LOS ANGELES -- Other TV series have woven a cast member’s death into an episode honoring them and their character. But "Glee" had an especially sensitive task.
The Fox series paid tribute Thursday to Cory Monteith, who was found dead in a Canadian hotel room in July of an accidental alcohol and drug overdose that ended his long, self-described fight against addiction at age 31.
Monteith’s death is especially haunting given the character he played, a handsome Big Man on Campus with a sweet smile and big heart, one whose toughest problems involved dating and chastity or whether to align with glee club outsiders or the in-crowd football team.
There’s also the uneasy knowledge that when Lea Michele’s character, Rachel, cries over boyfriend Finn, it mirrors the actress’ grief over losing her off-screen romantic partner. She dedicated her recent Teen Choice Award to Monteith, accepting with tears and wearing a necklace that spelled out "Cory."
Last month’s Emmy Awards remembered Monteith, with "Glee" star Jane Lynch calling his death a "tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction."
Mike O’Malley, who played stepdad Kurt Hummel to Monteith’s Finn, offered his take on the issue.
"He’s gone and you’re never going to see him again, and so now you gotta go to work, you got to honor his life, you’re trying to honor his fans’ relationship with the character."
He said the episode included "the most emotional scene I’ve ever acted in my entire life," and called Monteith "a real bright light."
In a Fox promotion for the episode titled "The Quarterback," students were seen gathered at an ad hoc memorial display at Finn’s high school locker, while another scene shows a weeping Rachel being comforted by glee club teacher Will (Matthew Morrison).
A mournful version of Bob Dylan’s "Make You Feel My Love" performed by Michele was heard on the promo soundtrack. Other songs in the episode included covers of "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway musical "Rent"; James Taylor’s "Fire & Rain"; an The Pretenders’ "I’ll Stand by You."
"Glee" is taking break of several weeks after the Monteith tribute for the World Series.