Last night on Glee, Artie and Tina got their own story line, Idina Menzel admitted that she's Rachel's mom, and guest star Neil Patrick Harris did a duet with Mr. Schue... and possibly Sue Sylvester.
Expectations for Neil Patrick Harris' Glee guest spot were high, especially since he's proven he has the musical theater chops in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (while working with Joss Whedon, who guest directed this episode). Last night he delivered as Bryan Ryan, Mr. Schue's former glee club rival.
As a school board auditor, Bryan is tasked with cutting down McKinley High's budget, and naturally he looks to New Directions since the club's very existence is threatened in just about every other episode. while speaking to the glee club, Bryan has them write their dreams on a piece of paper, then throws them all in the trash. Since his own hopes for a career in show business were crushed, he warns the kids they should set more realistic goals for themselves, like working in food service. After all, "You can't feed a child sheet music... Well, you could for a while, but they'd be dead in a month."
In an attempt to change Bryan's mind, Will takes him to a bar and he quickly confesses that since quitting singing his life has been empty and he's been secretly visiting Broadway shows and hiding the playbills in a box under his bed, "like porn!" Will puts "Piano Man" on the jukebox and he and Bryan break into song. Miraculously, no one chucks a beer bottle at them.
Will and Bryan both audition for a local production of Les Miserables with a duet of Aerosmith's Dream On. It's all very '80s rock video, with lots of weird camera angles, jumping off of boxes, and falling to their knees at climactic moments.
With his love of song reignited, Bryan agrees to cut Cheerios funding and showers the glee club with bedazzled jean jackets, which Kurt seems very excited about (though, he doesn't say anything because it's Tina and Artie's turn to talk this week.) Bryan changes his mind after having an argument with Sue in which it seems they agree to have hate sex. (Hopefully, this means we have a Neil Patrick Harris-Jane Lynch romance to look forward to.) Ultimately, Will gives up the role of Jean Valjean to Bryan, sacrificing his dream to save the club. This was another one of those dire predicaments that was resolved and forgotten about within 40 minutes, but it gave N.P.H. an excuse to be ridiculously entertaining, so who cares?
Plus, the other story lines weren't wrapped up so easily this week. Tina pulls the slip of paper Artie wrote his dream on out of the trash and discovers he wants to be a dancer, which is a problem since he's in a wheelchair. They try to do a dance routine, but Artie gets frustrated by his "tap wheels." He manages to stand using crutches, but then falls on his face and screams at Tina to, "Go away... you pushed me to do this." Blaming her isn't very cool, but neither is Tina routing through the garbage to read his deepest secrets.
Tina goes home and Googles "spinal cord injuries" and gives Artie printouts of some articles about new treatments that could make him walk again (surely his doctors will appreciate a 16-year-old girl telling them how to do their job). Later at the mall, Artie tells Tina the new procedures worked, and he hops out of his chair and dances to "The Safety Dance" with a flash mob — but of course, it's all a fantasy sequence.
Back at McKinley High, Emma explains to Artie the the treatments probably won't be available in his lifetime, and he tells Tina he's decided to focus on dreams he can achieve. Tina performs "Dream a Little Dream of Me" with the Asian boy who can only express himself though dance. There was some character development for Artie and Tina in this episode, but their story didn't end on a happy note. It's great that the writers are letting Artie deal with his disability slowly and realistically, rather than ending on some corny line about how he'll dance in his own way.
The episode's other heart-wrenching story involved Rachel's quest to find her mother. After sharing her ridiculous explanation for how Patti LuPone could be her mother with Jesse, he convinces her too look through the Rachel Berry museum her dads have in her basement for real evidence about her mom. While she's not looking, he drops a tape signed "From Mom" in her box of memorabilia, but Rachel says she isn't ready to listen to it.
Finally, Jesse's real motive for dating Rachel is revealed when he meets with his former Vocal Adrenaline coach Shelby Corcoran and she reveals that she's Rachel's mother (not that we didn't see this coming — Idina Menzel probably looks more like Lea Michele than her real mother). Shelby asked Jesse to befriend Rachel ("not seduce her") so she could get close to her, since she signed a contract with her dads agreeing not to meet with Rachel until she's 18. Jesse gets Rachel to listen to the tape, which leads to an imagined mother-daughter duet of "I Dreamed A Dream."
Yes, we've all heard the clip of Susan Boyle singing this song way too many times, and perhaps of you're tired of the show focusing so much on Rachel's drama. However, their performance (clip below) could warm even Sue Sylvester's cold, hard heart.
Next week: The Lady Gaga episode.