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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

'Glee' Recap: The Quarterback

Gennyvera Pacheco |
October 11, 2013 | 11:50 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The characters on "Glee" mourn the loss of their friend and mentor, Finn Hudson. (Fox)
The characters on "Glee" mourn the loss of their friend and mentor, Finn Hudson. (Fox)
When I first found out that I would be writing "Glee" recaps for Neon Tommy, I was thrilled beyond belief. As someone who has spent nearly five years anxiously awaiting song previews and flailing over behind-the-scenes photos week after week, it was an honor to talk about something so close to my heart to a larger audience.

This time, however, is different, for it's been a few hours since I finished watching the episode, and I cannot bring myself to write.

A few hours since it ended and nearly three months since the world lost Cory Monteith. It's something that I cannot wrap my mind around, but watching "The Quarterback," I began to feel a bit less alone about those feelings.

The tribute opened with "Seasons of Love," performed by current and past members of glee club. It was a beautiful way to open and set the tone for the rest of the episode well. The performance ends with a picture of Finn Hudson, Monteith's character, being projected on stage and all of his friends looking towards it.

We briefly go to New York and see Kurt packing things into a suitcase. The scene is overlapped by a Kurt voiceover, stating that Finn's funeral had been three weeks ago. People are asking what the circumstances of his death were, and Kurt says that it does not matter how he died, but it matters how he lived. Kurt is on his way to Lima to spend time with his parents and with his friends at McKinley, but before that, he lets Rachel know that he is leaving. The viewers don't see Rachel; if anything, we stand in for her as Kurt talks directly to us. His voiceover ends with, "I'm going to spend my whole life missing him."

Mercedes takes the audience's breath away with "I'll Stand By You." (Fox)
Mercedes takes the audience's breath away with "I'll Stand By You." (Fox)
This week's glee assignment is simply "Finn" and gives his friends a chance to honor him in song. Will says to have a song ready by the next day if people would like, but Mercedes stops him and says that she would like to perform the very same day. She sings "I'll Stand By You," which Finn sang for a sonogram of who he thought was his baby (he turned out not to be the father) in season one. The song builds, ending with an array of powerful and emotionally charged notes from Mercedes.

Certainly one of the toughest scenes to watch involved Kurt, his father and Finn's step-father Burt, and Finn's mom, Carole. They are all in Finn's bedroom, sorting out what to keep or what to donate. They reminisce through different objects in the room, like the football from the game where all the players danced to "Single Ladies." When they get to Finn's letterman jacket, Kurt chooses to keep it for himself and put it on. Carole sees him and starts wondering how people on the news would deal with their child dying, and she says it feels like waking up to the unfortunate phone call informing of their death. She cries and Burt and Kurt sit with her and comfort her. It all feels like we're intruding on a private moment.

Puck tries to negotiate with Kurt in front of the school dumpster in which Puck once threw him. He feels like he does not have mementos to remember his friend by, but Kurt says no, that he wants to keep it.

Sam and Artie collaborate and sing "Fire and Rain" for Finn. (Fox)
Sam and Artie collaborate and sing "Fire and Rain" for Finn. (Fox)
At the auditorium, Sam and Artie sing "Fire And Rain" beautifully with tears in their eyes. 

Emma tells Will that she has been on Will's side since Finn's death, and worries that he has not been bottling his emotions up. Will says that he is so shattered by the loss that he cannot bring himself to express anything. Santana leaves the room shortly after and goes to the memorial that students set up in the hallway, but she's interrupted by Bree, the new head cheerleader, when she starts blowing out candles. She says that Sue ordered it and Santana is furious. She marches into Sue's office and yells at her, accusing her of never having anything nice to say about Finn among other things. Sue asks for her assistant to call the police since she claims Santana is assaulting her, and Santana leaves after angrily shoving her. 

Meanwhile, Puck walks into the locker room drunk, and Coach Beiste tells him that he shouldn't have to be drinking anymore to deal with the loss of his best friend. Puck says that she doesn't understand, that if he starts crying he probably won't be able to stop. Then they both have a heartfelt discussion and Puck voices his concern about losing touch with the good person within him because Finn isn't around to remind him about it. Beiste says that it's time to be his own quarterback, and Puck suggests framing Finn's letterman jacket and putting it in the locker room. She agrees, on one condition: Puck has to put the tree planted in Finn's memory back, which we saw him take earlier. He first denies this but then admits to it and agrees. 

In the choir room, Santana makes a pretty crude speech about Finn, remarking that he is up in heaven hanging out with fat Elvis eating "baby back ribs smothered in butterscotch pudding and tater tot grease." She begins singing "If I Die Young," one of her most impressive vocal performances to date. The rest of the group joins in towards the end, but before she can finish Santana cries, screams, and runs out of the room. 

Kurt finds her alone in the auditorium and Santana confesses that she hoped on making it through the performance composed enough to say some nice things about Finn, something she was never accustomed to. She even wrote them down, and Kurt requests that she read them to him. She says they're really nice (and therefore, really embarrassing). Kurt says that from Finn's death he learned that "shame is a wasted emotion" and that sparks something in Santana to tell him what she planned on saying.

One of them tells of a time when it was someone's birthday and they left a piece of chocolate cake on Santana's seat, but she unknowingly sat on it, making it look like she soiled herself. Finn then spent the rest of the day walking behind Santana so no one would notice it and make fun of her. She breaks down a little, telling Kurt that Finn was a much better person than she is. After Kurt reassures her that if a great person like Finn cared about her that much, she must be rather decent, too. Santana asks him to leave before she really starts sobbing, and he puts the letterman jacket over her shoulders before leaving.

It's Puck's turn to sing. He chooses Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender" and accompanies himself with only a guitar. To see him perform with so much pain is difficult to see, especially when the camera faces towards Finn's old frequented seat in the choir room. Puck finishes and everyone stands up to surround him. He exhales and says, "I love you guys." 

This beautiful moment is put on hold when Santana shows up and tells Puck to give her back the jacket, thinking he took it from her while she took a nap in the nurse's office. Puck is frustrated and says he didn't take it, but no one seems to believe him except for Will. 

Santana goes back to Sue's office in order to apologize for what she said before. Sue tells her to shut up during her apology and tells her that everything she said is right. She says she regrets never telling him what a good guy he was, and had envisioned spending the rest of her time at McKinley teaching alongside him. 

The kids from glee club go the the memorial and each set down a pair of drumsticks tied together by a black ribbon, a way to commemorate Finn and his love of drumming. Someone off-camera remarks that the memorial is beautiful, and we see that it's Rachel. She wanted to see it for herself, and the level of emotions everyone is experiencing intensifies with her presence. 

After the break, Rachel stands in front of her friends and talks about Finn and how he loved her and everyone in the room. "I like to sing in the car and before Finn, I used to sing alone," Rachel confesses through tears. "And this was the first song that I sang with him when we would drive around together, so…this is for him." Cue a heartbreaking rendition of "Make You Feel My Love" and the most pivotal moment of the episode. 

Even if you are not someone who tunes in to watch "Glee" every week or watches it occasionally, or counts the days until a new episode, it doesn't matter. Just…watch this performance. 

Surprisingly, the episode continues even after Rachel's song. Santana puts posters up asking for Finn's jacket in exchange for a reward; she wants it back before she goes home. Will asks if she's staying in Lima, and Santana says that New York is her new home. She does not plan on coming back to Lima or McKinley for a while because it reminds her of everything she has lost. Will understands, telling her to go because it's exciting for him to see his students grow up. He says it's better than the alternative, looking towards Finn's memorial. 

Puck and Beiste replant the tree and drink some root beer together. He wonders if fifty years from now people will know what the tree represents, and Beiste responds that they probably won't. There is a plaque in front of the tree that says "Finn Hudson 1994 - 2013" and Puck observes the line in the middle represents Finn's entire life. Beiste asks what Puck is going to do with his life, and he announces to her his plans to join the Air Force. He drives away in his motorcycle after giving Beiste a hug, and she notices that Puck etched "Quarterback" on the side of the tree.

Will is in the glee room when Rachel walks in. She asks how he's doing and picks up on his calm state over the past few weeks. He says he's okay, then asks her the same. Rachel doesn't know how to explain it, admitting that she still talks to Finn because she can see his face so clearly and hear his voice so well. She's scared she won't be able to have that recollection of him forever.

Rachel (Lea Michele) sings and brings tears to everyone. (Fox)
Rachel (Lea Michele) sings and brings tears to everyone. (Fox)
"I had it all planned out," she says. "I was gonna make it big on Broadway and maybe make a Woody Allen movie. And then when we were ready, I would just come back and he'd be teaching here and I'd walk through those doors and I would just say 'I'm home' and then we would live happily ever after." Will suggests that maybe it's time for a new plan now, maybe something better. Rachel doesn't think that's possible. "He was my person," she admits.

Rachel then gives Will a plaque to hang in the room to remember Finn. It's a picture of him with a quote he said in season two: "The show must go…all over the place…or something." It's funny and lovely and stems from good intentions. It's Finn.

The final scene takes place in Will and Emma's apartment. Will gets home, sits down on the couch, and takes something out of his bag. It's Finn's jacket. A while later, Emma comes home to Will's sobs as he clutches on to the jacket, and holds him while he lets out the emotions he was holding back since Finn died. 

This whole episode was tough. I wasn't looking forward to seeing characters who are important to me lose someone and frankly, I wasn't ready to deal with the fact that Finn Hudson would never stand in front of the choir room or take part in a group number again. What hurt more than anything was knowing that the loss transcends to reality, and that the tears shed during the episode were not only Carole's or Will's or Rachel's for Finn, but they were the tears of the actors portraying them, grieving over the loss of their Cory. There was something about being able to deal with the loss alongside the people who knew him so well that made me feel like it was okay to shed tears over his death, so thank you to the cast and crew of the show for that.

To some extent, it is a relief that the show will be taking a break after the tribute for its fourth episode, "A Katy Or A Gaga." Tune in on November 7th at 9PM on FOX.

Reach Staff Reporter Gennyvera Pacheco here.



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