‘Glee’ Finale Recap: Don’t Stop Believin’

First season ends just the way it started: with a lot of music and a side of cheese.

Well, if the “Glee” producers intended their first-season finale to perfectly represent the season as a whole, then bravo. Much like the entire first year of the show, the uneven episode started out with a promising, action-packed plot, impressed with a couple of flashy musical numbers, then got too cheesy for its own good and petered out with an overly sentimental song.

Though it was actually titled “Journey” (get it? It’s metaphorical, you guys), the episode also could have been titled “Tears” or maybe “Don’t Forget Your Tissues.” There was a lot of crying in this episode.

When Mr. Schuester found out that Sue Sylvester was going to be a celebrity judge at regionals, he was angry. The kids, on the other hand, moped around during their regionals set-list nomination party like someone had just died, lamenting the fact that with Sue judging them, they were guaranteed to lose.

It was all Schue could do not to cry, so he went to Emma for some guidance. She reminded him that loving what you’re doing is more important than whether you win or lose (aww), then told him she was dating her dentist . He finally shed tears in his car, when he heard “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” on the radio.

The Journey-inspired freak-out also inspired the New Directions set list for regionals: a Journey medley. (Did you expect anything less?) In no time, the gang was at the theater decked out in gold dresses and ties, ready to impress celebrity judges Josh Groban, Olivia Newton-John, Rod Remington and Sue Sylvester (author of the upcoming memoir “I’m a Winner and You’re Fat”). First up was Aural Intensity with a Groban/Newton-John medley, then New Directions.

Finn told Rachel he loved her right before they went out to sing the aforementioned medley of “Faithfully,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ ” and a brand-new version of “Don’t Stop Believin’.” The group ran offstage in a euphoric state, happy with their performance.

But before they could get too happy, Quinn’s mom showed up and asked Quinn to forgive her for that whole disownment thing. She wanted Quinn to come home. Then Quinn’s water broke. The entire crew followed their teammate to the ER, where she had her baby (with her mom, Puck and Mercedes in the delivery room) via a hilarious montage that cut between Vocal Adrenaline’s showstopping performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a scream-filled delivery scene.

Rachel, who had stayed behind, congratulated Shelby on the performance and told her that Quinn had her baby. Inexplicably, Shelby then showed up at the hospital and stood next to Quinn and Puck while they admired their child, a girl Puck called Beth. Shelby later adopted the baby.

In the judges’ room, Olivia liked Vocal Adrenaline, Rod liked Aural Intensity, and Josh liked New Directions. They ganged up on Sue, saying she wasn’t really a celebrity and that she was a lot like the ragtag group from her school, which caused Sue to defend New Directions. But it was all for naught when the judges came out to reveal the winner: Vocal Adrenaline; New Directions came in last.

Here comes the cheesy part: Back at school, Emma was livid that Principal Figgins was disbanding the group, but Schue said there was nothing he could do about it. Emma told him some things were worth fighting for, and Schue kissed her. Rachel interrupted their conversation and brought Schue to the auditorium, where each member of the glee club told him something sappy. There was also something cloying about having won despite the judges because they had him as a teacher. Then he cried while they sang “To Sir With Love,” and Sue snuck in the back of the auditorium and cried too. She has a soul after all!

Sue, who actually voted New Directions first and Vocal Adrenaline last, told Schue she admired him and she didn’t want to live in a world where she couldn’t make fun of his hair, so she had blackmailed Figgins one last time to give glee club another year. Will broke the good news to the gang, then thanked them for all they’d done by singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Puck.

Were you glad New Directions didn’t win? Were you shocked at the lack of cliffhangers? What did you think of the finale? Sound off in the comments below!