Relationships end left and right as Rachel, Kurt, Santana, Brittany and Schuster all examine what the future holds 

By Erin Strecker
October 05, 2012 at 05:00 AM EDT
Jordin Althaus/Fox
S4 E4
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Quit playing games with my heart, Glee! If you’re anything like me, you’re probably in tears right now — that, or frustrated out of your mind at Fox, because last night’s drama-filled episode, aptly titled “The Break-Up,” was the last new Glee until November. So you have a month to debate amongst yourselves who’s justified, who’s not, and what poster you’re going to have to take off your bedroom wall…you know, hypothetically.

The episode picked up right where last week’s left off, with Finn at Rachel’s NYC apartment right after she kissed Brody. A surprised – but also rather thrilled – Rachel had a bazillion questions (Don’t we all!) about what exactly Finn had been up to the past four months. The Army, for instance. What happened there? He shared that he did enlist, but only briefly: After accidentally firing a gun (also named Rachel), he was semi-honorably discharged. While Finn was obviously a little lost right now, Rachel was very encouraging in her new plans for him: Move to NY, apply to NYADA, figure out your life here. But when Finn tagged along to her classes for the week, he realized that while Rachel may be finding a place where she belonged, it wasn’t where he felt at home.  “I used to be the man of her dreams,” Finn said. “Now we’re not even in the same world.”

Back in Lima, after a missed connection with Kurt, who had to cut their phone date short because of Vogue.com craziness, Blaine got some flirty messages from one Eli C., who is about to become the most disliked character in the Glee universe. He sent Blaine a very troubling “What up, sexy?” and “You want to come over?” NO HE DOES NOT WANT TO COME OVER, I yelled at my TV. He can’t come over because Blaine has a boyfriend whom he just encouraged to go to New York by singing a wonderful version of “It’s Time,” and those kind of people do not up and cheat on their boyfriends…or so I thought. We don’t immediately see what happened next, just that Blaine got a last-minute flight to New York and showed up to meet Kurt, Finn, and Rachel. Mini reunion!

The foursome decide to go to Callbacks, a popular piano bar with the NYADA set. Problems started right from the beginning: Brody was there, and Finn — while sometimes dim — isn’t dumb. He could tell something was up. An especially perky Rachel desperately wanted to sing a duet with Finn, but he felt out of his league and encouraged her to sing with her “friend” Brody. Didn’t Jesse St. James teach us anything?!“The fact that you could perform with someone else…I just can’t forgive that,” Mr. St. James had explained after seeing the video shoot for “Run, Joey, Run,” way back when.  And just like that relationship eventually went south, as soon as Brody and Rachel started harmonizing “Give Your Heart A Break,” I knew that at least Finn/Rachel wouldn’t not be making it out of NYC without a Facebook relationship change.

NEXT: Break-ups, break-ups are no fun, unless they happen to everyone? But this is Glee, and all the characters tend to experience the same things at the same time. See also: A Very Special Episode about Sex. So if Rachel/Finn made you want to cry and/or post some Gifs of your feelings, Ryan Murphy and Co. were just getting started. Blaine  — who’d been acting weird and sad since arriving in NYC — announced he wanted to sing a song to his boyfriend at the bar: “I want to sing a song that’s very special to me. This is the song I sang when I first met the love of my life, so Kurt, this is for you.” Think of how you felt when Blaine originally sang “Teenage Dream.” Now stomp all over that feeling. Welcome to Blaine’s agony-filled performance of the Katy Perry hit, take two. (Fun fact: This version is a Darren Criss arrangement that he’s been performing in concert since the original version aired two years ago.) It’s ostensibly a love song, but after Blaine’s sad rendition, Kurt realized that everything was far from OK.

On a walk outside afterwards, the you-know-what hit the fan. Kurt told Blaine to “stop pretending everything is OK” when it was clearly not. A miserable Blaine confirmed: “I was with someone.” Crack. That was my fangirl heart falling apart. I hate everything. While Kurt and Blaine were arguing feelings and justifications at each other — “I needed you around and you weren’t there! I was lonely!” “I was lonely too! You don’t think I’ve had temptations?” — Rachel confessed  to Finn that she did, in fact, kiss Brody. She tried to explain it by blaming Finn’s radio silence over the last four months (I really have no idea where they thought they stood). This led into the foursome singing one of the best relationship-ending songs of all time, “Don’t Speak,” as everything came apart. Happiness is over. Love is dead.

I don’t know how this show is going to define “with someone,” but I’m going to assume that means they did a bit more than kiss. Which, ugh. Obviously it’s realistic, people cheat on their boyfriends every day; I just hate that Blaine’s character did that. Everyone makes mistakes, but, to me, it felt like a real out-of-left-field move for a character and a relationship that have been so solid in the past.

Even Darren Criss had an opinion on how things went down. Last night, he wrote a long open letter on his Facebook page, thanking his fans for their continued support over his two years on the show. “Tonight is the premiere of the dreaded break-up episode. For many Glee fans, I imagine there will more than [one] reason to be sad. But cheer up, think of it this way: much of your support has allowed me to be on this show long enough to reach a breakup in the first place; it has created a relationship that people cared enough about whereby it was even worth writing an episode about its potential end. I never thought I would get to be around long enough for something like that. And I really have you, the fans to thank for it. It’s something to be proud of.” Hear that, everyone? Be proud. He concludes his letter by writing, “From teenage dream to teenage dream, thank you for allowing me to live mine.” So, if you weren’t upset before…

NEXT: Kurt/Blaine and Finn/Rachel are over. Who’s next? 

Back to the actual recap: The following morning, after everything fell apart,  Finn snuck out early, having only a brief convo with Kurt before heading back to Lima and talking with Mr. Schuster. Blaine returned to Lima as well. Finn sat in on Glee club and tried to figure out a new direction, while Blaine sent Kurt flowers at Vogue. A colleague asked if Kurt was alright, and Kurt declared: “I’m ok…I’ll be ok,” and then tossed Blaine’s card in the trash. Kurt is going to “I Will Survive” his way through this break-up, which is bad news for those hoping for a quick reconciliation.

Meanwhile — this episode really was just a long PSA against Long-Distance Dating — Brittany and a finally-reappearing Santana were also having a tough time. So far, they’ve seen each other every few weeks (because Santana comes back to Lima to do laundry), but the distance had taken its toll. After a weird “Left Behind” party — more on that later — Santana and Brittany had a heart-to-heart in the choir room that was very reminiscent of Finn’s “I’m letting you go” car scene from last season’s finale. While Brit and Santana both assured the other one that they would never cheat, Santana told Brittany she had to tell her something she didn’t know how to say. So she sang a heart-wrenching version of  “Mine,” and then said that this wasn’t an official break-up, but that they both needed to be honest that long-distance is hard and reexamine what they were each getting out of the relationship. I’m with Brittany: It sure felt like an official break-up.

Even the adults didn’t escape unscathed. Mr. Schuster found out that he got onto the Blue Ribbon panel he applied for about fine arts eduction. But he had a fantasy in his head  that Emma would up and take a leave of absence — “That’s what tenure is for!” – and move with him temporarily to Washington. When Emma pointed out that she wasn’t his puppy dog just following him around doing whatever he wanted, Schuster flipped out. They aren’t officially broken up, but the engaged couple certainly isn’t in a great place.

The worst place of all, however, is the one Finn and Rachel are now in. Their ending scene in the auditorium was like a punch to the gut — in the best way. In my opinion, Lea Michele’s acting during this was some of the greatest on the show. Finn once again talked about feeling like a “Lima loser,” but Rachel — barely holding it together — explained to him that “you have you” and that to her, no matter how famous she got, he would always make her feel like a starstruck choir kid. Waterworks alert:  “You were the first boy who made me feel loved, and sexy, and visible. You are my first love and I want, more than anything, for you to be my last. But I can’t do this anymore. At least not now. We’re done.” If Finn’s pseudo-breakup in the finale left things up in the air, they’re crystal-clear now. One final kiss, and she walked away as Finn began to sing.

This show is at its best when it ends on an emotional group number, and last night was no exception — even if this time around, the emotion was devastating sadness. Starting with Finn, and then joined by Blaine and eventually all the couples, the group sang “The Scientist” amongst flashbacks (The Warblers uniforms! Will and Emma’s first kiss!)  as they all began new journeys — alone.

NEXT: Final thoughts and musical grades

Final Thoughts:

-I know I pretty much ignored all the high school drama, but last night especially it felt like such an afterthought. I really don’t like Kitty. I also don’t think she exemplifies a real person, which is annoying. “Finger-licking, lard-loving, Gilbert-Grape-loving mom?” “Obama’s.gonna.lose?” Seriously? I’m glad that after being mean/completely cruel to Marley, Jake broke up with her. That should change the McKinley High kids’ dynamic a bit — just in time for the fall musical, Grease.

-Let’s talk about that “Left Behind” party, shall we? Kitty (who at this point is just an early season one Quinn) was convinced that the rapture was coming so at a meeting of the Left Behind club, she tried to convert some of the questioning believers by staging a fake rapture, and freaking out a girl named Dottie. The whole thing was a low spot for the episode. The only redeeming quality was that it let Brittany explain to Santana that being left behind sucks, and that’s how she felt when Santana left for college.

-Between Santana’s “Energy exchange” remarks and her anger over Kurt’s Vogue.com internship, she really delivered and reminded me why I was missing her. Also loved the randomness of Brittany reading Desecration: Anti-Christ Takes the Throne

-I liked that all the under-21s explicitly ordered non-alcoholic beverages at the bar. Ha.

Musical Grades:

“Barely Breathing”:  Finn and Blaine are men alone looking for answers, and for me, this song was a thematic perfect choice. Not to mention, there aren’t too many Finn/Blaine duets on this show, which is a shame because I enjoyed their voices together. Random fun fact: This song was originally written/performed by Duncan Sheik, who wrote the music to Spring Awakening, the Broadway musical that Lea Michele is most well-known for.  B

“Don’t Speak”: While heartbreaking, this is now one of my all-time favorite performances on Glee. I loved the No Doubt original (Seriously: just watch the 1999 video and try not to have your heart fall apart when Gwen Stefani sings) but I also thoroughly enjoyed this pop-ified spin on the track. Michele’s vocals especially — always a powerhouse — sounded incredible. A

“Give Your Heart a Break”: Sorry, Finchel fans, but I’m agreeing with what Finn saw. Rachel and Brody’s voices sounded very nice together and the two have great chemistry. I’m guessing many of you don’t know the Demi Lovato original, but it’s one of my guilty pleasures. Much like on “Don’t Speak,” Rachel’s vocals were especially strong here, if in parts sounded like they were overpowering Brody just a bit. A-

“Mine”: Santana’s spin on Taylor Swift’s country-pop tune gave me a new appreciation for the track, and I totally had a smile on my face for the changed lyrics: “She is the best thing/ that’s ever been mine.” B+

NEXT: More musical grades and top lines

“Teenage Dream”: Well, we all knew this wasn’t going to end well. Blaine’s tear-filled, piano-accompanied, slowed-down version of Katy Perry’s pop hit that he sang with the Warblers way back in 2010 got a traumatic twist. This version — arranged by Darren Criss himself — was a dark spin on a preppy tune, but definitely apropos to the dire situation. A-

“The Scientist”: I loved, loved, loved the staging and shots of this ending number, originally by Coldplay.  Hearing many of the whole group harmonize together again – after some time apart – was a nice bonus. A-

Overall, this was one of my favorite groupings of songs on a Glee episode. I genuinely loved (and will probably download) all of them.

Top Quotes:

“Everyone graduated and things got weird.” –Brittany, explaining why Tina had a freshman personal assistant

“Kurt, sing your Sweeney Todd medley.” –Rachel. Important Note: I desperately want to see this.

“Joan Didion’s calling. She always has the best gossip.” –Kurt

“You don’t want to break up with me. I’m like a bad Carrie Underwood song once I get going.” –Kitty

“This place is like our Jerusalem. All roads seem to lead us back here.” –Rachel, about the auditorium at McKinley

“I didn’t do Brody.” -Rachel

“Sad songs make me really sad and I don’t want to be sad.” -Brittany

“Every ridiculous outfit he ever paired with a Cossack hat and a see-through raincoat.” -Santana questioning the validity of Kurt’s internship

Alright, I’m quite curious to hear what you all thought about all the drama. Did you like the episode, even though I’m guessing you didn’t like what happened? Did you think there would be so many relationships ending? Who broke your heart the most? The previews let us in on the fact that Finn will be directing McKinley’s production of Grease, Mercedes will return and also gave us our first look at Blake Jenner, who won Glee Project. What do you want to see come November?

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Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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