How Will 'Glee' Handle Cory Monteith's Death?

Celebrities and Glee fans alike have been mourning the passing of Cory Monteith, who was found dead Saturday in a Vancouver hotel room.

And Glee will soon be mourning him, too. Monteith, of course, was a major character on the show, playing dopey, lovable Finn, who kept the glee club together when times got tough. But Glee, with its young and fanatic viewer base, isn't the kind of show that would normally kill of a major character. In fact, the only death that has ever occurred on the show was Sue's sister Jean, a small character who existed only to give Sue's character some emotional depth.

Glee's characters have survived school shootings, car crashes, and attempted suicides, but have always come out alive. So it's an understatement to say that Glee is not prepared for the death of a major character, and even its ability to handle weighty, emotional issues has diminished over the years. (Just check out the heavily criticized school shooting episode.) So how will Glee handle Monteith's death?

It's unlikely they'll ignore it. After all, the series has never shied away from a tribute episode — just look at their treatments of late artists like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. It would be logical to think Glee will follow suit for Monteith — why wouldn't it showcase some of his "greatest hits" with clips from the series? But Glee's copious use of covers mean that Finn's "greatest hits" were never his to begin with. And the one song most associated with Monteith's Finn, "Don't Stop Believin'," was used just last season for Rachel's Funny Girl audition.The second Glee featured the repeat performance, the song lost all of its emotional significance.

But Finn needs to be remembered, just for more than the the songs that he sang in glee club. Finn was an important person to every character on the show and his relationship was different with each one. So knowing that Glee will undoubtably toast Monteith, here's hoping for an episode that allows each cast member to pay tribute to the late actor in song. Some of Glee's best emotional moments are expressed with music, and such a central character to the show needs to be remembered the way the glee club would remember him. And since we cannot possibly expect McKinley High to get over such a monumental death in the course of one 60-minute episode, the series will also need to explore how Finn's death affects each of these characters throughout the season. How will they grieve? Will they be motivated to make a change in their lives? Because we're guessing the real actors are considering these questions this very day.

Even if Monteith was still alive, it would be a difficult for the series to pull Finn completely from the series. The attempted suicide of Dave Karofsky in the show's third season was a beautiful and emotional sequence, but the emotional impact of the event was buried under regionals and Quinn's car crash. So, if Glee does insist on planning a tribute episode for Monteith, the series must first fix the show's biggest problem: its focus. Glee has been increasingly plagued with multiple plots, and Monteith's death is undoubtedly the biggest, most emotional event to happen to the McKinley High gang. It deserves at least one episode's full attention (and hopefully more).

The tragic loss of Monteith is a defining moment for Glee. And it will be a defining moment for many of the show's actors, especially Monteith's real-life girlfriend, Lea Michele. Monteith's death was probably one of the worst and least expected things to happen to Glee, and his talent will leave a huge hole in the show. Or Glee will simply toast him with a classic rock tribute episode. But let's hope the series believed in Monteith enough to give him better.

Image: FOX