Well, if it isn't Kurt (Chris Colfer) that makes me cry on Glee, then it's Artie (Kevin McHale). The highly-touted one-two punch of guest-director Joss Whedon and guest-star Neil Patrick Harris weren't the only ones to deliver in "Dream On."
What an incredibly emotional, touching episode, and a long-overdue one at that! I don't know what I was sadder about: Watching Artie get his dreams crushed like six times, or knowing that we probably won't see Artie dance again, unless Glee decides to make Artie's daydreams into a recurring thing (a stretch, but I'd buy any excuse to watch Kevin McHale dance!). In any case, I was beyond thrilled to see Artie and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) get their due diligence in this episode. Tina kept up with Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) pretty well in that tap number, no?
And Neil Patrick Harris! After watching him gush over boobs and suits for five years, it was both weird and nice to see him as a different kind of jackass, one that doesn't depend so heavily on slapstick humor and high-fives. And unlike Barney Stinson, Bryan Ryan (great character name, by the way) has more of an excuse to sing. I almost wish that Will (Matthew Morrison) and Bryan were written as brothers, because MM and NPH bare a striking resemblance to one another, but friendly rivals suited them just fine. And Aerosmith's "Dream On" did, too; both of them hit each note pretty perfectly, and what a wondrous treat to see them both share the stage.
And Idina Menzel! I like that she plays Shelby so ambiguously. You want to hate her, because she's the rival coach and she gave up Rachel (Lea Michele) for adoption and all that, but her facial expressions draw out a certain sympathy. It doesn't hurt that Menzel looks so much like Michele that they actually could be related, but whatever. It's brilliant casting any way you slice it. I just hope Susan Boyle was satisfied with their duet of her song.
This whole plot line about Rachel's biological mother could really open up a lot of doors for the character. Behind the first door is Rachel's personality; up until "Dream On," she was a despicable, mesmerizing robot-diva. But now we've seen her even more vulnerable than when she lost her voice, and that means that she might actually grow up a little, like a regular high-schooler. Behind the second is a complex conflict between her, Shelby (Menzel), and Jesse (Jonathan Groff). Once Rachel finds out that (a) Shelby is her real mom and that (b) Shelby was using Jesse to get to her, she could lash out at one or both of them. I asked Menzel in an interview if this would happen and she said, "It’s a lot more about meeting her mother and having not had her for her whole life. It’s more about exploring those emotions than the calculating manipulative thing that everyone thinks is going on with the opposing team and Jesse and all that." That's comforting, because most shows would take this opportunity to build cheap drama out of the whole "betrayal" thing (which Glee has done many times already). Behind the third are Rachel's two gay dads, who I'm guessing everyone is dying to meet. I also asked Menzel if we'd see them, and she said, "Probably, I think it would be a good chance for some great stuff." I can only hope that one of them is played by Taye Diggs. Please, Ryan Murphy. Please.
And Joss Whedon! His Jossness added his own special touches to this episode, from the grainy camera-phone shots of Artie dancing in the mall to the out-of-focus shot of Tina and Mike dancing behind him on stage, to the various angled shots of Will and Bryan climbing higher and higher onto the pile of assorted props as they duet-auditioned. It was a good episode to begin with, but Whedon made it great.
Without further adieu, the best quotes from the episode:
5. Bryan, to Will: "I have a box of playbills hidden away in my basement, Will. Like porn."
4. Sue (Jane Lynch), to Bryan: "I've got a secret room upstairs. Like Letterman."
3. Tina: "Do you want a pretzel?" Artie: "Hell yes, woman!"
2. Bryan, to Will: "You can't feed a child sheet music, Will. Well, I suppose you could, but they'd be dead in a month."
1. Not a quote, but too awesome to pass up: The face that Will sported braces and a shirt that even Bill Cosby would find ugly.
What did you think of "Dream On"?
Follow TV.com writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom