In the most heart wrenching hour of television last night, “Glee” paid tribute to the beloved character of Finn Hudson. When Cory Monteith unexpectedly passed away this summer, the show lost one of its main characters. Appropriately titled “The Quarterback,” as Finn was the backbone to the show just as Monteith was to the cast, “Glee” mourned his death in a heartbreaking overlap of real life and television.
Rent’s “Seasons of Love” was the opening scene of the episode with the glee club’s newest members, all in black, starting off the song. When the original cast members, the ones Finn attended McKinley High School with, emerged on stage, it was a beautiful camaraderie of grieving friends supporting each other through unimaginable conditions. As the song finishes, they turn back to face a projected image of Finn posing with his football helmet.
And with that, “gleeks” felt their hearts break as they were forced to say goodbye to Finn.
“Glee” did not reveal Finn’s cause of death, but they did address their feelings on the matter. Friends and family of Monteith, who died of a drug overdose shortly after attempting to overcome his addiction in rehab, have made it a point to celebrate his life instead of focusing on the circumstances surrounding his death. Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), Finn’s stepbrother, echoes this sentiment early on by saying, “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.”
As the original glee club members gather from all over the county back to their old stomping grounds at McKinley, Mercedes (Amber Riley) breaks into a powerful rendition of “I’ll Stand by You.” The song, which Finn sang in the show’s first season, is flawlessly executed by an emotional Mercedes.
In a bone-chilling scene, Finn’s mother breaks down on her deceased son’s bedroom floor. “You have to keep on being a parent even though you don’t get to have a child anymore,” she sobs uncontrollably. The performance by Romy Rosemont, who plays Finn’s mom, could not have been any more organic, and was difficult to watch.
Artie (Kevin McHale) and Sam (Chord Overtstreet) covered James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” With the song’s fitting lyrics: “I always thought that I’d see you again,” their grief is clearly visible throughout the song. Finn’s best friend, Puck (Mark Salling), sings “No Surrender” to Finn’s now-empty chair with lamenting lyrics of brotherhood.
In a memorable performance, Santana (Naya Riviera) sings the painfully applicable song, “If I Die Young.” While the song’s message is tragic, it is Santana’s meltdown in which she can’t finish the song that is excruciating to witness. Santana exudes the agony that’s plagued the cast since the death of Monteith.
A tearful Rachel (Lea Michele) surfaces close to the end of the tribute and delivers an emotional speech to the glee club before singing. As Monteith’s girlfriend off-screen, the creator of “Glee” allowed her to choose the song to commemorate Finn. Her tear-filled performance of “Make You Feel My Love” proves to be too much for the glee club as they cry along with Rachel. She later confesses to Mr. Schuester, “He was my person,” as she admits she doesn’t know how to cope with his death.
The last scene is of Mr. Schuester finally allowing himself to grieve after being the pillar of strength for the glee club. In the breathtaking scene, Mr. Schue cries inconsolably into Finn’s letterman jacket. His loud sobs continue as the screen fades to black, which portrays how fans may feel now having said goodbye, but are still left heartbroken.
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