It started off well.
This week’s Season 3 finale of “Glee” opened with Schue walking in on the original five New Directions members reprising their abysmally choreographed rendition of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” from the pilot episode. It made me nostalgic and smiley.
Then Schue popped their celebratory bubble by reminding them of their imminent separation and forcing them to sing about it. Only he turned it around with an acoustic “Forever Young” that made me wish they still let Matt Morrison sing once in awhile. I was on the verge of being choked up, but I told myself to suck it up because crying for an hour was not an option.
And then Burt “Father of the Year” Hummel recreated Kurt’s “Single Ladies” dance with Tina and Brittany, and I thought, “I’m so happy with this episode!”
Finally, Kurt sang Madonna’s “I’ll Remember” in a surprisingly appropriate key as the gang made sentimental faces at each other, and I Just. Loved. Everyone. (I’m pretending the awkwardly half-sung last line of the song didn’t happen, obviously.)
Then we went to commercial and came back to Suckville.
Part of the reason I’m being harsh is that I feel unexpectedly distressed by the ending. If I wait to make peace with it all and be objective, you won’t get a Gleecap in a timely manner.
Anyway, we found out Mercedes got a contract to sing background vocals for an indie label in L.A., and Mike chose a scholarship at Joffrey over Alvin Ailey. Being on an episode of “The Bachelor” would bring them more stardom than they’re likely to see, but Santana was jealous nonetheless.
Here’s where the problems started. First of all, Santana’s mom (played by Gloria Estefan) did NOT do that conga. I can only forgive this glaring omission because Breadstix probably did not have ample room anyway.
But this is also when Santana found out Brittany had a 0.0 GPA and was destined to be the first two-term senior class president. I don’t think they’re giving Santana enough credit here, because she was shocked, yet the rest of us have known all along that the only way Brit could ever graduate was if Lord Tubbington took her finals.
So it looked like Santana would stay in Lima with her lady love instead of go to college in Kentucky. I guess she assumed Brit would head to Louisville with her, which again is quite dim, but whatever. Mama Gloria swooped in at the end with years of savings for Santana’s college tuition, and when Santana declared her disinterest in college, her mom said to take the cash to New York, which S seemed eager to do.
And then her mom sang, “Get on your feet… Get up and make it happen,” as they walked away together. In my mind.
Meanwhile, our other favorite flunky, one Noah Puckerman, thought all hope was lost for passing his geography exam. Beiste tried to help him study, but his mojo was totally ditched him. That’s when Quinn swooped in with a magic kiss (hope her boyfriend don’t mind it) to instill him with confidence enough to pass.
Quite simply, “What???”
Fortunately Q had a much better scene with Sue. She walked into her former coach’s office wearing a classic ponytail and an adorable dress, and I was like, “Oh good, we’re back on track.” Then Sue spoke and made it ten times better with her speech about Quinn being “slightly less evil.”
Other highlights (by which I mean lowlights) included Kurt telling Blaine they’d be together forever and thereby putting the final nail in their coffin of love, and later Kurt’s giant beetle pin on his grad gown, and not like a cute one made of semi-precious stones. Was this a reference I didn’t get?
Also, the seniors sang the New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give” to the others. I loved that song when I was a teenager… in 1998. I’m just saying some songs are timeless, some are not.
And the graduation ceremony itself surpassed ridiculously unrealistic by so much that I found it purely entertaining. I’m totally jealous I didn’t get to pop out from behind a curtain to get my diploma while a band played in the background.
And what of the fates of the rest of the wannabe New Yorkers? Rachel, Kurt, and Finn vowed to open their NYADA and Actors Studio letters together and stick together no matter what (dunh dunh duuuunh).
Remember how a couple of weeks ago Finn didn’t even know the name of the school he wanted to go to? And how he showed no interest in being in “West Side Story” or other school plays? Since then he managed to persuade James Lipton himself to come watch his presumably (un)moving audition, which he thought he nailed.
However, he had been pondering his dad’s troubling history a bit, and he even discovered his dad had saved some lives before things went bad for him. Finn wondered if acting was a productive way to redeem his dad.
At the big letter reveal, Finn went first. Denied. Next up was Carmen Tibideaux’s darling Kurt. Denied. Finally Rachel held her breath and opened… her acceptance letter.
Cut to Rachel’s voice-over explaining her plans to defer a year at NYADA to focus on helping Kurt and Finn prepare for next year’s auditions. Plus she and Finn were going to get married.
But when Finn picked her up for their wedding, he instead took her to the train station where she had a ticket to NY to look at dorms with her dads.
This is where my distress intensified. I’m pretty sure I accused Rachel of going soft on her dreams because of Finn as recently as yesterday, but today, my friends, I wanted to kick Finn hard for sending her to follow her dream.
I know I already professed a Lea Michele bias, but how could you not believe her absolute agony as Rachel sat sobbing in the car, having been dumped and told her fiancé was running away to the Army in one giant blow?
Yes, Rachel has to develop her star quality, and yes, she’s too young to get married, and yes, Finn did the right thing (which he explained as “surrendering” with uncharacteristic eloquence). But having your heart broken, even with the best of intentions, still hurts like crazy. And their tear-stained last kiss and his earnest running along the train (yes, cliché, whatever) made my heart go “OUUUUUUCH.”
Everyone sending her off at the train platform didn’t make it better. Seeing her wander the streets of New York in a kicky outfit didn’t make it better. In fact I just watched it again out of inexplicable masochism, and that made it worse. So I’ll just move right along to the superlatives so I can go mope.
Other redeeming moments:
Best musical number: I’m going with Rod Stewart. Schue’s voice had a slight roughness to it I haven’t heard before, and I dug it.
Best Roz Washington line (because she was there for a hot second!): Her implication that Sue went to high school with Moses.
Best Sue-ism: When Q said she’d miss her, Sue said, “Well, I don’t see how that’s possible, but thank you.”
Best nod to the theater geeks: “Is Elaine Stritch here?” – Kurt guessing his dad’s graduation gift
And the rest of it:
Worst musical number: “Roots Before Branches,” not because it was traumatic, but because the sing-while-acting-a-scene format didn’t work for me (which is rare).
Weirdest meta reference yet: Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth have both appeared on the show despite the acknowledged existence of “Wicked.” Fine. But I draw the line at an Uncle Jesse reference because “Glee” has been Stamosed and because when Santana was eight, that show had been off-air for seven years.