Warbler Ramblings: ‘Glee’ Singer Rilan Recaps ‘2009’ + ‘Dreams Come True’
"Chemical" singer Rilan – who’s also part of the Warblers on Glee this season — watched Glee every week and wrote recaps of each episode exclusively for PopCrush! Below is his take on the series finale.
We have finally arrived at end of Glee, and the series finale was a double-dose of nostalgia and new experiences. Let us begin our final recap of the show that brought us so much joy over the past six years.
"2009," Part I of the finale, begins just as the title suggests: the year of the show’s premiere. It highlights each character’s personal story before joining the New Directions and their reasons for finding solace in show choir. We start with a sophomore Kurt, who is physically bullied by Karofsky and Puck. Upon heartbreakingly pondering suicide, Kurt meets Emma Pillsbury, who introduces herself and takes matters into her own hands by asking Kurt’s father, Burt, into her office to discuss his son’s behavior at home. The father and son talk about social options, and Burt orders his son to join the football team by the end of the week. In a panic in the cafeteria, Kurt takes a seat next to an unknown student making sparkly posters for the speech club. She introduces herself as Rachel Berry and immediately dives into her old shenanigans of theatrical intensity. They discuss the possibility of glee club coming back to McKinley and plan to meet in the auditorium after school to explore Kurt’s vocal range.
A pubescent Kurt and Rachel take the stage together for the first time and sing "Popular" from the Broadway musical Wicked. The harmony is beautiful. Unfortunately, Rachel refuses to audition for glee club with Kurt. Next Kurt meets Mercedes Jones, a so-called church choir superstar, and asks her to audition for the new show choir. She is interested and, in turn, instills confidence in Kurt and he auditions for Will with "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical Chicago. An ecstatic Kurt tells his dad about the wonders of glee club, but a disappointed Burt still wishes his son would join the football team.
Next we follow Mercedes, who, after signing up to audition for the New Directions, is bombarded with Rachel’s intense attempt at friendship, which lands her in Mercedes’ church choir rehearsal. Mercedes and her worship troupe sing the gospel classic "I’m His Child," and it is simply breathtaking. Rachel congratulates Mercedes on her spectacular performance and implies that she will become a wildly successful R&B singer. An offended Mercedes ensures Rachel that Mercedes Jones will give Ms. Berry a run for her vocal money for the rest of her time at McKinley High; Mercedes will certainly audition for the glee club.
Now we are introduced to Tina Cohen-Chang, a self-proclaimed unpopular goth, who is best friends with a boy in a wheelchair named Artie Abrams; an unlikely duo who found comfort in each other’s quirkiness. After Tina’s dark-souled friends publicly pour pasta all over Rachel and Kurt in the cafeteria, they dare Tina and Artie to audition for the school’s new glee club. The two nervous nellies cannot refuse. The next day, Tina sings Katy Perry’s breakout single "I Kissed A Girl" for Will. It’s strong and demanding (and not the kind of performance you expect from a shy goth girl with a terrible stutter). A shocked Artie admires her performance from offstage. Next, Artie sings a soulful rendition of Genuine’s "Pony." Will is extremely impressed. The two friends celebrate their killer auditions backstage.
The first official day of glee club arrives, and the air in the choir room is filled with an uncomfortable mix of egotistical tension and self-deprecating fear. When Will offers Artie the first solo, a livid Rachel lashes out at the other members of the New Directions. Will senses an imminent feud between Mercedes and Rachel. After Rachel is cruelly slushied and publically humiliated in front of his face, Will feels sorry for his new student and offers her the Sandy solo in "You’re The One That I Want" from Grease. Mercedes flips her shiznit and cites racism as her demise. Mercedes’ mother ensures her that she is a true star and that in this day and time, maybe Rachel’s soul needs the solo more than Mercedes’ does. Her mother suggests that the two will become great friends in the future. Mercedes laughs, but her mother tells her, "Stars have a way of finding one another."
Back at McKinley, we meet the infamous Sue Sylvester who is already jealous of the glee club’s attention. Will and Sue play a game of one-on-one basketball after school. Sue questions Will’s intention with the glee club by telling him that the arts will never offer his students opportunities in the real world. A slightly miffed Will suggests that cheerleading is less of a potential career than music and dance. Sue is livid. She offers Will an ultimatum: Drop the glee club or they cannot be friends. Will says no deal. Thus begins the feud of the next six years.
Upon hearing the news of Will’s wife’s pregnancy and the added stress of Will’s second job, Rachel confronts Terri directly and forcefully asks her to stop guilting her husband into working a higher-paying job. Rachel begs her to reconsider, but a bitchy Terri refuses to allow her husband to be happy if it does not in turn make her happy.
After school, Mercedes and Kurt discuss high school football star Finn Hudson joining the glee club. Suddenly, we meet a young Blaine Anderson in the same coffee shop as Mercedes and Kurt. He is dressed in his former Dalton Academy uniform and discussing his recent coming out story to one of his fellow Warblers. Mercedes and Kurt organize an emergency meeting in the choir room to discuss the social threat that is Finn Hudson. Kurt asks Rachel to convince Finn to quit, but after a heartfelt discussion, they agree to let Finn stay in glee club as they realize that they should all accept each other’s differences.
In fear of Will leaving his position as glee club director, Emma shows Will his 1993 Show Choir National Championship performance in the hopes of convincing him to stay at McKinley. While Will is leaving school for good, he hears his show choir of six singing Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believing." We flashback to the original cast’s 2009 performance of the song, complete with the late Cory Monteith. Will cries, as we all do while watching this memory, and the episode ends.
"Dreams Come True," Part II of the series finale begins with the "new" New Directions’ win at 2015 Nationals. Back at McKinley, the superintendent informs Will that the school district has decided to make Will’s alma mater William McKinley High School for the Performing Arts all because of his empowering teaching style. In addition, they have appointed Will to be principal of the school. Three months later we find a sentimental and happy Will and Emma at home. Emma insures Will that he will do his job better than anyone in the world.
Next we see the choir room filled with alumni and new students alike all planning to audition for the new school year’s four glee clubs. Will informs the students that due to his management position he will no longer be coaching the glee clubs, but has hired a fantastic replacement. As a farewell, Will sings "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to all of his show choir kids. There is not a dry eye in the room.
In the locker room, Blaine asks Sam to move to New York, but Sam tells him that he will stay in Lima and at McKinley in his new job: Coaching the New Directions. In the auditorium, Mercedes informs her friends that she and her music have been selected to be the opening act for Beyonce’s new world tour. She thanks her best friends in the world by singing "Someday We’ll Be Together" by Diana Ross and the Supremes. As Mercedes takes her final steps out of the auditorium she called home, more and more tears flood McKinley High.
Blaine and Kurt officially thank Sue for getting them back together. In turn, Sue thanks Kurt for teaching her the power that is true acceptance and bravery. Sue and Becky see each other and slow-mo run into a heartfelt hug. They forgive themselves and smile. In the choir room, Sue and Will sing ABBA’s "The Winner Takes It All" as a parting performance of mutual understanding, complete with holding hands. Will starts some last words to Sue, but she immediately stops him, glassy-eyed. In order to save her self-proclaimed dignity and hard-ass persona, Sue leaves without a word, but not before knocking over the pianist. We quickly flash forward five years to find Sue in another Geraldo Rivera interview where she is, indeed, vice president of the United States. Some things never change.
Kurt shows Blaine his locker time capsule of all of his high school memories before the newlyweds leave for New York. Blaine cries happy tears and thanks Kurt for being "the only one." Once again, we see the couple five years later in New York City where they have changed the face of Broadway by producing and staring in never-before-seen LGBT versions of moving musicals. We find them visiting Harvey Milk Elementary School as a local outreach program. They explain to the young students the importance of acceptance, individuality, and self-confidence by singing "Daydream Believer" by the Monkees. It is the most adorable Klaine duet to date.
Next comes the heartbreaking final Rachel solo: "This Time," written appropriately by Darren Criss. She sings all over the school, from the auditorium to the hallways to the choir room. The tears are so real. No joke. Ms. Michele proves just why she is the star we all have seen her become over these past six years.
Now from Rachel’s perspective, we flash forward five years to her apartment in New York City. We see Tina and Artie together again and happy as ever as they discuss their success in the film industry and share a small, sweet kiss just like old times. Surprise! Rachel is pregnant! She agreed to be Kurt and Blaine’s surrogate mother. And one more surprise: Rachel and Jesse St. James are happily married. How things come full circle is truly amazing. The Broadway power couple arrives at the Tony Awards. All of Rachel’s friends and family watch from their homes as Rachel wins the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. She thanks her husband and her director Carmen Tibideaux for a second chance at her degree at NYADA, all of her friends from McKinley High, and most importantly, Will, for getting her on stage and always believing in her. We cut to Will and Emma at home watching with none other than Vice President Sue Sylvester.
We arrive back in the McKinley auditorium in the fall of 2020. Vice President Sue Sylvester formally introduces the Finn Hudson Auditorium to the school with no lack of tears and a speech about some of the life lessons glee club has taught us: Courage, acceptance, the importance of overcoming obstacles to achieve our dreams and the beauty that is our differences. In one last performance, all past members of the New Directions appropriately perform "I Lived" by OneRepublic. They finish and stand still. As they celebrate off camera, we see a plaque in the new theatre commemorating the performance with the quote, "See the world not as it is, but as it should be." End of series.
Thank you all again for watching Glee. All of us in the cast appreciate it so much. Keep these memories and lessons close to heart at all times. Chances are you will need them every single day of your life. This is your inside Warbler, signing off for the last time. I thank you.
Watch Rilan Perform His Song "Chemical" Acoustic