'Glee' Finally Brings Up Finn Hudson Again In "City of Angels" With Another Sweet Tribute

A long time has passed since we last heard mention of Cory Monteith's passing and Finn Hudson. But on Tuesday night, Glee surprised us and our slightly mended hearts with yet another sweet tribute. After weeks of focusing on New York, Glee returned to Lima for the New Directions' trip to Los Angeles for Nationals, and it was as bittersweet as possible. It was so reminiscent of the glee club's first trip to a competition that it's getting harder and harder to say goodbye to McKinley High School.

There were a lot of things at play in this episode. Will told Sam that it was his job to step up and lead the group, Skylar Astin made her guest-starring debut, and Burt Hummel and Carole Hudson returned for the first time since "The Quarterback." And it ended up being a huge tearjerker — even if Astin provided comedic relief with his wildly exaggerated French. We'd been waiting for awhile for Finn to be brought up again, and Ryan Murphy chose the perfect moment.

So Sam's called on to lead the New Directions band of misfits (even Mr. Schue is calling them that now) and he's not so sure he can handle it. But Mr. Schue manages to convince him that it's what Finn would have wanted — Sam disagrees and tells him that he's nothing like Finn, but ends up stepping up anyway. In their final few days before Nationals, Burt and Carole return to the school to give the kids a pep talk and tell them that Finn would be so proud of them. They gave an impressive and heartbreaking speech about what Finn would have wanted from them (to do the best they can aka win) and that he was never happier than when he was coaching these kids. Cue the tears.

Mr. Schue and his New Directions head off to Los Angeles where they meet up with semi-famous Mercedes. And Sam, in a heartwarming and very Sam-like gesture, brings along Finn's memorial plaque from the choir room to inspire the group. (We're still crying.) He ends up giving a speech as well that even moves Kitty to tears, even though he's having as hard of a time holding it together as Carole. Everyone's super-emotional about their last competition together — especially Tina who puts her foot in her mouth. Again. As if we're not surprised.

Tina blurts out a bunch of nonsense in front of Carole about her life being over, which would otherwise be fine if she were in the proper company. And in a huge moment Carole mutters, "At least you get to live," shocking us and herself. And for the first time since her incredible and heartbreaking performance in "The Quarterback" we see how far she's come and how far she's yet to go in her grieving process. She thought she'd feel closer to him by surrounding herself with these kids, but it's really just breaking her heart.

Finally, the team performs their set — "More Than A Feeling," "America," and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" — and they're actually not bad, because they're charging through these seemingly unrelated songs with determination that only comes with knowing this is it. It's not until halfway through when Carole whispers to Burt that these were Finn's favorite songs that we have some idea about what's to come. During "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" the show began to cut to footage of Finn from earlier seasons and I started crying like a baby. They ended their set with Sam holding up Finn's red drumsticks.

When the "Quarterback" aired, we were all struck by the fact that they avoided footage of Monteith's character — and now, that decision seems to make sense. This moment, with the seniors belting out his favorite song, was a pure and the most Glee-like tribute Ryan Murphy could ever have given the character. And it was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.

The New Directions ended up losing to Astin's Throat Explosion and placing second in the competition. And Mr. Schue and Sam share a moment where it's clear that even though everyone had grieved, a tribute to Finn opened up his old wounds. But there's no time to rest on our heartbreak — because now that Sue's dropped her iron fist on the New Directions and plans to disband the club, everyone needs to step up and fight.

And so, onto "100" we go!

Image: FOX