At the risk of sounding crass and callous and a little bit gauche, this was probably the best episode of Glee we’ve seen since, maybe, the second season. That’s not to say that it wasn’t without its flaws, but we were pleased to see that Cory (and Finn) got the send off he deserved.
There were two main flaws with the episode. First, that the songs did very little to bolster the emotion. Glee has, historically, used music to great effect, stretching the poignancy of a moment as required. “The Quarterback”, however, was slightly lacking in this regard. With the exception of Lea’s performance of “Make You Feel My Love” (just a little heartbreaking) and, maybe, Mark Salling’s performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender”, the songs were emotional choices with unemotional performances. They were the rare breaks from crying in this sob-fest of an episode.
The other flaw, if you could even call it a flaw, was that the episode felt more like a farewell to Finn than a farewell to Cory, but we’re not exactly sure that’s a bad thing. It’s more that, in pursuing that angle, it felt a little less real. Again with the exception of Lea, this felt a lot like a bunch of actors playing a part rather than a group of people mourning their friend. This could have a lot to do with the fact that most of the performances were filmed in one take (obviously in an effort to minimize the suffering for the actors) – they never got the chance to fully embody that grief.
And yet, even with that, the episode was totally gut-wrenching. We probably cried out at least 90 per cent of our bodies’ moisture. There were so many moments that had us reaching for a tissue – Kurt leaving Rachel in New York, Finn’s mom talking about how every morning she wakes up she loses him all over again, Puck talking about how the line between the years on a memorial is a person’s whole life… and then there was Lea. Left out of the episode until fairly near the end, every one of her scenes had more emotion than the rest of the episode in its entirety. That horrendous sorrow came, not from her inability to stop crying (though that was upsetting enough), but from the thought that almost everything she said when she talked about Finn could be just as true for her and Cory. We’ll never know how she managed to get through this performance in one piece.
And there were some perfect moments and perfect choices. Key among these was Tina’s visit to Emma’s office to bemoan the fact that she had to wear so much black. Emma’s pamphlets (“It’s Not All About You”, “When to Stop Talking” and “Wait, Am I Callous?”) were the perfect representation of something the episode excelled at – not being afraid to leave in some comedy without detracting from the sadness of it all. Another moment we loved came courtesy of some (all too rare) emotional honesty from Sue: “It’s just so pointless. All that potential.” And right there she got right to the heart of it. Because that’s what we’re mourning. Us people who didn’t know Cory. Us people on the edges of it all. We’re mourning the loss of a young man with just so much potential.
The placing of a plaque to Finn in the choir room was the perfect crowning touch, and offered us something to cling to as the episodes return to more standard fare. Something to help people understand why everything keeps moving on. Something Finn believed in and something to make everyone want to pick up and keep going – “The show must go… all over the place… or something.” – K
Quoteworthy: “This isn’t real. I’m not going home for this. He’s going to be there. … I’m going to spend my entire life missing him.” – Kurt