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This episode is written by Jessica Meyer and directed by Anthony Hemingway.
Blaine and Kurt’s honeymoon is unexpectedly cut short when they learn of a fire at Dalton Academy, and that the entire academy has burned to the ground. In light of the tragic news, Will, Kurt and Blaine decide to merge the now homeless Warblers with the undermanned New Directions and form a new show choir supergroup, one that may take some getting used to for all the students. While almost everyone else is on board with the recent developments, Sue is not. She commits herself to seeing that the new union of the former rival school’s teams does not stand, and discovers she faces opposition from the least expected of sources. As Sue proceeds to try and undo the merger of the two show choirs, her darkest secrets – some even she didn’t know about – become exposed to the unforgiving light of day, leaving her to accede to one unfathomable decision while simultaneously creating a surprising – but not unwelcome – opportunity for her. Meanwhile, Rachel returns to New York, to try and get herself readmitted to NYADA with surprising results that could either change everything or precipitate another all-too familiar experience, and Will and the others get potentially devastating news that concerns them all.
In the auditorium, Will watches the New Directions perform Rather Be, with Jane, Madison and Kitty first leading, with all of them dancing uniformly. Kurt and Blaine walk in and sit, looking glum as ND continue to perform. Will goes up to them, as Jane finishes the song. He asks Kurt and Blaine what they think. After not answering him, he asks them what’s wrong with them. Blaine tells him that Dalton Academy burned to the ground and that there is nothing left.
Will walks into the choir room, where New Directions and the Warblers are gathered. He thanks them all for coming and explains that he’s gathered them here because he, Blaine and Kurt have decided to fuse them together to make them a super choir, Jane looking angry. Will continues, saying that they both need each other. Kitty asks where Rachel is. Will tells her that she’s in New York, but is on board with the plan. Kitty, satisfied, says okay and they all hug with Jane now looking miserable by this decision. Blaine thanks Will for what he’s doing. Will tells him that there will be challenges but he knows that, with the Warblers' enthusiasm, they can win Sectionals, and later on Nationals. Everyone claps as Sue walks in, also clapping, as she states that the smell of the Warblers' uniforms went into her office and she now knows why, also stating that the club is hosting the Lima gay men’s chorus, to which the Warblers respond angrily. Blaine explains that they’re now part of the New Directions. Sue states they will be not and tells them to get out of the school. Will tells her that he’s already cleared it with Superintendent Harris. Sue, consumed with rage, states that she’ll get it uncleared with someone she knows who just gave her an Apple Watch, to which everyone tries to get a glimpse at. Sue tells them to go away but Will tells them to stay once again. Sue promises Will that she’ll pluck all the Warblers away, declaring that doomsday has arrived. Will calls her “Susie Q”, Sue telling him to stop it, everyone around looking at them weirdly.
In Sue’s office, Darrell is reading a magazine, while Becky is screaming at Sue about how she won’t let the Warblers join the club. Sue informs Becky that she can’t understand what she’s saying, to which Darrell translates for her. Becky tells her that the Superintendent said it was okay. Sue says that he may have said it was okay but the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate said it wasn’t. Becky tells her that she should "save her drama for her mama". Sue lists that the Utah Republican agrees with her about how the glee club is stupid and that the merging of the two glee clubs is inconvenient. Becky states that she won’t let Sue get away with it. Sue, becoming serious, informs Becky that she shouldn’t be in her way. Becky states that she’s been loyal to her (Darrell translating when he sees Sue’s confusion). Sue asks what she’s done. Becky lists things, including that she shoplifted and lied in court for her. Becky tells her that she’s evil and no longer her friend. She runs out, Sue shouting that if she leaves, she’ll be no longer welcome. Sue goes to Darrell, blaming him for it. Darrell tells her that Becky turned on her, by herself. He walks out as Sue looks disgruntled.
In NYADA, Rachel (in voiceover) says that a lot has happened since she was back there. She sees a couple of people walking together with eagerness and states that she was once as naive as them, and just another stepping stone to her dream. She continues, saying that she’s learnt her lesson and she wants to get a second chance from Carmen Tibideaux, knowing that she can do this, as she sits in front of the door to her office. The door opens and her assistant states that Madame Tibideaux is ready to see her, (Rachel looking happy), but the assistant tells her that she’s been waiting for this moment for a long time.
The following day, in the Superintendent’s reception office, the receptionist informs Sue (who is trying to look nice for the occasion) that she can go in, to which she does (wearing a medal). Seeing Will with the Superintendent, she asks what he’s doing there, saying its a surprise. Will says he’s surprised too. The Superintendent informs them that she should take the meeting seriously, having Will as witness. He continues, stating that he saw her hurt locker (where flashbacks are shown) seeing all the things she has put around the place. He goes on, saying that when he saw Myron’s face on a doll, he also saw her secret lair of her obsession with Klaine. He states that he’s all for young love, but what she did was insane. He states that he could have overlooked all of that but what he saw next was her pornographic picture in a copy of Penthouse magazine. Sue states that she doesn’t see how her body has affected her job and is proud of what she’s done to the school, saying that anyone will agree with her. Harris states that he doesn’t deny it but after he saw the things she has, he can not allow her near any young people, to which he fires her. She looks devastated.
On TV, Geraldo Rivera, a Fox News reporter states that he interviewed Sue Sylvester, once an American treasure, who lived a life of winning. It goes to the interview, where he tells Sue that she’s become a loser some of the time. Sue states confidently that she’s recently lost her job, her financial security and her legacy has been tarnished and that she wants to set the record straight. Rivera then begins to tell her that some of the things she has said have been too good to be true. He continues, saying they investigated her claims and have found out that most of them were fake, listing claims that she’s believes she did. She tries stops him but he continues to list more things. Sue once again tries to stop him, saying she wants to respond to these but he ignores her, going on about how she states that she has romantic interests with different people. Sue states that she dated them. Rivera states that she may just be compulsive liar, also referring to how the father of her child was Michael Bolton. She states that it's true but he shows her a video of Bolton stating that he didn’t know who she was, until she made those claims. Sue then tells Rivera that she can not prove it. He shows her another video of Rod Remington and Andrea Carmichael, each stating how she is out of line most of time, Andrea stating that Sue kidnapped her once. Rivera asks if she’s okay and if she has a history of having a mental illness. Sue states that she has a history of devoting her life to McKinley. She states that when she graduated, she was recruited by the top Wall Street investment banks. She continues that she could have wealth and power but chose to nurture and stay for the children, being her number one priority. Rivera tells her they sound like lies and that he visited the glee club. In the choir room; Artie, Mercedes, Kurt, Blaine, Rachel and Joe Hart (without dreadlocks as Sue cut them) mention things that Sue has done to them. Rivera, (in the flashback), asks if they know why she hates to glee club. Artie answers that she’s had it for them from the very beginning since they showed up, as they took away the Cheerios' popularity. Sue, enraged, states that they’re all lies perpetrated by Will. Rivera informs her that it wasn’t Will but Becky, where he shows her a video that she made. Becky, in the video, is with Darrell, where they both state the things that she’s done, Sue looking sad at what Becky’s done to her. Rivera then goes to break.
Back in the interview, Rivera apologizes to Sue, about how things are not going her way. She asks if they’re rolling, to which he states that they’re not. She tells him that she’s always wanted to inspire others, and to be a champion, which is why she chose a career in cheerleading, so they could be tougher than the world. Sue states that she should have interviewed Quinn, Brittany or Santana, as they’re doing well. He states that they declined to come. Sue realizes that the cameras are rolling, Rivera states that he lied to her. Sue states that it's character assassination, unworthy to be on Fox News. She states that she had agreed to sit with him, because she didn’t expect this. She continues, saying that she turned McKinley into a no-bully zone. Rivera states that someone had agreed with her, showing an interview with a person, who is not revealed at first. It is later shown, that it was Coach Beiste, who states that after his transition, Sue supported him. Sue looking happy, states that she refuses to apologize to anyone and that he should know that her parents were Nazi Hunters. Rivera then goes to an interview, where he walks with Sue’s mother, Doris, who reveals that they were not Nazi hunters. They lied to her, because they didn’t want to be around her, as she was biter. Doris continues, stating that since she laid eyes on Sue, she knew that she was the daughter she couldn’t love, Sue looking heartbroken. Rivera repeats what Doris said. Sue gets up, and punches Rivera, where she walks out. Rivera, gets back up, and asks the people if who she really is. He states that they have an interview with Will, as their final news report. Will, in the interview, states that Sue has always pushed him down, but it's because she’s a fighter, and has helped the school to work harder and better. He continues, that she may not be a nice person, but is an outstanding teacher, a born leader, and McKinley is worse without her, telling the Superintendent that she deserves a second chance. He laughs, and states that he’ll support Sue.
In the auditorium, a couple of days later, Sue sits lays against the piano, as the band play a sad tune. Sue’s mother, Doris walks on from behind, watching the sight. Sue stops them. She turns, and sees her mother. Doris thanks her for meeting her, even though it must be difficult for her. Sue states that difficult doesn’t cover up all the lies. Doris asks if it really matters about their jobs. Sue states that she meant the lie of loving her. Doris begins to explain that wasn’t a lie, as she never did say she loved Sue. Sue informs her mother that she would be angry at her, but attended Oprah’s event, where she learned that relationships are a two-way street. She realized that she wasn’t the easiest kid, and apologizes to her. Doris then tells Sue that she and her husband did love her, but had a different way of showing it, as they never got the hang of parenting. Doris continues, saying that she wanted Sue to do things that she loved, giving an example of how Sue never liked the musicals that Doris would want to watch; biting, screaming and trying to set her on fire. Sue explains that she doesn’t understand how anyone can just burst into song, and know the lyrics. Doris then apologizes to Sue about how she never was the mother she should have been, lying to her, and not being in her life. She continues, saying that she’s going to be angry, but hopes that one day they can get together again, as friends, if not mother-and-daughter. Doris tries to leave, but Sue asks her a if she really loved dad. Doris states that they fell in love with him, on a trolley. Sue asks her if she wants to sing about it, to which Sue’s mother replies she does. Sue tells her she’ll sing with her, because she likes the sound of her voice. She instructs the band to play The Trolley Song, with both Doris and Sue singing and dancing together. When they finish singing, Doris hugs and thanks Sue. Sue states that nothing like this should happen again, to which Doris agrees. They both walk away.
In the staff room; Blaine, Sam, Mercedes and Rachel sit, discussing about how Carmen Tibideaux told her to get out of the office. Rachel says that they’re missing the point, as Tibideaux said she saw how sorry Rachel was for leaving, which means that she still has a chance. Mercedes tells her that she’s thinking too much about it. Sam agrees, stating that with a name like that, they wouldn’t change their mind easily, once believing that NYADA was a school of witchcraft. Blaine states they he also got cut from NYADA. Rachel states that she was moved momentarily, and she could see herself back there, which is why she is writing a letter to her about her good and bad experiences, knowing that she’ll get back in. Mercedes states that everyone is all behind her, but Rachel is interrupted by a call from New York (believing it is NYADA). She runs outside. Mercedes discusses to Blaine and Sam about its not helping, to which Blaine agrees, as her experiences are just by Jacob Ben Israel’s mom. Sam tells them that they should support her. Rachel comes back in, and tells them that the audition she did for the show Mercedes recommended for her, was the caller. She states that she got the part, and want her to start in a few weeks. Mercedes goes to hug her. Sam asks what about NYADA, to which she states that she doesn’t have to go back, and goes to tell Kurt, to which Sam looks worried.
The following day in the auditorium, Will teaches dance moves to the ND and the Warblers, the Warblers synchronizing perfectly. When ND fail to keep up,Skylar states that the choreography is easy, and states that ND weren’t even close. Will stops them, saying that they’re a team. Jane states that if they are really a team, as the Warblers are wearing different uniforms. Kurt, Rachel and Blaine come on, Kurt saying they have to make changes.Skylar states that teams wear uniforms, saying they should get a blazer, to which Blaine agrees. Jane and Spencer state that its McKinley, and their “sexist empire” doesn’t exist anymore. Enraged, Skylar states that their look is iconic, and has tradition; also becoming sexier, (Myron asking for one) to which the girls like (Kitty asking rhetorically if girls really do like it). Kurt tells them they’ve welcomed them with open arms (Kitty saying semi-open arms) and states that they can’t ask them to change their look for them, as McKinley is a different school, but Blaine states that it would save trouble of finding new clothes. Rachel tells them that they’ll just wear their uniform for the the competition, but the Warblers disagree, as their outfit is not for competition, but just as costumes, (Madison being pulled back by Mason, as she tries to get them). Will interrupts, stating that they attend McKinley now, and they need to get rid of the blazers. The Head Warbler states that they’re thankful that they’re performing with them, but they didn’t choose to come there, stating that they’re blazers mean something to them. Beiste interrupts them, saying they have bigger problems. He’s learned that Sue is the new coach of Vocal Adrenaline.
In VA’s auditorium, the members sit as Clint speaks to Sue about how she’s come to Carmel to coach them, even though she hates show choir. Sue corrects them, saying that she still has yet to decide if they are worthy of being coached, promising them that they will get a National win. A VA member asks how they need to prove themselves to her, to which Sue explains that they need to do the Barftron 200, which is single consecutive workout for five hours, to get maximum nausea. She lists of the exercise that they need to do, each of them being 200, one of them being to sing Far From Over. Clint sings lead of the song, as everyone dances along, and also doing the exercises, Sue using her megaphone, pushing them harder and harder, and insulting them. In flash-forwards, Sue is emptying out her hurt locker, burning things that she doesn’t need, but keeps the ones she values. At the end of the song, most of the members have fallen, Sue telling them to have a break, and then to do it again. Clint, the only remaining one, goes up to Sue, and states that they’ll be honored to have her as their coach. They shake hands, Sue glaring at him.
The next day in the choir room, Rachel goes through outfits that has still to be decided for the competition, asking Sam for help when he walks in, making him wear a Warbler jacket. Sam tells them that she’s making a mistake. Rachel states that its just a jacket, and they should be sympathetic to the Warblers, after their school burnt down. Sam tells her that he meant the show, asking about NYADA. Rachel states that Mercedes was right, about being desperate and pathetic to go back. Her phone rings, and she goes to answer, as Sam states that its not pathetic. She listens to the person on the phone. When the person hangs up, Rachel tells Sam that it was Carmen, who is letting her go back in NYADA if she wants to. Sam, happy, tells her that he knew she would, but she tells him that she’s not, wanting to go back as a winner, than with her tail between her legs. She states that everyone but him is happy for her. He states that he’s just telling the truth, and wants her to back to New York, but not through the show. Rachel states that she wanted to get the show, but Sam corrects her, saying she wanted to back to NYADA, to which Carmen is allowing her, telling her that she’s going to make the same mistake all over again, if she doesn’t go back to NYADA. She walks out, saying that going back is not a mistake.
Sam walks with Will in the halls of McKinley, telling him about his and Rachel’s feud over NYADA, wanting her to go to college, as its a mistake to not go there. Will comments on how he’s not in college, to which he states that he doesn’t want her to make the same mistake. Will states that she’ll be fine, and tries to tell him something, but is interrupted by Sue playing on the organ in the auditorium. Will and Sam walk in. Once seeing Sue, Sam goes out, saying its serious. Will goes up to her, as she tells him that she’s making a statement, about how he’s crossed her for the last time. Will states that she’s said that many times, Sue saying it still feels good. She continues, saying that he betrayed her, and has taken upon her to destroy the glee club and him, knowing she’s said that before too. Will states that he supported her, but she interrupts, bringing Brad to play on the organ. He begins to play The Final Countdown, to which both Sue and Will begins to sing, imagining themselves in front of an audience, in costumes for the 80’s, both fighting with each other on stage. Outside their dream-like performance, Sam has gathered the New Directions the Warblers, Blaine, Kurt and Rachel to the audience, Rachel stating that they’ve gone crazy. As the song ends, Sue walks off stage. Will then realizes that everyone have just been watching them, Kurt shaking his head sideways, while Rachel shaking her head up and down.
The next day in the staff room, Blaine talks to Will about his and Sue’s fantasy battle. He apologizes to him, feeling awful. Rachel and Kurt come in, stating that they have worse things to worry about, as Myron told her (in the flashback), that Superintendent Harris told him, that if ND doesn’t win, then not only would the glee club be gone from McKinley, but all arts programs as well. In the flashback, Rachel states that she’s paying from her money, but Myron states that he said that too, but his uncle said that its too big for Rachel, and the choir room will go back to the computer lab it once was. Back in reality, Will states that they’ve survived worse things. Kurt then states that they’ve fought for everything in their lives, and a new one is just beginning. Will says that he’s proud of them. Rachel then states they still need to figure out on their costumes, to which Blaine states they may have fixed that.
In the auditorium, Rachel and Kurt sit watching the supergroup come out in the Warblers' outfit (without the blazer), singing Rise. Blaine brings out a lighter red blazer, to represent both McKinley and the Warblers. They are all singing and dancing in sync, finally being united as a team. The song ends with them putting their hands up, with Blaine, Kurt and Rachel hugging.
|Song Title||Original Artist||Performer(s)|
|Rather Be||Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne||New Directions|
|The Trolley Song||Cast of Meet Me in St. Louis||Doris Sylvester and Sue Sylvester|
|Far From Over||Frank Stallone||Vocal Adrenaline|
|The Final Countdown||Europe||Sue Sylvester and Will Schuester|
|Rise||Glee / Darren Criss||New Directions|
- The songs from this episode are accompanied by Glee: The Music, The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester.
- Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel
- Darren Criss as Blaine Anderson
- Dot-Marie Jones as Sheldon Beiste
- Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester
- Kevin McHale as Artie Abrams
- Lea Michele as Rachel Berry
- Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester
- Chord Overstreet as Sam Evans
- Amber Riley as Mercedes Jones
Special Guest Star
- Christopher Cousins as Superintendent Bob Harris
- Max George as Clint
- Becca Tobin as Kitty Wilde
- Bill A. Jones as Rod Remington
- Earlene Davis as Andrea Carmichael
- Lauren Potter as Becky Jackson
- Samuel Larsen as Joe Hart
- Marshall Williams as Spencer Porter
- Noah Guthrie as Roderick Meeks
- Billy Lewis Jr. as Mason McCarthy
- Laura Dreyfuss as Madison McCarthy
- Samantha Marie Ware as Jane Hayward
- Justin Prentice as Darrell
- J.J. Totah as Myron Muskovitz
- Finneas O'Connell as Alistair
- Geraldo Rivera as Himself
- Michael Bolton as Himself
- Carnie Wilson as Herself
- Myko Olivier as Skylar
- Mason Trueblood as Really Gay Warbler
- Austin Brue as Other Really Gay Warbler
- Alex Mentzel as Warbler #1
- JP Dubée as Warbler #2
- Max Wilcox as Warbler #5
- Nick Fink as Warbler #6
- Rilan Roppolo as Warbler #7
- Caitlynn Lawson as Shayna
- Brad Ellis as Brad
- This episode was watched by 1.81 million viewers.
- This is the second time Sue has sung two duets in an episode, the first time being in Opening Night.
- She performs at least one duet with Will in both occurrences.
- She performs one duet with a woman and one with a man in both cases.
- This episode marks the return of the following characters:
- Doris Sylvester, since her first appearance in Furt in Season Two, an 87-episode gap.
- Joe Hart, since his last appearance in All or Nothing in Season Four, a 29-episode gap.
- Andrea Carmichael and Rod Remington, since their last appearances in Opening Night in Season Five, a 12-episode gap.
- This episode marks Andrea's last appearance on the show.
- Whoopi Goldberg was set to reprise her role as Carmen Tibideaux but her scene was likely cut.
- In Latin America, you can hear Carmen Tibideaux voice on the Rachel's phone in dubbed version.
- About this episode's name:
- It's the second longest title, with 28 characters. The longest one is The Untitled Rachel Berry Project, only one character more than the name of this episode.
- This marks the seventh and last time a character's name is used in the title.
- This episode's recap segment is the first and only one to have no narrative.
- Sue posing for Penthouse was first mentioned in a voice-over by Will in the extended version of Pilot, and later proven to be true by Finn in Naked.
- Four of the Warblers did not join the New Directions, and the reason why they didn't was not revealed.
- The episode is a play on the 1972 David Bowie album, "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars". Sue dressed up as Bowie in his Stardust alter ego in the Season 2 episode "Rumours".
- It is mentioned that Sue has never coached a show choir before Vocal Adrenaline. However, in Throwdown, and in Season Three she was a temporary co-coach for New Directions, and during Season Two, she temporarily coached Aural Intensity.
- Sue claims that she received an Apple Watch from someone, but it wasn't available for sale until April 2015 (it is approximately fall 2014 in the canon universe as of this episode).
- At 33:37 Sue's getting up of her seat, a second later she's already on the stage.