'Glee's' Cory Monteith tribute 'not about any message,' says EP

"Glee's" much-talked-about tribute episode to late star Cory Monteith airs Thursday night -- and executive producer Brad Falchuck says it's focus is not on the how, but the what now?

"The Quarterback" begins a few weeks after the death of boy-next-door jock Finn (Monteith). There's no revelation on how he died, and there is no funeral scene. The plot focuses on someone stealing Finn's letterman jacket. Music-wise, everyone pays tribute by singing songs for Finn at Mr. Schue's urging.

"We talked through a lot of different ideas of the possible ways to do this," Falchuck said. "We sort of came upon what we decided to do--and it was this.  Ryan and I sort of wrote it very quickly. It was emotionally very challenging to write, but as a piece of work not very hard to write. We’ve been writing the show for a long time and know the characters very well. There was less rewrites than we probably had in years."

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When reports first broke that "Glee" would address Monteith's death via Finn, some wondered whether the star's addiction would weave its way into the plot (Monteith died earlier this summer from a heroin overdose). To keep reality separate from the fictional world, the addiction acknowledgment instead comes through PSAs.

"There is no mention of addiction at all in the episode," Falchuck said. "This episode is about grief, it's not about any message. It's about what it means to lose a friend. It's not about how that friend is lost, it's just about how people react to that loss."

And while it's sure to have its naysayers--some have already questioned not delaying the season--Falchuck said it was a necessary, and inevitable, hurdle. One that was hard, but easier with friends.

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"It’s a tribute to him," he said.  "And I think it's lovely that it's hard. There's no answers in it. Nobody says anything that makes anybody else feel better…because nobody feels good about it.  Just like in real life. We went in the day of shooting and nothing was really said. Everyone knew what we were there for. He’s our friend. He’s everybody's friend. No one had to be reminded about what it was about.  Nobody needed any help. There was a lot of crying and a lot of hugging, a lot of taking a moment. And lot of quiet. It was a very quiet set."

The episode airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT

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