Glee S5 E3 “The Quarterback”

The cast of Glee - via their characters - share their grief with the audience.

The cast of Glee – via their characters – share their grief with the audience.

The episode Glee fans have been dreading since Cory Monteith passed away over the summer arrived on our television screens last week. We braced ourselves for grieving over Cory – again – while also saying goodbye to Finn Hudson. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, and we were right.

“The Quarterback” isn’t an episode to recap – it’s more an episode to react to. To process, as you process your own sadness over the loss of Cory, and the loss of his character in the fabric of the story.

For Gleeks who have been around since day one, or those who joined the journey along the way, Finn Hudson was a beacon. He was the audience’s stand-in; not the best singer or a dancer, not a natural talent but someone who loved music and his friends and his Glee Club, so much that he found solace and a place to call home when he was lost after graduation. Now he’s gone and it’s jarring to imagine the halls of McKinley, or the Hudson/Hummel home, or “Finchel” without him.

The episode chronicles the many ways people grieve; from black humor to silence, from anger to denial, from regret to sadness. Mostly, the story took us to the painful reality of death – there is no recourse. There is no second chance, or resolution. It’s a consequence of life that leaves loved ones and friends hopeless to do anything but move on.

Through music and the passing from person to person of Finn’s letter jacket, the cast took us through each step, each emotion and left us at that reality. Nothing will bring Finn back. Nothing will bring Cory back. And our only choice was to keep singing and living.

Two incredible stand-outs in performances must be noted. While the entire cast was moving and stark with their emotions, Romy Rosemont (Carole) absolutely destroyed as Finn’s devastated mother, who wakes up every morning remembering she is still a mother – only without a child. As she, Burt and Kurt clean out Finn’s room, she breaks down and we weep with her.

And finally, the sheer courage of Lea Michele (Rachel) cannot be overstated. In addition to playing Finn’s heartbroken ex-fiance, Lea experienced the loss of her real-life boyfriend, and as she recounts to Mr. Schue the many things she’s feeling (afraid she’ll forget his face, his voice, that she doesn’t think she’ll ever find anything better), we cannot but feel the echo of Rachel’s words into real life.

In a few weeks, Glee will return from their baseball playoff hiatus with a new era. Cory is gone, and so is Finn, and all who inhabit the Glee universe must move on without their quarterback. We must, as Coach Bieste says, remember his voice inside our heads and keep going.

Please enjoy the performances from the episode, and purchase the EP from iTunes. All proceeds go to Project Limelight, a charity which encourages children to discover themselves through arts programs. Cory was a big supporter of Project Limelight, and the show honors his commitment to the organization.