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Cory Monteith's death still seems too sad to be real. Unfortunately, it is real, and with the fall season approaching, we're left to wonder how the actor's demise will impact Glee, and how the writers would write Finn out of the show. Ryan Murphy has revealed the answer to that mystery - mystery being the key word. Finn's death won't be explained in specifics. From what Murphy says, it sounds like the character will die, but the "how" won't be revealed, possibly ever.
Knowing that Monteith's death would have to be addressed on Glee in its fifth season, given how integral Finn has been to the plot of the story since the beginning, I'll admit to being put off by the idea of the show using Monteith's death for dramatic purposes within the context in the show. But really, it's a tricky situation, as they have to address Finn's exit somehow. And how do they do that in a way that's respectful and doesn't feel gimmicky? It sounds like series creator Ryan Murphy and the writers have settled on an approach, and thankfully, it isn't to have the character die of a drug overdose. Here's what Murphy said in an interview Deadline shared:
The hard part for all of us is that the past week we’ve been holed up writing the memorial episode. There were a lot of things that we had to decide — how are we going to deal with his death? At one point, we were going to have his character die after an accidental drug overdose — that was something we had considered. But we have decided that we’re not going to have him pass from that. Basically, what we’re doing in the episode is we are not telling you yet, or maybe not at all, how that character died.
First of all, it's good to hear they're not going the drug overdose approach, as it would've come out of nowhere, considering I don't think Finn's ever had a substance abuse problem. And for another, I can't picture that working without the episode feeling like an intentional cautionary tale. Monteith died due to substance abuse, so unfortunately the reality of the situation is its own cautionary tale. But not giving a reason for the characters' death at all? That's a risky approach, but it just might work to keep the focus where it needs to be, while also addressing the character's exit.
Fans might not like being left in the dark about Finn's death, but considering the options, it seems like a reasonable approach to putting the emphasis on the character's exit and not turning Monteith's death into part of the story. This would allow the writers to acknowledge the character's exit and death and pay tribute to Monteith.
EW notes that the planned memorial episode will take place during Episode 3 of Season 5, after the two Beatles tribute episodes that will kick off the season. The Beatles episodes reportedly had to be reworked slightly to account for Finn's absence. Beyond that, Monteith's death also affected the production schedule for the series, resulting in Glee's return date being rescheduled from September 19 to September 26.