The Kleenex box is empty.
Last night, Glee aired its third episode of Season 5 and as reported over the summer, the episode was a tribute to Cory Monteith’s character, Finn Hudson. To say it was heart wrenching does not begin to describe the emotional essence of this episode.
Titled, “The Quarterback,” the episode opened with the cast dressed in black singing “Seasons of Love” from the hit Broadway musical Rent. From that moment on, the episode had powerful instances when you witnessed real-life emotions taking place and not just staged performances. From Puck’s rampage in the locker room to Rachel’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” it’s as if they weren’t speaking about the character Finn Hudson, but about Monteith.
The episode did not say how Finn died, but it didn’t have to. While many critics and Gleeks found this to not provide closure to Finn, knowing the cause of the character’s death was unnecessary. As Kurt said, “Everyone wants to talk about how he died too, but who cares? One moment in his whole life — I care more about how he lived.” We did not need to know how Finn died because we knew that Cory died of a drug overdose. What the episode did was show how much Finn meant to the cast, but it also discreetly pointed to what happens when a loved one leaves suddenly, whether by overdose or not – it leaves you confused and unaware of what to do or how to feel.
Each song not only memorialized Finn, but also reminisced on his life. “Seasons of Love” speaks about how love is often overlooked in measuring one’s life, and love was a big part of Finn's life. He loved everyone, and while he dealt with the never-ending high school struggle of popularity, at the end of the day, he was a portrayal of love – love for his girlfriend, his mother, his brother, and his friends.
“I’ll Stand By You” was the next song, sung by Mercedes as a tribute to when Finn sang to Beth’s sonogram. This also displays his character as the captain of the football team who stood by the geeks of the school through slushy baths and cheerleaders.
Each song had significance, especially Santana’s rendition of “If I Die Young” which was beautifully done. Throughout the episode, Santana is a ticking time bomb, not showing much emotion aside from her confrontation with Sue Sylvester. Having her finally crack midway through the song and then begin to cry after Kurt leaves Finn’s jacket showed the mask of edginess finally coming down with the death of Finn.
An interesting piece of the episode was that there were no flashbacks to moments with Finn, but instead a reality of what happens with death. You can only recount the memories, but you can’t recreate them.
During the episode, you kept wondering, “When is Rachel going to appear?” Not until the final minutes do we get our dose of Miss Rachel Berry in the New Directions classroom. While it wasn’t another rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” or the first song Finnchel sang together, Rachel went back to a simple memory of singing alone in a car before Finn, and brought out the song they first sang when they drove around together: Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” This is where the Kleenex box was used the most. Each line of the song spoke to the relationship of Finn and Rachel, one of happiness and everlasting love. The poignant line of “make your dreams come true” reminds Gleeks of when Finn drove Rachel to the train station instead of their wedding to kick start Rachel’s road to Broadway.
Finally, the closing seconds of the episode saw Mr. Shue finally break down and grieve over the death of his best friend. The lasting image of Mr. Shue sobbing uncontrollably into Finn’s letterman jacket that he stole from Santana, and then into the arms of Emma finished off the rest of the Kleenex in the box.
From the moment Glee released the promo for the tribute to Finn, we weren’t sure if it would do him justice. Thursday, October 10th proved that Glee hit a homerun with their tribute. On a plaque Rachel gave to Mr. Shue, a photo of Finn stood in the center accompanied by a quote from him that read, “The show must go…all over the place…or something.”
Glee has gone all over the place, touching the hearts of millions and motivating the lives of many. And while Finn probably meant to say “The show must go on,” this quote exemplifies what Glee has always stood for and what Monteith helped create.
Thank you, Cory Monteith.
Featured image via Facebook.