'Glee' Cory Monteith tribute episode recap: 'The Quarterback' addresses ways of handling grief

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 10, 2013 

Sue Sylvester said it best: "There's no lesson here. There's no happy ending...he's just gone."

It was uttered within the "Glee" microcosm, but sentiment seemed to extend to fans watching the show while seeking closure amid the July 13 death of actor Cory Monteith.

The Oct. 10 episode of "Glee," titled "The Quarterback," paid tribute to Monteith's character, Finn Hudson. The fictional character's cause of death was not disclosed during the hour-long episode. In a voice-over during the show's early moments, Kurt told us we wouldn't learn how Finn died.

Monteith died from a mixture of heroin and alcohol, according to the Associated Press.

The show opened with most of the "Glee" cast on stage, dressed in black while singing "Seasons of Love" from "Rent." After the song, a screen displayed a photo of Finn.

The plot centered on the "Glee" singers uniting at their high school for a memorial for Finn, weeks after his funeral. Alums like Santana, Kurt, Puck and ultimately Rachel returned for the memorial.

At the center of the gathering? A realization that everyone processes grief in different ways. Early in the episode, Emma noted that Mr. Schue had yet to cry. At one point, Sue quipped, "I grieve by insulting those who mean the most to me."

Meanwhile, Puck vandalized a memorial garden that was designed in Finn's honor. Why? The tree wasn't big enough, he told Coach Beiste. "If I start crying, I don't think I'll ever stop," he told her during the exchange. He expressed fear that he'd lack a moral compass in Finn's absence. "You've got to be your own quarterback," Beiste responded.

Ultimately, Puck replanted the memorial garden and told Beiste he decided to join the Air Force.

Santana expressed some severe anger in the aftermath of Finn's death. At one point, she physically pushed Sue, calling her "a horrible person." (Sue later agreed with the assessment, noting she should've treated Finn better.)

While performing "If I Die Young" in Finn's honor, Santana broke down in tears and angrily left the classroom. Ultimately, she shared a moment with Kurt, reading him items from a list of nice things she missed about Finn.

When Santana asked Kurt to leave, he draped Finn's letter jacket over her shoulders.

That jacket later went missing. Most of the blame turned toward Puck, who maintained he didn't take it. The mystery remained unsolved.

Lea Michele, who was Monteith's girlfriend in real life and on TV, didn't appear until roughly the final 20 minutes of the episode. Her character, Rachel Berry, showed up as students gathered at a locker memorial for Finn. When they suggested it was cheesy, she showed up and said, "No, it's beautiful."

Then, she sang Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" in the "Glee" classroom. She explained it was a song she'd sing with Finn in the car. Rachel gave Mr. Schue a photo of Finn accompanied by one of his memorable quotations: "The show must go...all over the place...or something."

The show also included performances of "I'll Stand by You" (Mercedes), ""Fire & Rain" (Artie and Sam) and "No Surrender" (Puck). Finn's mother and step-father briefly appeared in the episode.

It wasn't entirely devoid of humor. At one point, Tina visited Emma, the school's grief counselor, and said she was tired of wearing black. Emma handed her a variety of pamphlets, including one titled, "Wait, am I callous?"

But even with those slight touches of humor, the episode's final scene was especially poignant. Mr. Schue cried while holding Finn's jacket.

The show closed with a PSA about addiction.

Discussion time: What's your reaction to the episode? What do you think about the decision to not disclose the cause of Finn's death?

Not everyone agreed with the approach. A Baltimore Sun writer notes, "We’ve been there for him through all of these ups and downs, and I think it was a foolish decision not to give us a reason for his death."

Thoughts?

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