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The season finale opens with the original members of the glee club (Rachel, Artie, Mercedes, Kurt and Tina) singing “Rocking the Boat,” intercut with flashbacks from the first season. Will announces this week’s lesson, which is saying goodbye, and he sings “Forever Young” on acoustic guitar.
Kurt walks through the halls, thinking about how much he has grown. He’s no longer in the closet and doesn’t have to hide who he really is. He meets his dad in the auditorium, where Burt surprises him with a graduation gift, which is a reenactment of Kurt’s version of “Single Ladies” from the first season.
Blaine forces Kurt to have a conversation about what their relationship will be like after graduation. Kurt wants to have a long distance relationship and says that they will figure it out. Like Kurt said in season two when he transferred out of Dalton: “I’ll never say goodbye to you.” Kurt then dedicates “I’ll Remember” (Madonna) to the glee club.
Mercedes has signed a contract with a record label to be a back up singer for an indie album and plans to take classes at UCLA. Meanwhile, Mike has a scholarship to a school in Chicago. Santana wants to go to NY and follow her dreams like the rest of the seniors, instead of going to Louisville, Ohio on a cheerleading scholarship. When her mother (played by guest star Gloria Estefan) gives her the college fund that she has been saving her whole life, her mom tells her to use the money to go to NY and that she will support her dreams.
The seniors sing “You Get What You Give” (New Radicals) to the underclassmen, and the underclassmen sing “In My Life” (The Beatles) to the seniors. Finn goes to Will’s office to pick up his yearbook. He isn’t satisfied with Will’s note, “Good knowing you.” After all, Finn was the first man at Will and Emma’s wedding. Will confesses that he couldn’t write anything else without falling apart. He finally admits to Finn that he planted pot in his locker in order to blackmail him into joining glee club during the first season. Finn isn’t mad; he just says, “You are so much cooler than I ever thought you were.”
Quinn isn’t really sad about graduation. She got accepted into her dream school (Yale), they won Nationals, and she is feeling stronger after her accident (when she crashed her car on the way to Finn and Rachel’s wedding, which they didn’t go through with). The only thing keeping her from getting closure is her feelings for Puck.
Quinn helps Puck study for his geography final, which will determine whether or not he graduates this year. Puck keeps putting himself down, but Quinn boosts his confidence with a kiss. Puck struts into the geography room and nails a C- on the test (which is a “Puckerman A+”). The moment has finally come, and as the senior members of New Directions walk across the stage at graduation, Puck and Finn sing “Glory Days” (Bruce Springsteen).
Finn, Rachel, and Kurt meet in the choir room to open their letters from Pace and NYADA. (Finn had an audition for the Actors Studio with guest star James Lipton.) They know that the answers will change their lives forever. Finn and Kurt find out that they didn’t get in, but Rachel has. Rachel decides that she will defer her attendance for one year so that she can stay in Lima.
Finn picks Rachel up to drive to their wedding, but he really drives her to the train station. He can’t sit by and watch her being stuck in Lima for another year. Her dads are waiting for her in NY to look at dorms.
Rachel is devastated, but Finn explains that he’s doing this because he loves her, and he is 100% sure that she is going to be a star. He also confesses that he is going to join the army in order to redeem his father, who never got an honorable discharge, although he pulled two men out of a burning truck. He believes that if they are really meant to be together, they will, even if they are on the other side of the world from each other.
Rachel and Finn, crying and singing “Roots Before Branches” (Room for Two) walk onto the platform, where the glee club is waiting to say goodbye. She gets onto the train, which Finn runs after for as long as he can, and walks out into NYC.