned, that's the end of Finchel for me. If he's willing to break up with her on her wedding day and force her on a train against her will, I would not recommend that she EVER marry this controlling douchebag. He appears to be one who feels that the husband gets to make decisions without his wife's input, and that's setting off every alarm bell I have. No, of course I think it's better for Rachel to be on that train, but that's beside the point. She should be on that train because it's her dream, her will, her destiny, her passion, her life, her decision. She's an adult. She's supposed to be this incredibly driven, passionate woman who will stop at nothing to realize her dreams. Instead, she's a compliant little girl who gets sent off to school by wiser people who know what's best for her. I cannot tell you how offensive I found this whole schtick.
Meanwhile, Finn is going to join the army. OK. That's his decision. He got to make it on his own. Of course, I am not sure how Finn expects to redeem his father's mistakes by putting himself in harm's way, but the Army is a legitimate option for physically fit boys who aren't sure what to do with themselves after high school, and he may very well benefit from this. I think it would have been very nice of him to inform Rachel of this decision he's made before she's gotten her heart all set for her WEDDING DAY. I think telling her that he's joining the army, so she might as well go to school anyway, would have been vastly superior to the incredible betrayal he's pulled off here.
Of the important kids, Finn is the only one whom Brad allowed to have any power over his own life. Finn... and Santana, Brad's personal favorite character. Rachel's been turned into a helpless baby and Kurt's been tossed in the garbage. Well, this is Glee. It's sexist as hell, Finn routinely does underhanded, douchebag things dressed up to appear noble (see also Kissed a Girl) and women need men to make their decisions for them.
The only reason this scene works at all is because Lea and Cory both did an absolutely amazing job here. Cory has sold the conviction; Finn believes he is making a mammoth sacrifice for Rachel's best interests. It's really powerful, if you don't stop to reflect on why it's horribly, horribly sexist, controlling, dishonest, and wrong.
OK, Rachel. You have just been horribly double-crossed by the man you thought you were going to marry. Let him have what he wants. Get out of the car. Oh, crud, are you even packed correctly to go to New York City? You weren't prepared for this. Stop crying... good god, this girl should not be CRYING as she heads to New York City. Oh, look, everybody is at the station. They are here to see you off. Do they know that Finn lied to you? Hug them goodbye... ah, there's Kurt. He's here to see you go off to fulfill the dream that's been denied him at the last possible moment. What is going to happen to him? He has no plan, no future, no hope, no resolution. Oh, who cares? He's just a supporting character. This is about YOU. I'm sure they will cobble together some new way to torture him next year and make him cry when you need your Best Gay sidekick to prop you up. Won't that be inspirational and entertaining?
Get on the train. Let go of Finn's hand. He thinks he's holding you back? Well, then, leave him behind. That's what he decided for you, so let it be so. Forever. Now, come out of Grand Central Station and look at where you are. You are in New York City now. Let's retcon this - Glee is good at that - and pretend you are here because this is what you wanted for yourself. Seize your destiny in this place and make it your life, your choice, your ambition, your faith in yourself and your desire that finally put you in the city of your dreams. You might just make it after all.
Is Rachel really the only thing in Glee that's important? Well, then let's just stay here. Santana is on her way, and despite the absolutely sadistic ending to his third season arc, we know Kurt almost certainly will be, as well. (God, if they make him be Will's assistant back in Lima so that they can keep some signs of life in that classroom, I swear I am turning this garbage off and I will never watch it again.) I am so mad at Soldier Boy right now, I don't care if he shows up or not, and I think she ought to Dear John his ass. (The book version, not the movie.) There's nothing left in that McKinley choir room that I have any real interest in ever seeing again. They've gutted it of everybody interesting and every shred of really impressive acting talent they had in the student cast. Let it be about Rachel, let Santana and Kurt catch up with her, and let it be here.