Tonight, New Directions heads to Nationals in Los Angeles, to face off against the notorious Throat Explosion, headed by singing phenom, John Baptiste, played by Pitch Perfect star, Skylar Astin.
It’s bittersweet, as the glee club dedicate their performance to their fallen co-director, Finn Hudson. Carole and Burt are along as chaperones, and as you can imagine, the experience becomes very emotional.
I’ll be back later with a recap. But in the meantime, talk amongst yourselves!
I wasn’t expecting to be so touched by tonight’s Glee. As the kids vie for their second national championship, the specter of their late friend and co-director, Finn Hudson, shadows them, every step of the way, like a protector. The scenes with Burt and Carole, who come along as chaperones, were especially touching. This is the first time since The Quarterback, that the aftermath of Finn’s death has been explored, and it made me sad all over again.
New Directions loses Nationals, and there’s no happy ending here, because we know that after the two part 100th episode special, the action will move entirely to New York City. The Glee club is really no more. As thrilled as I am that the plot will leave the newbies behind for the adventures of the graduates in the big city, I still find the end of New Directions bittersweet, and kind of odd. Could you have imagined, during season 1, that the story of New Directions would end with their demise? The death of Finn needed to be a part of the end of the story of New Directions. After all, he was the club’s beating heart. As Jake said after their heartbreaking loss to Throat Explosion, “This is not how the story was supposed to end.”
As the episode begins, Will wants Sam to lead the club in the absence of Finn. Understandably, Sam balks. “Finn was a real leader.” But Will is convinced Sam can lead the troops. I have no idea why, but there you go. Will is also under the impression that the rest of the club is waiting for the sweet, but goofy Sam, to “be that guy.” ‘Hm.
Aw. Sniff. Carole and Burt arrive at the choir room for a pep talk. If Finn were alive, he would have been leading the kids into battle. Winning Nationals was the greatest accomplishment of Finn’s life, says Carole. But, if he’d had the chance to coach the club to winning, it would have meant even more to him. She reminds them that Finn would have told them, “This is the time of your lives right now. You’re never going to forget it. And in a moment, it’s all going to be over.” Damn. Carole urges them to have no sad faces or regrets. “Go out there and have a blast,” she says. Burt and Carole will be chaperoning. Huzzah. say the kids!
It’s time for a song! As Will and the kids sing “I Love LA” the action transitions to Los Angeles, where the kids are sightseeing on a double decker bus, taking in the fun of sunny LA. Pinkys Hot Dogs totally has a product placement, y’all. WE LOVE LA!
I Love LA
Mercedes Jones enters the hotel lobby looking like a movie star with her “Faux-huahua” (that’s a fake Chihuahua). It turns out Mercedes got a record deal. Kind of. She was selling her CD “Hell to the No” in a parking lot. A Mexican lady, feeling sorry for our girl, bought a CD. Turns out she worked for Kanye West. She gave it to Kanye, who gave it to Kim, and SHE GAVE IT TO RYAN SEACREST. OMG. He gave it to Sony Records. Now, she’s writing songs for the artists on the label.
So, there’s Mercedes, telling a room full of suits that in exchange for 6 songs, she wants an album deal with full-out promo. AND THEY SAY YES. As if.
Will’s attempt to check into the hotel is thwarted by the desk clerk who claims a “Detective Sue Sylvester with the LAPD” has told her to watch out for a 50 year old Ohio man with a perm who has abducted 12 emotionally disturbed teenagers. And this is why the Ohio storyline sucks. Dumb recycled Sue Sylvester shenanigans. BORING. Doesn’t her job as principal depend on the Glee club succeeding?
Well, I guess that gets resolved somehow, because nobody is arrested or thrown out. Next, the rival show choir, Throat Explosion enters the lobby. Blaine is terrified. He’s read the show choir blogs (“No. Nobody reads the show choir blogs” snerks Kitty. “Just You.”) and knows that the group’s leader, John Baptiste, who has turned the show choir world upside down, was born in Quebec to acrobatic parents, and trained with Cirque du Soleil. Jean, played by Skyler Astin, immediately begins to play head games with Blaine. He reads the show choir blogs too, and knows Blaine by name. Sam steps in and introduces himself as the leader of ND, to many WTF looks from the rest of the group. Jean roll his eyes as he blows off Sam. “We can’t wait to see your set!” he says, “And to crush you like a bug.” Blaine IS super freaked out.
Ryder knocks on Marley’s door. Oooh. The new kids are actually going to have a plot line this week? He’s accepted the fact that nothing will happen between them, but he wants her to know that he still really cares about her. Marley’s Facebook page, besides declaring her single status (and it’s going to stay that way, she insists), used to say “Singer/Songwriter.” Now it says “Undecided.” Ryder wants to know why. When Marley entered her songs into a contest and didn’t hear back, she took it as a wakeup call. She’s going to join accounting club when she gets back. Oh. She plans on quitting Glee club. Wait. Just because she lost a song contest she’s quitting Glee club? This makes no sense.
The night before the competition, the kids sneak into the theater where they will be performing. Sam announces that he has a surprise. He reminds them that Finn made a promise at the beginning of the year (FYI The current school year started for us way back in September 2012) that they were all going back to Nationals together. Sam pulls out the Finn plaque. Damn. And just at that moment, Jean Baptiste bursts in. GREETINGS THE DIRECTIONS NOUVEAU. OMG. He’s going to use annoying French phrases all episode, isn’t he? He informs them that the stage WILL be Throat Explosion’s until dawn. He’s called in a few show choir favors. They have 3 minutes to gather their feelings and leave. One of Jean’ s minions notices the photo of Finn and asks snarkily, “is that your spirit guide?”
Surprisingly Jean shows some sympathy “Everyone knows you’re THAT show choir. Everyone knows it’s been a very rough year for you…tonight you have our condolences. Tomorrow, you will not have our mercy, pity or restraint.”
WE’RE THROAT EXPLOSION. He says spastically imitating what that might look like. RESPECT US. Then, the choir takes over the stage.
Back at the hotel, Tina and Sam are chilling with Burt and Carole. Sad that it’s her last competition, and after some lame sports analogies from Sam and Burt, Tina whines, “My life is going to be so empty from now on.”
“At least you get to have one,” Carole says icily. Burn. The room grows quiet. Tina is stunned. Carole quickly apologizes. Tina apologizes for being insensitive. Sam mutters under his breath, “She always does this!” Burt, sensing that Carole needs a minute, sends the kids out of the room. When they’re alone, Carole confesses to Burt that she doesn’t think she can do it. She wanted to. And she thought being around Finn’s friends would make her feel close to him. But instead, it feels like her insides are being ripped out. She admits she spends her days pretending Finn’s death is not real. Being around his friends makes pretending impossible. Burt assures her they can do anything they want, including leave for someplace else. Carole is close to tears and not sure what she wants.
Things are still tense between Ryder and Jake, who are awkwardly sharing a room. Jake knows that Ryder came on to Marley the minute that he could, and he’s pissed. “I thought we were friends” says Jake. Ryder thinks they should be friends. And Jake, who is lounging around shirtless, it’s worth noting, relents, just like that. Oh Glee. Ryder confides that Marley is quitting Glee club. The two hatch a plan to get Mercedes WHO IS PRATICALLY A STAR WITH HER FAUX-HUA-HUA to intervene. So now Mercedes is suddenly semi-famous? How come we didnt’ hear about this the many times she flew back and forth to Lima in the past few months?
Meanwhile, Sam can’t find Finn’s plaque where he left it on the bus. He immediately suspects Throat Explosion, who just happen to be walking by that minute. He confronts them. But Jean Baptiste taunts them about their lack of talent, losing all their good singers, and the fact that they’re only there on a technicality. A little piece of wood isn’t going to make a difference. Sam flips out , but Blaine holds him back, realizing that they’re just trying to psyche them out. Back on the bus, Sam rallies the troops. Finn is with them, plaque or no plaque. HE’S HOLDING ALL OUR HANDS AND SAYING THE SHOW MUST GO ALL OVER THE PLACE. Reassured by Finn’s heartwarming non-sequitur, they’re off to Nationals!
In the theater, MISS MERCEDES JONES ARRIVES. And the judges. A trio of cameos. Miss Marlee Matlin, (is it supposed to be a joke that she’s deaf and judging a singing competition?) Next, it’s someone most of you probably barely remember. Jackee. Unique could not be more excited. And then the Prancesize lady. As she prances on to the stage, Blaine can’t contain himself.
First up, are an all female group, the Amazonians, dressed up as Las Vegas show girls ,with pink and yellow headdresses. As they dance in formation, we see the Hummel-Hudsons packing up and leaving the hotel. Carole nods, convinced she’s doing the right thing.
“OK” says Blaine. “A Belinda Carlisle triple medley is impressive, but not that great. We’re still safe.”
Vacation by The Arizonians
Next, it’s Throat Explosion. They sing a medley of “Mr. Roboto” and “Counting Stars.” Sam and Blaine are immediately worried. They have a laser light show and fancy choreography. Jean Baptiste is a crazy awesome singer. The Prancersize lady is clopping along. The kids know their f*cked.
Mr. Roboto/Counting Stars by Throat Explosion feat Skylar Astin
Backstage, the kids realize that Carole and Burt have left. Tina feels super guilty. “I can’t believe I said all that stuff in front of her.” Blaine says, “That’s cool Tina. You can’t help it.” Tina continues to be the butt of the writers’ jokes. Will insists the couple are with them in spirit. Just like Finn. But, just as they begin show circle, and Will is all “We didn’t come here to win. We came here to dance and sing our hearts out,” Carole bursts in. “Oh, that’s horse poop, Schuster.” SOMEBODY HAD TO SAY IT. They were half way to Laguna, before they turned around the car. Carole kept hearing Finn’s voice in her head. “This is Nationals, Mom. I coached those kids. You leave them, and you’re leaving me.”
“You guys are his legacy. Which means I don’t want to hear any garbage about doing your best or giving it the old college try. GO OUT THERE AND WIPE THE FLOOR WITH THE OTHER TEAM.” Geez. Maybe Carole should be coaching Glee club.
New Directions take the stage with 3 random students (who NEVER had to rehearse with them!) in order to make the 12 member minimum. I guess we’ll never find out why Sugar and Joe just suddenly disappeared…
Blaine and Tina duet on Boston’s “More than a Feeling.” Tina is finally in the spotlight! To be honest, this is pretty boring compared to Throat Explosion. Ryder and Jake high five. I guess they’re friends again.
More Than a Feeling – New Directions
Next, the kids make like immigrants and sing a super-sped up version of Neil Diamond’s “America.” Pretty much everybody gets a little solo on this one. I don’t understand why they are underutilizing their secret weapon, Unique. Big mistake!
America by New Directions
As the last song, U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” starts up, Carole whispers to Burt in the audience, “This is Finn’s favorite song! These are all Finn’s favorite songs.” Oh. Excuse me while I grab a tissue.
OK. I literally had to stop my recording of the episode and take a breath when I realized the performance would be cut with a montage of Finn scenes. A couple of deep breaths. Turning it back on…
Finn walking the halls. Hugging the kids backstage. Finn heading to his aborted wedding. Finn falling backwards as the kids catch him as they sing “I’ll Stand By You” to him and Quinn. Our introduction to Finn, singing in the shower. Finn wheeling Artie away after he rescued him from the port-a-potty. Will hugging a terrified Finn after confiding that Quinn was pregnant. The Glee club throwing confetti into the audience; Finn holding up the Nationals trophy triumphantly. As the song ends, and the kids raise their fists, Sam is clutching a pair of red drumsticks.
It’s the best of the 3 songs, with soaring arrangements, and heartfelt solos. Backstage the kids celebrate. But Sam is off to the side, teary. Will finds him. “I did my best,” says Sam, as they hug, not as confident as the rest of the club.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for by New Directions
Cut to Marley hanging in back of the theater. Mercedes comes to find her. “Three minutes.” she says. “The next time one of your songs gets rejected, you can throw yourself a pity party for exactly 3 minutes. And then you need to haul your ass up and start writing another. ‘Cause your songs are really good.”
Mercedes recounts how she lost nearly every solo to Rachel Berry in high school, got dumped by her first record label, dumped by Sam Evans (Then she remember it was she who did the dumping. Twice. Oops. That gets Marley to laugh.) Mercedes promises her that someday she’ll be hitting HER up for songs. When Marley asks who told her, Mercedes says “A couple of little birdies. Those guys really care about you. But it doesn’t mean you should date them.” And with a big hug, Mercedes has convinced Marley Rose not to give up on her dreams.
Back on stage, the Glee clubs stand, waiting to learn their fates. Will is a nervous wreck. There’s no more Glee club if they lose. Third place goes to The Amazonians. A little sigh of relief goes up. The Prancersize lady declares “There can only be one champion show choir per nation!” Now, it’s between Throat Explosion and New Directions. Second place goes to New Directions. Oh no. They lost.
New Directions loses. As the glitter flies for Throat Explosion, the kids stand silent, crushed.
Back at McKinley, Sam hangs up Finn’s plaque. Jean Baptiste was actually furious when he found out someone on his team stole it. After he kicked out the thief, he mailed it back. “A bully with a moral code,” says Blaine, noting the irony.
Carole and Burt come by for the informal trophy ceremony. Will reminds the kids that they beat 14 of the best show choirs in the country. Sam hugs Carole, as he apologizes for letting Finn down. The kids were planning to call Carole on stage and give her the trophy to keep, if they had won.
“This is not how the story was supposed to end,” says Jake.
Burt and Carole assure the kids that Finn would have hated to lose to those guys, but would have reminded them that they stood tall “against the best of the best” despite half of them never performing in a show choir before.
Finn didn’t have the best voice, the best rhythm, or the best throwing arm, says Burt, he always brought out the best in himself and in others, and always managed to find a way to feel like he’d won.
Hearing Finn’s favorite songs was healing for Carole. “I saw how much he meant to you,” she says. “Win or lose, Finn lives in you guys.”
As Will puts the trophy in the case, Artie reminds them that 2nd place is “superior to when Finn decided to make out with Rachel on stage and we ended up in 12th.” True, that.
Cue Becky, who arrives to call Will to Sue’s office. “Dead man walking!” calls Becky. As Will waits outside her office, Sue congratulates Coach Roz, who has managed to earn a 1st place win for the Cheerios and gets to keep her team.
Will isn’t so lucky. No last minute reprieve for New Directions. Not this time. Sue confesses that she was actually rooting for them. But for the good of the school, the losing teams have to go. (In what universe is coming in 2nd in a National championship “losing?”) The choir room will be converted into classrooms. The band’s equipment will be sold off to buy some computers. Sue tells him to chin up. He’s got one trophy. She admits that he and his team have done phenomenally well. “And you did it with the world’s greatest nemesis playing her best game against you.”
“You didn’t lose,” says Sue, “Game’s just over.”
Cut to the Spotlight diner in New York, Kurt bursts in breathlessly to announces to Rachel and Santana (who are still fighting, by the way) what we already know. It’s over. It’s really over.