March 11, 2014 7:12pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Glee': Finn's Spirit Looms Large Over Nationals
Glee creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk noted Finn's death would resonate throughout season five and Tuesday's episode, "City of Angels," delivered on that vow.
As New Directions headed to Los Angeles for Nationals -- where the group of ragtag singers was tasked with coming in first in order to save the club -- Finn's mother Carole (Romy Rosemont) and stepfather Burt (Mike O'Malley) returned to give the club a boost.
While Carole struggled with attending Nationals, she eventually makes her way to the performance where New Directions is up against stiff competition in the form of Throat Explosion (featuring guest star Skylar Astin).
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New Directions opts to cover Boston's "More Than a Feeling" -- which carried a very "Don't Stop Believin'" feeling to it -- as well as Neil Diamond's "America," the latter of which seemed out of place until Carole put all the pieces together: The club was covering all of Finn's favorite songs. New Directions launches into the finale in their three-song set with a grand rendition of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" that ends with Sam (Chord Overstreet) triumphantly raising Finn's trademark drumsticks in the air (see photo above).
While the club didn't take home the trophy -- they came in second to Throat Explosion -- the episode was one of the season's best, with the Fox musical using classic clips of Finn from the past four seasons to augment the performance's emotional impact.
The loss of Finn, paired with the looming graduation of seniors Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Blaine (Darren Criss), Artie (Kevin McHale) and Sam, on top of Sue's (Jane Lynch) vow to dismantle the club if it fails to win, made this one of Glee's most memorable performances in its five seasons and one of the show's most solid episodes to date.
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Despite the second-place finish, New Directions finished strong back in Ohio, when Sam and company tell Carole and Burt that the ending that they deserved was a win and the group would have invited the couple to the stage to share in their triumph. It's then that Carole and Burt reinforce what Glee at its core is all about. "Even though he didn't have the best voice or rhythm, he always brought out the best in himself and others," Burt says. "The great thing about him is he always managed to find a way to feel like he'd won."
"Win or lose, Finn lives in you guys," Carole tells the club.
It's a fitting message that arrives as next week's 100th episode is poised to feature a slew of Glee's original stars returning to the choir room celebrate the milestone and rally around New Directions, after Sue informs Will (Matthew Morrison) that the glee club will now be disbanded.
Check out the promo for the 100th episode, below, and hit the comments with your thoughts on this week's game-changer. Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.