Not since last fall’s “The Quarterback” has Glee delivered such a bittersweet storyline acknowledging the passing of Cory Monteith. In “City Of Angels,” an episode meant to prepare viewers for the series’ oncoming permanent move to New York, the kids take a trip to Los Angeles for nationals, remember Finn and by the end, the fate of McKinley High’s glee club has officially been sealed.
First off, Sam (Chord Overstreet) gets called into Will’s (Matthew Morrison) office, where the honorable Mr. Schuester implies that he wants Sam to step up into a leadership position at nationals. In rehearsals, Finn’s parents, Burt and Carol, arrive to talk to the kids. They say Finn would tell them, “This is the time of your lives right now. You’re never gonna forget it and in a moment, it’s all going to be over.” They announce that they’ll be joining glee club as chaperones on their trip to L.A.
This kicks off the kids singing Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.,” which quickly segues into the glee club taking in the sights and sounds of Hollywood. At their hotel, Mercedes (Amber Riley) shows up in the lobby looking super glam. She tells her success story, which involved her selling her album Hell 2 To The No in a parking lot until by happenstance, a copy of her CD made its way into the hands of label execs at Sony. And just like that, she’s a big shot. The kids are overjoyed to see her.
While Will deals with the front desk, Blaine (Darren Criss) sees New Directions’ rivals Throat Explosion enter the lobby, headed up by their leader, Jean Baptiste (Pitch Perfect‘s Skylar Astin), who immediately sizes up the competition. I can barely focus on Jean’s threat to “crush [New Directions] like a bug” because I spot the words, “Special appearance by Jackée” on the screen and my brain explodes with excitement.
Marley’s (Melissa Benoist) being mopey in her hotel room when Ryder (Blake Jenner) knocks on her door. During her conversation with him, she confesses that she’s quitting glee club after nationals. When was the last time either of these characters had this much dialog, again?
The night before the big showdown, New Directions sneak onto the stage. Sam tells the gang to circle up because he has a surprise. He delivers a pep talk and then pulls out the framed photo and plaque of Finn as tribute. They are interrupted by Throat Explosion, who have also planned a midnight rehearsal and boot them from the stage.
Carol confesses to Burt that the trip is taking its toll on her. He tells her that they can leave if it’s too much. It looks like they will.
Ryder and Jake (Jacob Artist) make up. Ryder then tells him that Marley’s quitting glee club. The frenemies hatch a plan to pass Marley’s songs on to Mercedes. Meanwhile, on the school bus, Sam realizes the plaque is missing and immediately suspects Throat Explosion.
Nationals start with an introduction of the judges, Marlee Matlin, Jackée (yay!) and Prancercise lady, Joanna Rohrback. The competition begins with leggy ladies dressed like showgirls, AKA The Amazonians from Oklahoma, singing the Go-Gos’ “Vacation.” Next up is Throat Explosion, who deliver a Cirque de Soleil-inspired version of “Mr. Roboto” that leads into OneRepublic‘s “Counting Stars.”
Just before New Directions take the stage, Burt and Carol are conspicuously missing from the crowd. But as Will launches into his speech, Carol and Burt return to tell the kids they are all Finn’s legacy. Dressed in black and white, the glee gang sing Boston‘s “More Than a Feeling.” Tina and Blaine take center stage for the performance. After that, they launch into their version of Neil Diamond‘s “America,” before closing with U2‘s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” This has been a medley of Finn’s favorite songs, over a clips montage to remember their fallen friend and captain.
Mopin’ Marley lingers outside the stage until Mercedes catches her and gives her some tough love and a pep talk. Back inside, the winners are announced and tensions are high until New Directions wins second place, losing to Throat Explosion. It’s a sad, but fitting ending.
Back at school, Sam hangs the plaque back up on the wall. Everyone’s gloomy, but some insight from Burt and Carol cheers them up. Second place trophy placed in the case. Becky (Lauren Potter) bids Will to come see Sue.
Cheerio’s coach Roz Washington (NeNe Leakes) is triumphant as she drags her first place trophy past Will on his way into Sue’s office. Sue toys with Will before acknowledging that she actually only teases because she truly likes him. Despite this, she admits that the school is killing the glee club. Will is despondent, and in a rare moment, Sue, shows compassion as she tells him sadly, “You didn’t lose, William. The game’s just over.”
Back at the Spotlight Diner in New York, Santana, Rachel and Kurt are shocked at the news that New Directions is no longer.
All in all, I laughed, I cried and I wished there had been more Jackée. Stay tuned for Glee’s two-part 100th episode, which kicks off next week.
What did you think of “City Of Angels”? Let us know below!
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