It’s been several months since 31-year-old “Glee” star Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose. I was shocked to hear of his death, as we all are any time a
young person with such a promising future passes suddenly. But, having not been a “Glee” fan, I did not grieve the way “Glee” fans were grieving. It had been years since I had watched it, and then only briefly. However, when I heard Fox was airing a memorial episode of “Glee” honoring Cory’s life, I was curious to see if they could elicit emotions without exploiting Monteith’s tragic death.
I went into the farewell episode unprepared. While I did not have any background knowledge of the characters, their roles, plot line or even the major themes of the series. But when I say I went in unprepared, I really mean that I wasn’t emotionally prepared. I did not expect to be moved to tears from beginning to end. But I was.
Somehow “Glee” writers were able to weave Cory Montieth, the person, with Finn Hudson, his character, throughout the episode. And they did so with all the other actors and their characters as well. I have heard that the best compliment an actor can receive is that the actor stops existing so that the audience can only see the character, but in this case, the opposite was true and necessary. The characters mourned Finn while the actors mourned Cory, seamlessly and naturally. This was especially true of actress Lea Michele, who was Cory’s/Finn’s on and off screen love interest. She had a small but extremely touching portion in the farewell episode. Somehow she was able to honor his memory without completely falling apart, and I felt that I could actually see her grieving the loss of both Finn and Cory.
There were many lines in the episode that were heavy with meaning, the kind of lines that leave you contemplating them long after you have heard them. Perhaps the most powerful for me was the scene where they were viewing Finn’s memorial stone which said: “Finn Hudson 1994 – 2013.” Puck pointed to the dash in between the years and said, “This line between the years? It’s his whole life. Everything that happened to him, in that line.” At the end of the scene, the football coach sent Puck off with the sentiment, “Have a nice line.”
It is hard to look at a tiny line and think of it as a person’s whole life, but I realize something mathematical and comforting: lines don’t end. By definition, a line is something that extends on forever and ever, never turning and never stopping. We may only see any person’s life as what exists in the short segment between the day they are born and the day they die, but that probably says more about our shortsightedness than it does about the significance of each of our lives.
I imagine it will be a tough transition for the actors and the fans of “Glee” without Cory Monteith and Finn Hudson in it. But memorial services are designed to help us through those transitions, and I can honestly say the “Glee” writers did an honorable and fantastic job writing the farewell episode. In honor and memory of Cory Monteith, the person, and in honor of Finn Hudson, the character, I think their message is this: the story continues, memories live on, and “have a nice line.”