'Glee' -- 'Swan Song' recap: Marley isn't dead, but New Directions might be

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Chaos reigns in the show choir world. Evil Sue Sylvester roams the halls of McKinley High. Rachel and Kurt see all of their dreams come true. This is the "Glee" episode they call "Swan Song."


Marley isn't dead, to begin with...

OK, when did Tina ( Jenna Ushkowitz) become the sassy mean girl of New Directions? Because she certainly is here. Granted, her anger is somewhat justified. Marley's ( Melissa Benoist) tumble at the end of "Gangnam Style" caused the entire club to rush her back to the practice room for TLC and juice boxes.

This was a mistake. Apparently, the draconian rules of show choir dictate that teams who leave the stage forfeit any chance of a win.

The Warblers have beaten New Directions at Sectionals. The competitive season is over.


Season 1, back again...

Remember how in season 1 of "Glee" the big conflict was evil Sue Sylvester ( Jane Lynch) and how she could get Principal Figgins ( Iqbal Theba) to do anything because the school had no budget?

If you do, then you know how this goes.

Sue hates the glee club. She commandeers the practice room for a Cirque du Soleil tribute of some sort. All other potential space and time has been allocated to the many, many groups of Lima, Ohio. With no space and no competitions, New Directions is done.

Even though she's back to being the one-dimensional, evil Sue, the cheer coach does have a moment of reflection when alone with Becky ( Lauren Potter). She even comes close to reaching redemption...

And then the most awesome thing in the history of "Glee" happens -- Piano Guy bursts in and practically hugs Sue. He speaks! He hates the show choir and the kids' automatic assumption that he knows what they're going to sing!

Good-bye, Piano Man!


They don't really need show choir.

With so much extra free time, the various members of New Directions find new outlets for their competitive energies. Artie ( Kevin McHale) joins the marching band. Blaine ( Darren Criss) and Tina join the Cheerios. Ryder ( Blake Jenner) and Jake ( Jacob Artist) play basketball. And Joe ( Samuel Larsen) joins the Interfaith Paintball League (OMG! Middle East conflict solved!).

There's a lot going on at McKinley. Why would they need a glee club?

Brittany ( Heather Morris) and Sam ( Chord Overstreet) don't join new activities though. That's because they have cereal trails and tender ballads. Too bad the sugar-coated goodness has to fear the wrath of the lesbian blogger community!

Surprisingly meta joke there, by the way.


Meanwhile, in the other show that's set in New York City...

Rachel ( Lea Michele) and Kurt ( Chris Colfer) have heard about the loss, but that doesn't matter. They have to face the NYADA Showcase -- which is apparently more important than life itself -- and Kurt's second attempt at getting into the school.

The Showcase seems to go better. Even though she has to perform a "Chicago" tune with Cassandra ( Kate Hudson) to prove her worth, Rachel is ready to perform. Kurt, on the other hand, has failed to impress Carmen ( Whoopi Goldberg) with his performance of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." She rightly points out that this song choice makes him look frivolous.

But the Showcase -- because it's more important than life itself -- has the power to fix everything. After a girl whose last name is something like Blah-Sushi, Rachel wows the audience with a Broadway ballad and an encore of "O Holy Night." (Which, while a great showcase for her voice, is an oddly Christian choice for a Jewish girl.)

Then, Kurt is the surprise performer. With Rachel's encouragement, Kurt drops all of his trappings and sings a vaguely depressing song about being alive. Whoopi is impressed.

She is so impressed, in fact, that Kurt's NYADA letter has surprising news. He got in! Also, Rachel won the Showcase. Everything is basically awesome in New York City.


The Breakfast Club?

The success of the McKinley alumni in New York is great and all, but what about those they left behind in the almost-defunct New Directions? What about them?

Fortunately for all that is good and musical in the "Glee" world, Rachel decides to call Finn (Cory Monteith) with the news of her big win. Because that's what your ex-boyfriend wants to hear, that you've succeeded while he is failing. Twist that knife a little more, Rachel...

But somehow the knife prods Finn into action. Marley finds the club a rehearsal space -- outside in the snow? -- and Finn sends a really, really, really long e-mail to his scattered singers. As the dulcet strains of "Don't You Forget About Me" float in the air, each former singer stops what he or she is doing in order to read.

At first, it doesn't seem to work. No shocker there -- teenagers of today were all born after "The Breakfast Club" was released. It's not as much of a call-to-arms for them.

Or is it? As Finn and Marley sadly sing "Don't Dream It's Over" in the snow, the members of the glee club come together in a magical medley of hypothermia!

New Directions will sing again! But they might have to do it without the piano now.


A few quotes to remember

Becky: "That's what I felt when I saw 'Prometheus.'"

Piano Guy: "I can't tell you how much I hate those kids! Do you know how demeaning it is when they just turn to you and yell hit it? And you're just supposed to know what song they're going to sing? I'm free!"

Tina: "You, Marley, are no Rachel Berry!"

Brittany: "Is that why the band's here?"

Artie: "Who knew this school had so many clubs?"

Sam: "What about the lesbian blogger community?"

Kurt: "As sympathetic as I am to this particular act of the rom-com, you're on."

Photo/Video credit: FOX