Unless you’re really and truly dead inside, you’re remembering your own final days of high school right now; the quickening that happens in an instant, when the abstract knowledge that things will soon change forever becomes real and immediate. And it’s always a shock. Whether you loved high school or hated it (or, more likely, if you’re somewhere in the middle), there’s a feeling every teenager carries that you’ll be young forever, that the future will always be in front of you, bearing pure potential and unlimited adventure. Then one day you wake up and realize there are only so many more Pezberry duets in the cards. That’s what our dear gleeks are going through this week, channeled and projected expertly onto their continued grieving process over the untimely death of Whitney Houston.
The episode opens with a simply gorgeous acapella rendition of “How Will I Know” by the four reigning divas—Mercedes, Santana, Rachel and Kurt. They start out in the hallway, paying homage at the locker-shrine to their dearly departed, and end up on a beautifully empty stage, in beautifully simple and elegant formal wear, singing their nostalgic little hearts out to an empty auditorium.
Heart. Broken. And there hasn’t even been a single line of dialogue yet. There is a lot going on in this episode, as everyone realizes pretty much simultaneously that their days together are drawing to a close, and we get a lot more of the realness this week than usual—the relationships, the character development, all the stuff that isn’t hyperbolically overblown for comedic value. (Which isn’t to say there aren’t still some zingers coming—don’t cry yet!)
After watching Kurtcedes-Pezberry singing their hearts out for Whitney, Schue goes to Emma for advice over how to handle the glee kids’ continued grief over their heroine’s untimely death. Emma, bless her heart, is in top form this week, and she makes the immediate connection to her own feelings about the death of Princess Di in her senior year of high school. It wasn’t because she had some big connection to the British royal family; it was just a convenient springboard for her subconscious to project all her sadness and anxiety about graduating from high school. Clearly, the glee kids are doing the same now, so Schue might as well