Glee – Dream On (S01E19) – Episode review

Let’s get it out of the way right from the start: could Dream On have been the best Glee episode ever? There were high hopes for this one, with Joss Whedon in the director’s chair and Neil Patrick Harris in front of the camera giving a worthy guest performance as Will Schuester’s childhood nemesis.

His character, Bryan Ryan, is a jaded former Glee clubber who now runs a show choir conversion group to turn people away from show tunes. And he’s auditing the school for programmes they can cut! Guess which glee club he’s got his sights trained on?

So, in a dream-based episode of [[Glee (TV Series)|Glee]], we see Bryan Ryan stomp all over the Glee club’s hopes and aspirations with the very real assertion that most of them will never leave the state they were born in. And I mean the geographical state…but I suppose that last one could be relevant to Artie’s story. More on that in a minute.

The showdown between Schuester and Ryan created some spectacular television moments. Although I thought Ryan caved in far too quickly, admitting his hostility toward glee club was because he hated his life without show tunes, it was the setup for two great musical moments between Neil Patrick Harris and [[Matthew Morrison]].

My personal favourite was their duet on Aerosmith’s Dream On. It’s the best thing ever when Glee covers a song that you love, and this is one of my favourite Aerosmith songs. I don’t know about you, but Dream On could easily rival Don’t Stop Believin’ as one of the most definitive songs from this series’ repertoire. And didn’t Neil Patrick Harris do well? He played it on the subtle side of unhinged, delivering boxes of costumes paid for out of the Cheerios budget, and withdrew them again just as quickly when he found out Schuester had beaten him to the lead in a local amateur production of Les Mis.

Artie’s walking dream

Poor old Artie. He rides quite the rollercoaster of emotions this week. When Tina finds out that he wants to be a dancer, she helps him by investigating surgeries and procedures that might help him walk again. A visit to Emma Pillsbury reminds him that his spinal damage is irreversable, which dashes his hopes, but eventually he returns to a more realistic state – realising that he should focus on dreams that are more achievable.

All this is the set-up for a stunning fantasy dance routine. Just in case your thought Kevin McHale was wheelchair bound in real life, you understand. It’s a captivating scene because we’re not used to seeing Artie without his wheelchair, and we’re certainly not used to seeing him dance. The choice of shopping mall flashmob could not have been more passe, but it’s a minor grumble.

Shout out to Brittany (aka actress Heather Morris) who just looks really funky and cute in this dance routine. We missed Britanny’s pearls of wisdom in this episode, but there was more than enough to make up for it.

Rachel Berry’s mother?

In a very tastefully handled subplot, Jesse returns this week and tries to tease out Rachel’s real dreams. No, not the inevitability that she’ll be a star, the real one, what she wants from her life. And it transpires that she’d love to know her mother. Just as well, really because annoyingly pretty Jesse is working for Shelby (aka Idina Menzel), who is literally the spitting image of Rachel ([[Lea Michele]]).

It’s a thread that ties two dreams together – Rachel wants to know her mother, and Shelby dreams of connecting with the daughter she gave away years ago. The scene where Menzel sings I Dreamed A Dream and is joined onstage (in the second fantasy sequence of the episode) by Rachel shows the amazing likeness between the two actresses, and beats the socks off the Susan Boyle version that I’ve grown so bloody tired of hearing.

I thought it was hilarious that Rachel’s most immediate concern was that her mother might be a terrible singer. Or a better singer than her.

Less than stellar was the fact that Rachel was trying to investigate her mother’s name in the school library. Since when was that the place to trace your parentage? Suddenly, millions of American kids from single parent families hit the library in the hopes of discovering their real father is a star.

Quotes from Dream On

  • Bryan: “Nine years later, I woke up on a urine-stained mattress in the West Lima crack district. Then something amazing happened. I was introduced to Jesus.”
  • Artie’s ‘tap wheels’ aren’t much good: “I sound like someone put tap shoes on a horse and then shot it.”
  • Bryan: “You can’t feed a child sheet music, Will. Well, I suppose you could, but they’d be dead in a month.”
  • Rachel: “My fathers kept every piece of paper related to my life in files and cabinets in our basement. It’s sort of a little Rachel Berry museum.”
  • Bryan Ryan caves far too easily: “I’m living a lie. I miss it so much. I am miserable. Ever since I stopped performing I cannot stand my life. Three times a year, I tell my wife I’m going off to a business trip, I sneak off to New York, I see a bunch of Broadway shows.”
  • Figgins: “Let Mr Bryan Ryan contribute to the marketplace of ideas. What’s the worst that can happen?”
  • Bryan: “Sue, you’re an impressive woman. I can’t tell you how much you turn me on right now. You ever heard of anger sex?” Sue: “It’s the only kind I know.” Bryan: “I should tell you I’m married. And I’m still cutting half your budget.”
  • Shelby: “I failed as an actress. My walls are lined with trophies instead of wedding pictures. But through all of that, I only have one regret.”
  • Bryan: “I’ve grown weary of your insults Will. And they make me want to punch your face.”
  • Artie: “The fact is, any of the guys in there could dance my part better than me without even rehearsing. Except Finn.”

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