Continuity for some looooong arcs were acknowledged tonight, which I appreciated, and I’ll just be open about this: I sobbed to the point of realizing I was about to hit the Ugly Cry and pulled it back just a touch. I did not achieve Russel Crowe in Gladiator—you know, how he had the spit with snot? I’m happy to report that.
But it came close.
Open on Will walking to the choir room and hearing the Original Five (Tina, Artie, Mercedes, Rachel, and Kurt) singing “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat,” the first song from the first episode, which should have been your first clue that this show was going to be wrong in all the right ways. (The boy in the wheelchair being told to sit down? Still funny in the oh my god way.) We have our first flashback to them all as babies with newly hatched voices singing and bouncing, and this is when the tears started.
What’s the name of the website? RIGHT. DO NOT JUDGE ME.
Will gives them their last assignment for the year, GOODBYE. Songs from Seniors that express their thanks and such, and songs from the juniors to send off the graduates. And to start it off, he pulls out his guitar, Quinn asks if he’s about to rap, and he nods solemnly. It’s an “Unplugged” and emotional rendition of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa,” his voice breaking as he softly croons, “I love it when you call me Big Poppa.” Sugar closes her eyes and sways at, “I see some women tonight that should be havin’ my baby—baby.”
It’s pretty tender. I’m still not sure how it’s a good-bye. Maybe because Biggie was killed and people still have a hard time saying good-bye to him? That’s pretty deep, Will.
Kurt moves through the hallways reflecting on how much he’s changed over the years. He’s gone from closeted and nervous to a winner who not only gets high fives from jocks (no more dumpster tossing!) but gets “thank you” looks from boys he refers to as tadpole gays in the hallway. People are becoming more open, and that’s pretty awesome, Kurt Hummel.
He meets his dad in the auditorium for his graduation present (no, not Elaine Stritch). His dad starts in on how they were close when Kurt was little, then Kurt began to change and Burt didn’t know how to connect any longer. But they’ve built an amazing relationship that they’re both proud of, and there was one significant moment that led to where they are today.
HIT IT, LADIES. Brit and Tina come out in black unitards, Kurt gasps in horror, “Oh, God—Dad, no!”
Burt Hummel says, “Sit down and accept your present,” puts on a suh-queened glove, and begins the “Single Ladies” dance. And is pretty good, I have to say. Kurt starts cracking up when his dad misses a few steps, and it’s so damn cute, I can’t even. I have lost the ability to even.
Kurt and Blaine walk into class as Kurt says it’s the best graduation gift ever.
“What about those monogrammed towels I got for you?” How cute are these boys? And how much do you want to bet that Blaine thought about having one made with his initials on it, too? Because they are going to end up married on a mountaintop with herbs and flowers and birdsong, and I will not hear otherwise.
Blaine says that it’s time for them to have The Talk. He’s clearly expecting Kurt to break up with him (all of the sadfaces) because they’ve seen The Notebook. Um, so has Kurt, and here is his idea for how the end of his life is going to go:
Kurt’s Last Days of Living, By Kurt Hummel, Written by Kurt Hummel, Set Design by Kurt Hummel, and Costuming by Kurt Hummel and Sons. (I have a dream, okay?)
Center Stage: Kurt stands, a dreaming smile on his face as he tells the story of his high school love, his first love, and all of the little things that meant so much to him: a staircase, a hand reaching out, a text of “Courage,” a sympathetic ear, a friend, a kiss, and an “I love you.”
Enter Stage Right: Blaine pushes in on his walker (all of that leaping on furniture finally blew out his hip, not to mention his sciatica) and tells Kurt to keep it down. The chickadees have heard this story a million times (they’re on Pavarotti XIX) and “Ke$ha: An American Legend” is on the Biography Channel. Plus, it’s almost pudding o’clock.
Center stage, single spotlight: Kurt smiles, lets one bird take a ride on his hair (perfectly silver, still lush) as he moves to exit Stage Right where he will sit under a flannel blanket in the Rec Room, trading bites of pudding off one another’s spoon.
(Their grandkids are coming over tomorrow, you see.)
[wait for applause and roses tossed on stage]
Blaine looks visibly relieved and asks, “We’re going to be all right?” Yes. Yes you are, beautiful boys. I will not hear of anything other than no regrets, just love.
Kurt sings to the men of New Directions, specifically to thank them for “never [seeing] me for the things that made us different. You only saw me for the way that we’re the same. Because in this room it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. What matters is that we’re friends.” I’m sorry for the tear waterfall on my face…
He sings Madonna’s “I’ll Remember” and it’s very sweet when he sings to Blaine, “I’ll remember the love that you gave me,” and Blaine looks like he might start crying. Cute moment: “No, I’ve never been afraid to cry”—ha! But he had reasons last season, come on.
Later, Rachel, Finn, and Kurt make a pact at their lockers to open up their acceptance letters together because Rachel wants to be with her “two most important people.” Aww. And poor Daddies Berry!
Santana interrupts an impromptu celebration with Mercedes (remember her?) and Sam; they’re celebrating an impending recording contract Mercedes has in the pipeline after a music exec saw the video of her singing disco that Sam posted to YouTube. Santana’s happy for her, and when she hears Mike say that he’s gotten a scholarship to Joffrey in Chicago, she’s happy for him. She’s just confused about herself.
Why? Because she’s talented, too. (Hell yeah.) She wants to perform and not as a cheerleader. She needs to talk to her mom—she’ll help her figure this out. Cut to dinner with Brit, Santana, and her madre, Gloria Estephan (sans Miami Sound Machine). She tells her mom that she wants to go to NYC, not Kentucky. Well, go to college first, then go to NYC. It’s not going anywhere, after all. Hmm.
Brittany isn’t going to college or to chicken plucking University, either. Oh, that’s because she’s failing. Probably that whole never went to class, turned in homework, took a test thing is responsible for her 0.0 GPA. Silver lining: she gets to have a second senior year, whoo! Santana now wonders if maybe she should stay in Lima, if Brittany’s going to be there, too. Uh oh.
Next day in class, Finn tells the seated juniors (no sophomores?) that this is now their Glee Club and to take care of it, a one, a two, a one two three YAY! New Radicas “You Get What You Give” gets rocked out by the seniors and there are several sweet moments between the couples who are being split up due to graduation. Mike and Tina, Puck and Sam, Brittany and Santana… It sucks sometimes, growing up and moving on?
The seniors grab the juniors and pull them up to dance (Kurt reels in Blaine, ha) and essentially pass the torch on as they sit and look at the juniors as the song ends. (The sad sigh Kurt gives to Blaine before sitting had me clutching my heart all over again.)
Rachel tries to decide which chairs she wants for their (stupid) wedding, and Finn reminds her that they’re high school students without jobs or money or plans and that maybe Rachel isn’t wanting to marry Finn after all? Maybe she’s settling. “Since when did you become the one I was settling for?” Good point, Rachel. But you two shouldn’t get married. Stay together, but don’t get married.
Finn walks tall through the hallways, proud of his accomplishments: State title in football, National champions in Glee, didn’t impregnate anyone, never went to jail… He’s the living embodiment of an American Midwest Hero! He feels pretty strongly that he nailed his audition with James Lipton (haha) so life is presently a bowl of cherries.
He heads into Will’s office for his yearbook, but Will couldn’t write anything meaningful because there aren’t any rap songs about graduating. Also, he kept veering towards Christopher Cross lyrics, but he’s saving those for his wedding. (That and “The Whisper Song”—he’s going to rap that as Emma walks down the aisle.)
The camera closes in on a newspaper clipping (Priority #1—HELP THE KIDS) as Will finally confesses to creeping on Finn as he showered and sang, and how Will planted weed on him to blackmail him into joining Glee Club. Finn looks positively freaked, and the show wants us to think Finn thought he was a cool teacher for the weed stuff, but I know better. They also did this, I think, to set the stage for a number the Juniors will sing later.
Carole unpacks Finn’s graduation gown (with extra-long sleeves) as Finn says that he feels like he didn’t do enough for his dad. He should have worked harder to get his dad an honorable discharge from the Army (cut to a picture of a man holding a baby while wearing a Marine uniform, ahem). We get a nice bit of history about Papa Hudson and how he pulled two men from a burning truck and saved their lives. Finn is starting to think that maybe becoming an actor isn’t a way to really show his paternal pride, or honor the memory of his father.
STAGE IS SET, GUYS.
In school, the Juniors say they want to honor Finn and his sacrifices (um, I get it, I do, but you set this against the backdrop of a soldier? Not your best writing, Glee) for deigning to be friends with the Gleeks. I get where they’re going, I do, but it’s… Well. I think we all know that Finn opened his eyes (and mind) and realized how awesome the Gleeks were. Artie says, “You’re something I never thought possible when I rolled down these halls. You’re my friend. You had a lot to lose […] we wanted to thank you.”
They sing “In My Life” by the Beatles, and if you didn’t get choked up at all of the realization that it was ending that happened all over the place, then you might be a robot. Heartbroken Blaine where he couldn’t sing for a moment! Quinn choked up and looking over at Puck! Tina and Mike emotional! And then they all hug, save Puck who sits in the corner, sad and alone.
Quinn walks through the hallways, musing on how she had a kick-ass high school career, all things considered, and isn’t feeling emotional. Probably because all of her friends have exciting things about to happen to match her exciting things to come. Well, all but one friend: Puck. It’s time to give back. (Huh? Just… Glee logic is unique, sometimes I forget that. Just let go, and let Glee.)
She finds Rachel and gives her a schpiel about how great change is (it is!) and that if she hadn’t changed, she and Rachel wouldn’t have become friends. Speaking of, here’s a multi-pass to come see Quinn in New Haven, and she has a matching one to NYC so they can actually stay in touch. Aww, that’s nice. Also, Quinn’s happy that Finnchel is still happening, just…maybe don’t get married. Rachel glosses over that and says that she always liked seeing Quinn and Puck together. (Did you, Rachel? O…kay.)
Cut to: Quinn and Puck in her bedroom as she tries to help him cram for his re-take test. He thinks he can’t do it and she interrupts with “I love you.” Huh? Well, they bonded with the whole “had a baby that we gave up” thing, plus he took her V-card. And she never would have given it to a Lima Loser (except she called him that, which was why she was with Finn) and she wants him to remember how bad ass he used to be.
And in a nod to Season One that I love, she says that he’s the guy who caught the winning TD in the only game McKinley won that year. That was a heartbreaking moment where he scored the points, looked over and saw Quinn congratulating Finn. She did see, after all. They kiss, he gets his swagger back, and compares the right kiss with the right girl as “CPR with tongues.” He struts into class, ready to pass that test.
Roz and Sue trade barbs (the best being Sue’s pregnancy with a one thousand-year-old vampire) and realize that they can respect each other. Also, maybe they should join forces next year to oust Figgins? Given the massive security flaws in the school, not to mention the accountability in the teaching staff, I’d say that might be a good idea.
Quinn comes in with her uniform, but Sue says she’s retiring it. There’s never going to be another Q, after all, and gosh darn it, Sue admires the hell out of her. In a really touching moment, they hug, Sue’s voice breaks, and they do really love each other in their own twisted way.
The gang stands outside Puck’s class, waiting to see if he passed or not. The teacher comes out with the freshly graded paper: a C-minus! That’s as good as an A-plus in Puckerman! They all cheer and the scene cuts to the actual graduation, which I have to say I really liked.
Think about how many damn graduation ceremonies you’ve seen over the years on television. You’ve never seen one like that where the students perform a song and the graduates join like a choir of “Hallelujah, we did it!” I really liked the whole thing, even though I hate Bruce Springsteen’s music. (Sorry. He doesn’t speak to me at all.) Puck and Finn lead off with “Glory Days” as the graduates are announced and walk to get their diplomas.
Rundown: Mike Chang, and his parents are over the moon. Mercedes, who has no parents visibly in attendance. Puck walking to receive his diploma with his guitar strapped on, and the little sincere “Thank you” that he gives Emma was especially lovely.
Santana Lopez with a shimmy and a hug for Brittany. Kurt enters with a high kick, has his beetle brooch on his shoulder, Blaine passes him a handkerchief and motions to pat his cheeks (how freaking adorable?) and a huge “That’s my boy!” from Burt. Finn’s next, has a thank you for Emma as well, and Carole cries and cheers in the audience. And then Rachel Berry (um, alphabet?) comes out to a loud cheer (no Daddies Berry) and gets a huge kiss from Finn.
Toss their caps, and they’re all done with McKinley! (Insert copious tears here.)
Rachel, Kurt, and Finn go to the empty choir room to open their letters, all of them nervous and sick to their stomachs with worry. Finn opens his: he…didn’t get in. (Well, it was a hell of a long shot, after all.) He’s devastated.
Kurt opens his: he….didn’t get in. Oh, my sweet Baboo! He was just a finalist, the competition is fierce, but oh, Kurt! He’s understandably upset. What is his backup plan? (Be near Blaine until they both can go to NYC next year?) Rachel opens hers: she….got in.
Uh oh. (The boys are torn between their own sorrow and happiness for her.)
Rachel muses later that her senior year ended perfectly, except for how it didn’t for her friends. Well, she’s going to defer going to NYADA for a year so she can be there with Finn and Kurt and help them get to NYC. After all, going to New York without Kurt would be like remaking Beaches without Bette Midler’s character. (And I have imagined Kurt singing “I’ve Still Got My Health” from that movie for ages, so you know.)
Santana clears out her locker when her mom joins her. So, about that college thing…. Her mother hands over an envelope of money, and it’s evidently a huge amount. It was all of the money saved to pay for college, but then Santana got a scholarship and now it’s just hers. Santana tries to give it back, but her mother wants Santana to keep it. Live out her dreams in NYC, maybe, who knows. The point is that Santana is an adult now and it’s up to her to decide.
“I trust you,” her mother says. “I trust your talent. And I pity anyone who tries to get in your way.” They hug, and Gloria Estephan (sans Miami Sound Machine)? I like you. (I cannot say her name without the name of her band, sorry.)
Finn picks up Rachel to go to their wedding. She’s super excited, but Finn isn’t. He drives to a train station, instead. Um, what? Look, Finn has grown up a lot these past few weeks and he knows one thing for certain: Rachel Berry is a star, and she is going to NYC. The Daddies Berry are there waiting for her, and they’ll work on getting her an apartment, etc. because she’s going to NYADA. She’s not waiting around.
She starts crying, and if you didn’t know how amazing Lea Michele is as both a comedic and dramatic actor, here’s your reminder. She starts crying and says, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute, wait—are you breaking up with me?”
Finn: I’m setting you free. Do you know how hard this is for me?
Rachel: I’ll stay here! I’ll go where ever you’re going—
Finn: Ft. Benning, Georgia?
Rachel looks as shocked as I am and has to cover her mouth as she sobs. Finn explains that he has to redeem his father, and she loses it at the thought of him joining the army.
Finn: You’re going to New York, and you’re going to be a star. That’s how much I love you. (And he’s right, you guys.)
He tells her that he loves her, and that if they’re meant to be, it’ll happen. And this is the most mature we’ve seen Finn Hudson and I applaud his fortitude because it’s the right decision. She gets out and they sing “Roots Before Branches” by Room for Two, and their voices are amazing on this track. Cory Monteith has been knocking it out of the park vocally for the past several episodes, and this is no exception.
They walk past all of the Gleeks, each giving Rachel a hug and support (Blaine is wearing a cardigan with lobsters on it, I’d like to point out) and Will is there with a huge and supportive hug for her as she boards the train. Finn runs alongside the train for a moment until the train pulls on and she’s left crying.
Cut to her coming out of a subway station and looking around at the city, the beginnings of an excited smile blooming on her face. (Little note: I would swear that she walked past the poster outside of the theater where Seminar showed, starring Jeff Goldblum. Nice little bit of meta, if so.) She’s there in New York!
(Oh, how I longed for Mercedes to sing “Neither One Of Us” at a gleek bon voyage party… And a Kliss. But there were loads of wonderful things and lots of set up for Season 4. I am ready for that to start right away, m’kay?)
It’s been non-stop Glee for me on HDJM since July of 2011—not for me personally, just writing about it—and as much as I love Glee, and I do, I’m excited to take some time off and let things simmer. I do love writing these recaps, and hope you’ll join me for Season Four.