On Thursday night, “Glee” aired what was the most difficult episode of its entire run in “The Quarterback,” a tribute episode to the late Cory Monteith that had to also stay true to the story the show has created for him at the same time. If there was ever a challenge for the series, this was it. They didn’t want to exploit the death, but they also did not want to push anyone out of character in the process. This is why Sue Sylvester was still Sue Sylvester, even when it was difficult.
This was an episode full of tears, shouting, emotions, returning characters, and also performances that were absolutely gut-wrenching. Mike O’Malley and Dot-Marie Jones in particular anchored scenes that were a measure of their true talent once again, and Jane Lynch did an extremely heavy amount of lifting as she had to remain the jerk at times, and also emotional at others as she realized that she was never good to a guy who didn’t deserve most of her abuse.
We don’t want to sit here and talk about whether or not this was a “great” episode or not, since that’s almost besides the point, but we do want to talk about what the show did well. For one, setting the episode weeks after the funeral was very appropriate, since it took away some of the immediate aftermath and also questions about why Finn died, which is something that was really not that important when talking about the sheer fact that he did. Also, the right move was made to have Santana violent and angry, and to have Puck and Will struggle to find a way to get their emotions out for the most part.
Also, we have to applaud Ryan Murphy for his decision to not include Rachel until the last 15 minutes of the episode. It was unspoken and understandable why she was not around until that time, and it helped to make the episode feel as tasteful (and as powerful) as possible.
As for the final scene of the show, it featured Will, and not actually any of the show’s younger characters. He had been the one to keep the jacket that everyone was looking for, and hearing his sobbing was probably the hardest part of the episode to take. It was a good callback to the early days of the show when it was really about him, and with those sobs, the hour came to a close while we were still choked up.
But in the end, the reaction to “The Quarterback” will probably be the same as the reaction to Finn’s death by the characters. Some are probably going to love what Fox put on the air tonight; others may be upset about their favorite character being omitted, or that a certain song wasn’t sung. All of it makes sense to us, but let’s just take a little while to process this. This episode was healing for fans just as much as it was for the cast and crew. Time does not heal all wounds, contradictory to the old adage, but it can start to make you feel normal again. That is the best treatment for looking back on this episode: Time.
The moment that got us the most was when Puck commented on how the 22 years of Finn’s life were just summarized in a line, and Coach Beiste asked what we were going to do with this. Maybe that is a question we should all be asking of ourselves now.
We’re going to have a preview up for the return of “Glee” to the air early next month soon. But for now, feel free to share whatever you thought about “The Quarterback” by putting your thoughts in the comment box below.