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Swan Song is the ninth episode of Glee's fourth season and the seventy-fifth episode overall. It premiered on December 6, 2012.  

After Marley's onstage faint at Sectionals, the New Directions learn of their loss at the competition. Back at NYADA, Kurt and Rachel are both extremely nervous, Rachel about the Winter Showcase and whether she will be chosen and Kurt, re-auditioning for the school. The New Directions begin to split apart as their competition season is over but Finn and Marley attempt to bring the spark back. 

The episode was directed by Brad Falchuk and written by new co-executive producer Stacy Traub. 


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Immediately after Marley's onstage fainting incident at Sectionals, the glee club carries her backstage, both concerned for her health and unsure how to proceed with their performance. As Santana accuses Kitty of getting into Marley's head and causing her to starve herself, Will joins them backstage and tries to tell them to return to the stage before they're disqualified - a rule Finn was unaware of - but Sue reveals that the judges have already declared the Dalton Academy Warblers the winners.

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Meanwhile, Kurt and Rachel, while cleaning up after the Thanksgiving dinner they threw, worry about their friends back in Lima, but choose to focus on their own futures. Kurt's going the extra mile to prepare for his next NYADA admission audition, while Rachel assures him that as a freshman she stands virtually no chance to get a Golden Ticket to Carmen Tibideaux's Winter Showcase, traditionally the starting point where superstars launch their careers. She is later shocked when Carmen hands her one of the elite handwritten invitations to perform.

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With New Directions out of competition for the rest of the school year, Sue quickly claims the music room - and all of its contents - as her own. Finn and Sue battle over the glee club's Nationals trophy, which she wants to run over with her Le Car. Figgins tells Finn and Will that there's no longer a location for the glee club to practice: they must turn over the key to the music room to Sue, who confides to Becky that she finds it an empty victory. But Sue receives the guilt-relieving validation she sought when piano player Brad tells her how much he hates the glee kids and that he finally feels free.

As Tina and Artie begin to heap blame for the defeat on Marley, Finn tries to keep the glee club motivated by prepping for the upcoming holiday concert - but they were expecting a triumphant Sectionals coda, not "a pity party." Finn wants to regroup and start focusing on next year, but graduating seniors like Brittany, Sam, Artie, Tina and Blaine don't have a next year.

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Brittany follows a trail of Cheerios cereal to Sam, where he makes a play for her - she's the only one who understands him. He hopes to finally share a song just with her, and the two sing the Frank and Nancy Sinatra duet Something Stupid. Brittany stops short of kissing him, worried that the worldwide lesbian blogger community would go after Sam.

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Cassandra pushes Rachel in dance class yet again, believing she's a diva who's not ready for the opportunity she's been offered, but Rachel pushes back, insisting Cassandra's not appreciating how good she's gotten. The two face off in a dance showdown to All That Jazz from "Chicago": Rachel holds her own, but admits she's not the dancer Cassandra is; she's a better singer, however, and has a chance to win the contest with her voice. Kurt is shocked when Carmen is unimpressed by his second audition - she finds him talented on the surface, but lacking the soulful depth she's looking for in an artist.

Looking for purpose, Artie becomes a drum major; Tina and Blaine become Cheerios; Ryder and Jake make the basketball team; Unique joins the floor hockey team; and Joe joins the interfaith paintball team - but they wrestle with telling Finn about moving on. Finn's disappointed and urges them to continue with glee club, joining him in the only time slot he was able to book the auditorium for (late Friday night), but only Marley seems committed. Meanwhile, Brittany and Sam finally give in to their feelings.

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As she prepares to take the stage for the Winter Showcase, Rachel impulsively kisses Brody - she's going to do things as if she'll never have another chance. She performs Barbra Streisand's Being Good Isn't Good Enough, prompting a standing ovation from the audience. Her encore, O Holy Night, thrills the audience and earns praise from Carmen, who stuns Kurt by announcing him as the next performer.

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Panicked, Kurt settles on Being Alive from "Company" but worries that he can't pull it off without his usual props and costumes. Rachel convinces him that he doesn't need any of that, and his emotional performance succeed in earning him enthusiastic applause.

In contrast, Finn's defeated after clearing the glee club's belongings out of the music room. Rachel calls him, wanting to hear his voice, and he unloads, feeling like he's failed - and she reveals that she won. She reminds him that if they'd never won a competition together, it was still the experience they all shared that mattered. She urges him not to give up on his dreams.


Finn waits in the auditorium, but only one student - Marley - shows up. Finn sends a heartfelt email to the glee students, urging them to continue on with him, using Rachel's unprecedented victory as inspiration, and inviting them to join him in the new rehearsal space Marley located: the plaza by the steps outside the school. Finn and Marley wait alone in the falling snow, regretting their mistakes.

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They sing Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over and are soon surprised as the rest of New Directions arrives to join them. Meanwhile, Rachel discovers a stunned Kurt staring at a letter from NYADA: he's finally been admitted. 


Song Title Original Artist Performer(s)
Something Stupid Frank and Nancy Sinatra
(Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman version)
Brittany Pierce
and Sam Evans
All That Jazz Cast of Chicago

Cassandra July
and Rachel Berry

Being Good Isn't Good Enough Cast of Hallelujah, Baby!
(Barbra Streisand version)
Rachel Berry
O Holy Night Adolphe Adam
Being Alive Cast of Company Kurt Hummel
Don't Dream It's Over Crowded House Finn Hudson and
New Directions

Background Songs

  • Ebben? Ne andrò lontana by Maria Callas (not used her recording).
  • Moonlight Sonata by The Swingle Singers.
  • Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds when Finn is writing that letter to the Glee Club members.
  • Sylvia by Léo Delibes.

Guest Cast

Special Guest Stars

Guest Stars


Absent Cast Member


  • Brad speaks for the first time in this episode and freely speaks his mind about the treatment he got from the New Directions over the years.
  • Brittany makes a reference to Brittana fans when she tells Sam that after she broke up with Santana, "all the lesbians in the world" started sending her messages on Twitter and Facebook, including Lord Tubbington's Facebook wall; she states that she thinks they liked seeing two popular girls together and that she fears Sam will get hate if they get together. This is a reference to Brittana fans' dislike for Brittany's relationship with Sam.
  • This is the second episode where Rachel had two solos, the first being Britney/Brittany.
  • Ellis Wylie, a former contestant of the first season of The Glee Project, makes a special cameo as an audience member in the NYADA auditorium during the Winter Showcase.
  • The scene where Finn types his e-mail to the former glee club members is a reference to The Breakfast Club, complete with "Don't You (Forget About Me)" playing in the background.
  • When Tina says to Marley, "I knew Rachel Berry. I was friends with Rachel Berry. And you Marley, are no Rachel Berry," it is a reference to the 1988 presidential campaign. At the vice-presidential debate, Dan Quayle compared himself to John F. Kennedy ("Jack" to his friends), and his opponent, Lloyd Bentsen, replied, "I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
  • This episode got a 2.2 rating with a total of 5.43 million viewers. Source
  • Don't You (Forget About Me) was later sung in Trio by Blaine, Sam and Tina.

Deleted Scenes

  • A Marley/Kitty scene was cut from this episode. The scene was about Kitty feeling guilty for what happened to Marley at Sectionals, and showed the beginning of a real friendship between them. Here’s a quote from Marley in this scene: “You’re really talented, you know? I mean, being pretty isn't your only thing.” Source Source 2
  • A Finn/Will scene was cut from the episode. But the scene was shown in the promo. The scene also featured an appearance of Jayma Mays (Emma Pillsburry) Source


  • When Carmen Tibideaux introduces Alexandra at the Winter Showcase, she announces that she is performing from Delibes' ballet Sylvia however the music is from another ballet written by Deibes called Coppelia.
  • When Rachel is about to perform 'Being Good Isn't Good Enough' on the Winter Showcase, the camera shows the entire room, and you can see there are two empty chairs in the front row of the left side of the audience. Once she finished the song, the camera takes exactly the same place, where suddenly the empty chairs are now occupied by a Blonde woman and a man, the exact two same people were sitted in the back row at the beginning. Now, when she was about to sing 'O Holy Night', you can clearly see the seats are empty again. And it continues successively through the entire scene.
  • When Rachel is asked to do an encore, at the minute 27:49 she goes back and tell the orchestra which song she was going to sing. At the minute 27:50 the camera shows how she is walking back to the stage. At the minute 27:51 she was already back on stage while, behind her, the first violinist on the left side stands up, maybe to do an arrangement, but quickly on minute 27:52 the violinist was already sitting, as if he had never stood. All of the moves in the scene are just impossibly fast.
  • When Rachel is confronting Cassandra at the start of the episode, her hair is thrown at her left side. When the camera turns into Cassandra, her hair is thrown at her right side.
  • Brittany's hair clip when she is asking Sam on a date, appears and disappears, simultaneously.
  • In the episode 'Home', April Rhodes buys the auditorium for the Glee Club to use anytime, but in this episode, they are unable to use it.
  • When talking about the golden tickets, Kurt talks about previous winners of the NYADA winter showcase have gone on to do great things. He says those winners agree that the highest point in their careers was when Carmen Tibideaux handed them their golden envelope. However, in the episode Choke, it is stated that this year at NYADA is Carmen's inaugural year.
  • When Sue quotes the new message she ingraved on Lillian Adler's, she says, "I died a slow, horrible death, choking on the fluids in my own lungs." when really, the ingraved message does not have the word "own" in it.


Yeah, it's a rule. One of the bylaws actually. As all of you were spiraling into a self created K-hole of crazy, the judges by unanimous vote have declared the Warblers victorious. Hey. Congratulations, Finn Hudson. For the first time in this chart yet pitiful existence, the New Directions has lost Sectionals. But here's the good news. Christmas came early for one Sue Sylvester.

Sue Sylvester to Finn Hudson and other members of the New Directions

Sue Sylvester? I cannot thank you enough! I can't tell ya how much I hate those kids! Do you know how demeaning it is when they just turn to ya and yell, "Hit it!" and you just supposed to know what song they're gonna sing?!! I'm free! I'm free!!!

Brad Ellis to Sue Sylvester

Kurt: Madame Tibideaux, I hope it's okay that I'm dropping by your office. I'm not sure that you remember me, but -
Carmen: What can I do for you, Mr. Hummel?
Kurt: Oh! I applied for the second semester.
Carmen: I received it. I reviewed it.
Kurt: And the accompanying video?
Carmen: Of you doing the acoustic version of Wham!'s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
Kurt: What'd you think?
Carmen: I thought exactly what I thought the first time you auditioned for me last spring - here's a very talented young man who knows how to sell a number, but who is devoid of complexity and depth.
Kurt: What?
Carmen: You gave me surface when I was looking for soul. We are training artists here, Mr. Hummel. Performers who are not afraid to show their vulnerability and, yes, even their heart.
Kurt: Madame Tibideaux, I have all those things.
Carmen: I rarely give anyone a second chance, and when I do, it is on my terms. Now thank you for your continued interest in NYADA, but as you can see, I'm busy preparing for the Winter Showcase. Good afternoon, Mr. Hummel.

Kurt Hummel and Carmen Tibideaux

If you give me a stage to sing on, I know in my gut, that there's no one that can beat me.

Rachel Berry to Brody Weston



v - e - d

Glee Episodes

Season One
PilotShowmanceAcafellasPreggersThe Rhodes Not TakenVitamin DThrowdownMash-UpWheelsBalladHairographyMattressSectionalsHell-OThe Power of MadonnaHomeBad ReputationLaryngitisDream OnTheatricalityFunkJourney

Season Two
AuditionBritney/BrittanyGrilled CheesusDuetsThe Rocky Horror Glee ShowNever Been KissedThe SubstituteFurtSpecial EducationA Very Glee ChristmasThe Sue Sylvester ShuffleSilly Love SongsComebackBlame It on the AlcoholSexyOriginal SongA Night of NeglectBorn This WayRumoursProm QueenFuneralNew York

Season Three
The Purple Piano ProjectI Am UnicornAsian FPot o' GoldThe First TimeMash OffI Kissed a GirlHold on to SixteenExtraordinary Merry ChristmasYes/NoMichaelThe Spanish TeacherHeartOn My WayBig BrotherSaturday Night Glee-verDance with SomebodyChokeProm-asaurusPropsNationalsGoodbye

Season Four
The New RachelBritney 2.0MakeoverThe Break-UpThe Role You Were Born to PlayGleaseDynamic DuetsThanksgivingSwan SongGlee, ActuallySadie HawkinsNakedDivaI DoGirls (and Boys) on FilmFeudGuilty PleasuresShooting StarSweet DreamsLights OutWonder-fulAll or Nothing

Season Five
Love, Love, LoveTina in the Sky with DiamondsThe QuarterbackA Katy or A GagaThe End of TwerkMovin' OutPuppet MasterPreviously Unaired ChristmasFrenemiesTrioCity of Angels100New DirectionsNew New YorkBashTestedOpening NightThe Back-Up PlanOld Dog, New TricksThe Untitled Rachel Berry Project

Season Six
Loser Like MeHomecomingJagged Little TapestryThe Hurt Locker, Part OneThe Hurt Locker, Part TwoWhat the World Needs NowTransitioningA WeddingChild StarThe Rise and Fall of Sue SylvesterWe Built This Glee Club2009Dreams Come True