"Glee" has never shied away from throbbing, operatic earnestness. But when it came time to mourn the real death of star Cory Monteith, the show took a surprisingly restrained route.
Monteith, who played quarterback Finn Hudson on the show, passed away this summer from an overdose of alcohol and heroin. Last night's tribute episode, "Quarterback," however, opened several weeks after Finn's death, and the audience was never told just how Finn died. That was a very deliberate choice by the producers.
"There is no mention of addiction at all in the episode," producer Brad Falchuck told the LA Times. "This episode is about grief, it's not about any message. It's about what it means to lose a friend. It's not about how that friend is lost, it's just about how people react to that loss."
"Glee" also resisted wrapping Finn's death in a neat musical-theatre bow, in favor of bearing witness to the cast's real grief for Monteith.
"It’s a tribute to him," Falchuck said. "And I think it's lovely that it's hard. There's no answers in it. Nobody says anything that makes anybody else feel better … because nobody feels good about it. Just like in real life."
That much was made explicit in the episode by Jane Lynch's character, the always-blunt Sue Sylvester: "There’s no lesson here,” she said. “There’s no happy ending, there’s nothing, he’s just gone.”