Note: On Halloween 2013 — Thursday, October 31 — Fox re-aired Glee's Cory Monteith tribute: "The Quarterback." Below is our recap of the episode, which originally aired on Thursday, October 10, 2013.
We knew tonight’s Glee’s Season 5, Episode 3 Cory Monteith tribute, “The Quarterback,” would be tough. We knew it would. And yet there was still no way to prepare for how emotional it is, not to mention how many tears we would end up shedding. Truth time: We had to rewind and listen to several lines of dialogue again, since at times we were crying so loudly we couldn’t hear the TV. Stupid insufficient sound system.
All in all, tonight’s episode was a deft, touching, and complicated look at how people grieve, not to mention at how tough Cory’s absence is to all of us. And we must say, never before would we have assumed we would cry because of things like a tacky lamp or a hyphen. Indeed, a discussion of punctuation marks has never been so touching.
Who Took the Jacket?
The episode picks up three weeks after Finn’s death, the cause of which is never explained. We see Kurt leave NYC with Rachel locked in her room as he heads to Schue’s memorial for Finn in Lima. Schue encourages the group to perform songs for Finn, and so Mercedes does an incredible “I’ll Stand By You,” which Finn initially sang to a sonogram in Season 1. Yes, we were already bawling by this point, as if you even had to ask.
We see everyone grieving in different ways. Finn’s stepdad Burt says he should have hugged Finn more and then hangs on to the Marlene Dietrich-esque lamp that Finn wasn’t a fan of back in Season 1’s “Theatricality.” Puck turns to booze and steals the memorial tree, Santana shoves Sue (whoa!) before making up with her, and then Rachel shows up at the end to sing the unbelievably moving “Make You Feel My Love” and comfort Schue.
In the end, we learn that Puck has ditched the booze and is headed to Air Force, which doesn’t feel quite right for his anti-authority character, but we understand the choice. And after Schue and Rachel hang a photo of Finn in the choir room, we see that it’s not Puck but Schue who swiped Finn’s letterman jacket, despite having chided Puck for doing so earlier. Watching Emma silently comfort Schue as he bawls was a perfect way to end the tough episode.
The Most Tear-Worthy Moments
We were sure there would be no way we wouldn’t love the episode. But it was done in a truly perfect way that exceeded expectation. First of all, it was wise to not address Finn’s cause of death, but having Puck turning to alcohol as he grieves was a subtle way of reminding people of the dangers of substance abuse, which claimed Cory’s life. And the songs were perfectly chosen, as we found Rachel’s and Santana’s to be especially devastating.
We also loved all the little callbacks to Finn’s memorable moments from throughout the series. For example, Rachel and Schue pick a great quote of Finn’s for the plaque, with “The show’s gotta go all over the place, or something,” which he said back in Season 2’s “A Night of Neglect.” And it was great to see the lamp again and realize how much Finn has grown throughout his time on the show.
Plus, what always makes us cry is when characters decide to do things that they wouldn’t typically do. So that’s why we loved seeing Burt want to display the lamp in his shop, or Santana defending her frenemy Finn to Sue, or Kurt draping the letterman jacket over Santana. Then again, the list of tear-worthy moments in this episode could keep us here all month.
Our Favorite Scene (Okay, Scenes) of the Night
To be honest, it’s pretty much impossible to choose a Favorite Scene of the Night. But we’ll give a three-way tie (that’s not too many for a tie, right?) to Burt’s speech about more hugs, Kurt comforting Santana, Schue crying with Emma, and Rachel calling Finn her "person." Okay, fine, that’s four scenes. What are you, the math police?
Do we have any quibbles? Not really, although it was a little jarring for Sue to mention Quinn’s name but for actress Dianna Agron to not be there, especially given Quinn’s extensive history with Finn. But all the actors who were there did an amazing job. In particular, Jane Lynch (Sue) blew us away, as did Naya Rivera (Santana), Chris Colfer (Kurt), and the unbelievably moving Romy Rosemont (Finn's mom).
And so we commend everyone involved in the episode for a job amazingly well done. We thought that we wouldn’t want to watch it multiple times, but we actually want to, since there were so many layers to it. And watching it reminds us again of what a great guy we lost.
We’ll never forget you, Cory.