The two-hour final installment found the show flashing back to 2009 for the first hour, where fans got a reimagined look at the show’s pilot with a bunch of scenes and perspectives we didn’t originally see. Rachel once again had an intensity that would make The Rock jealous, Kurt was still closeted (love that we got some final Burt/Kurt scenes…sweetest part of the show!), Mercedes was struggling, and Tina reminded everyone she used to be goth, a fact we all promptly forgot once again.
Of course, the problem with the flashbacks is that Finn (Cory Monteith) isn’t there to be part of them. The show handled it well, alluding to him often, but the real waterworks started at the end of the hour, where the iconic first auditorium performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” played out in full. Will Schuester is us all, crying from our couches.
The second episode of the evening was a lot more fun, as fanfic came to life and the show looked to the future for all the characters, beginning with the New Directions winning Nationals. Cue the celebration — and more good news: McKinley High School was being turned into a performing arts school, and Will is the new principal. I like that the show’s final focus was, in part, on the importance of the arts in schools. The program has certainly hit on that subject in the past, but it was nice to have it hammered home as a parting message about a group of misfit kids and all they accomplished.
But Will wasn’t the only one whose future is brighter than Lea Michele’s smile. Here’s what we learned about everyone else over the course of the episode:
-Sam becomes New Directions’ new leader, taking over the path that Finn was set on.
-Mercedes is an opening act for Beyonce! Years beyond that, she becomes a diva (female version of a hustler/superstar) in her own right.
-One of Artie’s movies gets picked up for Sundance Slamdance. And he’s back together with Tina! I was always pulling for those two crazy kids.
-Sue is our next Vice President of the United States (sure), serving under President Jeb Bush (maybe?).
-Rachel is pregnant (!) as a surrogate for a very happy Kurt and Blaine.
-Rachel GOT HER TONY. On awards night, fans also learned she’s married to Jesse St. James (HERE FOR IT), who is also her director for Jane Austin Sings(would watch)! Her speech is tearful and wonderful and dedicated to Will.
-In the final flashfoward, from fall 2020, Vice President Sue Sylvester returns to McKinley to officially rename the auditorium of the highly successful performing arts school after Finn Hudson.
-For the last number, the entire cast sings “I Lived” by OneRepublic on said auditorium stage. The song concludes, and the final shot of the show is a plaque dedicated to Finn, with the quote, which Sue said during her dedication, “See the world not as it is, but as it should be.”
For all the ups and downs of the show, that’s a message worth singing about.