On this week’s Glee, Rachel looked to her New Directions past to help her move toward a Broadway future, Finn stuggled to find a balance between his responsibility to study and his right to party and Marley unveiled a secret weapon that might be the key to winning Regionals.
It wasn’t the funniest episode of Season 4 — and it wasn’t as harrowingly intense as last week’s “Shooting Star” — but “Sweet Dreams” captured the innocence and hopefulness of young kids with big aspirations as well as any hour of the show this season.
And while I’m sure some folks will say it’s too much of a stretch to think a team of high-powered producers would consider hiring a college freshman with absolutely no theater experience to headline a big-budget Broadway revival of Funny Girl, all I can say is that Rachel’s rafter-rattling rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin'” quashed any skepticism in my heart.
If you were too busy making grilled cheese sandwiches with your toaster, here’s what you missed on Glee:
Rachel Puts the “Oh!” in Open Call | Rachel started the week thinking she needed to channel her idol Barbra Streisand to win the lead role in Funny Girl, but birth mom Shelby stopped by for a pow-wow and convinced her that a “fresh interpretation” was needed. Rachel then chose the Season 1 number that started it all — “Don’t Stop Believin'” — and as she performed it for a trio of cranky producers, she began to envision the old New Directions gang (Tina, Mercedes, Artie, Kurt and Finn) backing her up. This may have been the most joyous moment of Season 4 — and made me wish there’d been a little more NYC focus this week (but yeah, I always wish that). At the close of the show, Ms. Berry’s phone finally rang: She got a callback! Cue Rachel/Kurt happy dance! Yay!
Marley Proves She’s an Original | Marley decided to free her original songs from the false-bottomed drawer in her bedroom — at the exact moment Mr. Schue settled on a completely literal interpretation of Regionals’ “Dreams” theme: “Dream Weaver,” “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” and “You Make My Dreams.” When Blaine & Co. challenged the set list, Schue got more dictatorial than Mussolini, but later, after hearing Marley (with Unique, Blaine and Sam) singing her self-penned ballad “You Have More Friends Than You Know,” his heart grew two sizes bigger. Grinch-Schue invited Finn back as co-coach, threw out his janky set list, and reopened the discussion about the possibility of original songs at Regionals. (I’m casting an early vote for Mercedes’ “Hell to the No.”)
Finn Reaches a Crossroads | When Puck took over as his roomie at Lima State, Finn descended into a party-all-the-time mode (that clown in the fountain was the creeeeepiest), culminating in a Beastie Boys cover that was almost too painfully real in light of Cory Monteith’s recent struggles with addiction and relapse. After slapping down an olive branch from Schue and missing another test, Finn got a stern talking-to from Puck, who demanded the two of ’em become more than what was expected by their naysayers. Finn decided to refocus on becoming a teacher — and even got the school to give him actual credits for his new role as New Directions co-adviser.
In Other News… | New Cheerios coach Roz Washington made Becky and Blaine take oaths not to put a hex on her like she suspected they’d done to Sue, but Becky’s skittish behavior made Blaine wonder if she knew more about the school gunfire incident than she’d revealed. Finn and Puck got invited to join a frat. We found out Shelby had opened a Broadway daycare (aka “Fame for toddlers,” as Rachel put it). And Rachel called Finn for a sweet chat before she went to her audition. (Even their phone convos percolate with chemistry, no?)
Grades for This Week’s Performances
Rachel & Shelby: “Next to Me” | These two always sound great together, no? Grade: A-
Finn & Puck: “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” | Grade: N/A
Marley, Sam, Unique and Blaine: “You Have More Friends Than You Know” | A little “That’s What Friends Are For”-sy, yeah, but a pretty melody and some genuine chemistry among the performers. Grade: B+
Rachel: “Don’t Stop Believin'” | Oh em gee, give her the part already! This was almost too good. Grade: A+
Marley & New Directions: “Outcast” | This one just didn’t move me in any way. Maybe New Directions’ status as defending national champs took a little sizzle off this anthem for the put-down and put-upon? Grade: C+
With that, I turn it to you. What did you think of “Sweet Dreams”? Hit the comments with your thoughts, then vote in our poll for your favorite musical number.