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.


@Besi, I agree with you RIB have been influenced by fandom's requests and/or demands to develop other characters, which they did for you and others. S2 was all about couple drama, IMO was a drag and aweful, but this propelled Santana, Brittany interest. S2 introduced too many characters-Sam, Kurt's nemesis and tormentor(forgot his name-duh),Blaine, The Warblers, Dr Carl, Gwynneth Paltrow-a season of upheaval. The start of social conscienciousness PSA introduction-bullying, sexuality indentification and more s3 teenage sex, etc. Merc was more interesting s1 same with Quinn. Sam and Quinn was boring. Quinn s3 is a background character as Will and Emma. Brittany was funnier s1 now since Britany/Brittany,s2 xmas epi(horrible epis) Brittany is way too dumb. I didn't like Santana's bullying this season where she was vulnerable s2. The plots dropped off unfinished s2 as in s3. Samcedes, Quinn's accident(why write those things)IMO, s2 has many pluses but I was uninterested in Bartie and Brittana, the big top performances, especially The Warblers. Too many people, distractions, upheavals, chaos, hate for each other. S3 more fluent writing, stories flow into others, people finding contentment. Much more maturity and reason for the plots. More adult issues. IMO, much more interesting. Yeah, s3 has flaws so do other shows.


@gleeluvr I understand your point but if Rachel really is meant to be the focus of glee why did they bother introducing so many new characters? Why did bother introducing storylines and then fail to execute them or to see them through? They may not be the stars of the show but most of us care about the other characters and want to know what happens to them. Mercedes not having family was a travesty and the fact that they couldn't decide how to portray her and Sam was sad because they purposefully built it up. They'll probably break them up by the time season four begins because Mercedes' love life has never really mattered. Why weren’t they clear about what would happen with Santana? Suddenly she’s New York bound. What was the point of the "don't text and drive" SL? Sorry but there were way too many problems with this season.


As for so many negative comments about this season and this eoisode I disagree. This season had too many PSAs and too many tributes. Brittany dumbed down too much s3. Quinn's accident and lack of story on it. These are my misgivings. The writers put the story lines into place thru out the year so that the finale would end up like it did. Finchel getting engaged and wanting to marry was never gonna happen-just a plot to get them deeply envolved(sexually and emotionally)and facing life altering disappointments that led to their dependence on one another. Rachel's determination for NY was a catalyst for Kurt to want it too. He never thought about it or prepared for it before s3. Rachel in finale s2 was excited to be in NY but s3 finale she is hesitant and scared to alone without Kurt and Finn. Dependence. They all need to seek individuality and self confidence. So there goes s4.


When Rachel spoke with Tina in the hall she spoke of all the clubs she was president of-remember season 1 all the clubs she joined. Kurt didn't. Rachel always auditioned for community theater with maybe a part or 2. Kurt didn't. Rachel had the lead as Maria in the musical Kurt didn't. She has had solos in competitions where Kurt didn't. Rachel has said she has won competitions for singing and dancing since she was little. Kurt has nothing like that. Tina spoke to Carmen also. Carmen never said that Kurt was a shoe-in but good choice of song. When Jesse spoke with Carmen she said that he was good but not spectacular. Jesse is better than Kurt IMO. I think that Kurt being chosen would not be likely.


Kurt did an awesome audition but schools for the exceptional talents of all the US choose the cream of the crop. He and Rachel were the top of the Glee club but found out they were little fish in the ocean-so many others to compete with who are even more talented. I'd like to see Rachel find out that Jesse gave kudos in her behalf to Carmen T. And someone said that Kurt could have been silent about his acceptance to not make Finn feel bad. That could happen too. I have to say that Glee creators have their story lines decided and their emphasis will always be Finchel as the main stay of Glee. The other characters at the start were either background or secondary characters. This is really an ensemble cast with main characters just like a book or a TV show or a movie. I'm sorry that disappointment is amassed but reality is Rachel is the central character with all others surrounding her and their interactions. It is just the way any writer of fiction writes.


Darn it. Finn used the same manipulation to set Rachel free knowing she would resist the notion. He and Rachel never broke up just separated to seek out their futures. Just like a boomerang-if they are meant to be they will find each other again. I still believe that Glee needs to change course and in s4 follow the grads so we can watch them mature and face adult obstacles. I realize people don't want the Rachel show but she is the symbol of Glee since the pilot-underdog wanting to be accepted. Finn is the other main character being popular. Finchel represent that opposite poles can and will become special. Will signifies older Finn not following a dream and being complacent to being in Lima. Symbolism in prose.


First, I loved this wonderful episode. This season showed the viewers what High school is when there is no drama, except for Quinn's accident. Klaine and Brittana were blissfully happy. Finn and Rachel had things happen to propel them to be engaged- the things were disappointments. Finn finding out about his dad which made him feel he was a loser too. All he had that was special was Rachel. Rachel choked with her chances of NYADA almost nil. This showed us they got engaged and chose to get married all for the wrong reasons. Second, Finn never said in the car that he was enlisting, Rachel assumed that. He said that was the only place where she couldn't follow him-Ft Benning. I think after their letter openings and his admition to his mom that he felt unworthy of the good things his dad did(still feeling unworthy Lima loser even to his dad-he feels redeeming his dad that he will be redeemed as well) he reconsidered and chose to use Mr Shue's method of trickery to get Rachel to NY where he knows she belongs. I really believe that since Will told him of how he manipulated him that gave Finn a way to set Rachel free knowing she would resist it.


@Karen, they already sang it to him at the end of season 1 and it was epic. The scene had me crying.


I was really disappointed the seniors didn't sing "To Sir With Love" to mr. shuester. I know it is an old song, but that has never stopped them before. It really would have been perfect. The only thing I could think of is that they are holding out for a series finale or for when mr. Shuester leaves the show.


Is it just me or was the second half of season 3 truly awful? For a show claiming to speak for the underdog it wasn't inclusive - the ethnic characters bar Santana were pushed into the background; the Sam/Mercedes relationship wasn't allowed to flow despite them being adorable when they were given the chance - that relationship could be groundbreaking but RIB don’t seem to have the guts to develop it; Mercedes graduated with no family or boyfriend in attendance; Tina could only shine as Rachel; Brittany was dumbed down too much; there were too many unnecessary tribute episodes; Ryan Murphy was too influenced by "shippers�...I could go on...Season four? I don’t think so!

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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.