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In tonight’s episode of “Glee” – airing at 9 p.m. on Fox and titled “The Quarterback” – the New Directions celebrate the life of Finn Hudson (cause of death is reportedly not revealed).

In this tribute episode to Cory Monteith – who died July 13 of “mixed drug toxicity” relating to heroin and alcohol – cast members will cover various songs, including “Seasons of Love” (full cast) from “Rent,” while Rachel – Lea Michele, Monteith’s real-life girlfriend – sings Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” (The episode was not available for review.)

Monteith’s last “Glee” episode aired April 18, and to refresh memories: Finn and Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) mended their breach, while Puck (Mark Salling) had talked some sense into his pal, who was enjoying college life a little too much (boozing, etc.). Meanwhile, Rachel – on the eve of her New York tryout for “Funny Girl” – called Finn for advice and got some: “Make those producers fall in love with you in that moment on the stage,” he said. “I know you have it in you.”

That episode (“Sweet Dreams”), of course, wasn’t meant to be a valedictory to Finn, though in hindsight it uncannily feels that way. What made Finn so special? Look no further than these last scenes: his sweetness and joy for life, his capacity for love, and his gift for redemption. It’s all right here.

As fans well know, Finn’s soul was conflicted. His father, a former Marine, died when he was a toddler, leaving the son in a solitary struggle to meet the standards of a ghost.

But “Sweet Dreams” actually offered a hint of closure. Finn decided to take college seriously and become a teacher, and as Rachel sang “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” in the audition, she imagined her former fiance at her side. This, in fact, was Monteith’s last musical performance on the show.

So, finally, what makes Thursday night especially melancholy is that you – or at least I – suspect Monteith was never really acting at all over his four seasons. As many personal tributes have attested, the good, gentle, soulful, sweet and – yes – struggling Finn was simply a reflection of the man who played him. Fans won’t just be saying goodbye to a TV character in a few hours. They’ll be saying goodbye to someone they love.