Oct. 10, 2013 at 11:21 PM ET
RIP, Finn Hudson. "Glee" mourned the death of the beloved jock played by Cory Monteith, who died July 13, on its third episode of the season Thursday.
The details of the 31-year-old actor's fatal overdose of heroin and alcohol have been reported extensively, but Finn's cause of death wasn't revealed to viewers.
"That doesn't matter," insisted Kurt (Chris Colfer) in the episode titled "The Quarterback," which opened "three weeks to the day" after Finn's funeral.
"Everyone wants to talk about how he died too, but who cares?" asked Finn's grief-stricken stepbrother. "One moment in his whole life — I care more about how he lived."
While the glee club gathered at McKinley High to memorialize their popular alum, one person was noticeably absent: Rachel Berry.
Lea Michele, Monteith's real-life girlfriend, didn't appear for the episode's first 45 minutes. When she did arrive, joining the students gathered around his impromptu memorial, it was more shocking than a slushie facial.
"Before Finn, I used to sing alone," she told the glee club before delivering the episode's most poignant performance, Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love."
Nothing was more gut-wrenching than when she told Matthew Morrison's Mr. Schue, "He was my person."
Then she handed him a plaque she'd had made, featuring a picture and quote from her "untraditionally smart" boyfriend that read, "The show must go on. All over the place ... or something like that."
And "Glee" did just that with its tribute, deftly balancing heartache with humor and respect, from its opening number (the black-clad cast singing "Seasons of Love" from Broadway's "Rent") to the closing scene: Will Schuester sobbing in Emma's (Jayma Mays) arms.
Mr. Schue urged the glee clubbers early in the show to memorialize Finn "the only way we know how — by singing."
Those performances included Mercedes' (Amber Riley) rendition of The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You," after thanking the sports stud for being the"first cool kid to be nice to us." Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Artie (Kevin McHale) did a duet of James Taylor's "Fire & Rain," Puck (Mark Salling) strummed his guitar along to Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender."
And Santana (Naya Rivera) sang most of The Band Perry's "If I Die Young" — before fleeing the classroom, crying and screaming.
She also lashed out at Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), calling the new principal (!) a "cold-hearted b----" before shoving her into a cabinet.
Sue was characteristically callous about Finn's death — at first. "I'm grieving. And I grieve by insulting those who mean the most to me," she explained.
She also ridiculed the students' memorials, saying, "We honor Finn Hudson by ... not making a self-serving spectacle of our own sadness."
Kurt's memorial — planting a tree — was vandalized by Puck, who was also accused of swiping Finn's letterman jacket. (One of the episode's biggest tearjerkers was Kurt saying that Finn walking down his hallway in that jacket "was like Superman had arrived.”)
Of course, the actual culprit was Mr. Schue, who, until the last scene of the episode, hadn't shed a tear since finding out about Finn's death.
But he made up for it in the end, weeping as he clutched Finn's jacket, the symbol of a shining star that dimmed much too soon.