Last night’s episode of Glee was an emotional tribute to Cory Monteith and his character, Finn Hudson, that left many of its viewers grabbing for the Kleenex.
Ryan Murphy said he wanted the episode to honor the actor, who passed away in July of drug-related causes, and also allow both the fans and cast to process the sudden death of the 31-year-old actor. “When you’re faced with something so sad and so shocking, what do you do? Do we cancel the show? Do we start shooting in January? What do we do?” Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter. “Ultimately, we decided the best thing for everyone is to get back to work and be around people who knew him and loved him so that everyone can grieve together.”
The episode began three weeks after the death of Finn, which is never clearly defined, and focused on many of the characters who had worked with the actor since the show premiered in 2009, including Monteith’s onscreen mom, Romy Rosemont, and stepdad, Mike O’Malley.
Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, led the episode’s opening number of Rent‘s “Seasons of Love” before taking on The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You.”
The storyline focused on what the characters on the show loved about Finn, as well as how they would move on after the unexpected passing of their friend. It allowed the actors to eulogize Monteith using songs like James Taylor’s “Fire & Rain,” Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender” and “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry, as performed by a struggling Santana (Naya Rivera).