By Deb Saine
Family and friends said their farewells to Cory Monteith in the days following the 31-year-old “Glee” star’s death in July.
And tonight, it’s the fans’ turn to say good-bye to Cory and his character, Finn Hudson, when the show’s tribute episode, “The Quarterback,” airs at 9 p.m. (EST) on Fox.
While there has been little press about the exact content of the hour, its context has been clear since the network and executive producer Ryan Murphy announced that the third episode of the fifth season would be a tribute to the actor and a send-off for the actor’s character.
A short trailer released at the end of last week’s episode provides a 30-second glimpse of the tribute that sets a somber tone. With Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry singing Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” in the background, the opening shot shows an empty hallway at McKinley High School before cutting to two students’ hands, each holding a set of red drumsticks tied together with black ribbon. The next shot shows a display featuring Finn’s football helmet and a wooden football figurine wearing the No. 5 jersey that’s surrounded by students and being pushed toward Finn’s former locker.
Then, the screen goes white as the words, “The hardest word to say ...” appear before breaking to someone placing a football beside a candle and a bouquet of flowers as the camera pulls back and shows the sad faces of Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Kitty (Becca Tobin), Unique (Alex Newell), Marley (Melissa Benoist), Blaine (Darren Criss), Sam (Chord Overstreet), Artie (Kevin McHale), and Jake (Jacob Artist) as they look at the make-shift memorial in front of their dead friend’s locker.
Next, it’s back to the white screen, with the words “... is Goodbye.”
A montage follows showing students decorating Finn’s locker, Curt wearing his brother’s varsity letter jacket and then a tearful Rachel leaning into the shoulder of Mr. Schue as the screen fades to white again and there’s an image of Cory and the words “farewell to Finn.”
On Tuesday, individual audio recordings of songs being performed by various Glee characters in the tribute were released, including Lea’s version of “Make You Feel My Love.” The list also includes the cast singing “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical, “Rent,” as well as Mercedes (Amber Riley) singing The Pretenders’, “I’ll Stand By You,” Sam and Artie singing James Taylor’s, “Fire & Rain,” Puck (Mark Salling) singing Bruce Springsteen’s, “No Surrender,” and Santana (Naya Rivera) singing The Band Perry’s, “If I Die Young.”
Shortly after the episode was filmed, cast member Jane Lynch, who plays Sue Sylvester, told a number of publications, “It was beautiful, gorgeous,” though filming it “was a mess. Everybody was crying, but it was good. We grieved together.”
And now, it’s the fans’ turn to grieve with the characters as they grieve the loss of their friend, Finn, “The Quarterback.”