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[Image via Bauer Griffin Online.]
We love Glee.
Not just the show, but the emotion, the feeling that this show was named after. That sense of pure joy and gladness to be doing something you love or to be near someone you love. That urge to smile or to laugh or breathe happiness into your lungs. That's Glee…
And that was Cory Monteith.
It's been nearly three months since his passing, but not a single person who calls themselves Gleek has forgotten him, or stopped missing him. Life has gone on, but the grief felt by the community that let Frankenteen into their hearts lingers. And while watching last night's tribute to Cory's counterpart Finn Hudson was hard for many, it also served as a beautiful reminder of the wonderful person Cory was…
And how strong of a person Lea Michele truly is.
It was a tricky thing to accomplish for Ryan Murphy and Co. Finding a way to respectfully and dutifully pay tribute to a beloved TV character while also navigating the private grief of the cast and crew who loved the man who played the character must've seemed an impossible task. But the episode not only came together beautifully, it also served as a much needed release for everyone still mourning.
Whether you're still picking up tissues around your bed or you just couldn't bring yourself to watch last night's tribute, we've put together a recap for the memorial capturing the highlights. But in truth, we know we could never do the episode justice. We could never convey the poignancy and the spirit of Finn that it so perfectly captured. It truly was a fitting send off to a character and person who can never be replaced. And while it was undoubtedly the toughest episodes of Glee ever to sit through, it was arguably the most powerful and the most beautiful.
Measure In Love
The episode opens in the Gleek's beloved auditorium. We see the new classmates joined by the original Glee crew, all coming together to sing Rent's "Seasons of Love" in honor of the passing of Finn. We learn from Kurt via voiceover that it's been three weeks since his death and Mr. Schue has invited all of the kids back for a special memorial service all their own. Kurt leaves a grieving Rachel in New York, whose pain can be felt even when she cannot be seen. As he leaves her, he thinks to himself how he'll spend "his whole life missing" his beloved stepbrother, an echo of thoughts of anyone who has ever lost someone so suddenly and so young.
Mr. Schue has allowed anyone who wants to to step up and sing something that reminds them of Finn. Mercedes, as one of the returning original group members, opts to go first, remembering that Finn was one of the first cool kids to ever be nice to her and chooses to sing "I'll Stand By You" in tribute to him. The tears in her eyes and composure she attempts to keep is just a taste of things to come.
A Mother's Love
Kurt returns home to help his dad and Finn's mother sort through his things. Among them is the football from the only game Kurt played alongside him, the lamp that caused Burt to tear into Finn and his letterman's jacket, which Kurt recalls thinking he looked like "Superman" when her wore it. Then comes the brutal breakdown of Carol, who laments that she doesn't know how to keep on going, feeling like a mother when she no longer has her son. It's moment where actress Romy Rosemont literally tears out the hearts of anyone, child or parent, with grief.
Needing The Quarterback
Puck and Santana prove to both be taking the loss harder than anyone expected, especially the latter. While Puck drowns his sorrows in liquor and vandalism, Santana chooses to take out her anger on Sue — and violently. After assaulting her old Cheerios coach, she retreats to the choir room to perform a rendition of "If I Die Young," but she becomes completely overwhelmed with tears and storms out. Kurt finds her later and bestows onto her the letterman jacket to help her finally let the anger pass. She returns to Sue's office later to apologize, but finds that it's Sue who feels the need to be forgiven, as she's overwhelmed with guilt for never telling Finn how she really felt about him. In the most powerful words uttered perhaps in the episode, Sue declares: "Theres no lesson here, There's no happy ending. He's just gone."
As for Puck, his life seems to no longer have direction now that his Quarterback is gone. But Coach Beiste quickly comes to his aid and helps him deal with the sobering fact that he now has to be his own leader and choose the path that is right for himself. In the end, Puck decides to pay tribute to his best friend by enrolling in the Air Force.
Perhaps the most gut-wrenching part of the whole episode was the show's final 15 minutes, when Lea Michele finally appears. Her performance of "Make You Feel My Love," which we learn was the first song they sang together in the car, was a single take and with each falling tear, another little piece of us broke down in sadness. Later, Rachel returns to the choir room to talk to Mr. Schue, who throughout the episode has been a rock for the group, never falling apart, never faltering in his resolve to take care of his kids.
In what seems like an all too real and intimate conversation, Rachel reveals that she still talks to Finn, because she's afraid that her memories will fade of him and she never wants to lose the man that she loved and she knew loved her too. Then, she shares the story every Gleek needed to hear: how Finnchel's endgame would've played out.
"I had it all planned out. I was going to make it big on Broadway and maybe do a Woody Allen movie. And then, when we were ready, I would just come back. And he would be teaching here and I would walk through those doors and say, 'I'm home.'" According to Rachel the two would have lived "happily ever after," and although she never explained this plan to Finn, it didn't matter. "I didn't have to. He knew." she says, "He was my person."
It's a moment we all would've wanted to see.
And then, we got a moment we didn't see coming. In the final minutes, we watch as Mr. Schue finally comes home after a week of being strong for his students. He sits on the couch and pulls Finn's letterman jacket from his briefcase, revealing that he has now stolen it from Santana. Moments later, Emma arrives to find her husband destroyed, violently crying over the boy that grew from his student to his best man.
And then it was over.
Clearly, what made this episode so emotional is how hard it hit home for everyone. Every tear or sob was real. Every break in their voices, ever time a person needed to take a deep breath to compose themselves — none of that was acted. We all watched as the people who loved and knew Cory best not only grieved for him, but for the character that meant so much to millions.
So in parting, let us leave you with the words of kind soul, who cared for others and stuck his neck out for the little guy. A man, who loved a strong woman, befriended the best of people and shared his talent with the world to enjoy:
"The show must go… all over the place… or something."—Finn