Six words to start off this review: Neil Patrick Harris as Bryan Ryan. Wasn’t he great? I do hope his character has a reason to make another appearance on Glee, if only to sing a second duet between his character and Will Schuester.
In “Dream On”, Will has to face yet another Glee club enemy, this time in the form of Bryan Ryan is a former embittered Glee club star who now works as a school board auditor and uses his authority to threaten to cut Glee club out of the school’s artistic budget. It seems that, not having succeeded in attaining his own dreams of making it big in the show business world, he is now intent on shattering the hopes and dreams of Glee club members everywhere he can.
While the episode features many performances, as usual only some made it to the digital bundle (available for purchase on iTunes). More specifically, only “Dream a Little Dream”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Safety Dance” and “Dream On” made it.
Does anyone see a recurring theme there?
I’m going to start with what has got to be one of my favourite Season 1 moments: Artie’s daydream of leading a flash mob to “Safety Dance”. It was an emotionally charged moment, as earlier in the episode, Artie had admitted that his biggest dream was – unsurprisingly – to walk again. It was also a fantastic artistic moment: Kevin McHale has already demonstrated his great acting and singing skills, and we got to see that he has the dancing skills to match.
Of course the performance was enhanced by the plotline, giving way to a great discussion opportunity. As I watched Artie struggle with the finality of his injury, I couldn’t help but reflect on what was the line between hope and futile wishing. Tina’s optimism must have been a refreshing change for Artie; but it could have led him down the dangerous path of chasing dreams. Emma’s pragmatism made for a necessary intervention meant to bring Artie back to a more moderate ground: that of an informed, realistic hope.
On a side note, I think the way Emma went about breaking the news to Artie was not very tactful or professional.
In any case, it comes back to yet another theme Glee has approached more than once: what defines a person. In the last episode, “Laryngitis”, Rachel realises that she isn’t her voice. This is something Artie has to struggle with, too – that, just like Sean, he isn’t defined by his mobility. What I like about this episode is that it delves a little further into the topic; that it’s easier said than done, and that even someone who seems to have accepted the reality of their condition can easily forget that they are not defined by said condition.
At the end of the episode, Artie tells Tina that he is okay with focusing on dreams he can make happen; of course, again, it’s easier said than done. One only has to listen for the sadness in his voice as he leads the Glee club (and beautifully) through “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, which I am really glad made it into the digital bundle.
And by the way, something tells me that this plotline just might be picked up once again.
Rachel’s mostly self-created drama becomes all too real when her pursuit of her mother’s identity is spurred on by Jesse’s intervention. H how I love Idina Menzel’s voice, and what better song – for both the plotline and her voice – than “I Dreamed a Dream”? Of course, the fact that it came from the musical Les Misérables, which both Bryan and Will were auditioning for, adds a little touch of je ne sais quoi. Thankfully, this song also made it into the digital bundle.
Another great performance that was included in the digital bundle is Will & Bryan’s audition rendition Aerosmith’s “Dream On”. I helps that I really love this song and that as you might have ascertained by the introductory line of this review, I also love Neil Patrick Harris. He and Matthew Morrison did an amazing job with this song, but also with Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” earlier in the episode (in the bar, when Bryan admits to Will that he has been miserable since he stopped performing, making this song quite à propos).
If Glee continues churning out these great performances and, more importantly, if they continue developing the various themes in their full complexity, they definitely have a loyal fan in me. Wouldn’t that make both Chelsea and Bukem proud.
First published here on Blogcritics.