Glee, Goodbye to Finn, Why?, Cory Monteith: It really was a memorial service to Cory Monteith. I saved this episode to watch with my glee watching partner, my daughter. How could it not be sad … I thought is was a well done tribute. It very successfully expressed the emotions of a high school mourning, of any community mourning, but did not, could not, within the context of the show address the real life fact that this was a 31-year-old actor who was a success who still could overcome addiction. Life is complicated. I loved that it opened with Rent’s “Seasons of Love,” a number my daughter sang at her 5th grade graduation … which made me think of the power of the song and the empowerment of learning that song at a young age to apply it later in life to more complicated situations.
“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure a year in a life? In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried, in bridges he burned, or the way that she died?”
Again, life is complicated.
It\’s the moment Glee fans everywhere have been dreading: the \”Farewell to Finn\” episode. But even if you were just a casual viewer or tuned in for the very first time to rubberneck, you probably shed a tear during the emotionally charged special episode (simply titled \”The Quarterback\”).
Ever since star Cory Monteith, who played sensitive football player-turned-singer Finn Hudson, died of a drug overdose on July 13th at age 31 there\’s been a big question mark as to how the show would handle his death. Last night they finally answered the question. Well, sorta.
While Finn was indeed killed off, it was never revealed how he died – suicide? Car accident? Art-imitating-life overdose? We\’ll never know.
\”What can you say about a 19-year-old who dies? Everyone wants to talk about how he died, but who cares? It\’s one moment in his whole life,\” said step-brother Kurt at the beginning of the episode, laying the groundwork for the weighty blurred lines of reality the rest of the episode would travel along. When a character spoke, it was hard to discern whether what they were saying was fact, fiction or something in between. But one thing\’s for sure: every tear shed was real.
Another question hanging over the episode: was it a tribute to Monteith or to Finn? It was both, of course–Fox promoted the Twitter hashtag #RememberingCory, while #farewellfinn also trended online–but it also occupied an unsettling, nebulous place between the two. Finn was three weeks gone, but the episode, pointedly, didn’t say why or of what. (Monteith’s own death was directly addressed in a public-service announcement over the end credits.)
Maybe it was unavoidable. To have Finn die of a drug overdose, as did Monteith, would have retroactively changed the character. To have him die of anything else would possibly have seemed to diminish Monteith’s death, or, at least, to create a dissonance that overwhelmed the rest of the hour. There was the faintest hint that, maybe, Finn’s death was caused by something the characters were uncomfortable addressing: “I’m sure that Finn had secrets too, but who cares now?” Kurt said. But maybe not, and Glee’s writers, making the best of a terrible situation, let that void be the answer. The unspoken cause of Finn’s death was Monteith’s death. The cause was that, someday, everyone dies.
So how does life go on from here? How does Glee go on? It wasn’t crystal-clear where the episode fit in the series timeline, and though Ryan Murphy has said the show will bring up Finn’s death in the future, it seemed–as actual mourning periods sometimes do–to exist in some hazy time-space continuum of its own.
We’ll see how or if Finn’s death fits into Glee’s larger scheme; making long-term narrative sense has not been the show’s strong suit. What it can do, achingly well, is make emotional sense. And its heart-first approach has rarely seemed more appropriate than in mourning a loss that makes no sense at all.