Glee - “The Quarterback” (5x3)
I convinced myself I wasn’t going to watch Glee this season. But then Cory Monteith died and all I heard about for months on end was the tribute episode. How it was going to be awful, how it was going to be amazing, how it was going to be a reductive after-school special, how it was going to hold Finn up on an undeserved pedestal, how one episode couldn’t possibly do him justice, etc.
So of course I had to watch it.
And it was all of those things. It was too self-indulgent at times, it was too heavy-handed at times, and it wasted too much time on Mr. Schue. But it was also full of heartbreaking performances, had a few genuinely funny lines, and was clearly a labor of love.
As Kurt said, I’m not going to be on my death bed one day regretting I was kind, so rather than harp on the things that irked me, I’ll focus on the stuff I loved:
- It’s been far too long since Mercedes has been in my life. She was fantastic in “Seasons of Love,” and her rendition of “I’ll Stand By You” reminded me of just how much range she has. I mean, she’s obviously known for the big, sweeping, Whitney-like notes, but she can also do quieter, more restrained songs and sound equally amazing.
- Burt was great, as always. But the emotional high point of the episode for me was Carol breaking down while sorting through Finn’s things. ”You have to keep being a parent even though you don’t get to have a child anymore.”
- Santana assaulting Sue, taking all her anger at herself out on Sue, and Sue accepting it all. Naya and Jane had a huge job on their shoulders, probably the toughest jobs in this episode (the toughest as far as acting requirements; I know Lea probably had it roughest of the cast), and they hit it out of the park.
- "No me gusta" and "grief siesta" were actually really funny, which amidst all the sadness was surprising and needed.
- And while I’m on the subject of Santana, “If I Die Young” was gorgeous. Add it to the list of her best performances.
- Rachel’s song wasn’t one of my favorites of hers, but midway through it I noticed the tears that had fallen on her blouse and I could not look at or think about anything else. I don’t know where Lea ended and Rachel began in that performance.
- Besides the songs, the best thing about this episode was how the characters all grieved differently. Enough has been said about this, I won’t repeat it all, but it’s an important piece that Glee got really really right.
I’m sure there were more great things that I’m not thinking of at the moment, but ultimately it was a fitting tribute to Finn/Cory and a life ended far too soon.