Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, Episodes 22 of Fox's "Glee," entitled "Goodbye."
My love/hate relationship with "Glee" this season has, at times, been stretched to its limits. Things got a little heavy for the glee club this year, so it seems appropriate that Season 3 would end on such an emotionally confusing note.
Unlike last week's "Nationals" episode, everything wasn't tied up into a neat little bow. Rachel, Finn and Kurt didn't ride off to New York on the backs of unicorns (sad, I know), and Mr. Schue didn't fall into a vat of boiling hair gel (even sadder, I know). But we did end up with a graduation episode that was heartfelt, comical and, yes, absolutely ridiculous.
Things didn't go as planned for the New York hopefuls. Not surprisingly, Finn was rejected from "Inside the Actor's Studio." However, the McKinley High quarterback had been having second thoughts about New York anyway. Out of the blue, Finn tells his mother that he wants to do something that would honor his father. Yeah, I think you know where this is headed.
After Finn reads his rejection letter, it's Kurt's turn to open his envelope. (Note: Do they not know the envelope rule?! Short and skinny means rejected; long and thick means accepted.)
Shockingly, Kurt is rejected from N.Y.A.D.A. Wait, WHAT? Despite nailing his audition for Carmen, Kurt fails to get in, while Rachel -- who majorly choked during her audition and had to plead with Carmen to give her another shot at Nationals -- was accepted. I'm blaming this all on Rachel for hogging the spotlight during Nationals.
Hopefully, Kurt's rejection means that he stays in Lima for a bit. (Klaine fans, rejoice!) I have no doubt that he'll end up in New York by the end of Season 4, but hopefully, this means more screen time for Burt Hummel, who is arguably the best character on "Glee."
Not to mention that Mr. Hummel forever implanted himself into my heart after performing the "SINGLE LADIES" DANCE from Season 1. Yes, all caps is necessary ... it was pretty much the greatest graduation gift ever, and I loved every second of it. The relationship between Kurt and Burt is by far the best thing about "Glee" -- and that dance scene is precisely why.
With Finn and Kurt facing the realities of their rejections, Rachel suddenly rethinks her post-graduation plans. Instead of heading off to New York for her freshman year, she decides to defer her enrollment to stay in Ohio and help Kurt and Finn make their way to the East Coast
But there is one plan that hasn't changed: Rachel and Finn's wedding is still on.
While she thinks they're on the way to get married, Finn, on the other hand, has a completely different plan. He takes her to the train station where he "sets her free." He wants her to be the star he knows that she can be, but she can't do that in Lima.
Basically, he breaks up with her, and for the first time in a very long time, I'm in love with Finn Hudson. It's some of Cory Monteith's finest acting, and this might just be the most selfless decision Finn has ever made in the entire series.
However, Rachel is heartbroken and starts to sob. Then he tells her that he's enlisted in the Army. Now Rachel is really balling. (Lea Michele's crying face can be super distracting.)
"I need a chance to try and redeem my father," he says, telling her that he's headed to Fort Benning, Georgia. "That's the only place I knew you couldn't follow me."
In a sweet scene, everyone from New Directions is there to see Rachel off for New York. However, I'm not quite sure why she needed to take a train. Wouldn't a plane have been just as effective? Not to mention that I'm pretty sure that train ride would be over 24 hours.
But, hey, it's the destination that counts! Rachel emerges from Grand Central Station looking like Mary Tyler Moore 2.0. She's finally made it; she's in New York.
And it looks like Santana might be joining her. Over dinner, Santana tells her mother Maribel (Gloria Estefan!) that she doesn't want to go to the University of Kentucky and would rather follow her dreams and go to New York.
Even though she wants her daughter to go to college, Maribel also wants Santana to be happy, so she gifts her with the second-best graduation present ever: a hefty check. Apparently, it's enough money to head to New York and follow her dreams. If that sounds too good to be true, that's because it is.
As for Santana's girlfriend, Brittany has to repeat her senior year. Brittany's 0.0 GPA is probably one of the most realistic aspects of "Glee."
Meanwhile, the other graduating seniors are all off to various destinations. Mercedes scores a recording contract as a backup singer and is headed to Los Angeles, after a producer saw the video that Sam took of her performing "Disco Inferno" during Disco Week. I always knew Mercedes would be a YouTube sensation.
Mike is following his dreams to Chicago, after landing a scholarship to practice with the Joffrey Ballet. Unfortunately, this means that he has to leave his underclassmen girlfriend, Tina. Looks like we'll have to wait until Season 4 to check their relationship status.
Before Quinn heads to Yale, she decides to help Puck graduate the only way that she knows how: She tells him that she loves him, and then the two share a tender kiss. Sorry Teen Jesus, but Quinn just wasn't feeling your kind of hippie love.
With new-found swagger, McKinley's biggest badass regains his confidence and makes that European geography test his bitch. Does this mean Puck is off to L.A. with Mercedes?
Before parting ways, Quinn and Rachel share a tender moment in the girls bathroom, where the former wicked cheerleader gives the former theater freak a Metro North train pass. Now the two can travel between New Haven and New York and visit one another. How perfect.
Some parting notes on "Goodbye."
- Of course, Rachel Berry would get a standing ovation at graduation. Of course!
- This episode made me weirdly emotional from the opening scene, when Mr. Schue walks into the choir room and the original glee club members -- Rachel, Artie, Tina, Mercedes and Kurt -- are singing "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat." Touché, Ryan Murphy.
- Mr. Schue may not be good at Spanish, but he's really good at making me feel uncomfortable. Why won't he stop using that falsetto? Or better yet, stop singing?!
- The graduating seniors sing the New Radicals seminal hit "You Get What You Give" to the soon-to-be seniors. In return, the remaining New Directioners dedicate The Beatles' "In My Life" to Finn ... because he was popular before glee club. (I think?) Regardless, it was still a perfect song to signify graduation -- and the ch-ch-changes to come.
- Mr. Schue finally tells Finn the dirty little secret he's been toting around since Season 1: He's the one who planted the pot in his locker. For faithful "Glee" viewers, that was a great homage to the pilot episode.
- Sue retiring Quinn's uniform and telling her that she admired her was a really sweet (and motherly!) moment. We didn't see much of Sue Sylvester in the finale, but at least we know who her next target is: Principal Figgins! I can't wait to see Sue and Roz team up to take down Figgins. Sue is at her best when she's challenged, especially by NeNe Leakes' sharp-tongued Roz.
Artie: "Well, call me George Jefferson because we went from the ghetto to the penthouse."
Kurt: "If I can just get through the next three days without turning into a hot mess."
Burt: "I am proud of what you and I did together."
Blaine: "We both saw 'The Notebook.'"
Brittany: "What did you think was going to happen to me? I have a 0.0 grade point average."
Finn: "I nailed my Inside the Actors' Studio audition with the main man himself."
Quinn: "The Puck I fell in love with had swagger."
Puck: "Get ready, test. I'm about to make Puckerman your daddy."
Finn: "You're going to get on that train. OK? And you're gonna go to New York and be a star, without me. That's how much I love you."
Follow Crystal Bell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/newyorkbell