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‘Glee’ Says a Tearful Goodbye to Cory Monteith

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Shannon Carlin
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(Courtesy of Fox)

(Courtesy of Fox)

Last night’s episode of Glee was an emotional tribute to Cory Monteith and his character, Finn Hudson, that left many of its viewers grabbing for the Kleenex.

Ryan Murphy said he wanted the episode to honor the actor, who passed away in July of drug-related causes, and also allow both the fans and cast to process the sudden death of the 31-year-old actor. “When you’re faced with something so sad and so shocking, what do you do? Do we cancel the show? Do we start shooting in January? What do we do?” Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter. “Ultimately, we decided the best thing for everyone is to get back to work and be around people who knew him and loved him so that everyone can grieve together.”

The episode began three weeks after the death of Finn, which is never clearly defined, and focused on many of the characters who had worked with the actor since the show premiered in 2009, including Monteith’s onscreen mom, Romy Rosemont, and stepdad, Mike O’Malley.

Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, led the episode’s opening number of Rent‘s “Seasons of Love” before taking on The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You.”

The storyline focused on what the characters on the show loved about Finn, as well as how they would move on after the unexpected passing of their friend. It allowed the actors to eulogize Monteith using songs like James Taylor’s “Fire & Rain,” Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender” and “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry, as performed by a struggling Santana (Naya Rivera).

Murphy told the Huffington Post that many of the performances in the episode were filmed after the first take. “Those performances that you’ll see… almost everything in that episode is from the first take of every performance,” he said. “The actors and the crew had a really hard time shooting it. I’ve never seen a crew that you can’t continue shooting because they’ve left the room sobbing. It was very hard.”

Monteith’s on and offscreen girlfriend, Lea Michele, participated in the episode, though sparingly. It is her tear-filled version of Bob Dylan’s “You Make Me Feel My Love,” though, that cut the deepest in its emotions.

The show then ended with a PSA featuring Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison and Kevin McHale–Artie on the show–letting viewers know that if they or a loved one struggles with substance abuse there is help.

Proceeds from downloads of the episode’s song will benefit Project Limelight, a Canadian theater camp Monteith supported.

The show is on hiatus until November 7.

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