Glee Season 5 Episode 3 – TV Review
The most tasteless thing Glee could have done with Cory Monteith’s death would have been to recast Finn.
So at least they get some points for not doing that.
And, surprisingly, this episode isn’t the melodramatic buzzkill bash I had braced for.
And I even shed a tear or two. They were made of ice and they came directly out of my pupils, but they still count.
TL;DR The season’s plot comes to a stop as the cast farewells Finn. But as a tribute, it’s impressively underplayed. And knowing it’s basically the real cast “acting” for the death of their real friend, well, it doesn’t get more authentic than that.
It’s sad. Actual sad, not derisive sad.
The plot doesn’t bother with anything from the past 2 episodes. Most of the Glee cast (not Quinn, for some reason) converge on McKinley to console each other in their time of grief. We get some scenes of Kurt at home with Burt and a distraught Carole. Mercedes sings a tribute, but is otherwise uninvolved with the plot. Santana gets the most play, shedding her bitchy outer shell to let fly some righteous indignation at an obstructive Sue. Later, she breaks down during her own tribute performance. Puck has a similarly difficult time, indulging in some anguished vandalism of Finn’s memorial tree. Bieste calms him down, though. Rachel turns up and is as stoic as possible. And the episode ends with Will, having been tear-free throughout the episode, completely breaking down.
Pretty depressing stuff.
But like I said, I’m impressed with how the level of melodrama was kept under control. I’d posit that this is due to some genuinely shocking composure from Kurt. I thought for sure that he’d be queening around, making everything about himself. But apart from a small scene with Carole and Burt (where Carole’s heartbreak is much more focal), Kurt keeps his alien mouth shut.
I could not fucking believe it. Thank you, Glee.
Why I hate this episode:
They avoid saying how Finn actually died, which is kind of a cop-out. If they were going to have the balls to not only kill Finn off, but to devote an entire episode as a tribute to him/Cory Monteith, they should have at least given the “how.” I’m still of the opinion that they should have just found a more natural, low key way to write him out.
Unfortunately, there are 2 hints as to what the cause of death might be which suggest it was the same thing Cory Monteith did IRL. In his opening narration, Kurt says everyone is interested in talking about how Finn died, implying it’s something controversial. Like a drug overdose? Later, Burt talks about the last time he saw Finn. Finn was feeling down about some bad exam results, and Burt has a spiel about how he should have hugged Finn more and supported him better. Which implies suicide. It just made me feel icky that they’d make a point of not saying what it was, then slyly hint that it was the same as what happened to Cory.
Mercedes’ performance of I’ll Stand By You devolves into the most overblown ad-lib wails of her Glee career. Too much.
Santana’s “assault” of Sue is disappointing.
Brittany isn’t in it, but nobody cares about that.
Oh, and Quinn isn’t in it. What the fuck is Dianna Agron doing that’s so goddamn important?
But it’s not all bad:
It’s actually quite good. I really am thankful that Kurt didn’t hog the spotlight.
What really makes the episode work is Santana. She gets 2 of the most emotional scenes. First is when she cracks it at Sue after Sue tries to have the candles on Finn’s memorial extinguished. Santana finally lets loose all her hatred for Sue, culminating in shoving her (Santana was making a threat against the secretary for going to call the police, and Sue says “that’s assault,” and Santana is like “No, this is assault!”). Santana later goes to apologise, but Sue stops her and admits everything Santana said was true, and how she regrets not being able to rectify things with FInn.
The saddest moment of the episode comes during Santana’s tribute song. If her sobbing breakdown doesn’t get you, then her shrieks when they try to comfort her will. Absolutely captivating.
Puck carries some of the emotional burden, too. He can’t imagine going on without having Finn to support him. His subplot with Bieste is the perfect representation of masculine grief.
It’s not all morbid, though. There’s still some comedy. Sue makes some of the best barbs of the series, and this one is my personal favourite (and the episode’s best line):
Bieste: “How can you even joke at a time like this?”
Sue: “Take it easy, post-op Michael Chiklis.”
While going through Finn’s room, Carole, Burt and Kurt stumble upon the “faggy” lamp from Kurt’s appalling bedroom makeover from season 1. The boys want to keep it, but Carole isn’t convinced: “No, it’s not okay with me. That thing is awful.” Finn was right!
Bree and Santana have a brief run-in, and Figgins directly compares them. Good.
Santana makes some glorious fat jokes at Finn’s expense.
Tina goes to see Emma for what Emma thinks will be grief counselling, but Tina is only upset because she’s sick of wearing black (which is connoting a regression to her goth fashion phase). Emma presents her with the pamphlets you see up the top of this post.
Rachel’s song is beautiful.
Blaine barely gets a syllable in the whole episode. Praise the fucking lord.
Oh, and there’s a subplot involving Puck and Santana both wanting Finn’s jacket, which goes missing. At the end, it turns out Will stole it, and then the final scene of the episode shows Will finally allowing himself to grieve. It’s just really sad.