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Glee S05E17: "Opening Night" 

"Opening Night" was an obnoxious PSA about the importance of overcoming crippling fear and standing up to meanies, and since that's pretty much the theme of Glee as a whole, for an episode that was so important to Rachel's growth and career, it didn't feel terribly special by itself. However, it occasionally felt like a low-key series finale: Will has finally came to terms with his Lima Loser status, and Rachel is living her dream. It kind of makes you wonder what Glee could possibly do for its upcoming sixth and final season—especially if it goes for the possible 24 episodes that were proposed. 

For now, though, Glee is in a comfortable place, and "Opening Night"—even with its weird lack of specialness and its annoying rah-rah Rachelness—was fun. The episode featured delightful musical numbers and ample Lea Michele awesomeness; while I may want to slushie Rachel for the majority of the time she's on my TV screen, that is by no means a reflection of my OMG SQUEE feelings for Lea Michele. My handsomer half thought the Times reviewer's panning of Funny Girl paired with unrelenting adoration for Rachel herself was a cop-out, but I say NAY. Don't hate the actor, hate what the actor has to do to make rent. I mean, look at half of Jared Padalecki's filmography


So anyway, despite excellent previews and favorable reviews in the "legitimate" publications (and I love how Glee made the distinction that of course all of the "legitimate" publications loveRachel and it was just the lone internet wackos who hated her), Rachel read some mean comments online and retreated to her corner of the loft, presumably to pee in bottles like that chick on Hoarders and torture herself by reaching into the actual dregs of the internet for more masochistic viewing. I mean, YouTube? Oh, sweetie. Rachel is truly her own worst enemy. 

But never fear! Kurt came to the rescue with a badly forged note from Barbra Streisand—I was just as shocked as Rachel was that he didn't know about her dropped A—and then Santana, my queen, arrived to layeth the smacketh down with a bunch of vintage Streisand-hate that inspired Rachel to take a shower and go to freaking work. Well played, your highness-ness.


Meanwhile, Schue and Sue arrived in New York City for Rachel's big night and to dabble in some oddball B-stories of their own. Sue's whirlwind romance with Archer's Chris Parnell was fun, and her reluctant acceptance that New York City really is the place where dreams come true even though it smells like a diaper and looks like a dong brought Sue full circle in a this-could-have-been-a-finale way. 

Shue's baby story was a bit stranger, happening mostly off-screen, and am I the only one who's kind of bummed that we missed out on a Neurotic Preggo Emma sighting? Imagine the pamphlets! So much lost pamphlet potential! 

I also question Schue's wisdom in going to New York when his wife was apparently on the verge of popping like a meat balloon. I get that Rachel is the most important person ever, but that's your freaking wife and spawn, dude, and the whole, "I knew we'd get here someday," was creepy even if he did catch himself. Maybe because he caught himself. IDK. Schue's story actually worked well as a finale for the character the same way Sue's did. He finally admitted to being happy, even if he never got to live his own Broadway dreams. He formed new dreams, and that's a really important part of growing up that I think Glee has so-far largely ignored, even with it's latest string of "grown-up Glee" stories. 


Thankfully, the OMG SO IMPORTANT reviewer for the New York Times was gracious and optimistic in his comments about Rachel. I thought Glee would make us wait a week to find out what he said, but his praise was like the thick, sweet icing on the big happy cake that "Opening Night" ultimately turned out to be. Glee deserves some happy at this point in the season. It's been a hard year: losing Finn, losing nationals, losing the glee club itself. For better or worse, Glee just isn't into doing dark and dreary on a regular basis. Overall, this season has been a huge improvement over last season's suckfest, and Glee has shown a surprising amount of restraint and maturity during its darker storylines. "Opening Night" opens a new chapter for Glee, a show that has grown older and wiser in the wake of some recent painful experiences, but that still retains its saccharine optimism and unwavering faith in the power of dreams.



MUSICAL NOTES

– Music time: Rachel's everything was awesome and I totally teared up during "Who Are You Now." 

– Literally every Finn reference was perfect and I didn't even roll my eyes at Schue naming his male heir "Daniel Finn." Aww. 

– I loved the line about Sue being "lovable." Glee's current trend of having Rachel tell everyone who looks at her sideways to eat shit and die is just... I don't know. You're living your dream. You won. Who cares if your mean old gym teacher from high school still isn't impressed? Get the hell over it. 

– Then again, I say that as someone who has been out of high school for a lot longer than Rachel has, and whose various high school vendettas have mellowed with time. 

– And to be fair, Sue's had that coming for years. 

– Okay, fine, carry on. 


What'd you think of "Opening Night"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/13/2014

Season 5 : Episode 20

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