How will the show go on? That question has been looming in the back of my mind since I heard the news of Cory Monteith’s death this summer. Last night, I finally got my answer. In the words of Finn Hudson, “The show must go…all over the place…or something.”
This episode – appropriately titled “The Quarterback” – did not attempt to work Finn’s death into the plot of the show, which I commend. In fact, the actual circumstances of his death will remain forever unknown. And maybe that’s okay. We didn’t have to focus on a clumsily penciled in-accident, or a story line so similar to Monteith’s real life passing that it was too close for comfort. As Kurt put it, “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.”
The show started off how it would normally end, with a group performance “Seasons of Love” in the auditorium. It was not the best performance they have ever given as an ensemble, but that’s not what this moment was about. This moment was about bringing together the people who were so connected to both Cory and Finn, and I think they did this flawlessly.
Mr. Shuester brings the kids together in the choir room for a glee club members-only memorial, and the word “Finn” remained scrawled across the whiteboard for the entire episode. Those who could sang a tribute to him, and those who couldn’t sang along. Mercedes performed “I’ll Stand By You,” and was overpoweringly beautiful as always. Puck chose “No Surrender,” and Artie and Sam teamed up for “Fire and Rain.” The acoustic arrangements lent themselves perfectly to the tone of the episode.
And then the real waterworks began. Santana lost it on Sue for taking down Finn’s hallway memorial, and couldn’t make it through her performance of “If I Die Young.” Will held it together for the kids, but Emma later found him sobbing into Finn’s letterman jacket. Kurt didn’t sing, but sat crying in a pile of Finn’s belongings with Burt and Carole in one of the most powerful scenes in the history of the show.
Then there was Rachel. She was mysteriously absent for the majority of the episode, but showed up last minute to bring down the house with a heartbreaking version of “Make You Feel My Love.” It wasn’t long after tears covered the front of her blouse that I noticed a similar stain had appeared on the front of mine.
It wasn’t perfect, but it stayed true to the nature of the show. There were laughs, there were unexpected comments from Sue, and there was even a lesson in how each person deals differently with grief. Cory Monteith’s death wasn’t exploited for ratings; the medium through which he was introduced to the world was used as a tool to help fans mourn the loss of a character they had grown to love. The show must go on, and this episode proved it’s going in the right direction.
Best Performance: Rachel. No other words are needed.