Here we go, gang, the best episode of the season yet. It’s cracked out, it’s crazy, and it tugs at your heart strings, and all of the story lines are well balanced. In honor of all of the Les Miz references, today’s cocktail is: J’ai Eu Un Rêve (I have a dream.)
Our free space is to drink every time Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious. So get ’em ready.
Figgins introduces Will to the school’s newest board member, Bryan Ryan. Oh, does Will know who he is. They went to school together (Bryan was a few years ahead) and Bryan was also in Glee. He got all the ladies and solos, was too cool for school, and could even do magic tricks while performing. He had it all.
He’s here now to reevaluate the arts programs, and most likely cut Glee. WHAT?! Glee and Show Choir had been his life! And there’s the problem. It had been his life and all it got him was a part in the chorus on a cruise ship and the memories of being the featured soloist in the King’s Island Doodley Doo Musical Review. [DRINK!] Nine years later he’s waking up on a piss-soaked mattress wondering how to pay the bills with a wicked crack addiction. Glee ruined his LIFE.
But, fear not, gang, he found Jesus. (Figgins smiles and clutches his heart.) “He was my Honduran social worker.” Ahaha. [DRINK!] Now he runs a successful used Hummer dealership (Global Warming is a myth. A MYTH! “Yeth?”) and four nights a week he runs a show choir support group.
Flashback to Sandy Reyerson in attendance: “Whenever anything bad would happen, I would just say ‘Let’s put on a show.’ Well, guess what? Puttin’ on a show about your father’s prostate cancer will actually just make him more depressed about the situation.”
Bryan just wants to talk to the kids, make sure they have all the facts. (Is this one of those sneaky ways to bring in Intelligent Design into a science class?) Will gives the introductions and tells them to take anything said with a grain of salt.
Bryan smiles at them all. “Write down your most important dream on a piece of paper.” He then takes Artie’s, crumples it without reading and tosses it in the trashcan. Welcome to reality, folks, “91% of you will live in Allen County, Ohio. Showbiz dreams are the most unrealistic of them all.”
“But, that’s what I want to do with my life!” Tina cries. Aww. Hey, look no further than your teacher, is that who you want to turn into? You know what they say about teachers, those who can, do, those who can’t become Will “Unfulfilled” Schuesters. Tina starts sobbing. I would too, Tina. The butt chin surgery alone would hurt like the dickens.
Will has had enough. He kicks Bryan out in a bold move, which just insures that he’s going to cut Glee. I’m kinda wishing Neil Patrick Harris would have given a “muah ha ha ha!” right here. Too much?
Later, Tina flirts a little with Artie, but he won’t be totally honest with her, which is frustrating. Welcome to the mindset of teenage boys, Miss Tina. She knows how to solve this, let’s do a dance together! Wheelchair, schmeelchair, she’s going to put “taps” on his wheels. Oh god.
Jesse finds Rachel in the McKinley High ballet studio (that’s been at the school? Really?!) and asks her what her dreams are. “Lead parts in Evita, Funny Girl, and Laurie in Oklahoma.” Jesse tells her those aren’t dreams, those are inevitabilities. Aww! Okay, then, her real dream is to find her mother. She just wants to know who she is, that’s enough for her.
Tina finds some “taps” to go on Artie’s tires (and why isn’t that stopping his forward motion? How on earth is it physically possible to work?) and they do a little wonky number. Artie isn’t okay with it, and says he’s got a surprise, since Tina’s all with the “you WILL walk one day!” stuff. He has some braces that he borrowed from someone and because of his “super human” upper body strength, he should be able to manage dragging his legs around.
He moves forward a bit and then falls to his face. I flinched so hard I almost fell out of my chair, guys. Tina tries to help him, but he barks at her to go away, to leave him alone, this is all her fault for pushing (unfair, Artie!) but you can see that he’s clearly mortified that he fell and is in such a vulnerable place in front of a girl he wants to impress. Poor kid. But Artie? You brought the braces, she brought the bling for your chair, I’m just saying.
Bryan is in Home Ec, evaluating their practical skills and usefulness, hint hint, Show Choir, and Will tries again to convince him to leave Glee alone. “You can’t feed a child sheet music, Will. Well, I suppose you can for a while, but they’d be dead in a month.” [DRINK!]
Can we have Bryan’s sassy dialog all the time, please? Or Bryan and Brittany on Fondue For Two? Throw in April Rhodes and I will want for nothing more in this life.
Rachel tells Jesse that she’s pretty sure she’s found her mother. Through a series of convoluted explanations she says it’s clearly Patti LuPone. Jesse looks askance. Bernadette Peters, maybe? They need to do a proper investigation, he tells her gently.
Will convinced Bryan to have a beer with him, so it’s just a couple of hetero bros drinking some imported Belgian beers in a biker bar, like dudes do. They continue this by trying to push the “Bryan got all the tail in high school” theme. Oh, but he didn’t. The one that got away
Will Terri. Oho! Will nabbed her, but dropped her like it’s hot because of her crazy. And we learn a little something, gang: music helped him get out of a terrible marriage. Music, not her fake pregnancy. (Hey she faked it because he loved the music more than her. Or something.)
The point of music isn’t to get on Broadway (yes, it is), it’s about expressing yourself (on a stage on Broadway.) Bryan collapses on the bar. “I’m living a lie!” Knew it. He and Will go back and explore their relationship further. NO THEY DON’T, stop grossing out. Will shows how much of a “regular workin’ stiff” he is by putting a quarter in the juke box and playing the blue collar theme song, “Piano Man.” He tries to look super casual with his elbows on the bar, just singin’ like dudes do, and Neil Patrick Harris saves the day by singing along.
They’ve buried the hatchet, they’re ready to move forward, and Will tells Bryan what he’s going to do, because that’s what Will does best. They’ll both audition for the new production of “Les Miz” on Friday. Bryan hugs Will, his dreams just might come true.
Tina finds Artie, who apologizes to her. She wants him to not give up on his dreams (his written dream was “Dance”) because there is all sorts of amazing research being done with stem cells, etc., and he just might walk again! They kiss and they’re sweet, aww. Heart hands!
Jesse and Rachel are at her house going through her personal museum (her fathers were super dedicated up until she was about 10, it seems, and now they’re nowhere to be found.) She finds a jar of her baby teeth, and Jesse gives the best skeeved out face ever. He slips a cassette tape from his pocket into a box of old things, as if it had been there all along. “Oh, what’s this, a tape? Hmm, says ‘from mother to daughter’ on it. Let’s listen!”
Rachel is freaked out and not ready to listen to it. What if there’s singing? What if she’s a terrible singer? Or worse, “what if she’s better than me?” She wants to think about it before she’s ready to listen, and asks Jesse to leave.
Will and Bryan are at the auditions, and it seems they’re both auditioning for Jean Valjean. Bryan begins to scheme. Oh, that song you’re singing? I’m singing it, too. You’ve changed it? Hey, I did as well, what a coink-i-dink! [DRINK!] The director, disturbed by their bickering, asks them what’s up.
Bryan says while pointing to Will, “Sorry, his caretaker stepped away for a minute, I heard him say he was a sex offender.” [DRINK!] The director says they’ll sing Aerosmith’s “Dream On” as a duet, then. They sing it at each other like their hate-flirting. They have a sexy song battle with displays of their physical prowess, leaping all over the stage, sliding on their knees towards each other, and my god, Matthew Morrison has massive chemistry with Neil Patrick Harris. I mean, it’s NPH we’re talking about, anyone would have chemistry with him, but you feel me. Bryan takes the high note at the end, and the director yawns and says, “Next!”
Tina and Artie head over to the mall, she leaves him to grab a few pretzels, and when she returns, he stands up – the new therapies are working. “Safety Dance” comes out of the speakers and a flash mob number happens, with Artie dancing like a boss and being generally awesome. (I love it when Kevin McHale gets a moment to shine.) As the song ends, he sits back in his chair, and Tina comes over with the pretzels. That was just a dream.
This is when the show is at it’s finest. Oh, Artie. (And this is why they hired an able-bodied actor to play the part.)
Sue and Bryan are in her office, scheming. Why, they’ve been in cahoots all along! But it’s not going as Sue planned, because Glee still exists. They have a statistics battle over the importance of the arts vs. importance of physical exercise. Conclusion: they’re both great for kids.
Sue snaps, “Look. Is it ridiculous to bill the district for sky diving lessons so I can have the Cheerios parachute into the stadium? Perhaps, but what I do here makes a difference.”
Bryan, snorting like a bull, says, “Sue, I can’t tell you how much you turn me on right now, you ever hear of the term ‘anger sex?’” [DRINK!]
“I have a secret room upstairs. Like Letterman.”
Jesse sneaks into Shelby’s car to tell her that Rachel won’t listen to the tape. What is this? Shelby is actually Rachel’s mother! (The fans that petitioned for Idina Menzel were right: they totally look related.) Due to a contract she signed, she can’t approach Rachel until she’s 18, but Rachel can come talk to her. Jesse was happy to sign on for the seduction (“I asked you to befriend her.”) of Rachel because it would improve his acting, but now he kinda likes her.
Shelby answered an ad in the paper, it was enough money for two years in NYC to try and make her dreams come true, but they didn’t. And she never got to hold her baby girl. It’s her one regret. “Just make her listen,” she tells Jesse, kicking him out of her car.
Artie schedules a session with Emma; he wants to start working on how his life is going to be different once he starts walking. Emma does her best to control her face, but she’s clearly shocked. Artie gives her all of the information about the new therapies happening, but Emma – kindly – lets him know that this sort of thing takes years to develop and to go through enough trial and error before the public has access to them. He feels defeated and leaves.
Bryan took a huge chunk of Sue’s budget to be given to the Glee Club. He went crazy-nuts in the “Jazz Hands” catalog and bought them uniforms, costumes, sheet music, the works. Kurt rushes over to check out the bedazzled “New Directions!” jean jackets.
Sue comes in and congratulates them. Well, Will in particular. See, he got the part of Jean Valjean! Oh, but Bryan got a part as well: townsperson. He even has a line: “Hooray!” Bryan, seething with rage and jealousy, snatches back the purchases and tells them that their program is now cut. IT’S OVER.
Bryan is in the rehearsal hall working out a million different ways of saying “Hooray!” Will tries again to convince him to keep the Glee Club alive by being a little condescending and bitchy with his pleading. Bryan tells him, “I’ve grown weary of your insults. They sting and they make me want to punch your face.” [DRINK!]
Will explains that when a star dies, it eventually becomes a sucking black hole. He wants to fill Bryan’s sucking black hole by not letting him turn 13 other stars into black holes. He’ll give up his role as Jean Valjean and give it to hi- “OKAY!” Bryan says, grabbing the script and rushing off to tell the director all of his ideas.[DRINK!]
Jesse shows up at Rachel’s and makes her listen to the tape. It’s for her own good, he says. He slips back out as Rachel hears her mother call her “baby” for the first time. (She tears up, as you would. [DRINK!]) In one of the most moving moments in Glee history, Rachel listens to her mother’s recorded voice sing the ever appropriate “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Misérables, and has a little dream of her own.
She sings along, imagining herself with her mother, their voices perfectly blended, pouring out their wish to be reunited. If you can watch that performance and not be moved, then you are dead to me. I choke up every time, and I’ve watched it multiple times. The song ends, and Rachel is alone in her bedroom, and she melts into tears. Poor baby. And [DRINK.]
I just took a moment to explain to my husband why I was crying, and got all emotional again, explaining the song, what it’s from and the heartbreaking parallel to Rachel and her mom, which led to me thinking about Susan Boyle singing this in front of an antagonistic audience and how they were blown away and I choke up again. YES, I AM A SAP. Also, I’m a sucker for an outstanding vocal performance, and this one with Lea Michele and Idina Menzel is about as stellar as it comes.
Artie tells Tina that he doesn’t want to do the lame tap dance with her and that she should do it with someone else. He’s going to focus on dreams he can actually achieve. He’ll happily sing along, though. Mike Chang gives it the ol’ college try (if it was DeVry) and Tina flaps her feet around as Artie saves the number by singing “Dream a Little Dream.” Quinn pats his back at one point, knowing he’s sad he can’t do the dancing with his girl. Eh, I’m not a fan of the song, and the tap dancing is less than great.
Will then tells the kids that he graciously sacrificed his part in the musical to save all of them. He’s not upset, though, because he sees it as cashing in his dream to buy 13 others. And now he owns their souls and requires a blood sacrifice. Hooray for Glee!
Drunken Thoughts: I love Neil Patrick Harris, maybe you picked up on that. He brought his excellent comic timing to the show, and upped everyone’s skills just by playing opposite them. That’s the mark of a talented actor, folks. It would just be stunt casting from here out (as it was when this was originally cast) but he’s so perfectly tuned for this show, I wish they could make it so he could come back.
This episode was kinda flawless, barring the wonky Matthew Morrison “acting” moments in the bar. If I’m aware of your “technique,” then you’re doing it wrong. But that was such a small moment, and if that’s the only quibble, they’re doing something right.
Thank you Joss Whedon. There’s a reason I love you, buddy, and this is why.