Oh, it's all Nationals this week. Will and the kids, along with Burt and Carol, troop out to L.A. to defend their title. Along the way, we're treated to numerous reminders that the New Directions are carrying the heavy weight of death of Finn. Burt and Carol give speeches about him, Will implores Sam to step up into Finn's shoes as the straight white male leader of the group, Sam drags out both Finn's plaque and his drumsticks to keep his presence alive, and the show's editors give us a montage of Finn moments from the show. At one point, it's all too much for Carol, who finds that being with the kids just makes the pain of Finn's absence all too real, so she and Burt decide to leave L.A. just before the competition.
In the nooks and crannies between the beginning of the show and the reveal of the competition results, New Finn hits on Boring New Idiot Rachel, who rejects him and tells him that she's quitting glee club after the competition because some songs she wrote were rejected by a songwriting competition. New Finn and New Puck decide to make peace just long enough to do something about that, so they give her songs to Mercedes Jones, who is reveling in the fact that she's got a new record contract. And Mercedes is able to convince Boring New Idiot Rachel that she's talented and, gosh darn it, people like her.
Burt and Carol have a change of heart, and return to the auditorium just in time to give the kids a pep talk. We get to see songs from two of the New Directions' competitors as well as New Directions, and it's genuinely up in the air as to who might win. Until the New Directions come in second place. Back in Lima, this results in Sue following through on her promise to axe the club if they didn't win Nationals. And she seems to have no intention of backing down.
But what will she do when confronted by three angry singing waiters from New York City? I'm guessing we'll find out next week.
Featuring Randy Newman's "I Love LA," sung by the New Directions (primarily Blaine, Will, and Artie); The Go-Go's "Vacation," sung by The Amazonians of Oklahoma City: Boston's "More Than a Feeling," sung by the New Directions (with Blaine and Tina on lead); Neil Diamond's "America," sung by the New Directions; U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," sung by New Directions (with leading vocals from Sam, Blaine, Artie, and Tina); and a medley of Styx's "Mr. Roboto" and OneRepublic's "Counting Stars," sung by the inestimable Throat Explosion.
Previously, on Glee, it's time for Nationals! And Sue has threatened to shut the New Directions down if they don't win. Thanks for the reminder, "Previously on Glee" guy!
Will is in his office when Sam enters. Will wants to talk to him about stepping up and acting like the leader of the New Directions. Because the group has to have a single leader, and Sam has shown such clear and convincing leadership qualities... I'm sorry, I can't do it. There's absolutely no reason for Will to call on Sam to be the group's leader, rather than Artie or Blaine or Tina. For God' sake, he doesn't even know how to wash his own hair. And while I doubt this is the writers' intent, it's kind of suspect that the guy picked out as the "natural leader" just happens to be the straight, white, able-bodied man. Blech.
Tina enters Will's office and calls the two of them into the choir room, where Burt and Carol have just arrived. They are there to give a sweet and slightly morbid pep talk about how proud Finn was of them and how they should enjoy themselves, because all life is fleeting. We also learn that Burt and Carol are going to come to L.A. with the kids. And then Will decides they need a little "mood music" before hitting the road. He gives the signal to Tinkles, and then starts in on Randy Newman's "I Love LA." Blaine soon takes over the lead, and then the song transitions from the music room to the upper deck of an open-air bus cruising around L.A. What I get out of the song is that the number one tourist destination in L.A. is a chili-dog stand.
Hotel lobby. Will is running into some kind of difficulty with check-in. The kids stand behind him and look around, hoping to spot a celebrity. But the only person they see is Ms. Mercedes Jones. And she's dressed up in a fairly glam manner. It turns out that she was selling her self-produced debut album in a convenience store parking lot when she got a pity purchase from a woman who turned out to be Kanye West's housekeeper. Which led to Mercedes being asked by Sony Records to write songs for some of their top acts. Which she only agreed to do if they would also give her a deal for an album. So now, after all her weeks and weeks of struggle, she's on her way to stardom. What a charming story.
Back at the desk, Will is discovering that Sue (calling in her guise as an L.A.P.D. detective) has called the hotel to cancel his reservation and warn the clerk that "a 50-year old Ohio man, with a perm, has abducted twelve emotionally disturbed teenagers, and if he tried to make a reservation, [the clerk] was to call the F.B.I."