by Chris Saccaro
Mr. Schuester said it best when he said the only thing left to do was say goodbye. With Nationals behind them, the Glee Club spends this episode completing one of Mr. Schue’s more appropriate weekly assignments–“goodbyes.”
One of the things that “Glee” did really well in this episode, aptly titled “Goodbye,” was bringing back clips from Season 1. Not only did this remind the audience of some understandably forgotten plot points (remember when Schuester planted pot in Finn’s locker?), it also showed us how much these characters changed and grew over the course of three years. When watching “Glee,” it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of the episode and forget that these characters are growing (for the most part). While “Glee” is still guilty of inconsistent character arcs (Quinn’s complete change of character for “Prom-asaurus”), when the writers pull back and give us a full view of the past three seasons, we are forced to see that there has been some character growth.
The nicest example of this would have to be Burt Hummel’s gift to Kurt–a reenactment of Kurt’s “Single Ladies” dance. It had just the right amount of cheesiness and sentimentality that one would expect from “Glee” while also showing how much Kurt has changed.
The main seniors that were focused on were obviously Kurt, Rachel, Finn, Quinn, Puck, and Santana. The other seniors get a minute of exposition to explain where their future will take them (Mercedes and Mike specifically), which seems to be an indicator for which cast members will be returning for next season. After Amber Riley’s slightly controversial tweet about leaving “Glee,” it’s not surprising that her character won’t be returning as prominently as Rachel or Kurt.
Each of the main seniors got their own segment to say their goodbyes, and discuss how they’ve changed via inner monologue. While I normally dislike voiceover as a narrative device, it worked for the most part. A lot of what the characters said in their voiceovers were mere redundant ramblings, but regardless of that, it was incredibly sweet to see the character’s goodbyes to their respective friends and teachers. Dianna Agron and Jane Lynch were both noteworthy in their goodbye scenes. It’s nice to see that underneath it all, Sue really does care for her Cheerios. Or maybe Sue’s hormones are making her a bit soft.
As for the actual graduation, it was a bit of a letdown after the emotional buildup leading up to it. It makes sense that the writers would make it into a celebration as opposed to a tear-fest. Especially when you look at the outcome of Kurt, Finn, and Rachel’s admissions decisions.
It was a really brave decision for the writers to make Rachel get accepted when Finn and Kurt didn’t. The past few episodes have been building up the idea that both of the guys would have no doubts about getting in. So to have Rachel come out from under and get accepted was interesting. However, what really makes this noteworthy is how it changes the relationship dynamic between Finchel. Finn commits the most passionate act of love…letting go. Rather than watch Rachel throw away her life in New York to help Finn and Kurt get better for their next application, Finn forces her to leave Lima behind, and essentially breaks up with her.
This leads to a fitting goodbye for the show– Rachel’s journey from Lima to New York. Rachel’s first moments alone in New York felt very reminiscent to the opening of the show “That Girl” which is also about an aspiring actress in New York City. The thematic and stylistic similarities were uncanny.
Based on that final scene, it’s clear that Rachel’s exploits in New York City are going to be somehow incorporated into the show. The fate of the other characters is still up in the air, which will make for an exciting Season 4. However, the unclear futures of many of the characters make their goodbyes (and this episode) less poignant. In a show like “Friday Night Lights” where characters who graduate typically left the show, there was a certain beauty in the short time they had left before they were gone for good. It’s hard to feel that way with Glee’s “Goodbye,” because for many of these characters, it may not be a goodbye. There’s a very good chance we will be seeing these characters again next season, which just makes this heartwarming episode a lot less meaningful.
Chris Saccaro is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.