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Glee’s tribute to Corey Monteith: the good & the bad.

The pilot episode of Glee, which aired in 2009, featured Spanish teacher Mr. Will Schuester stumbling into the gym locker room, entranced by a delightfully hypnotic singing voice. To Schuester’s surprise it’s Finn Hudson (Corey Monteith). The high school quarterback was caught mid shower belting out Journey’s Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore. Through Finn’s extremely gifted vocals, Schuester discovered the sound that the glee club was looking for; a strong male vocalist and leader to build The New Directions into an elite show choir.  This is where it all got started for Glee and since then the show has gone on to become critically acclaimed and received 71 awards, none of which would possible without the contributions of the late Corey Monteith, who passed away July 13, 2013 to a drug overdose. As a lead character on Glee Monteith’s untimely death shocked gleeks, the cast, his family and the rest of America while leaving the show with a gaping hole in the plot moving forward. Times were even more excruciatingly trying for his cast mate and real life girlfriend Leah Michelle who had to decide whether or not to move on from the show or continue on. Last night, Glee finally aired the Cory Monteith memorial episode aired titled “The Quarterback,” and there were a few takeaways from the show.

Given his great contribution to the show and his untimely death, the Corey Monteith memorial should have taken priority over everything else. Though it was a great idea for a season premier, the two-part Beatles themed episode was very tough to get into. It was like ignoring the elephant in the room because there was no mention of Finn at all for two weeks in a row. The writers and producers of Glee should have pushed back the Beatles episode in order to air the memorial episode first out of respect for their deceased cast member. Starting out with a farewell episode would have fit into the overall plot much better and would have served as a more appropriate segue into the following episodes in the season. His death should have been addressed earlier than the third week of the season. Fans deserved to have the chance to morn and pay respects with the characters and the cast and express their emotions before the Beatles two week long episode.  The premier would have been a more relevant and honorable way to remember him.

The one thing the makes Glee a great show is how they deal with issues honestly and head on. For the first time since the beginning of the show it seems like they shied away from an issue.  Kurt Hummel, Finn’s stepbrother, starts off the show by saying “everyone wants to talk about how he died but who cares. One moment in his whole life, I care about how he lived.” The Gleeks care about how he lived and how he died and by not giving the fans an explanation as to what happened to Finn it was disheartening. Like the fans aren’t good enough friends of Finn and don’t deserve to know what happened. The fans should have been there for Finn’s funeral since Corey’s actual funeral was private. This should have been their chance to say good bye. I also believed that the show missed an opportunity to make a real statement about drug abuse. If Finn died from a drug over dose it would open the topic up for a real raw and emotional discussion of how drug abuse really affects people and what to do if you know someone who has a drug problem. Perhaps it would have been too close to real life but it’s the most effective way of getting a message across. Glees writers could undoubtedly have kept this a tasteful and observant way to celebrate his life and open the eyes of others dealing with drug and alcohol abuse.

The music selection, as usual was amazing. Choosing to sing some of the songs Finn sang on past episodes was a nice touch. However in honoring Corey there should have been even more music, a few uplifting songs. Opening the show with Rent’s Seasons of Love was a great way to start off with a big group song. I wish they also ended the episode with a group number as well. Hands down the most jarring performance was Naya Rivera‘s version of If I Die Young. Naya couldn’t even finish the song but she sounded so beautiful. And of course when Lea Michelle finally makes an appearance her version of Bob Dylan’s “make you feel my love”. Watching the tears roll down her face simultaneously caused the gleeks to tear up alongside her.  Mr. Schuester should have got the chance to sing something also. I get that he was staying strong for the kids but he should have got a scene where he was alone in his apartment or his car where he let all of his emotions out in song. Seeing as he was the one who got Finn interested in the Glee Club in the first place. It would have been even better if they made this a sing along episode so not only can gleeks watch they can sing along and feel like part of the tribute.

It was glaringly obvious that 2 people were missing from the episode.  Quinn Fabray and Brittany S. Pierce didn’t return to McKinley High School for the memorial.  While Heather Morris who plays Brittany couldn’t make it back because of her real life pregnancy there are many contradicting rumors hinting at bad blood between Diana Aragon (Quinn) and the cast.  Others have dismissed the rumors, attributing the absence to a simple scheduling conflict. Whatever the case is no character should have been overlooked. Quinn could have called in via Facetime in a scene or they could have incorporated Mr. Schuester telling everyone that Quinn’s flight is delayed and she won’t make it back in time. Any mention would have worked for explaining the two star’s absences, although this would have been the perfect episode for Brittany’s funny one-liners and comedic relief.

All in all I think the Tribute was good but it could have been great with a few tweaks to the plot. I do commend the cast for being able to keep it together for the fans sake. The whole episode was shot in one take so those were very authentic emotional reactions. Finn and Cory will never be forgotten. And there heart and soul will live on through Glee.

-Written by Jeff Calvaire