It’s time for Nationals. New Directions has spent the past three years working for this moment, and now it’s time to step up and prove their worth. Who will win, New Directions or Vocal Adrenaline? And will Rachel deliver so she can get a second chance?

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Take It from Bridesmaids — Mexican Food Always Leads to Trouble

As Glee enters into its second hour of the night (the first focusing on Tina and the hilarious body switching storyline), Mercedes is in her hotel room bed with all the girls around her. Will rushes in to see what’s going on. Apparently, she had some sketchy Mexican food (isn’t that how all these things happen? Did she eat at the same place as the women from Bridesmaids?). Will and Sue go off to the side to figure out how to deal with this crisis — Quinn and Tina will be stepping in during the Troubletones number.

Does New Directions Have the “Edge”?

New Directions performs first (the death slot, as someone puts it), with Mercedes joining them after recovering from her illness. They start their set off with Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,” with Santana, Mercedes, Quinn and Tina all having moments to shine above the rest. Then Rachel takes the spotlight for a solo number on Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”

Carmen Tibideaux (played again by the fabulous Whoopi Goldberg) shows up part way through. And when Rachel notices her, she steps it up and breathes even more passion and energy into the performance through her voice. Both songs here are covered to perfection; the vocals are exceptional. And it’s hard to go wrong with “Edge of Glory,” one of Gaga’s best songs ever.

They close out their set with “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” which I don’t think should’ve been the final song because the final number to me should be a big showstopper to stay in everyone’s minds. But I’m not bashing this song, because it’s a great chance to see the kids just let loose and have fun. Rachel is given a lengthy solo in the middle and Whoopi is getting into it, nodding her head to the beat. When the audience applauds at the end, Whoopi has a look of resignation on her face, like she’s realizing that Rachel is the real deal and maybe she has to retract the rejection.

Unique Steals the Spotlight

Backstage between groups, Wade tells Kurt and Rachel that he’s backing out because he can’t handle the pressure of being in the spotlight (even making the cover of a magazine). But the duo from New Directions talk him into staying on. And the scene ends with a very interesting line from Wade: “Unique may need to transfer schools next year.” I think this pretty much confirms that Ryan Murphy is planning on (or at least thinking about) having Alex Newell on the show on a more regular basis. With some students graduating, they have open spots to fill, and this could be a way to do that.

With renewed confidence, Wade leads Vocal Adrenaline on Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.” They rely mostly on advanced choreography with only Wade leading the singing (this formula is something we’ve seen from VA in years’ past — at least New Directions mixes it up with both solos and group numbers). I don’t know about you, but for me this doesn’t seem like the right song to perform during a competition. Their closure is “Pinball Wizard,” complete with pinball machines on stage. This one I’m liking even less than the first.

Deliberation Time

Now it’s time for the judges (Lindsay Lohan, Perez Hilton and Rex Lee) to come together backstage and hash it out on who should win. They start bickering, with Perez wondering why Lindsay is even allowed to judge; he likes the third showchoir (one that we only see for about three seconds). Rex Lee’s character loves New Directions, but Perez slams our favorite Glee Club and is supporting Vocal Adrenaline. Uh oh.

Meanwhile, out in the lobby, Jesse goes up to Whoopi to tell her that Rachel is the most talented person around and that she wouldn’t regret taking her on. This I did not see coming. With the evil looking grins Jesse’s been showing off in this episode (especially after he talked with Rachel earlier), I was preparing to see him try to take Rachel down somehow. And this is yet another obvious sign that Rachel will get into NYADA.

The Winner of Nationals Is…

While Rachel was hoping it would be her, the individual showchoir MVP award goes to Wade “Unique” Adams. If not Rachel, then no surprise here. The Portland Scale Blazers (strange name) come in third. And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. After three years of trying to make it to the top, the winner of Nationals is … New Directions! Cue the confetti! “Tongue Tied” is played over a montage of everyone celebrating back at McKinley High.

But wait! There’s another award to hand out: Teacher of the Year. And it’s no surprise that it goes to Will Schuster. This has been his dream for years now, to get McKinley’s Glee Club back to the top where it deserves, and after having accomplished that he definitely deserves this. After some heartfelt speeches by Finchel, to commemorate their win New Directions performs “We are the Champions” to Will.

We all knew that New Directions would win and they’d get their happily ever after, but it was exciting to see it finally all play out. Glee‘s competition episodes always seem to hit the right notes (pardon the pun) where we get quality to go along with some great music.

But on the heels of all this celebrating, it’s time to finally say goodbye as the seniors get set to graduate from high school next week. In the promo, we see Sue crying during her goodbye scene with Quinn. And there’s a quick shot of everyone in their caps and gowns, confirming that Puck does indeed graduate. The season 3 finale is finally upon us, and you better pull out the tissues now because it’s going to get emotional.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

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Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.