A bittersweet goodbye
Glee’s third season came to a close this week with the episode “Goodbye.” Since they’d already won at Nationals last week, they didn’t end with a competition as they had in seasons 1 and 2. Instead, “Goodbye” dealt with Glee’s graduating seniors and their plans for college (or lack thereof).
This episode was devotedly entirely to the seniors, so that’s who we’ll talk about — their journey to this point and their future after high school.
Mercedes – Remember that video of her singing “Disco Inferno” that Sam posted on the internet? Well, it apparently paid off, because she was offered a recording contract for an indie label in Los Angeles! So she’ll be moving there and taking classes at UCLA on the side so she can still pursue that whole “education” thing.
Mike – Thanks to some help from Tina and the support of his parents, he’ll be attending dance school in Chicago on a scholarship.
Brittany – She failed the year with a 0.0 GPA, so she’ll be repeating 12th grade next year. Is anyone really surprised?
Santana – She was going to go to school in Kentucky on a cheerleading scholarship, but she decides that’s not what she wants to do. When her mom presents her with a big fat check and tells her to chase her dreams, it’s decided: Santana is going to move to New York.
Quinn – As she mentioned earlier, she’ll be attending Yale. Oh, and she can now walk perfectly. It looks like everything is coming up Quinn, and I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be rooting for her; but man, is that a difficult feat. As she so humbly reflected, she is ending her senior year the same way she began her freshman year: at the top of the food chain, with great friends and a great future ahead. That still doesn’t make up for the fact that she has been consistently awful as season, with her most recent stunt being her exaggerating her paralysis to earn votes. So yes, she’s correct that she is right back where she started — she is just as crazy, manipulative, and evil as she was in the very first episode.
Puck – After Beiste pulled some strings to give him a second chance at the test that would let him graduate, Puck is still clearly struggling, and the chances of him passing don’t look great. Then Quinn decides to come to the rescue by… making out with him? By her crazy person logic, doing this will restore the confidence he had when they were dating. (I guess she forgot that she is currently involved with Joe the Hippie. Like I said, she is awful.) But it works, and as he walks to take his test he triumphantly reflects on his journey — they all do a lot of reflecting, actually — from sad loser at the start of the year, to the test taking boss hog that he is now. He passes with a C- and graduates, but college does not appear to be in the cards. We’ll see next season I guess.
Kurt, Rachel, and Finn – I’m grouping these 3 together because they make a pact to open their letters with each other (Finn applied to the Actor’s Studio Drama School, apparently). But before they can do that, they’ve got some reflecting to do: Kurt has gone from a sad, quiet kid stuck in the closet to an out-and-proud man diva, who has inspired other gay kids at McKinley to be themselves. Not bad. Finn has gone from a scared, futureless, peaked-at-eighteen jock to a college-bound future actor. Also not bad. As for Rachel’s journey… we’ll get to that. Finally, the time comes for them to all open their letters. Finn goes first, and discovers he’s been rejected. Next is Kurt, who is somehow also rejected, despite an amazingly good audition. Next comes Rachel, who gets accepted; but it’s bittersweet, as Kurt and Finn can barely muster smiles. And now for her aforementioned reflection: she’s gotten everything she wanted at the start of highschool. She’s marrying the quarterback, she was prom queen, and she’s won Nationals. And I think we’re all actually really happy for her. But she decides to defer her acceptance to NYADA so she can stay behind and attend with Kurt and Finn.
So it all seems pretty settled. But then, boom — plot twist! As Rachel and Finn head off to their wedding (yeah, that’s still happening), Finn instead drives her to the train station. He’s been in cahoots with her dads to send her off to NYADA anyway, because he couldn’t watch while she put off her dreams just for him. And then, horror of horrors, he breaks up with her! Finn doesn’t want to do it any more than Rachel does, but he claims that going to New York is something she should do alone. And then he reveals something that really, really kills me: he’s joining the military, so he can honor the memory of his father, who was dishonorably discharged. 24 hours ago he had dreams of becoming an actor and marrying the love of his life, and now all of that is gone and likely to never return. Basically, it was the saddest season finale ending Glee has ever had.
But I’d say it was also the best. Although musically speaking, it was somewhat underwhelming (the only highlight’s were Will’s “Forever Young,” which he sang as a goodbye to the seniors, and Rachel’s tearful “Roots Before Branches,” which she sang as she arrived in New York), the finale did wrap up a lot of the season’s plots, while still leaving a lot of interesting things to be explored in the next season. There are still a good many characters who are not graduating, and I have a feeling even our graduates will be returning.