What You Missed on "Glee": Where Are the New Directions in 2020?

News   What You Missed on "Glee": Where Are the New Directions in 2020?
 
The final episode of "Glee" jumps ahead to 2020 and we see what became of Will, Sue, Rachel, Kurt, Blaine and all the rest of the New Directions. Did all of their dreams come true?

Chris Colfer and Darren Criss
Chris Colfer and Darren Criss Photo by FOX

Episode 6.13: "Dreams Come True"

Okay, guys. This is it. The final hour. Got your tissues ready? Got a drink? Then let’s go.

So remember the very first episode of "Glee," when Will looked at the photo of his late coach and mentor Lillian Adler? We finally get to meet her and see the William McKinley High School Glee Club in the early 1990s gathering around their coach as they prepare to compete at Nationals: “Glee Club is not about competition,” she says. “It’s about something deeper. Glee is about opening yourself up to joy.” This quote, we know, will wind up on her memorial plaque and inspire Will to lead the New Directions. Interspersed with this, we see Will (Matthew Morrison) putting on a tux. In his memory, the kids do a cheer (it’s not “Amazing!”)

It’s Nationals, and the winners are being announced. Will, Blaine (Darren Criss), Rachel (Lea Michele) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) join all the current students on a stage as they prepare to find out who won: Will it be the New New Directions, the Harmony Busters or the Soprano-gasms? (Heh.) And to no one’s surprise, the 2015 High School Show Choir National Champions are the New Directions. The coaches and the kids all embrace. It’s nice and all, but kind of hard to cheer for them when we haven’t seen them since they won Sectionals. But, whatever. Way to go, New New Directions! Quick cut to—

“I’m sorry, can you say that again?” Will asks, sitting in an office. “I’m not sure I understood.” “The district board of education has decided to make McKinley an arts school,” Superintendent Harris (Christopher Cousins) says. More than that, the school will be renamed “The William McKinley High School for the Performing Arts.” Will is stunned. Harris says that the credit all goes to Will for raising awareness of the value of arts education, which has proven more effective than focusing exclusively on math and science. Harris made a pitch to the board, and they agreed to a publicly funded arts high school. But wait, there’s still more: Will is going to be principal of the new school. “Congratulations.” Three months later, Emma (Jayma Mays) is making lunch for both her husband and herself, and they chatter and are cute together. Will marvels that he will never need to worry about funding again. The school will have a day care in the gym, he adds, and Emma will be there to help the kids get into colleges. “I’m so proud of you, Will,” Emma says gently. “It has been quite a journey to get to this place and you’ve made it the whole way without losing your integrity, except for those days when you were rapping.” Ah, yes. Those days. But Will is “scared to death” of his new responsibilities, and wonders if he has the talent to pull it all off. Emma assures him that everything is awesome. (They’re kind of sickeningly cute together as they cuddle and kiss. Come on, I have to be a little bit snarky.) In another room, Will sits with his son and plays a toy xylophone. “You see, Danny? Dreams really do come true,” he says. Well, it’s nice that they got the title in.

Will walks into the choir room where the entire Old and New Directions and a bunch of other students have gathered to cheer him and his accomplishments. The room is packed, and Will admits that this is the most exciting first day of Glee Club ever, with apologies to the kids who were there in the very beginning. Will announces that New Directions (will they be the New New New Directions?) will be only one of several choirs at McKinley from now on: He’s bringing back the Troubletones and launching a boy’s choir called Duly Noted. There will even be a JV squad for aspiring singers who need to work on their technique. And as principal, Will will not be leading the different clubs, but will be hiring some new talent to take over. “But until then, I wanted to say farewell to you all with a song that I prepared for this occasion.” He grabs his ukulele and slings the strap around his shoulder. “My life changed because of all the magic that we created in this room. And if I’ve learned one thing, it’s the message in the lyrics of this song. This is for you guys.” He sits down, surrounded by all of his students—his children—and begins to play Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Teach Your Children.” Sam (Chord Overstreet) plays his guitar, Artie (Kevin McHale) looks seriously at Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Kurt and Mercedes (Amber Riley) hold hands, and everyone tries to keep their composure while Will sings. No, I’m not crying. Shut up. You’re crying. Anyway.

In the locker room, Sam is pumping footballs (shout-out to the Super Bowl controversy?) as Blaine comes by to invite Sam back to New York where he could live in his (Blaine) and Kurt’s spare room. Because all NYU students and recent grads have spare bedrooms. Of course. “New York’s not my speed,” Sam says. “It’s too fast, it’s too loud, there’s too many sports teams so I get confused on who I’m supposed to root for.” Blaine suggests that he just cheer for whichever team is winning. “That’s something Kurt would say,” Sam sighs. Blaine insists that he and Kurt are happy together, but he misses his best friend. But Sam prefers the open space of Ohio, and assures his buddy that he is happy. “I just don’t want you to waste all of your talent,” Blaine says, concerned. Sam insists that he isn’t wasting anything, and will be using all of his talent in his new job.

Lea Michele, Jenna Ushkowitz, Kevin McHale and Becca Tobin
Lea Michele, Jenna Ushkowitz, Kevin McHale and Becca Tobin Photo by FOX

Quick cut to the choir room, where the New New New Directions have gathered (including several boys in Warbler uniforms). Will introduces their new teacher: Mr. Sam Evans. The man himself enters, followed by Blaine, who can’t believe that Sam is going to be in charge. Sam turns to his student and does a dead-on Matthew McConaughey imitation: “All right, all right, all right!” Heh. But the impression leads him into the week’s lesson: Country. Will blanches. “Let’s see where he goes with this,” Blaine mutters. And sure enough, Sam launches into an explanation of Country music and the Blues and how music can express the pain of the lower classes. “If we want to be great, we need to be able to sing about hurt and loss,” the former homeless boy says, “and even if we can’t relate to the specifics, make them our own.” He asks for a volunteer, and Spencer (Marshall Williams) suggests “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Will and Blaine beam.

Artie, followed by the Old New Directions, wheels into the auditorium, where Mercedes tells them to wait while she makes an announcement that she has to get through without crying: She has been picked as the opening act on Beyonce’s new world tour, and is leaving soon. Everyone cheers. She recalls how “invisible” she used to feel at McKinley, but notes how far she has come since then: “Even when I got the call earlier, I didn’t think, ‘Oh, this must be some kind of mistake’ or ‘They must not mean me.’ That’s because of you guys. Having friends like you really did change me. You made me know that good things are possible. It’s not really that common to come by and I’ll remember you guys for it.” Her voice begins to crack and her friends move toward her. She insists they stay away. “Do not come up here. That is not even the hard part, and if you come up here now, I am going to lose it, and I am determined to walk out of here with some class.” Oh, Mercedes. You could be sobbing like that girl in the "Blair Witch Project" and you will still have class to spare. You are the definition of class and poise, and don’t you ever forget it. Anyway, she explains that her professional schedule will keep her away from her friends for a long while, and that this is, essentially, goodbye.

“I wanted to say goodbye my way, with a song. And then I want to walk out of here like I’m gonna be seeing everybody in Glee Club tomorrow and like it’s not really goodbye.” A band begins playing the Supremes’Someday We’ll Be Together” and a full choir appears behind Mercedes on the stage. Her friends wipe away tears as she belts out the song, and she comes down from the stage to finally hug them. as a group. She walks up the aisle to the rear exit as everyone watches. The song ends, Mercedes silently blows a kiss and exits. Her spotlight fades. “Mercedes Jones has left the building,” Artie says sadly. No, I told you I’m not crying. Moving on.

In Will’s office, Sue is snooping around as Blaine and Kurt come in and ask what she’s doing. She wanted to see the old office—and, um, how do I say this delicately? Leave something on Will’s desk. “But that seemed childish, so I just peed everywhere,” she says. Ugh. Blaine and Kurt sit and explain that they are leaving for New York in a few days, and wanted to thank Sue for bringing them back together. Sure, kids, just remember that kidnapping is perfectly acceptable if people aren’t completely traumatized afterwards. Sigh. Whatever. “So, thank you,” Blaine says. Kurt echoes his husband, and Sue smiles at her former student.

“Porcelain, the first moment I laid eyes on you I truly didn’t understand what I was looking at with your hippo broaches and your knee-length sweaters standing there all sassy with your arms crossed and your hips all cocked out and your eyes rolled back as if to say ‘Oh, how droll.’ But then I got to know you. I got to watch you go through what you went through. The whole coming out thing with your dad, the death threats from the bully who Blaine later dated.” Blaine looks a bit confused at this. “I never knew I had thoughts and feelings about those things until I watched you go through them. You expanded my mind. You taught me things about myself that I would’ve never discovered on my own. And for that I thank you.” So she thanked them by kidnapping them? Ugh, whatever. Last episode. Kurt, his voice filling with tears, thanks her as well. Sue turns to Porcelain’s husband. “Blaine, I still don’t really get you. I guess I am just not a fan of your thing. But hey, you’re doing you. And that’s swell.” “Thank you, Sue.” Blaine sighs. “I feel the same way about you.” Sue sends them on their way and walks out into the hallway. And there is Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter), who screams when she sees her former mentor. “I was coming to see you!” “I was coming to see you, too!” Sue screams back. In slow motion, they run down the hall toward one another, shoving other students out of the way in their eagerness. They embrace, and Becky apologises for betraying Sue to Geraldo. Sue forgives her: “I’ve been treating you like an unpaid intern, when I should have been treating you like a paid intern.” But there’s still one more person Sue wants to see before she goes, so she kisses Becky’s forehead and heads off. In the auditorium, Brad the Genius Pianist (Brad Ellis) is playing ABBA’sThe Winner Takes it All” as Will walks onto the stage and asks what’s going on. Sue answers with the song—which becomes hilarious when she gets to the “Does she kiss like I used to kiss you?” line and Will looks very confused. She also sneaks in a “Butt Chin” when the lyrics mention “your name,” and Will joins in for the chorus in terrific harmony, and they end the number together standing center-stage. (Please, please come back to Broadway, Jane Lynch! Your voice has gotten so good and you’re hilarious and wonderful.) “Look, I know why you want—” Will begins, but Sue shushes him and exits—knocking Brad the Genius Pianist off of his piano bench. Okay, kidnapping and brainwashing is bad enough, but hurting Brad Ellis? That’s going too far, Sue!

Five years later: We seem to be in a TV studio. Becky, wearing a black suit and sunglasses, speaks into a Dick Tracy-esque wrist radio and orders the snipers to stand down. “Pocahontas has landed,” she says. And there’s Geraldo Rivera, announcing that President Jeb Bush will win the crucial battleground state of Ohio, and re-election to a second term. And Jeb’s VP is there in the studio to celebrate: “Madam Vice President, thank you so much for being here.” Of course, the VP is Sue Sylvester, still wearing a tracksuit but now sporting some nice glasses. Geraldo asks if Sue will run for president in 2024. “You bet your sweet ass, Geraldo,” she says. Geraldo thanks her, being very friendly to the woman who punched him in the face five years previously, and they go to commercial. So after years of physically assaulting kids, kidnapping, brainwashing and abusing her power, Sue became a successful Republican politician? That’s...probably the most realistic thing that’s ever happened on "Glee."

In the McKinley hallway, Kurt shows Blaine how he’s turned one locker into a time capsule...because, you know, there aren’t any current students who could use that locker. Sigh. Whatever. The time capsule has programs from the show choir competitions and Kurt’s "Rocky Horror" wig and his Lady Gaga heels and his prom queen crown and a photo of Finn and photos of himself and Blaine and a ring Blaine brought him (which he isn’t wearing? Whatever.)...Blaine laughs and cries at the same time, and they kiss and hug, and the scene transitions to the two of them walking through the 50th Street 1 station in midtown Manhattan as a man (Tim Bagley) voiceovers that the (fictional) Harvey Milk Elementary School has two guests to welcome for Career Day and Celebrity Tuesday Sing-along. They ride an escalator up (that station has an escalator now? It didn’t yesterday.) past a poster for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (and wouldn’t Chris Colfer be adorable in that show? Please make that happen, Thespis.) as the screen wipes to change the poster to a new musical, Jane Austen Sings. The voiceover continues that Kurt and Blaine are “inspirational. Recently, they performed the first LGBTQ version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at Lincoln Center. In the schoolroom, which is filled with absolutely adorable kids, Kurt and Blaine praise the school and the students that it reminds them of the choir room at McKinley, thanks to Will’s acceptance. “We want to encourage all of you guys to be proud of who you are and to find friends that accept you and to not only dream, but to dream big. Surround yourself with people who can help those dreams come true,” Blaine says as he heads to the piano, where he begins playing The Monkees’Daydream Believer” and Kurt sings while recreating some of his choreography from the series for the kids, who dance with him and are insanely cute. Blaine hands piano duties off to a remarkably talented kindergartener as he gets up to dance and sing with his husband and the students, and the moment could be twee but is just really sweet and cute, and considering the success Chris Colfer has had as a children’s book author, it must have been great fun to film. They end the scene on a circle and an “Amazing!” cheer.

Ugh, another commercial already? Sheesh.

Rachel plays piano in the auditorium (wasn’t Blaine just teaching her to play a few weeks ago?) and sings a new song: “This Time,” written by that soon-to-be Hedwig, Darren Criss. The scene shifts from the auditorium to the choir room to the hallways and there are tears streaming down her cheeks and the lyrics are perfect for a series finale:

“This time

No one’s gonna say goodbye.

I keep you in this heart of mine.

This time, I know it’s never over.

No matter who or what I am,

I carry where we all began—

This time that we had I will hold forever.”

Jane Lynch takes a group selfie
Jane Lynch takes a group selfie Photo by FOX

Five years later: Mercedes pulls up to a New York townhouse in a Town Car and is greeted by Tina, who is pushing Artie in his chair. Tina expositions that Artie wrote a movie for Mercedes but Mercedes was too busy on her own world tour so Tina got the part instead. (And yes, she says it almost exactly like that. Sigh. I know, they only had 45 minutes to fit everything in, but did the exposition have to be so clunky?) Anyway, Tina says that the film got into Sundance, but Artie corrects her: It actually got into Slamdance, and he wants to use Mercedes’ songs for the soundtrack. Mercedes gives permission as Kurt and Blaine pull up in a taxi, because no one in New York uses the subway. They go to head into the townhouse (how exactly will Artie get his chair up the stairs?) and Blaine expositions that Sam has a new girlfriend. “Then why does he keep texting me?” Mercedes asks. Tina fixes Artie’s shirt and leans in to kiss him. Aww, that’s nice.

Inside, Rachel, wearing a gorgeous blue gown, is sitting at a vanity putting on jewelry as Kurt leads the gang in. Rachel goes to stand up but Kurt tells her not to strain herself. (Because...she’s going to stay in that chair forever?) “Please, I’ve been sweating my boobs off at Tracy Anderson’s for the past nine months,” she says. “The baby can have my body now, but after that, Mama wants it back.” Blaine offers her organic juice from “a place in Tribeca” that is supposed to be good for fetal brains, which...okay, whatever. For the sake of exposition, Tina asks why Rachel agreed to be a surrogate for Kurt and Blaine’s baby. Rachel mentions her own dads, but says that if Kurt and Blaine could give up so much of their lives for her, she could give them nine months. Aww, nice. Rachel is doing something for somebody else for a change. Jesse (Jonathan Groff) walks in wearing a tux, and Rachel calls him “my husband” for our benefit as he mentions that he wants kids of his own with Rachel. “We’re gonna be late,” he says. Well, yes, Jesse, that’s generally how you find out if a woman is pregnant. Oh, sorry, my bad, he meant they’d be late to whatever they’re attending this evening. (What could it be? Hmmm...)

The camera pans across a gilded ceiling with elaborate chandeliers as Jesse, a former Tony winner, instructs Rachel on how to behave when she gets her award. “I’m not gonna win,” she says. “Yes, you are,” Jesse insists. “When you get up there, you stand up straight, you fake humility, you cry only once when you talk about your dads, and you give all the credit to your incredibly talented director.” Naturally, Jesse is her director. Of course. They kiss and take their seats as Andrew Rannells strides onto the stage to present the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Wait, Jesse and Rachel just arrived in time for one of the last awards of the ceremony? And Rachel is nine months pregnant? When did the show start performances and when did she start her maternity leave? This kind of opens up a can of worms—but never mind. Last episode. Just go with it.

At the Schuester home back in Ohio, Will watches the broadcast on TV as Sam chases a child around (is that Danny?) and Emma joins him with a baby on her hip. There’s another, slightly older kid in the background, too, so I’m not sure how many children the Schuesters are supposed to have now, but they look happy, so that’s all good.

Anyway, Andrew Rannells announces the nominees: Maggie Smith in Miss Jean Brodie’s Second Prime, Willow Smith in Cabaret, Anne Hathaway in Anne! (a one-woman show) and Rachel Berry in Jane Austen Sings. (Ah, that’s why we saw the poster earlier! Oh, show, you’re so clever!) “And the Tony goes to...Rachel Berry in Jane Austen Sings!” Everybody in the Schuester household and the gang at Jesse and Rachel’s townhouse celebrate. Quinn (Dianna Agron) is there, looking polished and professional, and Kurt and Blaine hug. Everyone screams and hugs. Rachel kisses Jesse and walks up the aisle, hugging Andrew as she accepts her award. She thanks Jesse and her dads and Carmen Tibideaux and all her McKinley friends. “I want to dedicate this award to the person who is responsible for getting me on this stage tonight and that is Mr. Will Schuester. Mr. Schue always taught to my strengths and not my weaknesses. And he cheered the loudest when I soared. And he picked me up when I was in a million pieces.” In the Schuester home, someone hands Will a tissue—and it’s Vice President Sue Sylvester, with a Secret Service agent standing behind her. Rachel continues: “He taught me the one great thing that all teachers do, and there are so many of them out there, and that is being a part of something special does not make you special. Something is special because you are a part of it.” She echoes Will’s sentiment that dreams really do come true, and exits. And while I absolutely love and appreciate the message that teachers play a crucial, vital role in the development of young minds, there’s been an awful lot of fawning over Will in this episode. A good teacher has a price above rubies, but it’s also not good to deify them, either. They’re human beings, just as fallible as anyone else. That said? It’s great that the show is emphasizing how important teachers are.

More commercials. Oh, for God’s sake.

Fall 2020: The Vice President of the United States, still wearing her tracksuit, strides onto the McKinley stage and greets several adults from the show’s run who have gathered in the McKinley auditorium: Will, Emma, Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley), Carole Hudson-Hummel (Romy Rosemont), Principal Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba), Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) and—oh, hey, it’s Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig)! That’s nice. Glad she came by to visit. Sue calls to Becky to leave Sam alone: The chief of staff is frisking the choir director against a wall.

Sue begins her speech, remembering Lillian Adler’s definition of the word “Glee.” “Now, it’s no secret that for a long time, I thought that was a load of hooey,” she says. “As far as I could see, the Glee Club was nothing more than a place where a bunch of cowardly losers go to sing their troubles away, and delude themselves that they live in a world that cares one iota about their hopes and dreams, totally divorced from the harsh reality that out in the real world, there’s not much more to hope for than disappointment, heartbreak and failure. And you know what? I was exactly right.” Ha! “That’s exactly what Glee Club is. But I was wrong about the cowardly part. What I finally realize, now that I’m well into my late thirties, is that it takes a lot of bravery to look around you and see the world not as it is, but as it should be. A world where the quarterback becomes best friends with the gay kid and the girl with the big nose ends up on Broadway. Glee is about imagining a world like that and finding the courage to open up your heart and sing about it. That’s what Glee Club is. And for the longest time I thought that was silly, and now I think it’s just about the bravest thing that anyone could do.” That’s sweet. So why is Sue there? “I’m honored to be here to rededicate this theater the Finn Hudson auditorium. William, it is with your hard work in his memory that you managed to accomplish something unimaginable.” The school, it seems, is now “a model” for public schools that focus on the arts, which are being replicated across the country. And while I don’t believe at all that this could ever happen, especially with Jeb Bush as President, let’s just enjoy the dream together, okay? It would be wonderful if this one did come true. “Congratulations, Will Schuester,” she says. “You and your little Glee Club have accomplished something quite remarkable.” Hell yes. Sue introduces the New Directions, and the curtain behind her parts to reveal the original New Directions, wearing white and red (a nice shout-out to the pilot). Will runs up to the stage and leads his former students in New Republic’s “I Lived.”

As they sing and dance, the entire cast—pretty much every student that was ever in New Directions—comes onto the stage. Rachel, not pregnant anymore, joins, followed by Kurt and Blaine and Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies) and Matt Rutherford (Dijon Talton). Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Morris) dance down the aisle, and there’s Karofsky (Max Adler) and Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink) and Puck (Mark Salling) and Puck’s Less-Interesting Brother (Jacob Artist) and I’m pretty sure Mike Chang (Harry Shum, Jr.) dances by too fast for me to see if it’s really him. Rachel and Jesse hit some high notes as they dance with their friends, and Unique (Alex Newell) struts her stuff down the risers looking fierce and the adults in the audience come up onstage to dance as well. (Terri hugs Will, which gets a worried look from Emma.) Becky and the VP join as well, and they all take their places on the risers as the song ends. The moment freezes into a photo of the club mounted on a plaque with a card below it: “FINN HUDSON AUDITORIUM. 2020. See the world not as it is, but as it should be.” The camera pulls back to reveal that the plaque is mounted in between Finn’s picture and Lillian Adler’s. In the background, the crowd continues to cheer and celebrate everything they’ve accomplished.

So that’s it. That’s all there is. There isn’t anymore. The little show that could, and did, and grew up to become unwieldy is over. And for all its problems in the later seasons, I’m forever grateful for what Falchuk, Brennan and Murphy did with this show. They promoted the arts as a necessity rather than a luxury. They promoted acceptance and inclusivity. They promoted dreams that seem impossible until you start to make them come true, even against impossible odds.

And as silly and over-the-top as this finale was, having everyone’s dreams come true with no sad endings fits in with the show’s overall theme. "Glee" was always a fairy tale at its heart. So let’s just smile, sing along and believe that they all lived happily ever after.

And don’t stop believing.

*

Episode 6.13: Dreams Come True (Air Date: March 20, 2015)

Guest Stars:

Jacob Artist as Jake Puckerman

Jessalyn Gilsig as Terri Schuester

Blake Jenner as Ryder Lynn

Jayma Mays as Emma Pillsbury-Schuester

Christopher Cousins as Superintendent Harris

Samuel Larsen as Joe Hart

Vanessa Lengies as Sugar Motta

Romy Rosemont as Carole Hudson-Hummel

Dijon Talton as Matt Rutherford

Geraldo Rivera as Himself

Andrew Rannells as Himself

Ashley Fink as Lauren Zizes

Jane Galloway Heitz as Lillian Adler

Too many others to mention

Songs:

"Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Matthew Morrison)

"Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (Amber Riley)

"The Winner Takes It All" by ABBA (Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison)

"Daydream Believer" by The Monkees (Darren Criss and Chris Colfer)

"This Time" by Darren Criss (Lea Michele)

"I Lived by OneRepublic" (The Cast of "Glee")

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