Blaine and Finn show they are friends now by trying to help the poor recruited band guys (the unsung heroes of "Glee") with their singing and moves. Wouldn't it be great if one of them turned out to be the best singer New Directions ever had? Mike and Tina are still fighting, with Mike mad that Tina spoke to his dad and only made things worse. The Troubletones visit the New Directions to offer that in the event of their victory they'll welcome deflecting New Directions members with open arms. Quinn implies that they have it in the bag thanks to Puck, giving Shelby the evil eye the entire time. Rachel joins the group in the audience to watch as the non-McKinley competition takes the stage. It's Harmony from episode one with her group, the Unitards. She sings "Buenos Aires" from Evita, and Kurt and Rachel both mouth along, furious at her talent. Her group is nothing more than back up dancers though, so they're clearly doomed from the start. Still, she's a fantastic singer, although we later learns she's only a sophomore and thus no NYADA competition for them.
After they finish Quinn slips into the hallway to tell Figgins about Shelby and Puck, but Rachel catches up with her and tries to talk her out of it, pointing out that Rachel has experienced the consequences of her bad judgement and doesn't want the same for Quinn. Rachel pleads that at least Quinn should give Shelby a heads up, so Quinn marches into her choir room to confront her. Shelby is resigned, and tells Quinn to treasure her youth because it's fleeting. She leaves Quinn there to go watch the Troubletones.
The ladies perform a mash-up of "I Will Survive / Survivor" that, while strong, doesn't stack up to their previous Adele mash-up. The "Glee" choreographers make a nice nod to the fact that Troubletones has a queer woman of color with the wacking dance style, which originated in gay Black and Latino disco clubs, it's not particularly believable that Shelby would be able to pull that off, nor that the citizens of Lima would truly appreciate it. While it's a lively performance, Blaine and Finn's triumphant fist bump mid-performance does seem warranted.
Finally it's McKinley's turn, and they've pulled together a Jackson medley with almost zero preparation. They start with ABC, with Tina on lead and Kurt and Mike featured. We're reminded what a lovely singer Tina is, and their only fumble is when Mike notices his father has arrived to watch. He's seated next to Sebastian, who Kurt notices and suddenly leap-frogs over Mike's back and shimmies his hips center stage. Sam pulls out some of his sex appeal too, and we see Mercedes blushing in the audience.
The next song is Janet's "Control," which Quinn begins with the spoken-word section. Blaine and Artie take the vocal lead. It's worth noting that the jazz band guys are holding their own with the background dancing through the whole number. Who knew! Maybe they'll get to stick around. New Directions finish with Michael's "Man In The Mirror," with Artie, Finn, Puck, Blaine and Sam getting all boyband in the front while the group somehow transforms into an improbable gospel choir. At the end, Mr. Chang stands to clap almost in tears. Everyone in the club starts hugging in as many pairs as possible, and the excitement continues as they skip and dance back into the dressing room. Mr. Chang follows and tells Mike to pursue his dreams, but when he worries that he's missed all the application deadlines, Tina reveals that she forged his signature and sent them anyway.
Of course, New Directions wins because the yearlong structure of the show falls apart if they are defeated this easily. Poor Mercedes and Santana look crushed, and we watch the Troubletones stand in the auditorium until everyone is gone and the lights cut out.
Quinn thank Rachel for keeping her from doing something stupid and finally starts talking about a life for herself outside of Lima. She's got her sights set on Yale, hoping for a spot in their drama program. She also conspired with Rachel to bring the Troubletones back to New Directions, offering them a featured spot in every competition with the blessing of Rachel and Mr. Schue. She pulls out the final straw in the "embrace youth" plotline, reminding them that after these 6 months the gang is going to break up for life after high school, and they should make the most of the time they have. She tells them to come to the auditorium for the big group sing if they're interested.
The auditorium is set in a direct mirror of last year's post-Sectionals "Dog Days Are Over" performance, and again the group takes on a buzz band with fun.'s "We Are Young." It's loose and free "Glee", and Britt, Santana, Mercedes and Sugar all show up to join in (the other Troubletones must not have contract extensions) as the group lounges, hugs and sings all over the conveniently placed risers. Overall, it was a "Glee" that felt like the plots were dealt with as fast as humanly possible to cram in as much singing and dancing as we can. Luckily the finale singing was the best kind of "Glee", and as the group pushes together for a massive embrace we're back to cheering on one cohesive unit again.