Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99

'Glee's' Cory Monteith tribute hits high (and low) notes

When news of Cory Monteith’s death in July sent shockwaves through "Glee's" fan base, many wondered how the series would pay tribute to one of its most beloved characters.

But more importantly would the show, which has long handled heavy-duty story lines about sexuality, gender, race, disability, body image and countless other meaty topics high schoolers confront, address the star’s death from a heroin and alcohol overdose?

Those answers came on Thursday, three episodes into the new season, with an hour-long tribute to Monteith’s Finn Hudson.

Hudson, the affable yet sensitive star quarterback with ambitions of crooning, was the heartbeat of McKinley High School’s glee club for the show’s five-year run. And though the character graduated more than a season ago, his influence on McKinley hadn’t faded (Monteith, like a handful of original cast members, still had a running story line). 

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2013

In the episode, aptly titled “The Quarterback,” glee club members past and present reunite to pay tribute to Hudson. His cause of death isn’t revealed at any point.

“That doesn’t matter,” said his step brother Kurt (Chris Colfer) in an early scene. Sadly, it did -- considering the episode opted for grief-through-song without tackling a cohesive plot.

The opening of the whole group, in all black, singing "Seasons Of Love" from “Rent” was a mournful moment for those who have seen the iconic musical it’s lifted from.

So did Mercedes’ (Amber Riley) searing take of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You.” And its impossible to not crumble when Hudson’s girlfriend Rachel (Lea Michele, who was Monteith’s real-life girlfriend) arrives toward the end of the episode to deliver a crushing rendition of Adele’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”

PHOTOS: Celebrities who died young

Still, despite a commercial and post-credit public service announcement that offered information about substance abuse, the episode missed an opportunity to really deliver a truly meaningful message -- something the show has done plenty before.

Admittedly, it's tricky to tackle the star’s untimely death without appearing exploitative, but the episode ultimately came up feeling hollow by tiptoeing around the circumstances surrounding his demise.

But “Glee’s” resident deliverer of harsh truth, Sue Slyvester (Jane Lynch) said it best: “There’s no lesson here. There’s no happy ending. He’s just gone.”

Watch Lea Michelle's heartbreaking take of “Make You Feel My Love" below:

Follow @GerrickKennedy


PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS: Concerts by the Times PHOTOS: Unexpected musical collaborations PHOTOS: Musician feuds: The dirt & details

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Watch Prince's new video 'Breakfast Can Wait'
    Watch Prince's new video 'Breakfast Can Wait'

    The folks at Waffle House and IHOP might not swoon over the message at the heart of Prince’s new video, “Breakfast Can Wait,” but the Purple One has found plenty of sensual fun in the kitchen to keep pop music fans engaged in this work directed by and starring 18-year-old...

  • Court rules for Keith Morris' Flag in Black Flag lawsuit
    Court rules for Keith Morris' Flag in Black Flag lawsuit

    Black Flag's Greg Ginn might want to crack open a six-pack tonight: A U.S. District Court judge has ruled against him in his trademark infringement lawsuit against many of his former bandmates in the canonical South Bay hard-core group.