Glee Season Finale Review: Pomp and Circumstance

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After a little pomp and circumstance, Glee feels like it just grew up a little bit. I can't lie. I might've teared up during "Goodbye." (And by "might've," I mean I totally did.)

Graduation episodes are tough, especially when no one's really going anywhere, but tonight managed to balance the simultaneous excitement and uncertainty of the future for our favorite seniors.

Will on the Guitar

First, where are our seniors headed:

Mercedes' YouTube video has landed her a recording contract as a back-up singer on an indie label. Mike Chang is off to Chicago. Santana's mother, played by Gloria Estefan, gives her blessing for Santana to forfeit her cheerleading scholarship and pursue a career in music in New York. Puck passes his geography test, thanks to a kiss from Quinn, and Brittany gets to repeat her senior year. Forever. Her grade-point average is a 0.0.

Rachel, Finn and Kurt haven't heard from their schools yet and agree that when they get their letters, they'll all open them together.

When those letters come, it's bad news for Finn and Kurt and good news for Rachel. Which is actually bad news for Rachel because now the three of them won't be together in New York.

(And that's what you missed on Glee?)

Here's a pet peeve about all of this college acceptance that's been going on this season. Quinn's is the only one whose timeline fits with when normal colleges send out their acceptance letters. Maybe performing arts schools are different, but these letters arrived after graduation. It bugs me that these kids are graduating and they don't actually have plans in place aside from "here's what I want to do." Maybe I'm just overthinking it. If this is my biggest complaint from the episode, we're doing okay, right?

Anyway, Mr. Shue's assignment - say goodbye - felt right. Just as the writers have been returning to the show's "glory days," with the story lines and their character-centric focus, tonight's episode let us get back to the old, eclectic feel of Glee music and away from the theme-of-the-week schtick that's plagued the show. It was nice to have songs that were fun, fit the characters and weren't current Top 40 hits. (Except for the Taylor Swift number at the end.)

What else felt right about this episode? The flashbacks to the first season. The original members singing "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" was nice, but what was really great was Burt Hummel's graduation present to Kurt. Seeing him dance to "All The Single Ladies" and seeing scenes from Kurt's original trip down Beyonce' lane was funny, and it was perfect for this father-son duo. There's something about their pairing that has always worked well in the midst of story lines that seemed very broken.

The thing that felt both right and wrong was that whopper of a scene at the end.

Finn broke up with Rachel so she could pursue her dream.

Here's a girl who knows that nothing can stop her. She's got nothing to lose in waiting a year to go to New York. But then, just like that, her fiance' takes that option off the table by joining the Army, the one place he knows she can't follow him, and conspiring with her fathers and her friends. Finn's "I'm letting you go" was crushing, as was this:

You're going to get on that train, and you're going to go to New York, and you're going to be a star. Without me. | permalink

We knew it would happen. That it would have to happen. There was no way the two of them would get married. But still, in that moment, I felt the heartbreak of teenage love all over again. When Rachel put it all together and figured out what was happening, I felt it with her. I sat here biting my nail nervously and hoping the tears welling up in my eyes didn't spill down my cheeks. I like these two together, for whatever reason, but I know that young love isn't always endless love, and so, this was necessary.

That scene coupled with the shots of her walking through the city, while it was a bit indulgent of Rachel Berry's character when this is an ensemble cast, felt strangely adult. It felt like a new beginning, which is hopefully what we'll have when the show returns this fall.

Give the finale a grade in our poll and then tell us what you thought of tonight's episode.


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (308 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.


I was shocked. I loved the last scene, in fact it was one of the few Finchel moments that felt true, but as I sat there listening to 'Roots before branches' I kept thinking: Why such such an exclusively Berry ending? And why just Rachel? Kurt was every bit as obsessed about NYADA as she was, and his audition went far better than hers. Not to mention I still don't know when did we learn that Blaine was a junior and they would not be graduating together. Weren't they taking the same classes at Dalton? They did study together (watch the 'It's cold outside' scene from S2).


Roots before Branches was written by Adam Anders and his wife. It fits Rachel and her struggles and all the things that she needed to do for herself. She has to know what she wants to do and to know where to head and how to live. Finn was right she has to find her own way. And I think he was speaking also about himself, but that was just a given. The writers have written Finn with one thing in mind and that is to redeem his dad's name. But I still don't believe enlisting in the army will be his choice. After all, Gle ends with cliffhangers for long hiatuses to return with a simple passing mention-like Quinn's accident. Just a guess, but it seems loistically impossible for Glee to cover that many locations in the future episodes. Lima, NY, and an army base. I don't think so. Until fall, happy summer.


Also,@Kate, I disagree about Kurt being a sure thing to get into NYADA. Rachel has since a child prepared for this day with competitions of all kinds with trophies, community theater, lead in the musical, solos or part solo or duet in competitions in three years of HS, captain of 16 clubs in school and a 3.8 gpa at graduation. Kurt didn't prepare at all. Just a grat performance. Jesse had a great performance when he auditioned for Carmen but he didn't get accepted. As for Finn going in the army I don't think so. I believe Rachel assumed that, like when Finn didn't answer her question how he felt about their kisses s2. I think Mr Shue gave him an idea to use persuation with absence of denial. Drugs in Finn;s locker. Did everyone see the somber looks he gave Rachel knowing that they should not marry. It was the right thing to do. Rachel reluctantly knew it.


I agree with what you've said. Finn knew that Rachel belonged in New York and as it was he would hold her back. Out of love he pushed her to go, knowing that if the truth be told she would have not gone. The only thing that makes this ending hard for me was that after everything she went threw changing from a selfish self-centered lonely girl(wishing for friends and acknowledgement) to a loving and thoughtful girl for her friends famil and loved ones. She thoght about Finn and Kurt's needs to find their futures and was willing to hold off on hers. A huge change in the girl that was to now.


To add onto my mini rant: Rachel BELONGS on Broadway.And so does Kurt actually. I was very surprised that he didn’t get in (Finn not so much—I cringed watching his “audition� for Inside the Actor’s Studio). I actually thought no one would get in, since small envelopes from colleges mean rejection. He'll find some way to get to New York and hopefully NYADA. I do agree that the fact that they graduated BEFORE they received any responses was a stupid move on the writers’ part. I remember sending my application and knew about TWO weeks after. The only one they got really right was Quinn’s early admission into Yale. It almost seemed like the writers forgot they never gave the answers –almost like they did most of the plotlines in the season. Hopefully Season 4 will be better.


First things first: We all knew that Rachel and Finn were not going to make it to the altar or a justice of the peace or any kind of wedding at all. And the fact that Finn realized that before she did shows how much he truly loves Rachel. That's what made me start to cry like a baby, because I would want someone to do the same to me. He knew that he would hold her back and stopped it from happening. Is going into the Army the smartest thing he's ever done? No, but I can understand that too, becasue it was for his dad. I can't say that I loved the whole episode, but I will say that I loved the ending scene. The ending song (which, to point out to the reviewer is NOT a Taylor Swift song) rings so true to everyone with big dreams like Rachel and symbolizes the fact that she NEEDED to leave Lima. I know some people hated this scene because it was all about Rachel but I feel like you needed to see her in New York, alone, and on her way. I smiled when I saw her walking along Broadway becasue she BELONGS there.


The finale was just terrible, terrible writing. The writers this season were just awful. I loved Glee seasons 1 and 2, Glee season 3 had all these good things going for it and should have been the most exciting season yet. But no, all the great things we were hoping for- a Finchel wedding, a Wemma wedding, Sue's baby, Kurt Rachel and Finn going to New York- NONE of that happened. The writers are no longer writing it for entertainment value. They're writing it to get viewers hopes up and then "psych! no, we're really doing this crappy ending." Season 4 is going to be equally bad I think. Murphy's already saying Will's not getting married after all. *eye roll* But I'll still keep watching because Joe and Brittany are still around.


@gleeluvr I really like your passion but let's agree to disagree :) I've never made demands I just watch, but I'm not particularly excited about the direction the show is going in. I always thought Glee was about diversity and acceptance and I haven't thought that this season. Perhaps I keep repeating myself but it bothers me that the ethnic characters were so marginalised. If RIB admit that Glee is a show about combating homophobia plus Rachel/Finn drama, I'll accept that and enjoy it. I've never been able to stomach homophobia, it disgusts me. It's the fact that they claim to be inclusive and then ignore people of colour that bothers me (among other things). Their struggle matters too. I love all of the characters on the show but I don't enjoy it anymore because in my opinion RIB aren’t sincere.


Again Darn! I think the writing has shown the path Glee intends to stay with. The symbol and metaphors of Glee=Rachel and Finn. This next season will be a lateral move to have emphasis on maturity of these 4 characters. McKinley will be images to reinforce their self confidence of what can be in the midst of confusion and underdog status. Glee club will have to start over with new kids hopefully not as many. I feel the focus will not be on them. We will have to see what comes s4 to know for sure what the new face of Glee will be. I'm all for a more mature show.


Darn! I lost or never had interest in Bartie and Brittana. I love Santana. S3 was the start of peace and maturity, stories tied into others or flowed into a succeeding plot. Yeah, some started and dropped(Samcedes/Quinn's accident), but Glee introduced the more unified club with a drive and social awareness. Yes, I am a Rachel, Finn, Kurt, Santana, Finchel fan. But the writing has spoken that they are the main characters(Quinn was s1 but has faded into the background as has Puck, Will and Emma). Glee had 4 main plots s3 and completed them with cliffhangers. The more central the character is the more the cliffhanger IMO, thusly, Finchel separation with the unknown, Kurt and Santana unknown. Mercedes will be a back-up singer in LA(answered),Mike school(answered),Quinn at Yale(answered). The more and most central characters have cliffhangers-Kurt and Santana unknown, Finn and Rachel separate but Rachel in NY alone where Finn has no future plan. These 4 all have clifhangers. I think fandom propelled many secondary and background characters foward-ex Santana. But the vision of Glee's creators still intend to stay with their symbol and metaphor-Rachel and Finn.

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Glee Season 3 Episode 22 Quotes

You know how hard long distance relationships can be. We both saw The Notebook.


Our work here is done. There's only one thing left to do. Say goodbye.