"Glee" bid farewell to one of its own Thursday night with a heart wrenching tribute to the late Cory Monteith and the beloved character he played for four seasons, Finn Hudson.
The episode, titled "The Quarterback," opened three weeks after Finn's funeral with no reference to the cause of death.
"Everyone wants to talk about how he died," says Kurt (Chris Colfer) in a voiceover. "But who cares? ... I care more about how he lived and everyone who has a problem with that should remember that he was my brother. ... I'm going to spend my entire life missing him."
Former and current members of the glee club gathered at McKinley High School to pay respects during a musical memorial organized by Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Among the numbers performed were "Seasons of Love" from Broadway's "Rent," The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You" (by Mercedes); James Taylor's "Fire & Rain" (Sam and Artie); Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender" (Puck); and The Band Perry's "If I Die Young" (Santana).
The kids spent the hour grappling with the loss of Finn, along with all the grief and anger that accompanied it.
There were also touches of the show's trademark humor. At one point, Santana says, "I am convinced that Squishy Teeth is in up in Heaven right now, slapped down to his new best friend, Fat Elvis, helping themselves to a picnic of baby-back ribs smothered in butterscotch pudding and tater-tot grease."
But the highly anticipated episode mostly went for the heart. The most poignant moment occurred late in the hour when Rachel Berry -- played by Lea Michele, Monteith's real-life girlfriend -- arrived in the music room and delivered a mournful version of Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" (written by Bob Dylan) as tears streamed down her face.
"I talk to him a lot. I can still see his face and hear his voice so clearly," said Rachel, who explained that she had her whole happily-ever-after in Ohio with Finn planned out -- after she hit it big on Broadway.
Somewhat surprisingly, no footage of Finn or any of his "Glee" performances were woven into the episode. But a makeshift memorial was erected in front of his old locker and several characters tussled over possession of his red letterman's jacket. Rachel and Mr. Schuester also hung up a photo of Finn in the music room that featured one of his quotes:
"The show must go on -- all over the place ... or something."
Monteith died in a Vancouver hotel in July of a heroin and alcohol overdose at age 31. Following the episode, Fox aired a public-service announcement with "Glee" actors urging anyone with an addiction problem to get help.
"Glee" will now take several weeks off and return to the air on Nov. 7.