Over the last three seasons of Glee, Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) has given more than a few weird homework assignments to the members of New Directions (see also: funk and disco weeks). But his final note on the whiteboard for the graduating seniors — "goodbye" — was a fitting, and slightly, OK, super tear-inducing challenge.
The Fox musical's long-awaited graduation episode was the perfect mix of the kids' past, present and future with dash of Glee's signature stretch of believability for good measure. The first half of the episode included many nods to show's first episodes: the core five's jazz hand-friendly performance of "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat," Kurt's football game-saving "Single Ladies" dance (snaps to Mike O'Malley for his impressive choreography) and even Mr. Schue's old-school blackmailing ways. Who knew that Finn (Cory Monteith) had never figured out the truth behind Will's threatening him into joining glee club back in the day. But his reaction ("You are so much cooler than I ever thought you were") was perfection. But seriously, why no rapping, Mr. Schue?
Just as Finn had a touching moment with his mentor, Quinn (Dianna Agron) shared an equally emotional goodbye with Coach Sue (Jane Lynch). Fresh off the Cheerios' win at Nationals, Sue announced she was retiring Q's uniform for good. Although Sue admitted she originally had thought of Quinn as a younger version of herself, her mind had since changed. "You're nothing like me, you're better," she told Quinn. "Somehow you're slightly less evil and I admire that." Quinn, by far the most cheerful of the graduating seniors ("I've cried enough tears for three graduations," she said) used her spirit to kiss Puck (Mark Salling) and subsequently reinstate his swagger just in time to re-take his geography final. Sure, he only got a C- after several seemingly intense study sessions, but it counted as a "Puckerman A+" and enough for him to graduate.
But just as the seniors danced across the McKinley High stage to get their diplomas — to a live version of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" sung by Puck and Finn, natch — Finn and Kurt (Chris Colfer) received bad news. Finn was rejected by the Actor's Studio, and Kurt was not accepted by NYADA (but what about the gold pants?!). Only Rachel (Lea Michele) got the green light to New York. At first, Rachel decided to defer her acceptance for a year to help Kurt and Finn work on their applications and ensure their acceptances next spring, but Finn secretly put the brakes on her plans.
In one of the show's most heartbreaking scenes to date, Finn shocked Rachel by driving to the train station instead of the church on the day of their wedding. He calmly explained that she was on the next train to New York and that her dads would meet her there to look at dorms for the fall. "We're not getting married," he told her, which elicited tears from Rachel as she realized she wasn't just getting dropped off, but she was also getting dumped. "I am sure that you're something special, that is just the beginning for you," Finn said. "I am setting you free." Finn proceeded to drop another bombshell and announced he was joining the Army to bring honor to his father's corrupted legacy. "I needed someplace I knew you couldn't follow me." Not what every girl wants to hear, but he assured her, "If we're meant to be together, then we'll be together."
The show's final moments saw all of Finnchel's would-be wedding guests from glee club, including Mr. Schue and Emma (Jayma Mays), waiting at the train platform to say goodbye to Rachel as she left Lima behind. The moment she stepped onto the New York City sidewalk at the corner of 42nd and Vanderbilt, her tears quickly turned into a huge smile. It may sting for a while, Finnchel fans, but this was the Glee writers' way of sending a clear message: New York is where Rachel belongs.
If you're just tuning in, here's what the other seniors will be up to come fall:
-Thanks to the video Sam made of Mercedes' (Amber Riley) "Disco Inferno" performance, she was recruited by a music manager to sing back-up for an indie label in Los Angeles. She also plans to take classes at UCLA Extension. Go Bruins!
-Mike (Harry Shum, Jr. ) received a dance scholarship
-Brittany's (Heather Morris) 0.0 grade point average and horrible attendance landed her back in the 12th grade
-Santana (Naya Rivera) turned down her scholarship to University of Louisville so that she could move to New York, with some major seed money from Mrs. Lopez (aka Gloria Estefan). "I trust your dreams and your talent," she told her daughter. Does this mean Rachel and Santana might be roomies in the big city next season? We would not want to have to share a bathroom with those two.
-Kurt got rejected by NYADA — but what's next? It remains unclear, as with Puck, although we're going to temporarily assume he still plans to move to Cali and clean pools.
So what did you think of Glee's tear-jerking finale? What were your favorite moments? What surprised you the most? Do you think Finn did the right thing? Sound off in the comments below.