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The tragic death of Cory Monteith leaves Glee writers with a decision to make on the fate of his character, Finn Hudson. And they may be in a crunch to make that decision, as the series was supposed to begin production on Season 5 next week. But with Monteith's death this weekend, changes will need to be made to the start of Season 5, as Monteith's character Finn was expected to be featured prominently. There's also the matter of what Fox will do about Glee if production needs to be delayed.
Deadline doesn't outright mention the possibility of a delay, but they do say Fox execs are discussing how to handle the return of Glee as the writers work on handling how the character will exit the musical dramedy. Monteith took some time away from Glee at the end of last season to enter rehab, but he was expected to return in Season 5 and according to the site, Finn played an important part of the episodes that had already been written. Glee was supposed to start shooting Season 5 next month in anticipation of the season premiere September 19. The plan was to get a few episodes on the air before Fox derails its primetime schedule with baseball broadcasts. But I'm wondering if Monteith's death and the time it might take to refashion the start of the season to incorporate Finn's exit might delay the series' return. That may come down to whether or not the series resumes production as planned next week.
What will most surely be addressed is Finn's exit. The writers must decide if they're going to write him out of the show in some kind of scenario that has Finn leaving town, maybe heading off to college or some other more positive departure, or if they want to take a darker approach in having Finn Hudson die, which is - to cite a recent example - how Dallas chose to handle the death of Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing in both the original series and the follow-up. Of course, Hagman was elderly when he passed, which does make a difference, as Finn's death would be a big more sudden, regardless of how they worked it into the story. And it would likely have an impact on the course of the season, at least at the beginning, as the characters came to grips with the loss of one of their own.
As Deadline points out, series creator Ryan Murphy has worked ripped-from-the-headlines pop-culture events into the plot of Glee in the past, so making a story out of Monteith's death wouldn't be entirely out of the ordinary for the show. But the series has shied away from death in the past, with its closest brush probably being when Quinn was in a car accident. The death of a character - and a lead character at that - would be a shift for the series.
Regardless of how they decide to handle Finn's exit, I doubt I'm alone in hoping that some kind of tribute is paid to Monteith, whose well-meaning, kind and occasionally insecure character will surely be missed on the series.
Here's one of Monteith's last musical performances on the show. Fittingly, "Don't' Stop Believing" was also one of the first…