It’s no secret, I’ve been hard on Glee the last few years. Actually that’s too kind…I’ve been brutal. It to be fair, the bashing has been accurate and deserved. And when it comes to serious topics and moments in the show, other than how the show handled Kurt being gay and in the closet and his coming out, Glee has failed miserably over and over again. So I was worried about how they were going to handle this tribute episode and my fear was, would they be able to pay the respect deserved to the character and the actor without destroying the emotion with bad writing and bad decisions. In my opinion, this was the second best episode Glee has ever done (the number one still being that perfect pilot.)
I stopped watching Glee last year. I could not watch such a bad show anymore. Even though there were times that songs/performances were great and there were some storylines I was really interested in (like Kurt and Rachel going off to NYC together), the show overall was just so bad and out there, that I couldn’t enjoy it anymore and the bad far outweighed the good so I had to cut the cord on Glee. But over the summer when I heard of Cory Monteith’s passing and heard they were going to write this into Glee, I knew I’d be back for that episode. And I have to say that Murphy and Falchuk put together a beautiful and tasteful episode that honored the life of Finn Hudson/Cory Monteith and had me crying for 60 straight minutes and left me with puffy eyes for 2 days.
I’m glad they didn’t discuss how Finn died in the episode. There was a lot of speculation as to how they were going to kill off Finn and I think the way they handled it was perfect…Kurt’s inner monologue telling us that it doesn’t matter how he died. I would agree. And I like that they didn’t do the reveal of his death and the reactions and the funeral. They picked it up 3 weeks after his funeral and we got to see the real emotions everyone was feeling and how they all grieve differently over Finn’s death. We got to see how people have to face losing someone they loved and cared about after everyone goes back to their normal lives. It’s exactly what the cast is dealing with and it lets us the viewer and fan into a very private moment for all the cast and crew. Everyone has been wondering how they are all doing…especially Lea Michelle…now we know.
Everyone has their, dare I say, favorite moments from the episodes. But the two scenes the hit home the most for me were the scene with Kurt, Burt, and Carole and of course, Rachel’s scene in the choir room. Romy Rosemont has always been one of my favorite character actresses. She’s always so good in everything she’s in. Aside from Rachel, she was the one character I was most anxious to see. I know that sounds disturbing in a way and I don’t mean it to seem like I couldn’t wait to see how much pain she was in. I mean it in the sense that she’s Finn’s mom and I want to be able to have a good cry with her because her heart is breaking over the loss of her son. And as usual, Rosemont nails the scene so touchingly and perfectly that I can already hear her Emmy speech next year. When she talked about still being a mom but not having a son anymore, oh boy did the ugly cry come forward. And let’s talk about how amazing Mike O’Malley is. He’s always been amazing as Burt Hummel and this scene reminds me why. Burt talked about how he didn’t hug him enough. How he treated him more like a buddy with fist bumps and slaps on the back. But how he wished he hugged him more and told him he was proud of him. I felt like I was watching a private family moment that I had the honor of being able to witness so I could truly see the level of grief these people are going through. It was a perfectly acted and written scene.
Then, 45 minutes into the episode, we see Rachel. In the beginning Kurt is leaving NYC to head back home for Finn’s tribute and he tries to wake Rachel but she isn’t responding. And we don’t see her. The camera focuses on Kurt the whole time. So we don’t get a Rachel sighting until almost the end of the episode. She comments on how much she loves to memorial outside the lockers and she asks not to be treated with kid gloves. Then, she stands front and center in the choir room, as she has so many times with ease, and begins to sing “To Make You Feel My Love” except this is the hardest song Rachel’s ever had to sing. I don’t know how Lea Michelle got through that number. I really don’t. I don’t think I could have done it. To see that pain in her eyes and to see how her number and grief permeated through the entire New Directions group, it was brutal to watch. I just wanted to run through my TV and give them all one big group hug to let them know that it was going to be ok. What’s even more amazing is that most of the episode was done in all one take. I would have to imagine the crew wanted it that way because who would be able to do some of those scenes multiple times. It was so raw and real and I think it made the episode even stronger.
Actually, there was one more scene that really got me and that was the final scene. I don’t know how Matthew Morrison kept it together the whole time during the episode. He was very stoic and composed making sure everyone else was ok…which is quintessential Schue. But you know it was coming. His moment. His breakdown. I think people forget how strong a connection Schue and Finn had. It’s why I wish Morrison had a song in this episode of his own. But when everyone was wondering who took the jacket, I thought it was either Rachel or Schue. When he pulled out that jacket and starting to cry uncontrollably and when Emma came in to comfort him, then came my final ugly cry of the night. I actually was still crying even the episode was over because that scene hit me so hard.
The scenes with the other characters were also nice…Puck and Beiste had some nice moments, Mercedes “I’ll Stand By You” was probably her best number ever (although I still love her rendition of “And I Am Telling You”), and Santana and Sue’s moment…more for Sue than Santana. Let me touch on Santana for a moment. I see people going crazy over her scenes in the show. I’ll probably get my page unfollowed and people bashing me for this but that’s ok…Santana’s scenes didn’t do a lot for me. Probably because I didn’t get her connection with Finn as much as I did with other people. I know they slept together and I know he was nice to her when other people weren’t and tried to bring out the best in her, but Santana’s a bitch. Always has been, always will be. I’ve never connected with or liked her character at all so maybe that’s why her scenes didn’t resonate with me. Having said that, Naya Rivera was sensational. She did a beautiful job with her rendition of “If I Die Young” and all of her scene. She was amazing. But her character didn’t do it for me. Why would Kurt insist on having Santana have Finn’s jacket? Really? Out of everyone she should have it? Why? But I did enjoy her scene with Sue where she goes to apologize for lashing out at her and Sue confesses how she’s devastated that Finn passed away thinking Sue hated him. She talked about what a great kid he was and that there is no lesson to be learned and no silver lining and what a waste of potential. It’s moments like this scene where Jane Lynch is at her best….when she needs to bring the serious, she belts it out of the park.
I think my only issue (if you can call it that) with the episode…there were no flashbacks (other than Puck throwing Kurt in a dumpster.) I would have thought that when people were singing, it would have been a nice time to throw some images of their memories of Finn. Almost as if we have a camera in their heads seeing what they are remembering and then we would have gotten some nice flashbacks of Cory/Finn. Although, I wouldn’t have wanted that for Rachel’s scene. The way they handled Rachel’s song was perfect. Maybe when she and Schue were looking at the picture some could have come up but no during her song. It’s small and it certainly didn’t take away from the episode by not having them there but I know I would have liked to have seen some.
These episodes can’t be easy…for the cast, crew, writers, show runners. And I have to say Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk for all the grief I’ve given you over the last few years and as much as I’ve bashed your show, I tip my hat and say thank you. Thank you for such a lovely episode that not only gave the characters a way to say good-bye to Finn, but you gave us an episode that we as fans got to grieve with them and say good-bye to Cory. You did a masterful job under a very difficult circumstance and you did it with grace and dignity.
To the cast and crew and to Monteith’s family, my sincerest condolences on what must be one of the most difficult times you will ever go through. Thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
R.I.P Finn Hudson. R.I.P Cory Monteith.