In this week's Glee finale, New Directions heads to New York to compete in Nationals and stage impromptu performances at various spots around the city. In a first for TV shows about small town kids visiting the big city for the first time, no cranky New Yorker tells them to shut the hell up! (Though they probably should.)
After arriving at the hotel, Schue tells the kids that they're on lockdown because they still need to write two original songs for Nationals (he neglects to mention that they're also minors on a school trip, and Puck already tried to order a cocktail). He then leaves them in the room with no chaperone, since he has more pressing matters to attend to — like singing a song off of Matthew Morrison's debut album, available in stores, or on Amazon.com and iTunes!
After Brittany performs an delightfully idiotic ode to her cup, the kids decide to look to New York itself for inspiration, like so many Project Runway contestants before them. Cut to a montage of the kids dancing through Central Park and Lincoln Center while performing a mashup of "New York, New York" and "I Love New York." (What? You don't remember the ditty from Madonna's 2005 album "Confessions On A Dance Floor'?) It includes an interlude in which the girls informing us they've "seen the Sphinx and we've seen the Cliffs of Dover." That's certainly impressive, considering most of them have never been on a plane before!
Back at the hotel, Rachel is trying to compose a song as the other girls have a pillow fight, but Finn invites her out for a romantic, cliché-filled night on the town. Like all 17-year-olds in New York for the first time, they decide to dine at Sardi's. Rachel spots Patti LuPone, who tells her to "never give up." Later as they stroll down the street, Finn hallucinates that his friends are serenading them with that song from Lady and the Tramp and tries to kiss Rachel. She pulls away, because they're saving their snooze-worthy reunion for the end of the episode.
The next morning, Kurt and Rachel sneak out to have the proverbial "breakfast at Tiffany's," and reveal that they'll both be attending college in New York in season four (don't worry, Blaine's coming too!) Rachel is conflicted about whether she should follow her dreams or resume her relationship with her occasionally douchey ex-boyfriend. Kurt helps her sort through her feelings (and does a sweet call back to their "Defying Gravity" showdown in season one) by breaking into the Wicked theater and performing "For Good."
Back at the hotel, Quinn threatens to tell on Kurt and Rachel for leaving the hotel. This means they'll get kicked out, even though it seems everyone has been coming and going as they please. Quinn doesn't care about winning Nationals and complains that she doesn't have a boyfriend, even though as a popular girl she deserves love more than anyone. Brittany and Santana comfort her the only way they know how: By giving her a hotel bathroom haircut. (By the way, remember how Quinn told Finn she had something big planned for New York? Apparently she meant she was just going to continue acting whiny and entitled, with little character development to justify her behavior.)
At the competition, the kids watch an all-female group perform "Yeah!" by Usher. Mercedes notes "they're really good," and they are indeed way better than New Directions! Then Charice and Vocal Adrenaline do a surprisingly boring rendition of "As Long as You're There." Finally, New Directions performs two of their worst original songs yet: "Pretending," the requisite Rachel/Finn ballad, and the messy pop song, "Light Up The World." It's easily their worst competition number, but when the kids don't even make the top 10 they blame their loss Rachel and Finn kissing in the middle of the performance.
Back in Lima, we get a brief update about the couples we actually care about. Kurt and Blaine exchange their first "I love you"s. Santana calls Brittany smart, but their relationship is still in limbo. The most important couples news: MERCEDES HAS A BOYFRIEND. She and Sam have been dating since the prom but they're keeping their relationship a secret for unknown reasons. Rachel and Finn kiss again in the library and decide they have a whole year before Rachel leaves Lima to follow her dreams. Why resolve the issue now, when you can work things out with another ballad during the season three finale?