Glee returned on Tuesday with the annual Nationals episode, this year, titled “City of Angels.” In addition to dealing with the typical angst of the competition, the New Directions honored their late leader Finn, who had been played by Cory Monteith.

'Glee' Recap

“City of Angels” opens with Sam (Chord Overstreet) paying Mr. Shue (Matthew Morrison) a visit in his office. He wants to assure the New Directions coach that though he’s not heading to college and has let his studies slip, he’s as committed to the glee club as ever. Mr. Shue has no doubts about his commitment. In fact, he wants Sam to step into Finn’s shoes as the New Directions captain, as Finn had hoped.

Prior to the team heading to Nationals, Carole (Romy Rosemont) and Burt Hummel (Mike O'Malley) show up to give the group some words of inspiration. For Finn, winning Nationals was his greatest accomplishment. To show their support for the glee club, the pair will be heading to Los Angeles with them as chaperones.

When New Directions arrives at their LA hotel, Mr. Shue learns that the rooms are all held up. Meanwhile, Mercedes (Amber Riley) pops by looking glam with a faux-Chihuahua. As it turns out, she’s managed to break her way into the music business after selling CDs outside a supermarket. From a housemaid, to Kim Kardashian, to Ryan Seacrest to Sony, her CD got her a songwriting gig – which she negotiated into an album contract.

New Directions Meets Throat Explosion

Next through the doors of the hotel is Throat Explosion, this year’s “big bad” show choir. Leading the pack, is Jean Baptiste (Skylar Astin/ Jesse from Pitch Perfect), who delivers some strong trash talk. Blaine (Darren Criss) says, “He smells like a winner,” and Mercedes, now all grown up, chuckles at the high school drama.

Once the kids get settled in their rooms, Ryder (Blake Jenner) visits Marley (Melissa Benoist). Marley confesses to Ryder that her singer-songwriter career isn’t exactly taking off, so she’s considering leaving New Directions next year so she can join the accounting club. Later on, Ryder tells Jake (Jacob Artist) that Marley is giving up on her dream, and the estranged friends team up to get Mercedes to help get her back on track.

When the New Directions sneak onto the competition stage, Sam begins to give the group an inspirational talk, referencing Finn and whipping out the plaque of him. Just then, Throat Explosion appears and takes the stage by force. The plaque later goes missing – the likely culprit being a member of the rival show choir.

Before it’s time to sing their hearts out, Sam and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) visit Carole and Burt, who shows Sam how to tie a bowtie. Considering what her life is going to be like post-New Directions, Tina says, “My life is going to be so empty from now on,” which leads Carole to mutter, “At least you have one.” Carole apologizes, but Tina’s comment made her realize that she might not be able to watch Nationals. She realizes that once these kids leave, it’ll be like Finn is really gone. Burt offers to take her to Laguna Beach or back home to Ohio – whatever she wants.

It’s time for Nationals and this year’s judges are actress Marlee Matlin, Jackée Harry and Prancercise’s Joanna Rohrback, who pranced onto the stage. First to perform are the Amazonians, dressed up like Vegas showgirls, complete with headdresses and boas, singing “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s. They were followed up by Throat Explosion. Led by Jean Baptitse, they sang Styx's “Mr. Roboto” and “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic.

Finn Hudson Honored In Song

Just when the New Directions are convinced that Finn’s parents are no-shows, Carole and Burt visit them backstage. “You guys are his legacy,” says Carole, right before they take the stage. Their first song is Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” followed up by Neil Diamond’s “America.” Carole confirms that the classic rock theme is showcasing Finn’s favorite songs. The New Directions ended with his ultimate favorite – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2. Throughout the song, flashbacks to Finn’s best moments at McKinley High and on the stage are shown. At the end of the performance, Sam raises up Finn’s drumsticks.

After Mercedes gives Marley a pep talk about her singer-songwriter career outside, the New Directions are back on the stage to hear the results. In third place are the Amazonians. After a dramatic pause, it’s revealed that the New Directions are the runner-ups, losing to Throat Explosion.

Glee Club Is Done

Back at McKinley, the squad is depressed. They feel as though they let Finn down. Carole disagrees, saying, “Hearing those songs was so healing to me. And I saw how much he meant to you.” What the group doesn’t know is that the future of the glee club relied on them placing first. Called down to Sue’s office, Mr. Shue learns that it’s all over. The Cheerios won Nationals; he didn’t. Attempting to show some compassion, Sue (Jane Lynch) says, “You didn’t lose William, the game is just over.” But is it?

At the diner in New York City, Kurt (Chris Colfer) gets a call from Lima. He announces to Rachel (Lea Michele) and Santana (Naya Rivera) that the glee club has been disbanded. It looks like they’re going to try to save it.

Glee airs Tuesdays on Fox at 8/7c.

– Chelsea Regan

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