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“Dreams aren’t supposed to be easy.”: Dream On (1×19) Gleecap

May 19, 2010

Before watching “Dream On,” the joke I made to a few people was that I’d likely be so in love with the episode (and in particular, Neil Patrick Harris’ guest appearance), that my Gleecap post would end up just being: “Neilllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!” After watching “Dream On,” it’s still hard to not just squee in an overly fangirly fashion about the episode, but Neil’s appearance was only one part of what made this one of my all-time favourite Glee episodes and my favourite of of the back nine.

The main source of my love comes from, actually, the once-again extremely obvious theme of the week. While regular readers of my Gleecaps know that I usually have some bones to pick with the show’s overt themes, the “dream” theme worked perfectly for me. The theme worked not only because it was used for both meanings of the word “dream” (ambitions and fantasies) and because the dreams we saw were at different levels of attainability (ie. Bryan Ryan’s dream vs. Artie’s dream), but also because I thought the theme was one of the most realistic and appropriate ones we’ve seen on the show yet. While sometimes I think Glee stretches too hard to make the theme fit its characters, this week Artie, Rachel, Shelby, Bryan, and Will so perfectly embodied the “dream” theme that I was even willing to look past Will’s ridiculously cheesy speech to Bryan about stars turning into black holes. (Although admittedly, I did giggle the whole way through it because, really, Will? “You take away glee, you’re not just putting out those kids’ lights. You’re creating 13 black holes.” Will says a lot of sappy lines, but this one definitely takes the super lame cake.)

For me, the most interesting use of the “dream” theme was shown through Artie’s storyline and his dream to not just walk again, but to be a dancer. We saw the beginnings of this idea in “Wheels” with Artie’s “Dancing with Myself” number, but to see him vocalize his dreams to Tina in this episode was a big step for him in not always hiding behind his disability. Artie’s dreams may not be as easily attainable as others we see in this episode, but that doesn’t make his hopes any less realistic. Tina’s encouragement to Artie and her pushing him to believe in his dreams was extremely touching, even if somewhat misguided. And then seeing Emma have to bring Artie back down to earth and, as a result, crush his dreams, was depressing, although fabulously done. Emma used to always be the one encouraging people (be it the glee club kids or Will) to go for the dreams, and it’s interesting to see how she seems to have become much more pragmatic since her break-up with Will. Watching Artie go from hopeful to upset to realistic was heartbreaking, and I hope that the show revisits Artie’s dreams of having a normal life.

Then we have Rachel and Shelby’s connected dreams of reuniting with each other – a dream that I presume most mothers/daughters who don’t know their daughters/mothers would have. I (like many Glee fans) predicted that the mother plot would end with Shelby being Rachel’s mom (I mean, c’mon, they just look way too alike), but fortunately the execution was way better than I expected. Shelby’s scene in the car with Jesse was a fantastic reveal and it was heartening to discover that Jesse had joined New Directions for an ultimately good reason, not an evil one. The most interesting aspect of this use of the “dream” theme was Rachel’s fear and uncertainty towards learning about her birth mother. It seemed so very in Rachel’s character to be determined to prove her mom’s a Broadway star rather than to face the reality of who her mom might actually be. For Rachel, her dream of learning about her mother is exactly that: a dream. By keeping that dream one that lives solely inside her mind, Rachel can continue to disillusion herself about why her mother was willing to give her up, but by learning the truth, Rachel then has to deal with whatever that reality might be, no matter how scary. The whole storyline tied clearly into Rachel’s insecurities and her need to continually portray a strong and confident image, and I can’t wait to see how Rachel deals with the fact that while her mother is an extremely talented woman, she’s also the coach of her competition.

Lastly is Bryan and Will’s dreams of being stars again. We’ve seen Will deal with this back in “Acafellas,” and it was interesting to have Bryan show Will that at least by still coaching the glee club, he’s now much better off than his formal rival. But while Bryan is back on his way to achieving his dream by the end of the episode (See, kids? Your dreams of becoming a star can come true, you just might have a stint as a used Hummer salesman first because “global warming’s just a theory.”), once again, Will’s sacrificing his own dreams to save the glee club. His speech to them is noble and well-intended in that he wants to up the odds by giving 13 kids their chance to be a star rather than just going for stardom himself, but how many times will Will take the fall for these kids? It’s admirable, yes, but I’m tired of seeing these kids constantly getting breaks just because Will’s constantly taking falls.

Overall, I loved this episode. Neil Patrick Harris fit in with the cast perfectly with his dark humour, and his duets with Will completely rocked my world. I think that Neil could definitely bring Bryan Ryan back again and hope we see him in season 2! As a huge Joss Whedon fan, I thought that this episode suited Joss’s style well and I give him a lot of credit for the tears that welled up in my eyes during the majority of Artie’s scenes, as well as Rachel and Shelby’s beautiful rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Favourite quote: “I have a box of Playbills hidden away in my basement, Will. Like porn!” – Bryan Ryan

Favourite moment: I hate picking just one moment in an episode that I love so much! But I think I’m going to have to go with Bryan and Will’s drunken “Piano Man” duet which was even better than I had hoped it would be!

Next week: Glee goes Gaga! I’m not even a Lady Gaga fan and I’m still super excited for this. “Bad Romance” looks beyond amazing! Plus, Rachel meets her mom!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2010 11:50 am

    Good thing I stuck it out for this episode! It was so good, I kept thinking, it must be over, and then there was more! I think I loved all three S&D numbers equally.

  2. May 20, 2010 11:51 am

    Just realized there were 4 numbers but the mother/daughter reunion was not my fave.

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