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Glee’s Farewell to Cory Monteith

October 14, 2013

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When Glee first started, I thought it was a dream come true.  I could audition for a show that was a musical every week! It combined my two passions: singing and TV.  But as the show progressed, I found that they catered very much to the music they wanted to do, warping the story to fit the songs, instead of letting the songs help to tell the story. So I stopped watching.

Once I decided to move to LA, I knew that if I wanted to be on Glee, I had to be caught up with the storyline. I put in on my list of shows to watch, but other shows kept getting priority for me.  I knew I’d get around to it eventually, but I had no strong impetus to get to it quickly.  And then Cory Monteith died.

I knew that I had to catch up immediately.  Very rarely does a show have to deal with a main actor dying, and objectively, I wanted to see how they’d deal with it.  So I rushed to catch up on the show.  I found that much was the same as I remembered it.  Plot holes galore. Writing around songs. But what was there consistently was a love of music, of singing, of performing.  Which is why I watched the show in the first place.  And in addition to that, the show was willing to go some places that other shows of its ilk are not. Multiple gay characters. A transgendered character. In high school.  This is very rarely done and even more rarely is it done well. However, although Glee has its faults, the way it portrays those delicate topics makes me glad that the show exists, so that gay and transgendered youth have at least one show on TV they can look at and identify with.

Ok, now that I’m off my gay soap box, let’s talk about Cory Monteith. I was never that big of a fan of his…in fact, I thought him the weak link of the show.  I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but that was how I truly felt about his performance on the show. That said, he was an integral part of the plot and he was a great match for Rachel (Lea Michele – they were dating in real life also).

So how was the show going to treat his passing? How would they write him out of the story? How would the characters react?

Well, the fact that I was crying from the first song of the tribute episode should tell you something. The entire original cast came back with the notable exceptions of Dianna Agron (scheduling conflicts) and Heather Morris (pregnant), and rightly so, they took the forefront of the episode, with the newer cast members performing ensemble roles.

The episode started with “Seasons of Love”, which was really quite fitting, and as I said, I started crying almost immediately.  Suffice to say I was an emotional wreck for the rest of the show.  Not necessarily because I was mourning Cory, but because the pain the actors were portraying was very real and personal and it showed through.

Amber Riley sang a gospel number that brought down the house, as it usually does when she sings. Mark Salling sang a ballad to an empty chair that was very moving. Kevin McHale and Chord Overstreet sang an acoustic duet that was haunting and beautiful.

Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison didn’t sing, but it doesn’t mean that they didn’t have emotional reactions. Lynch’s Sue Sylvester talks about how she feels awful that she was mean to Monteith’s Finn and how she’ll never be able to tell him that she was looking forward to working alongside him when he became a teacher.  It’s rare that we get to see Coach Sue be sincere, and the moment truly warranted it. Morrison’s Mr. Schue spends the entire episode being strong for everyone else and breaks down in the final moments of the episode, crying into Finn’s letterman jacket as the episode fades to black.

But there were three really standout moments for me.  One was Naya Rivera singing a beautiful song and breaking down in the middle, unable to continue, then screaming and running out when others try to comfort her.  Storywise, she is ashamed that she was unable to say anything nice about Finn before starting the song.  But for me, watching that, I was watching a woman mourn her friend.

Lea Michele of course, sings. She is in the episode very little, which is unsurprising, as I’m sure it was incredibly difficult for her to shoot. She sings, and you can see the pain on her face. There is no acting there. Just honesty. It was actually hard to watch and it was the moment I reacted most strongly to. My heart goes out to that girl.

But the moment of the episode that I can’t get out of my head has nothing to do with music. Kurt (Chris Colfer) and his dad (Mike O’Malley) are helping Finn’s mom (Romy Rosemont) sort clothes to donate and give away, and she breaks down.  She talks about not knowing how to go on when your child has died and how every morning when she wakes up, she forgets that he’s dead. Then, when she remembers, it is like hearing the news all over again, every day.  It is numbingly heartbreaking. “Rosemont” does an amazing job portraying this woman who is struggling to come to terms with her new reality and she doesn’t need a song to do it.

While critics are divided on the episode, I personally feel that it was a great tribute that was true to the nature of the show and true to how both the characters and the actors felt about Cory. And I know that if I am ever to be on the show, I will be honored to be there.

RIP Cory Monteith.

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2 Comments
  1. Yeah – Santana’s running out screaming really floored me. Much of the show was, “I’m sad, lets sing really well about it” Santana’s reaction was so out of left field that is was the only one that felt really true because it was so random. And her out of control anger at Sue was also magnificent. I know there’s writers to commend for all that, but more and more she is my favorite because of the actress behind it.

    And talking about writing – ug. The scene with Coach and Puck was so hard to listen to. I know the whole script was a rush job, but come on.

    • I’ve always loved Santana. Right from season one I wanted more of her. I’m glad she’s one of the few “graduates” that we get to follow still. And I agree – the Coach/Puck scene was a little rough. But I did understand why Puck was reacting that way. It made sense for his character.

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