This is how the New Directions era ends on Glee, not with a slushie, but a light switch.
The William McKinley High choir room is closed for business, a victim of budget cuts and Principal Sue Sylvester. And so we say goodbye to Mr. Schuester — or at least his white board, his pep talks and his ripped-from-Wikipedia lessons about various pop stars. We bid adieu to Marley, Jake, Ryder, Unique and Kitty — even though the newbies’ departure really commenced when the show’s writers stopped having them speak six episodes ago. And we (presumably) say adios to Tina, Emma’s pamphlets, Figgins and Coach Beiste, the last of whom I’ll miss most of all. (Surely there’s a place for her as Coach’s new BFF on New Girl, no?)
Anyhow, if you were too busy trying to rob a bank to pay your ticket to an ocean cruise for gay guys, here’s what you missed on the aptly titled “New Directions”:
ONE LAST WRONG-MINDED ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE SHOW CHOIR | Turns out Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow) is BFFs with Sue (!) — so close, in fact, that they made an Amazing Race audition tape together. And so Sue agrees to let Holly and April find a way to integrate music (and Schue) into other McKinley clubs. It all goes horribly awry, though, when Holly dresses up like Temple Grandin, hijacks the animal husbandry club meeting and then slips into American Hustle drag for a sexy, strobe-lit, soap suds-infused rendition of Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time.” Shortly thereafter, a flurry of strongly worded complaint letters land on Sue’s desk, and the dream of shoehorning show choir into other clubs screeches to its final halt.
A RACHEL-SANTANA TRUCE | Mercedes and Kurt perform a duet for New Directions members past and present, but it’s clear their “I Am Changing” is an intervention to end Rachel and Santana’s blood feud. Rachel caves first, agreeing to give her Funny Girl understudy 10 performances (of Santana’s choosing) after the show’s first three months, but Santana rejects the offer — demanding Rachel quit and leave her to be the Broadway star. Brittany, apparently a genius at more than math, questions her erstwhile girlfriend about why she’s fighting for a theater dream in which she’s never expressed a desire. Brittany also argues she and Santana should run away to the Isle of Lesbos, and that Santana walking away from her understudy role would be a victory, a message that she’s authentic to herself and unconcerned with other folks’ opinions. And so Santana quits the gig, returns the joy to Rachel’s Broadway dream and even duets with her sometime rival. What’s more, Santana ends the episode by turning the one-way plane tickets to Lesbos into round-trips — the place is really populated by German tourists, she discovers — and invites Brittany to move with her to NYC. It’s all a little abrupt, but I prefer Rachel-Santana as reluctant, catty pals than Thunderdome diva enemies, so alrighty then…
FRIENDS/CHUMS/ROMANCES | In a brutally funny moment, Tina gets knocked out cold by a show-choir trophy — did anybody see that coming? — and winds up hallucinating pretty much everybody who could/should move to NYC working at the Starlight Diner (via a Friends-esque sitcom setup called Chums — complete with opening credits). Tina’s anxiety dream is mostly caused by her rejection from her backup school/her being waitlisted at Brown. In the end, though, her Ivy League dreams come true — even if it means she won’t get to join Artie, Blaine and Sam when they head to the Big Apple. In other news, Blaine gets into NYADA. (I woulda loved to witness Madam Tibideaux’s reaction to Preppy McPrepsterson’s inevitable Katy Perry tune audition, wouldn’t you?) Artie starts composing a breakup text to Kitty the second he thinks he’s got a chance at a relationship with Holly. (Fret not, that prospect gets shut down in about 5 seconds, but it still doesn’t bode well for his romance with the sauciest Cheerio.) Brittany finally gets her degree (thanks to some behind-the-scenes wrangling from Santana.) And Quinn and Puck give the final performance in the rehearsal room — and decide to try to attempt a long-distance relationship. Good luck with that!
PARTING GIFTS | With New Directions all but kaput, Holly approaches soon-to-be film student Artie to cut together a video for Schue’s future child, in which all the New Directions kids offer fond memories and sweet tributes to the man who mentored them. It ends with a final performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” that even made my cynical heart grow a few sizes by the time it finished. Mike and Brittany dance. Rachel and Kurt and Mercedes harmonize. Tina gets to belt — uninterrupted. And all is right in the world for a few moments. (Maybe I even felt a few teardrops forming in the corner of my eyes. Only my remote control knows for sure.) After that, we get a quickie graduation ceremony — the highlight of which is a Sue-Becky embrace that’s Rated A…for Awww — and finally, it’s just Sue and Schue in the empty rehearsal room. “Here for one last verbal beatdown?” he asks. But Sue doesn’t bite. Instead, she praises him as a worthy adversary — and one of the few people who could go the distance against her insane brand of vitriol. She even admits that he made a lot of kids’ lives better through his work in glee club. “You did what you could do here,” Sue says, finishing the thought, before revealing that she’s used her connections to get him an interview at Carmel High, for a spot as the coach of Vocal Adrenaline. Will he go for it? Time will tell. But with that, Schue imagines the voices of his favorite New Directions members (even Finn!) and their sweetest speeches, hits the light switch, and ends an era.
Episode’s Best Quotes
“If I wanted to watch men in Capri pants slobbering all over each other, I’d watch Monday Night Football.” –Tina, after catching Kurt and Blaine making out in the midst of her Friends-esque daydream
“That’s what I said sophomore year of high school!” –Kurt, responding to Rachel’s cry that she’s “never coming out” of the bathroom
“It looks like we can be expecting another accidental pregnancy sometime soon.” –Mercedes, witnessing Quinn and Puck’s lovey-dovey interaction
“There’s really only 100,000 of them, but each and every one of ’em is an uptight bitch.” –Sue, weighing in on controversial conservative advocacy group One Million Moms
Grades for This Week’s Musical Performances
Kurt and Mercedes: “I Am Changing” — Grade: A-
Holly & Co.: “Party All the Time” — Grade: C
Artie, Tina, Sam and Blaine: “Loser Like Me” — Grade: A (loved this stripped down version!)
Rachel and Santana: “Be Okay” — Grade: B (love these two women, but the camaraderie felt forced — or too soon in the wake of the slap heard ’round the Gleesphere)
Quinn and Puck: “Just Give Me a Reason” — Grade: A-
Will and New Directions: “Don’t Stop Believin'” — Grade: A-
What did you think of this week’s Glee? Which Lima character will you miss most? Sound off in the comments!