Glee Review: The Hardest Word

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After last week's emotional previews for tonight's episode of Glee, one thing was clear: There would be tears. And there were. How do you say goodbye to someone who died so suddenly? What does that look like? 

"The Quarterback" answered those questions and more and did it in true Glee fashion: a little Sue snark and a whole lot of heart.

Farewell to Finn

There's really only so much to be said about this episode. It was, in a word, heartbreaking. But it was also sort of perfect in the way that Glee can be when faced with tough moments. 

Kurt was strong and capable, a rock for the others, which is a testament to the characters' growth over five seasons. Sue was snarky but able to express how she regretted the way she'd treated Finn during his life after being confronted by Santana, who maintained her hard exterior while crumbling on the inside. Puck was Puck.

Rachel and Mr. Shue? Oh, man. Get the tissues again.

Everybody was broken and everybody had a moment. 

Burt and Carole's scene going through Finn's things and talking about what they should've have done and how they felt broke me. Watching Carole fall apart and wonder how parents pick up and keep going after a loss left me gutted. It's not something that parents really want to think about and then sometimes they're faced with that reality. How do they go on after that?

I could have done without Puck stealing the tree or the Letterman's jacket being a totem passed from person to person, but I understood the sentiment. They all wanted a piece of him so they could remember. Something tangible for the moments when they can no longer see his face or hear his voice in their minds. 

Rachel and Will's talk over the piano was so very real and honest and it was clear that when Rachel said that she wondered how she was supposed to move on from there that Lea Michele was saying them, too. How do they move on, both the character and the person?

That emotional transference, the fact that these weren't just actors on a set but friends of Cory's who were still reeling from their loss, was clear throughout the entire episode. Their tears when Rachel sang "Make You Feel My Love" weren't forced or fake. 

Most of the moments of heightened emotion felt pretty genuine because each was a different look at what it means to be a person in mourning.

Each character who was close to Finn had a breakdown to come to terms with his or her grief and what Glee did well was expressing the fact that people don't grieve the same way. Grief looks different on everybody.  There's nothing quite like death to make people face the reality of life and their own mortality, you know?

The writers faced a challenge in creating this tribute and, at least in my opinion, they met that challenge in the best possible ways. 

Glee has a tendency to over-simplify complicated stories. The infamous three-episode arc causes insufficient attention to be paid to serious issues, a problem which has plagued Glee and caused it to feel at times like an after school special. 

They could've gone full anti-drug PSA with this tribute, but they didn't. In not going there, they made the story of Finn's death nearly above reproach, which in many ways protects Cory Monteith's legacy and memory.  By not sharing how Finn died at all, they emphasized the greater message: his life. His line.

The dash between his birth and death is what matters, and by extension its what matters in our own. It was Glee's way of asking "what are you going to do with your line?"

So, what are you going to do?

What did you think of "The Quarterback?" Did Glee pay tribute to the late Cory Monteith and Finn Hudson in a way that allows the show to move forward? Or will there always be something missing?


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (441 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.


@fudgebase Why? Because you can't do it? Everyone grieves differently and just because you can't sing when you're grieving doesn't mean other people can't. Same reason why some people grieve openly and some won't even shed a tear in public. I've seen people who've lost their loved ones sing in funerals and finish their song. Does it mean their grief isn't there? Stop being a douche just because these people are actors/singers.


I cried from beginning to end. I do think it was done well, but it would have been nice to see some flashback moments or something. And it sure seemed like they centered a lot around Santana, which was a little strange to me. I wish we could have seen more of Rachel, but I get how it was real the way they did it, with her not wanting to come out and face reality and it took time. I also don't really get Diana Agron not being there. I know she had other commitments, but damn, this was kind of a big deal. The scenes with Burt and Carole were, as you said, gut wrenching. Rachel and Mr. Shue in the choir room was so hard to watch. And Mr. Shue at the end, just sobbing, was heartbreaking. Sue's moment was really touching as well. Throughout the rest of this show, I'll always be remembering Cory! It's not the same without him.


It was good but not a great story... i just felt the lack of finn hudson in glee, i was just hoping they put some scene of finn before, in the choir room while singing. some camera tricks like imagination.. i mean just what they did in season 3 final episode. combination of before and present scene.. just to remember not only his song but also his scene in glee...i just hope they have flashback of finn's scene... since the episode if for finn...


@fudgefase.. Are you kidding me? They filmed the episode a month after Cory died. They all love Cory/Finn and the episode was necessary. It had to look like a tv show episode. Not some documentary.


"what are you going to do with your line?"


I cried the whole time I fell asleep and woke up still feeling so sad like it wasn't real. When I read that cory died I didn't cry I felt sad of course but it didn't hit home for me till last night. I think they paid a great tribute to him in this episode especially with Seasons of love.


I cried from start till end. I just couldn't stop. I've loved glee since season 1 and I loved Finn/Cory, but I didn't cry when I heard the news about Cory, but I could tonight. This was a way to let people move on. Finn/Cory will always be missed on Glee. But "The show must go... all over the place... or something."


I was expecting a sad episode, but for some reason this hit home with me. I bawled from seasons of love to the end with Mr. Shue. I haven't watched Glee in a while but wanted to catch this episode. When I heard of Cory's death I wasn't truly affected. However seeing the people he left behind grieve in such a public way was heartbreaking. It caused fear in me about the day I loose someone. Their performances were spectacular based on their real anguish. I am not a crier. It takes a lot to get my tear ducts working, but this had them going from the start to finish. I am glad I watched it alone. Will I watch next week, can't say. But this episode felt right. Sometimes death needs to have a moment for those left behind as well as those who have passed.


Honestly? I thought it was overdone. The only good thing was that they didn't bother to try to write a storyline around it (which imho would have been exploitative) and just gave them all a chance to showcase their talents once again. I am now finding Glee to be navel-gazing and self centered, and this episode said that more than anything. If your friend dies suddenly and tragically, believe me, you can't sing. You can't. You can't control your breath or your voice. Been there. Done that. I just found the episode to be so schmatzy and 'acted' that it was uncomfortable to watch. The only half real bits were the spoken episodes with Finns dad. They were heartbreaking.


Watchng it...the truth came alive...Finn/cory was not on earth with us anymore...I cried hard...I really like that they did not mention the cause of finn's death...I felt soo bad for Lea Michelle/Rachel...her tears were not fake but tottally real..and were was Quinn???everyone did a good job knowing they were mourning a Friend/collegue....RIP Cory Monteith

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Glee Season 5 Episode 3 Quotes

He was the first cool kid to be nice to any of us, and he was our leader in here. We love you, Finn.


I'm grieving. And I greive by insulting those who mean the most to me. It's just a coincidence that it's also what I do when I'm not grieving.


Glee Season 5 Episode 3 Music

  Song Artist
Glee cast seasons of love Seasons of Love Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast ill stand by you the quarterback I'll Stand By You -- The Quarterback Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast fire and rain Fire and Rain Glee Cast iTunes