This Kleenex-ready episode of Glee brings so many varied feelings as the trail that this award-winning and critically acclaimed series blazed bends away from the lives of the kids in a Midwest high school glee club and turns toward a handful of graduates navigating a grown up world in the streets of New York. It is the last show choir national competition and the New Directions gang has placed their late, great leader Finn (Cory Monteith) at the heart of their fight for a victory. Cory Monteith’s loss still feels so fresh as Will (Matthew Morrison) asks Sam (Chord Overstreet) to step up and take Finn’s place to lead the group. The entire episode is a sad goodbye to Glee as Gleeks know it. Sam, Will and the rest of the glee club must bid an era of music goodbye and seek a new direction and it’s impossible not to feel the weight of the change.
Glee starring Lea Michele and Chris Colfer airs on FOX Mondays at 8 pm ET.
Sam Steps Up
Glee has arguably changed the face of television and pop culture more than any series in history. Beyond the chart-topping music that is married to the story, Glee has given the underdog a voice and celebrates the quiet flicker of a dream that can fan into a flame with the right kind of encouragement and support.
Cory Monteith was the heart of Glee as much as Finn was the heart of New Directions. So, when Will tells Sam that Finn invited him to glee club for a reason – to take over when he graduated, it’s an immensely sad moment. Sam is stepping up because Finn died much too soon and we’re reminded Glee, as a series, is permanently altered because Cory Monteith is really gone. He tragically left everyone way too soon.
Chord Overstreet simply shines in this entire installment as Sam tentatively, then boldly carries the torch of Finn’s legacy to L.A. and the last glee club competition we’ll ever see. These competitions have brought a steady stream of feel good moments for the series and this one is just charged with so much sadness.
Nonetheless, Sam stands up in a way that would make Finn proud and it’s a bittersweet moment when Mr. Schue offers Sam comfort and praise when he feels he fell short.
The Show Must Go All Over the Place
It’s a pleasant surprise to see Finn’s mom Carole (Romy Rosemont) and stepdad Burt (Mike O’Malley) joining New Directions as chaperones to nationals in L.A. They try to be positive and upbeat, but Carole breaks down after Tina complains that her life will be “empty” from now on.
We wince a little when Carol tells her, “At least you get to have one.” Ouch! But, so true. The kids leave and she tells Burt she doesn’t think she can do it and says, “I feel like my insides are being ripped out.” The most painful truth comes when she adds, “When those kids leave McKinley, it’ll be like the last of him leaving too. It will really be over.”
It’s heartbreaking when they decide to leave before the actual competition starts. And, it’s even worse when Sam discovers Finn’s plaque is missing. But, they channel Finn throughout the performance and perform an incredible medley of Finn’s favorite songs.
Thankfully, Carole has a change of heart and they come back to watch the show. New Directions sings “More Than a Feeling,” featuring a great solo from Darren Criss, as well as “America,” and “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The final song has a montage of some of Finn/Cory’s most memorable moments on the show and when Sam holds up Finn’s drumsticks at the end, our tears flow even harder than they’ve been, if that’s possible.
They take second place and are so disappointed. Our hearts ache for them and the worst part is, they wanted to win it for Finn and for his parents. The only lighthearted part of the competition is their competitors’ names: Amazonians and Throat Explosion.
Carole consoles them when they feel down and says, “He always brought out the best in himself and in others and the great thing about him is, he always managed to find a way to feel like he’d won.” It’s also ironically sad in terms of the cast being Cory Monteith’s legacy on television just as Will reminds the group that they are Finn’s legacy and he lives in all of them. Sniff, sniff!
The blistering shocker comes when Sue (Jane Lynch) tells Will the glee club must be disbanded and this time, we know she’s serious. And, it hurts. New Directions has run its course. While some members still have music dreams, others have no idea what they are going to do. Here’s a question: How are we going to get by without that choir room? Watching the glee club fold is like experiencing another tragic loss.
Real-life couple Melissa Benoist (Marley) and Blake Jenner (Ryder) have been a joy to watch on the show. Marley is single, wanting time to herself after her split with Jake. She confesses to Ryder she’s dropping out of glee club when they get back home.
Ryder asks her why she’s quitting and she explains she’s mailed a bunch of song ideas to various contests and she never wins. She begins to question her own talent.
It’s great when Blake and Ryder ask Mercedes (who is now a successful music artist) to read Marley’s songs and then talk to her. She tells her not to give up and she’s not allowed to feel bad about rejections. Instead she needs to pick herself up and write more.
Glee, as a whole, reminds us to pick ourselves up when we get knocked down and fight for our dreams with unbridled passion. And, winning isn’t everything. In the end, it’s how we played the game.