To describe "The Quarterback" as just an emotional TV episode wouldn't be accurate, because on Thursday night (October 10), the lines blurred, as the real actors said goodbye to their friend Cory Monteith — and his character Finn Hudson — on "Glee."
The episode begins three weeks after Finn's death (and nearly three months after Monteith died at age 31 of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose). "Glee" castmembers spanning several seasons reunited back at the school to celebrate the life of their fallen friend.
"Everyone wants to talk about how he died too. But who cares? One moment his whole life," Finn's stepbrother, Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) says at the top of the "Glee" tribute, a nod to show creators' decision not to explain how the character died.
"I care more about how he lived, and anyone who has a problem with that should remember that he was my brother," said Finn Hudson's brother Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) during Thursday night's "Glee" tribute to the late Cory Monteith.
Glee club members past and present joined forces to perform a stoic, beautiful rendition of "Seasons of Love," and Sam and Artie gave a plaintively affecting version of "Fire and Rain." It was difficult to imagine fans making it through the hour without a tissue.
Finn's McKinley classmates had their own personal moment to say goodbye to their friend. Mercedes sang "I'll Stand by You," Santana performed "If I Die Young," and Puck said his final farewell with a touching rendition of "No Surrender."
In between the heartfelt songs and earnest nostalgia, the story that developed through the second half of the episode was the disappearance of Finn's varsity jacket. We learned that Mr. Schue took the jacket, breaking down over the loss of his favorite student.
Parts of the episode felt like the viewer was intruding on these extremely intimate moments. The best example? Lea Michele's rendition of "Make You Feel My Love." This wasn't just Rachel Berry performing; it was as if Lea saying goodbye again to her offscreen love as well.
Michele's musical number shined brightly. "He was my person," she tearfully affirmed to Mr. Schue.
In the pilot episode, before Mr. Schue volunteered to head glee club, he found a plaque from the 1993 championship show choir team that read, "By its very definition, Glee is about opening yourself up to joy." At the end of that episode, the glee club miraculously came together and sang their now seminal version of "Don't Stop Believin'," which was the first of countless performances that brought so much happiness to millions of people each week. While Cory Monteith's life was tragically cut short, his legacy and the joy he brought to his legions of fans will go on and on.