Glee Season 3 Finale Recap: Bye-Curious

If you have yet to watch Tuesday’s Glee season finale, hit the nearest exit. Everyone else, read on…

It’s fitting that Glee‘s third-season finale ended with the bittersweet ritual of high-school graduation, and not just because half of the show’s characters happened to be members of the William McKinley High senior class.

Indeed, with Glee‘s future in flux — early word is that the show will split focus between Lima, OH, and the adventures of a number of characters in NYC in Season 4 (read this week’s Ask Ausiello for more details) — there’s a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Gleek Nation. Which of our favorites will remain front and center in our lives come fall? And which will begin to drift away, forgotten footnotes in the history books of of our weekly TV rituals?

If you were too busy trying to find a train line that could take you from Ohio directly to Grand Central Station in NYC, here’s what you missed on Glee:

* We saw the McKinley seniors in their red caps and gowns walk the line and get their diplomas: In order: Mike Chang, Quinn, Mercedes, Puck, Santana, Kurt, Finn, and Rachel. Yep, Noah Puckerman got a C- on that final European Geography exam and earned his degree. Alas, Brittany and her 0.00 GPA did not. Also: How come I thought Sam was a Senior all year?

As for our characters’ futures?

* Rachel, Finn, and Kurt decided to get together and open the acceptance/rejection letters from each of their first-and-only choice schools. Finn did not get accepted to “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” Kurt, similarly, got rejected by NYADA. Only Rachel got good news: Yep, Ms. Berry’s outstanding showing at Nationals must’ve impressed the heck out of Carmen Tibideaux!

* Rachel decided to defer her admission for a year to help her fiancee and bestie achieve their dreams, but in a climactic scene that featued Corey Monteith’s best work in three seasons, and Lea Michele’s best work since Hector was a pup, Finn drove Rachel to the train station instead of heading to their wedding. “You’re gonna get on that train and you’re gonna go to New York and be a star,” said Finn, who reckoned if they were meant to be together, they could wait. Oh, also, he’s enlisting in the military as a way to honor his dad’s memory! Talk about an ending I didn’t see coming, but one that was — let’s be honest — a lot more realistic for both characters. Now the question becomes: Do Ryan Murphy & Co. keep Rachel, Finn, and Kurt on these divergent paths in Season 4, or is there a convenient escape hatch waiting to be pulled to send them all to NYC for good times, good music, and dancey-dancey next fall?

* Santana decided to ditch her cheerleading scholarship and head to NYC, too, with her mom’s blessing — and money! Good work by Gloria Estefan as a fine (if crazily lenient) example of Lima Heights motherhood.

* Mike Chang is Chicago-bound, thanks to a scholarship from the Joffrey Ballet School.

* Mercedes is bound for Los Angeles, where she’s been signed as a backup singer for an indie label (thanks to the “Disco Inferno” YouTube performance Sam posted a few episodes back).

* Quinn is still headed for Yale, but not without one last smooch with Puck, and a Metro North pass for new pal Rachel. (Are they that close, really?) Also, Quinn got a really sweet farewell scene opposite Sue.

* Puck is…well, he graduated. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

And now, onto letter grades for the episode’s musical numbers!

Mr. Schue, “Forever Young” I dunno, maybe I’m a dark-hearted beast, or maybe Mr. Schue’s diminished role this year made his “emotional” sendoff for the kids a little less impactful? Grade: B

Burt, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” (lipsynched, of course) Another shining (albeit silly) moment for Glee’s best parental unit. Grade: A-

Kurt, “I’ll Remember” A sweet rendition of an underrated Madonna ballad, though I found it weird Kurt went out of his way to dedicate it to the New Directions guys, with whom he’s never been as close as the ladies. (Side note: Remember when Kurt and Mercedes were inseparable? I do, too.) Grade: B+

New Directions seniors, “You Get What You Give” I’ve always had a soft spot for New Radicals’ only hit, and this spirited rendition captured its jaunty essence. Grade: A

New Directions underclassmen, “In My Life” Not the most ringing endorsement for the National Champions’ 2013 chances. Just being honest. Grade: C+

Puck, “Glory Days” Was it just me or was the Boss’ ditty about middle-aged folks thinking back on their youthful good times a tone-deaf choice for modern teenagers on their big day? Grade: C+

Rachel, “Roots Before Branches” Didn’t really know this song before Rachel closed the episode with it, but I’m glad I do now. A triumphant ending for a girl chasing her dreams, not her delusions, in the streets of New York City. Grade: A

Now it’s your turn: Were you shocked by Kurt’s rejection? Bummed that Mercedes didn’t get more of a story arc? And how did you feel about that three-hankie scene between Finn and Rachel? Take our poll and vote for your favorite musical performance from “Goodbye,” then hit the comments and share your thoughts on how the season finale played out!