It’s not the easiest question to answer. Parts of the episode felt cheesy and forced. Other parts were devastating in the raw sadness shown. Overall, we may have gotten a great tribute but not a truly great episode. At least they left the auto-tune out of this one — not hearing the real voices would have been an awful tribute to anyone.
But hey, sometimes things don’t work out quite the way they were planned. That’s what this episode is all about, isn’t it?
Here’s what happened.
Just dive right in, why don’t we?
If you expected some story to start off an episode that has a big one, you would be disappointed. “Glee” didn’t go that route. Instead, the “Seasons of Love” anthem from “Rent” (a Broadway play that knows all about death, especially the shocking and too-young kind) is the beginning.
The New Directions sing that while wearing black on a stage. Then they all look at a big photo of Finn.
“Love Story” and Sue
Off in New York, Kurt’s thoughts are going all “Love Story” (“What do you say about a 19 year old who died …” — Change the age, and it’s the first line of that movie.) as he looks sadly at a graduation photo of his “brother” and himself. It has apparently been three weeks since Finn’s funeral.
As for the cause and the interval, well, there aren’t answers there. We probably don’t need them.
It’s not enough of an interval for Rachel, of course. She isn’t in the scene, but it’s as much about her as it is about Kurt.
We all grieve in our own ways
At least they let Sue Sylvester grieve in the way that works best for her. Making Sue sweet right now would feel weird. Sarcasm and shock value are more appropriate.
“I grieve by insulting those who mean the most to me. It’s just a coincidence that that’s what I do when I’m not grieving.”
Sometimes, I find Sue Sylvester frustrating. Sometimes, I love her. This would be one of the “love” times. That said, she is wrong about one thing: Finn would totally want them to put on a self-serving spectacle. Finn loved self-serving spectacles!
Fortunately, everyone else loves spectacles too
As Will so correctly puts it, the glee club has “to memorialize him the only way we know how — by singing.” This is perhaps the most true statement ever spoken on “Glee.”
Fortunately, the first person to sing a tribute to Finn is the person in the room most able to belt out feelings in a way that cannot be ignored — Mercedes. She even takes on one of the greatest songs ever sung by one Finn Hudson, “I’ll Stand by You.” That’s the one he sang to Quinn’s sonogram once upon a time (not that anyone mentions Quinn here or anything).
One life, three boxes
As is so often the case with “Glee,” the best scene in the entire thing is the one with Mike O’Malley in it. Some parts of “The Quarterback” are overly sweet and treacly, but you kind of can’t do that with grieving parents. You can’t be too sweet when it concerns family tears.
Even if I wanted to (which I don’t — I swear), I couldn’t mock this bit. It’s kind of devastating.
Can we go back to singing now? Please? I don’t think I can handle Finn’s mom (Romy Rosemont) crying anymore.
The dumpster and the letterman’s jacket
There might be things more iconic of Finn Hudson than a dumpster (not seen since the beginning of Season 1) and a letterman’s jacket. But that’s not how Kurt and Puck see it.
They’re not wrong.
“Fire and Rain,” for all its inherent greatness as a song, doesn’t actually help the grieving process much. I speak from experience on this one.
Maybe that’s why the next few scenes seem to be exercises in futility. First, Emma can’t figure out why Tina would feel trapped by the black clothes of her past. She really isn’t much of a counselor, is she? Even if Emma Pillsbury (did she change her name when she married?) still does have the best pamphlets.
At least Emma has a little more insight when talking to Will about not crying for Finn yet.
Meanwhile, Santana expresses her feelings by screaming at Sue Sylvester about extinguished candles and about the fact that Sue was always awful to Finn. She ends up shoving Sue into a wall. That’s not very nice, even if it is deserved in many ways.
Lack of sentiment aside, Sue Sylvester at least allowed a tree to be planted as a memorial to Finn. Unfortunately, someone on a motorcycle ripped out the tree. That would be Puck, who wanted it for his hotel room.
He later finds better solace in hanging with Coach Bieste in the locker room. Neither of these two is much good at grieving in a heartfelt or satisfying fashion. But they do have a heart-to-heart through the tears and talk about retiring Finn’s jersey.
Thanks to this, Puck can express his feelings the “Glee” way, in song (with “No Surrender”).
In the end, Puck brings back the tree, drinks root beer and rides off to join the Air Force. Just go with it.
Do they have chocolate pudding in heaven?
Can I just say that Santana has a super disturbing view of heaven. It involves butterscotch pudding and Elvis Presley. But hey, if that’s what makes the girl happy, who am I to judge?
I can’t even judge her a cappella rendition of “If I Die Young,” especially when it ends in tears and screaming. As it turns out, Santana wanted to avoid being a b**** for once in her life. She failed, but Kurt gives her another chance to read her “really nice” list. When Santana sends Kurt away for some alone time, he leaves her with Finn’s jacket.
This is a good scene. Santana’s nice things are not even a little over-sweet. That’s why she is eternally awesome.
Accusations and apologies
Nice Santana doesn’t last too long — Finn’s jacket gets stolen, and everyone accuses Puck of being the culprit. He denies this. Not even a $10,000 reward/trap brings that jacket back, which makes Puck an unlikely thief. He would totally fall for that.
Some of the niceness comes back in Santana’s desire to apologize to Sue. She doesn’t really get to, but we get a good apology out of Coach/Principal Sylvester instead: She feels bad that Finn hated her. Unlike some of the others, however, Sue knows that there isn’t much deeper meaning in death:
“There’s no lesson here, there’s no happy ending. There’s nothing. He’s just gone.”
And it would have been fun to see Sue Sylvester torment Finn Hudson for another 30 years. Oh well.
“Before Finn, I used to sing alone.”
We may never know where Rachel has been this whole time, but she does show up in the final few minutes for her own little bit of a tribute. After all, this was her person and the guy she always planned to come home to some day. That’s not going to happen now.
All Rachel has left is a song (“To Make You Feel My Love”), a memorial photo and memories that she hopes won’t fade. Hopefully, she will soon have some other plans.
“And now what?”
Who did take that jacket? It wasn’t Puck, but it’s not gone either. Turns out that Will had the thing stashed in his bag all day. When
he gets it home, the teacher has a moment of contemplation. And then it’s time for tears and the end.
What’s next? That’s the question when someone dies — what comes next?
I have no clue.