The cast and crew of ‘Glee’ were faced with the difficult task of not only bidding farewell to a main character, but the actor who played him. When Cory Monteith died in July the show went on a brief hiatus as they figured out how to rewrite the season and deal with his death. For ‘The Quarterback,’ they came up with an emotional and touching look at how the characters, and actors, grieved for the loss of a friend.
A month after his funeral, Mr. Schue gathered present and former members of New Directions to remember Finn. Emma is doing her best to help students cope, but can’t help but notice that Will hasn’t cried himself. Coach Sue hides her pain behind her icy veneer, which results in an argument with Santana who tells her that she and Finn both hated her. Kurt, his dad Burt and Finn’s mom have naturally been hit the hardest. I couldn’t help but tear up as Mike O’Malley talked about how he wish he had hugged Finn more. Kurt takes to wearing Finn’s football jacket, a cherished item that Puck begs him for and later he gives to Santana. The jacket is then stolen by Will, perhaps the only character who didn’t speak about any personal moments, who finally releases his tears to Emma.
We don’t get to see Rachel until the last 20 minutes of the episode when she returns to Lima to see the memorial that has been put at Finn’s old locker. When I first heard of Cory’s death, I instantly thought of Lea Michele, as I’m sure many people did, and how she would be taking the news. Rachel and Finn have always been at the center of the show. A “will they or won’t they” romance that unfortunately didn’t last beyond high school.
Rachel tells Will that Finn knew she loved him and that he was “her person.” Michele’s and Monteith’s relationship may have been a bit shaky in real life as well, but it was on of those moments where reality and fiction mixed and it felt like the cast was breaking the fourth wall and saying their last goodbyes to Cory.
Though it featured some sentimental moments, it was not a perfect episode as the second half of it dragged. For one, we never learned how Finn died. They could have easily written a car accident, or given Finn the end that Cory met. The show has never been particularly sensitive, or even all that smart, about certain touchy subjects, but it would have given them a chance to address substance and drug abuse in a real way. I would have liked more statements from the current underclassmen of New Directions, who might not have known Finn the way the old members did but he was still a mentor to them. Missing were Brittany, (Heather Morris recently gave birth to a baby), and Quinn (Dianna Agron, who apparently wasn’t even invited) which felt a little off, especially since Quinn and Finn were a couple.
I gave up on ‘Glee’ last season, and I saw many others who had abandoned the show joining in to watch. I don’t know if we felt like it was important to do so, and I can’t say that it was “must-see” tv, but I think there was a sense that we also needed to say goodbye to Finn. He wasn’t always a likable character, and he wasn’t the best singer or dancer, but to the those who knew him and loved him, and pretended to hate him, he was important to the group and Cory was important to show. So it was a fitting tribute for a friend and co-star.