Though it's hard, Glee is saying goodbye to Cory Monteith.
Creator Ryan Murphy released the first look at the Fox hit's tribute episode for the late star on Thursday. "First look," he simply tweeted along with the photo. The promo is simply a black and white photo of Monteith's face, with the caption, "The hardest word to say is 'goodbye.'"
Glee's tribute episode to Monteith will be the third episode of its fifth season, which debuts tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox. "You will cry from beginning to end," one insider told us of the "gut-wrenching" tribute episode, while another added, "I cried as I read it, on every page."
Fox has kept the details surrounding the episode pretty quiet, but we know the hour will take place in Lima, Ohio and will center on the death of Finn Hudson, Monteith's character. The episode will begin with the news of Finn's death, though it will not be revealed how he died, and the rest of the hour will focus on all of the characters remembering and mourning Finn. Lea Michele, Monteith's girlfriend, does not appear in the episode until the final act.
After reading the script, Jane Lynch tweeted "Just read Cory Monteith memorial episode. Most beautiful thing. Thank you, @MrRPMurphy @BFalchuk Ian Brennan."
Star Matthew Morrison recently talked to E! News about the tribute, saying, "We've mourned Cory, but now we're mourning Finn. So it's kind of like two people in that one person. It's incredibly hard, and we're staying strong together, and I have to say, Lea [Michele] has been the most strongest of all of us."
As to why they are not including Finn's cause of death in the episode, Murphy explained, "Basically, what we're doing in the episode is we are not telling you yet, or maybe not at all, how that character died. The idea being, how somebody died is interesting and maybe morbid, but we say very early on in the episode, 'This episode is about a celebration of that character's life.' That might be weird for some people, but it felt really exploitative to do it any other way."
Filming the episode was an emotional and difficult experience for the cast members: "It's the worst thing that's ever happened to me," Naya Rivera said at the MTV Video Music Awards. "It is the hardest thing to do. It's been the worst week ever." Darren Criss added, "It's tough to shoot. It's something that needs to happen for the fans...it's going to be tough. But it will be very poignant and hopefully very moving, and just that: a tribute. Hopefully it will be a good tribute to Cory."
Glee returns tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox.