On July 13, 2013, the world lost a promising up-and-coming actor, Cory Monteith, due to a drug overdose. For a long time the writers of Glee weren’t sure how to include his death on the show, if even to include it at all, but viewers of Glee and fans of Finn finally got some closure on the third episode of season five, titled “The Quarterback.”
The episode opens with both old and new glee club members singing “Seasons of Love” from the musical RENT, with a picture of Finn Hudson behind them. It’s been three weeks since Finn’s funeral, and Kurt is preparing to go back to McKinley for a special memorial held by Mr. Shue. Kurt narrates: “What can you say about a 19-year-old who dies? 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, and anyone who has a problem with that should remember that he was my brother…I’m going to spend my entire life missing him.” Back at McKinley in the teacher’s lounge, Sue shares her thoughts: “We honor Finn Hudson by taking care of the people he loved, and the way we do that is by helping them move on. By not making a self-serving spectacle of our own sadness.”
In the glee club, Mr. Shue invites the members to sing songs that memorialize Finn. Mercedes sings a song that Finn sung to what he thought was his baby’s sonogram: “I’ll Stand by You” by the Pretenders. Sue informs Kurt that someone stole the tree from Finn’s memorial place, which we see was Puck. Back at Kurt’s parent’s house, Kurt, his dad and Finn’s mom go through Finn’s old belongings. Kurt decides to keep Finn’s letterman jacket, and Finn’s mom emotionally discusses how hard it is to lose a child. Back at McKinley, Kurt and Puck look on as people paint messages to Finn on the dumpster. Puck insists on having Finn’s jacket but Kurt refuses.
With Sam’s guitar, Sam, Artie and the rest of New Directions sing a touching version of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” Meanwhile Santana sees the Cheerios start to blow out candles by Finn’s memorial locker, ordered by Sue. Santana storms in on Sue, calls her a bitch, and shoves her against the wall. Emma tries to convince Will that it’s ok to grieve.
A drunken Puck talks to Coach Beiste about how he feels misunderstood and is afraid to cry. He finally breaks down and admits that without Finn around, he doesn’t know who he is. Beiste comforts him and makes Puck promise to put the tree back. In glee club, Santana sings the appropriate “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry, but she breaks down and freaks out in the middle of the song. Kurt goes to console her, after wisely telling her that “shame is a wasted emotion,” and Santana reveals a list she made of nice things she planned to say about Finn. After she reads the list, Kurt puts Finn’s jacket on her.
Next, Puck sings a beautiful acoustic version of “No Surrender” by Bruce Springsteen. Santana then accuses Puck of taking Finn’s jacket. Afterwards, Santana apologizes to Sue, who surprisingly admits that Santana was right. We then witness Sue in a vulnerable moment as she talks about how she misses Finn. The glee club puts down drumsticks and other mementos by Finn’s locker, just as Rachel walks up, making her first appearance late in the episode.
“I don’t know what to say either. I loved Finn, he loved me, and he loved all you guys. This was the first song I used to sing with him when we would drive around together, so this is for him.” With tears in her eyes, Rachel then sings a heart-wrenching version of Adele’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Afterwards, Rachel talks to Mr. Shue and they both hang up a picture of Finn in the glee club with one of Finn’s quotes, “The show must go…all over the place…or something.” The episode ends with Mr. Shue at home with Finn’s jacket, and with Emma by his side, he finally begins to cry. After the episode, members of the cast did a public service announcement on drug abuse.
Besides Finn being the former quarterback of McKinley High’s football team, the title of this episode reflects that he was also considered the quarterback of the glee club; the one who united the group of performers and highly contributed to their success.
Glee fans never were disclosed the true cause of Finn’s death. This may anger some viewers, and surprise many that the writers pulled this off, but it’s clear the staff of the show wanted to celebrate Cory’s life, not exploit his death. As Kurt said in the episode, “As soon as Finn joined the glee club, being an outcast, a loser, a misfit- it all became ok.”
Overall, this was probably the most emotional episode of Glee seen in any season. Finn Hudson will truly be missed, and will always remain a star in the eyes of his fans and loved ones.
Glee returns to FOX on November 7th.