As expected, Glee's heartfelt tribute to Cory Monteith — who died in July at the age of 31 from a drug overdose — delivered the show's best ratings in a year. According to overnight Nielsen ratings, it the episode titled "The Quarterback" delivered 7.4 million viewers and a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49. That's up 40 percent from the musical dramedy's recent season premiere and up 75 percent from last week.
Written by Glee creators Ryan Murphy Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, the episode chose not to say how the good-hearted, comically dim, high school jock Finn Hudson died. In an opening narration by Finn's stepbrother Kurt, played by Chris Colfer, the "how" he died is dismissed. "Everyone wants to talk about how he died, but who cares? I want to talk about how he lived."
Interesting choice. That left the episode to explore the different way people express grief. And it felt like we were eavesdropping on the cast members grieving for a friend.
You have Mike O'Malley tearfully regretting he didn't hug his stepson more. (Hello Emmy voters? Where's this guy's statue?) But when Rachel (Lea Michele, Monteith's real-life girlfriend) showed up in the last third of the show, there just weren't enough hankies in the house. She performed Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love and every line was a knife to the heart as tears streamed down her anguished face.
I have a feeling a lot of those viewers Thursday night were like me, ones who loved the first season but abandoned this show two years ago when it descended into an earnest, irritating series of vaguely related songs, teenage problems and sexual tension. But now we remember why we loved it and unfortunately Cory Monteith was a big part of that.
He was clearly loved, and he will be missed.