I vividly remember thinking that it was good. I didn’t connect to it completely at first and I think that’s because the songs in the premiere were short auditions and the characters and writing were so in your face. That is until those final few minutes when the opening notes for “Don’t Stop Believing” began and the first real group auditorium number took place. After that, I was sold. I told everyone about Glee and to watch it on it’s next premiere. I own almost every song they sang, I own DVDs, I even went and saw their live tour with my mom. This show was a huge part of my life from high school to post college life.
Suffice to say, saying goodbye was freaking hard. I cried. I laughed. I thought about how much Glee changed television and how far all of the characters and the actors that played them had come. Sure, it had its rough spots plot wise, but the heart of the show was being a part of something special makes you special. Glee was special and we were a part of it too. While a lot of things changed along the way, the fun loving ridiculousness stayed the same. The singing stayed the same.
Before the show started my friends and I each made a list of our top 5 favorite Glee performances of all time and a list of 5 honorable mentions. I’ll post my list at the end of the recap. And before the finale started we went through and watched all of them. I actually think this helped tame my emotions because we got to see a lot of Cory Monteith in our picks and that is normally where my heart strings are tugged the most.
Now, if you read my Parks and Recreation recaps then you know that the two components that I believe make up the perfect series finale are looking back to where it all started and looking forward and showing us where these characters all ended up. Well, Glee gave us both and it was just amazing. I thought it was a great finale and I can’t wait to relive it all again right now. And considering this is already a page in Word I’m going to go ahead and preamble that it probably won’t be short. Happy Reading, Gleeks.
I didn’t read much about what to expect in the finale prior to its premiere, so when we opened up to 2009 before the New Directions were even formed I freaked out. It was the perfect plot device to show where it all began before the second hour took us through what all came out of it.
One of the biggest revelations was that Kurt was contemplating suicide just days before Will Schuester decided to reboot the glee club. When Ms. Pillsbury tells Kurt’s dad about it he tells Kurt that he has until the end of the week to join a club and get to know some new people and find something that he’s passionate about.
This leads Kurt to Rachel Berry’s table in the cafeteria where she tells him that the Spanish teacher with the butt-chin that looks like an older Justin Timberlake was restarting the glee club and that Kurt should join. They practice by singing “Popular” from Wicked and it was a wonderful call back to when they sang Wicked in season one and the time when they went to Nationals in New York.
Kurt and Mercedes were friends prior to the New Directions and she helps him put his outfit together and we get to see his audition of “Mr. Cellophane,” which by the way was stuck in my head for the next two days. We also get to see Mr. Schuester writing notes about each of the auditioners. Check out the videos below to see some of them!
Mercedes is also trying out. During her part walking down the halls she talks about how the only other black kid at school was boring. Turns out that she was talking about Matt, the mystery boy from season 1, who was there! I was SO excited to see him back for this episode, considering his departure was talked about multiple times on the show.
When Rachel catches wind that Mercedes is trying out she invites herself to Mercedes’ church so that she can watch her sing. She tells Mercedes it’s because they are on their way to being best friends, but really it’s just so she can see what her potential soloist competition will be. Of course, Mercedes slays.
Mercedes won’t really understand the road full of diva-offs and rival all girl choirs she has ahead of her until Mr. Schuester gives the first solo to Rachel Berry. She gets really emotional and accuses Mr. Schue of giving the solo to the white girl. Although she doesn’t know that just earlier Mr. Schue had seen Puck slushie Rachel right in front of his face and felt that she really needed the pick me up.
Mercedes finds herself crying in her church. A woman that I assume is her mother comes and tells her that sometimes she has to give a little. She can tell that one day Mercedes and Rachel will be good friends. Stars have a way of finding each other.
Good friends they will be.
Speaking of good friends, turns out that Tina and Artie were already friends before the New Directions as well. Artie is in love with a gothic and stuttering Tina. What I love about Tina is that no matter how much grief she has gotten over the years, she has generally stayed true to herself and her weird quirks.
At lunch, the duo is dared to audition for the glee club by a table full of more gothic kids. We see Tina’s “I kissed a Girl” in all of its glory (including the thigh slap. However, we are also treated to Artie’s audition, which we did not get to see in the pilot.
That’s what I enjoyed about this episode. While the original pilot episode was all about Mr. Schuester setting up the New Directions, this one was all about the kids that become the New Directions. We are treated to scenes that we never even thought we’d get to see and they all kind of played off as deleted scenes.
It’s also funny to note that Sue Sylvester considered Mr. Schuester her “best friend” before he decided to create the New Directions. And not sarcastically either. They played basketball together every week. She tells Will that his plan is going to disrupt the social order and not have the impact that he’s hoping for and suggests he shut it down. He denies her and she instantly hates him. The rest is history.
Lea Michele is back on the elliptical channeling a version of Rachel she probably thought she would never see again. In 2009, we are at the point of the pilot where Terri has convinced Will to quit his job for accounting. This upsets Rachel so she visits Terri and Sheets-and-Things. We’d already seen her at the very beginning of the episode when Will comes home from school. It was the best “shocking” option for the opening to show that this was all a flashback.
Terri is still faking her pregnancy and not working at all and does not even consider Rachel’s pleas to allow Mr. Schuester to be happy and do what he wants. All Terri wants to do is order the entire Pottery Barn catalog.
Finn was woven into this episode mainly through dialogue. Over coffee, Kurt and Mercedes are unsure if letting Finn in the glee club is a good idea. He has already joined, quit, and rejoined and is bossy. They think that by letting him in the club then his jock friends and cheerleader girlfriend will all join and they will be cast aside. They decide to have a club meeting about the issue.
When they are leaving Mercedes asks a guy for sugar…ITS BLAINE! HE walks right behind Kurt and it’s cool to think about how sometimes the most important people in your life have been there all along and you just didn’t know it yet.
Rachel catches word of the club meeting and interjects, standing up for Finn. She says that all he really wants is to be accepted too. If they judge him for who he is and label him before they even know him then they are just as bad as the bullies walking the halls. The five of them all go around and discuss the nice things that Finn had done for them, including getting Artie out of the port-a-potty and walking him the whole way home. Rachel tells them that one day they want to look back and be proud of what they accomplished and the decisions that they made.
It was a truly emotional scene for me because you could see that they were also talking about Cory. He may have a somewhat dark reputation to some people but he was a sweet and passionate person. Lea Michele particularly looked like she was struggling a little bit with it. The five decide to give Finn and chance and the original New Directions is born.
So, we have officially caught up to where the pilot episode ended. Emma had shown Will his 1993 national championship and convinces him to follow his heart and make his future child proud. As he walks we hear the faint “ba ba bas” and see Cory Monteith take over the screen.
They play the original “Don’t Stop Believing” in all of its entirety. They all of course look much younger than they did in what we just spent an hour watching but it didn’t matter. This was about Finn. He commanded that screen and just looked so happy. They all did. It was a scene that reminded me what brought me back every week for 7 years. This was the start of their journey and what better way to do that than with Journey?
It gave me chills. That scene will forever be Glee. And since that scene I have never been able to hear that song without mimicking their iconic arm raise.
On to Hour Two!!
We are in present day 2015 watching Mr. Schuester, Rachel, Kurt and Blaine all walk over to the National Championships results show. The New Directions had made it that year and they win!! While we don’t actually get to see the performance it was perfect to watch them all so excited and rejoicing like we had seen many times before. However, this hour is for our core group…the originals.
Back at McKinley, the superintendent sits down with Will to tell him that there have been some developments about the status of the art programs and the school in general. Mr. Schuester’s efforts to bring success and confidence to his students through the arts finally proved to be beneficial. While other schools focused on sciences and math their scores dropped, where as McKinley has thrived.
The superintendent pitched to the board to turn McKinley High into a performing arts school with Mr. Schuester as the principal! Talk about a perfect ending to his story. He got the girl, the family, the students, and the ability to take his passion even further.
A few months later we are back in the choir room for the first New Directions interest meeting at the McKinley school for the Performing Arts. Mr. Schue is bringing back The Troubletons, an all male group called Duley Noted, and a brand new JV club.
He then turns to all of the original alumni (Rachel, Mercedes, Tina, Artie, Blaine, Kurt, Sam), most on the cusp of leaving for New York, and plays them a touching song. It’s important to note that this was the final scene ever filmed for the series, which explains why half of them are losing it. He was also singing to Kitty who was not an original but definitely stuck around since her introduction in season 4.
It was a great way to kick off the final hour. We all know these kids will stay connected but there is nothing really keeping them there anymore and their teacher is ready to let them go too. Matt Morrison blows a sweet kiss their way and I definitely started crying.
Mr. Schuester breaks the news that since he will be running the school he will not have time to coach the New Directions and that he already knows who it will be. He doesn’t say it yet, but it was fairly obvious that it will be Sam.
A few more directioners say goodbye before the time jumps. Mercedes sings a lovely song through tears to her original favorites. Kurt and Blaine take a few minutes to thank Sue for everything that she did to help get them back together. Sue and Becky run slow motion down the hallway to say goodbye to each other. That was an incredibly sweet moment on screen. They have such a profound relationship that has been an important part of Glee’s core message.
Two more people have to say goodbye. Mr. Schuester and Sue Sylvester meet in the auditorium one more time to take on ABBA’s “The Winner Takes it All.” It was one of my favorite performances of the night and even though they kept pushing each other out of the way throughout, they both hit the final note holding hands. Something tells me these two will find their friendship again after all.
So, lets catch up with a couple of these crazy kids in 2020 shall we? Sue Sylvester is Vice President of the United States and has found a way to make a stylish yet professional looking tracksuit. Blaine and Kurt were both in the inaugural LBGTQ performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and are on their way to perform for a young elementary school. They finally let Darren Criss wear his hair naturally without all of the gel and it looked great! I wish they had let him do that more during the series. His snakeskin suit however, I could have done without.
They sing a cute upbeat version of “Daydream Believer” and share the message that no matter what the kids have to stay true to themselves and be open and accepting to everyone else too. They are one of my favorite couples and I cannot say enough good things about Darren Criss and the charisma and character that he brought to the show as an initial guest star. Chris Colfer has always been one of my favorites, and it’s been an honor watching him grow as a character and as such a strong voice for the gay community.
We get one more flash forward to 2025. Blaine and Kurt meet up with Tina and Artie (who are dating) in New York. Artie’s film just got into the Slamdance Awards and Tina was the star of it. Mercedes, who toured with Beyonce in the interim years, tells Artie that the song he wants to use for his film is all his. They rush inside.
Rachel Berry sits in front of a vanity getting ready as they all pile in. Turns out, she is pregnant! A surrogate for Blaine and Kurt. Does that not just melt your heart!? She is getting ready for the Tony Awards and in comes Jesse St. James… her husband. I could go on a tangent about how lovely this plot bow is, but this is long enough already. Let’s just say that if it couldn’t be Finn, Jesse St. James is a wonderful choice.
At the Tony’s, Rachel wins for Best Actress in Jane Austen Sings, a show in which Jesse directed. She gives a moving speech and dedicates the award to Mr. Will Schuester who taught to her strengths and always cheered the loudest for her when she soared. We see Mr. Shue, Sam, Sue, and Co. all watching the show from his house as he cries watching her.
Back again in 2020, Vice President Sylvester gives a heartwarming speech about the glee club and essentially Glee itself. She always saw it as a place where “cowardly losers go to sing their troubles away.” A place where kids ignored the harsh realities of what the real world entailed. She does admit that she was wrong about the cowardly part. She realized that it takes so much strength to look at the world and not see it as it is, but how it should be. It was a world where the quarterback can become friends with the gay kid. And the girl with a big nose lands on Broadway.
Glee and Glee is a world like that. It’s finding the courage to open your heart and sing about it. And to Sue, that is just about the bravest thing a person can do. She dedicates the theater the Finn Hudson Memorial Auditorium. She praises Will for all that he has done for the arts and the public school system.
Then the final number begins. Pretty much every student that has been a New Directioner takes the stage clad in Glee red and they all join Mr. Schuester in OneRepublic’s “I Lived.” I loved seeing all of these faces for the last time and it truly was a perfect song to sum up their time on Glee and their paths for the future.
It has truly been a wonderful journey recapping this final season of Glee. I will miss the show greatly and am so proud of all that it accomplished during it’s time on the air. Maybe we will get a Netflix revival in 5 years! Remember Gleeks, we are all special and the show must go all over the place…or something!
Casey’s Top 5 All Time Favorite Glee Performances
- Losing My Religion
- Don’t Stop Believing (Rachel’s NYADA version)
- Some Nights
- Time Warp
- Like A Prayer
- I Feel Pretty/Unpretty
- Man in the Mirror
- Confessions/ It’s My Life Mashup
- The Scientist
- You Get What you Give
What are yours?!
Series Finale Performances
“Popular” from the Broadway Musical Wicked.
“I’m His Child” by Zella Jackson Price
“Pony” by Ginuwine
“Daydream Believer” by The Monkees
“The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA
“This Time” written by Darren Criss
“I Lived” by OneRepublic