The kids are in New York for Nationals. Unfortunately, they still haven't written their damn songs. Will locks them in their hotel rooms to write songs while he skips out to the Broadway theater April Rhodes has rented for her biographical show. The kids escape the hotel to wander around New York. And then after they return to work, Finn and Rachel skip out again for a "work date" that consists less of working and more of dating. But they do see Patti LuPone. So that's something. And the next morning, Kurt and Rachel skip out for breakfast at Tiffany's, before breaking into a Broadway theater of their own and singing a song.
After all this walkabout, Will finally returns to the kids (after a night spent where, I have no idea). They've heard that he plans to stay in New York to make a go of it on Broadway, but he's changed his plans because he just can't bear to leave them. And then they finally write a couple of songs. The performances are relatively anti-climactic. Rachel does talk a shaky Sunshine Corazon out of her pre-show jitters, which is kind of penance for sending her to a crack house, I guess. We see Sunshine performing one song with Vocal Adrenaline. And then Rachel and Finn sing a duet, at the end of which they break into full-on sucking face. Which leaves the audience in stunned silence, for some reason. The rest of the club saves everything by performing a kick-ass, upbeat group number. But in the end it doesn't matter, because the kids don't finish in the top ten, which means they don't advance to the finals.
You'd think that would leave them feeling down. But they mostly seem okay. Kurt's happy, because he enjoyed New York, and because Blaine drops the "L" word. ("Love," not "lesbian.") Mercedes and Sam are happy, because they've secretly started dating. Finn and Rachel are happy, because even though they're blamed for the loss (due to their highly unprofessional kiss), they've decided to get back together. Santana, the only club member who was truly pissed off by the loss, is even okay after Brit-Brit drops some idiot-savant wisdom on her about Glee Club being a loving family. So they all end up happy with their tiny twelfth-place trophy.
Featuring four original songs (one performed by Mr. Schue, one performed by the entire club, one performed by Rachel and Finn, and one performed by Sunshine and Vocal Adrenaline) and the genius original song "My Cup," performed by Brit-Brit. Also, Madonna's "I Love New York," mashed up with some lyrics from "New York, New York" from On the Town, performed by the kids, "Bella Notte," from Lady and the Tramp, performed by Puck and the Homeless Troubadors, "For Good," from Wicked, performed by Rachel and Kurt, and some Usher number performed by some no-name choir.
We open on Times Square, mysteriously underpopulated. Maybe all the tourists were scared off by the sight of Rachel Berry, standing in her best "I'm gonna make it after all" pose in the middle of the square, wearing an outfit that makes her look like the demented love child of Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake. She tells nobody in particular, "I made it." And then we get the title card.
The kids are all sitting on the bleachers that have been sitting in Times Square for the last few years. Kurt is leading them in a rousing chorus of "look how far we've come," but as everyone makes plans for all the sights they want to see, Finn reminds them that they still have two songs to write. Sigh. I think that next season, New Directions should just adopt an improv jazz style and give up any pretense of preparation. Kurt thinks they have time for one song before they get to work, and he leads them into the first verse of the Kander & Ebb classic, "New York, New York," actually being sung by the kids in the scene. Rachel interrupts them to announce that she's scored tickets to that Broadway mega-hit, Cats. Brit-Brit is the only one who's happy at that news. Not because the other kids have the sense to know that Cats is an awful show, but because they know it closed a long time ago. Did they make Rachel ride in the cargo hold during their flight to NY? Because severe oxygen-deprivation is about the only plausible excuse I'd allow for her not knowing exactly what shows are playing Broadway at any given moment.
At a product-placed hotel, Will is checking all of the kids into two rooms. Will's plan is to segregate the kids by gender; the desk clerk tells him that other show choirs are separating the kids by sexual orientation. That's a joke, see, because show choir is so very, very gay. Although does that mean Kurt and Santana would share a room by themselves? I bet they'd be down with that idea. Some of the kids wander through the lobby, exchanging weak jokes that tell me this episode was largely written at the last minute. Rachel tells Finn that she's glad Quinn isn't acting like a vindictive harpy over the fact that Finn dumped her. But Finn would rather discuss what's going on between Rachel and Jesse. She tells him that he keeps texting her, but she's sworn off boys until they win Nationals. She wanders away from a gobsmacked Finn, just in time for Will to arrive and ask Finn where Puck has gone off to. And then he actually looks around the room and sees that Puck and Lauren are seated at the bar, where Puck is trying to order a Manhattan. Buzzkill Will arrives in time to summon them to a group meeting in one of the hotel rooms.