Well, I was certainly not emotionally prepared for that. I thought the Nationals episode would be one final showcase for all of the kids we’ll never see again come Glee: NYC (a.k.a. Smash: Season 1), but it ultimately served as a fitting New Directions tribute to the legacy of Finn and all that he brought to Glee Club. It was lovely, and it was sad -- a surprising tone for the second-to-last episode with the littlest McKinley kids.
This episode had a feeling of finality, and unlike most of Glee’s competition episodes, it took a look back, rather than toward the future. Because, like Finn’s mom said, as the people that knew Finn best leave McKinley High School, it’s like he’s leaving it too. And, as the people who followed Finn and his friends, and later, Finn and his students – sometimes with apt attention, sometimes under the forceful will of the show's creators – we’ll all leave it behind too. After next week’s 100th episode, it’s on to the bright lights of New York City, where everyone’s a Broadway star, and there’s enough space in your Brooklyn loft to house literally every Glee member who cares to drop by unannounced with a rolly suitcase. But, at least for the next hour, it’s over to the tanner coast for Nationals in L.A.!
Please Grant Me This Small Grumble About a Forced Plot Point in a Mostly Fluid Episode: Before they can prepare for Nationals, Schue tells Sam it’s time for him to step up as a Glee leader, like Finn always was. Listen, I like Sam, but has Blaine not been the New Directions’ leader for a while now? I’m not saying that he’s always the most likable, or that the fitting of his pants doesn’t confuse me on a regular basis; but he stepped up when the kids didn’t have a teacher or anyone else to, you know, lead them. So, why does Will need to “count on [Sam] to get it done?” Mostly, Sam ends up taking on the task of keeping Finn’s legacy alive throughout Nationals, which was important and he does so admirably. But there’s no need to thrust this mantle of greatness upon him in the last hour. He doesn’t want to be a leader, he just wants to
That aside, I give all my highest praise for the rare treat of getting to see Romy Rosemont and Mike O’Malley as Finn’s mom and stepdad. Carole and Burt drop by the choir room to remind the New Directions how much they meant to Finn and a offer little inspiration: “No sad faces. No regrets. And, you know, it’d be OK if you won the damn thing.” The damn thing is in the City of Angels though, so with Carole and Burt as chaperones, Will and Blaine start off Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” that naturally leads to a bus-top tour of the city’s main attractions. It’s a cute little song and a cute little performance. Plus, it strongly implies that L.A. is mostly about soaking up sun and eating hotdogs, and there’s nothing not to love about that. B
Stars, They’re Just Like Us: Mercedes Jones got a record contract, y’all! New Directions has turned out as many stars as The Voice, just sayin’. She’s arrived at the New Directions’ hotel to serve as their fake-dog-toting, recently-singed-by-Sony spirit guide, and just in time, because Throat Explosion (yes, still really their name) has entered the building, even if Blaine is the only one who recognizes them: “No, Blaine…none of us read the show choir blogs. Just you.” Slightly Nicer Kitty has been killing it with her annoyance at how predictable all of her new friends are.
Throat Explosion’s leader is Jean-Baptiste, show choir royalty (and fellow blog reader), played by Skylar Astin, a cappella royalty. He’s a Quebec native, trained with Cirque du Soleil and, according to Blaine, “smells like a winner.” Any chance we can slide him over to New York? There’s probably a prime Broadway gig for him there.
NEXT: Are there too many 'Throat Explosion' puns...or not enough at all?