In tonight’s episode of Glee, “Sweet Dreams,” everybody has an opinion of what New Directions should sing for regionals. Marly unveils her original songs! Finn and Puck end up at the same college and save the day at a frat party. In New York City, Rachel auditions for “Funny Girl” with the song that started it all–“Don’t Stop Believing.” And she brings a few friends along with her–so to speak–for support! Plus, mom Shelby (Idina Menzel) stops by to help her daughter prepare for her big day.
Check back later for videos and my full recap!
After last week’s harrowing “Shooting Star,” Glee keeps it light this week with a fairly innocuous episode. The first scene opens as Finn arrives at the University of Lima, an obvious party school, where students bust out The Harlem Shake nearly everywhere he goes. If that were me, I’d run screaming. But Finn is impressed. He wants to eventually buckle down so he can someday fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher, but for now, he’s going to enjoy living in the lovely bubble that exists between childhood and becoming a responsible adult.
In what turns out to be an AWESOME coincidence, Finn learns that his new roommate is Puck. What are the odds of that happening? Only on Glee could Finn apply, be accepted to and begin attending a college, while his roommate is able to snag a dorm without out even being technically enrolled (Puck is auditing classes). GLEE LOGIC. GLEE LOGIC! The bros are super happy to find each other and pledge to party hardy.
Cut to Rachel at the New York loft, preening in the mirror as she prepares for her Funny Girl audition. It’s one of her awesome voice over monologues that also serve as a pep talk for the aspiring actress. Starring on Broadway, in Funny Girl, as Fanny Brice, is the culmination of every dream she’s ever had. She’s been grooming herself for the audition since she was five, she explains, as she walks across the loft and sees/imagines herself as a tiny girl watching Funny Girl on TV, worshipfully. I love when Glee blends real life and fantasy like this. There will be more of THAT later.
Rachel has been worshipping Barbra ever since that first moment she saw her on TV. We even see the wacky shrine she’s created out of memorabilia and photos of Babs lovers past and present. (Pierre Trudeau? Really?) ONCE AGAIN Rachel has sworn off men to dedicate herself to emulating her idol. That should last about 5 minutes. Rachel muses, “If an unknown Jewish girl from Brooklyn, who sang in her high school choir, can become a star, why can’t I?” Hello gorgeous.
Cut to Lima. Look, it’s Coach Roz Washington. With the exit of Sue Sylvester last week, she smells blood. She’s ready to take over the Cheerios. Greeting Will and Beiste in the teachers’ lounge, she scoffs at the shooting, calling it fake. But she offers up some realness, as she admits to the horrified duo, “I’m a child of the ghetto. I can’t sleep at night unless I hear at least 2 gunshots.”
When Beiste hears that Will hasn’t spoken to Finn yet, she gives him a lecture on the importance of mending fences, just as she did with her sister in the aftermath of her domestic violence crises. (That’s Very Special Episode Season 3–Beiste gets smacked around by her husband. Doesn’t leave him right away).
Marley has her own inner dialogue going as she walks the halls of McKinley. She dug out her notebook full of songs from the bottom of her drawer, and she’s ready to share them with the world. Marley namechecks some really awesome female songwriters: Joni Mitchell, Nora Jones, Chrissie Hynde. (Kudos to the Glee writer with excellent musical taste.) Unfortunately, she’s having trouble getting her friends’ attention. They have all found their own peculiar ways to cope in the aftermath of the gun incident.
Due to outrageous SAT scores, MIT is courting her for early admittance. Which isn’t a bad thing. Tina’s concocted a new look that involves a really ridiculous hat–even sillier than the ones Marley wore at the beginning of the season. Oh, and Tina thinks MIT is in Europe. Sam has turned into a split personality, inventing a twin brother alter ego named Evan Evans that he slips in and out of at random times. Evan is Sam’s “smarter” brother, all preppified, with glasses and an accent that is supposed to be New England Bramin. I think. Brittany is playing along. She probably figures he’s freaking out as she makes plans for her brilliant future. Unique is trying to grow boobies with birth control. Apparently, all the trans kids are taking the estrogen-filled prescription pills. Who knew.
Will’s method of coping involves turning into a total dick. After he announces “Sweet Dreams” as this year’s Regionals theme, he insists the club sing horrible dated songs, and refuses to consider alternatives. Because the judges are too stupid and/or drunk to get it–his bright idea is to take the theme literally. The set will start off with “Dreamweaver” segue way into “Sweet Dreams” (Cue the kids WTF here) and end it all with “You Make My Dreams Come True.” (Virtual barfing at a song the seniors already sang last year.)
In a tentative voice, Marley tries to suggest original songs. But Will is freaked out. The club is only in the competition on a technicality. There is no wiggle room for risk taking. Marley feels sufficiently smacked down.
Blaine, as honorary Rachel (wow, is that a call back to “The New Rachel”?) organizes a secret meeting of the Glee club to discuss the song dilemma. In short, the set list sucks. When “Evan” runs out of the meeting to find Sam, Blaine wonders how long the club is going to allow his Three Faces of Eve deal. “Just let him go,” says Artie. “It’s like waking a sleep walker. It might kill hm.” The club agrees that Will has completely lost touch. They need to do current songs, or they’ll lose at Regionals. Never mind that their set lists have always been filled with old songs. But whatevah! It’s just a prelude for Marley to introduce her original song idea again.
Kitty, back to her old self again, says nobody wants to hear about her fat mom. Or barfing. Or a song about loving an Octoroon (!!!). Shot down again! The kids brainstorm a set list to present to Will.
Back at the University of Lima, it’s a non-stop party for Puck and Finn. Will shows up in the middle of the revelry, as Finn manipulates some girls into taking their tops off (ugh) and Puck makes grilled cheese sammiches with an iron. Kill joy! Will wants to make amends with Finn, but not before he lectures him about attending classes. “I don’t need you to come into my house and tell me how to live my life,” says Finn, annoyed. Will apologizes for the way he reacted to the Emma kiss. He wants Finn to come back and help him with the club. Finn shuts him down. “There are just some things you can’t come back from,” he sniiffs. ” I’m pretty busy with college,” he says, before crashing down the a water slide covering a hallway.
Don’t bother Finn. He’s happy in his little happy college bubble. Screw the real world. In the meantime, Puck is off to shave his “Hello Giggles” before the big frat party they’ve been invited to.
Cut to the choir room. When Blaine informs Will that the club got together and devised an alternate song list, he goes ballistic. “What happened to you guys! Openly defying me.” (As if that’s never happened before.) And with that, Will calls out the club members’ post shooting peculiarities. He tells Unique to cool it with the “Boob thing.” Sam to can the distracting fake twin brother crap.” and Blaine–he’s so disappointed in him for allowing things to get out of hand. Mr. Bitchy Pants orders the club to be ready to rehearse when he gets back from a coffee run in 5 minutes. OOF.
Back in New York, Rachel is in a NYADA studio, preparing some Barbra songs. Who walks in? Shelby! Mom has arrived to help out with the audition. Rachel didn’t reach out to Shelby, because she was afraid she’d feel funny about never realizing her own dreams to be the next Barbra. But not to worry, says Shelby. She’s perfectly content in her life as mom to little Beth. She’s running a daycare for Broadway actors. Her bigger better dream is seeing her “incredibly beautiful” daughter perform. Right off the bat, Shelby tells Rachel that she CAN’T audition with Barbra. The producers will be looking for a fresh take on Fanny–not a Barbra Streisand retread.
To inspire Rachel, Shelby suggests they sing the Emeli Sande song, “Next to Me,” and it’s lovely. Mother/Daughter bonding ends with a hug!
Next to Me – Rachel and Shelby
Cut to the big Frat party! Finn and Puck Fight for Their Right to Party, as they perform the Beastie Boys cover like righteous party dudes. Every college party movie cliche is included here–beer pong, makeout scenes (with a moose head!!!) and a drunken sing along. As a reward for becoming the party house band after the stereo broke, the frat brothers offer them the opportunity to join without having to endure a six week hazing program. And despite the fact that the two are “apparently gay.” Whoo! Biggest party house on campus full of homophobes! Score.
Fight for Your Right to Party – Puck and Finn
Marley screws up her courage and calls a meeting. She introduces her original song to Blaine, Sam and Unique. And NO. The song is not about her mom or “bad Taylor Swift boyfriend drama.” Sam puts away his alter ego, and Unique forgets her boob obsession for a bit to listen to Marley sing a song she wrote on the fly, after Will came down so hard on them. Sidenote. I’M SO GLAD PIANO BRAD IS BACK.
So, Marley sings a treacly song about friendship being forever blah blah blah and who you are is OK blah blah blah. I hated original songs when the show did them in Season 2, and this trite song, titled, “You Have More Friends Than You Know” has not changed my mind. Glee should stick to covering the best songs they can find, rather than singing inferior “originals.” Blaine, Unique and Sam join in, a scrim rises and the band magically appears. It’s a total kumbaya moment. Will turns up backstage to listen AS HE ALWAYS FREAKING DOES. The kids are blown away by Marley’s songwriting talent. “We’ve got to tell Mr. Shue about this!” exclaims Blaine. “Nah, he made it pretty clear he’s not interested,” says Marley sadly. And in that moment, Will begins to regret his dickish ways.
You Have More Friends Than You Know – Marley with New Directions
Finn in his noisy dorm room, answers his ringing phone. It’s Rachel! He immediately begins apologizing for beating the crap out of man-whore Brody. She ain’t mad! She’s actually grateful, but missed seeing him face to face. She cuts him off when he begins talking up his big party life with Puck. Yeah, she’s still got a thing for him. She’s calling for advice on her Funny Girl audition, which he remembered! She needs to find the perfect song to sing that isn’t Barbra. Finn says her star always shines the brightest when she does something personal. “Do something that takes you back to the roots of your passion,” he advises. “Make those producers fall in love with you in that moment on the stage. And I know you have it in you.” Finn tells her to call him as soon as her audition is over.
Cut to the audition, as a screechy soprano screeches as the show producers roll their eyes. They are wondering why they decided on open auditions rather than just hiring Miley Cyrus. Rachel takes the stage next, and introduces her song as a classic. It’s “Don’t Stop Believing”! She took Finn’s advice to go back to her roots literally, and who is complaining? Not me. The familiar piano intro begins. She sings the song differently–with a mature phrasing that knee socked-sophomore from 3 years ago had yet to possess. As the second verse begins, familiar background vocals fade in. The original flavah New Directions, dressed in their iconic red shirts, appear behind her. I literally got chills at this point.
Of course, Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, Finn and Artie are there only in Rachel’s imagination, singing encouragement into her ear. She looks around at her friends. She smiles and they give her courage. On one side, there’s Finn on drums and Artie on guitar. On the other, Kurt, Mercedes and Tina dip their microphones. As the kids say….SO MANY FEELS OMG. The virtual support gives her the confidence to totally nail her audition. The song finishes just like the original, with the kids marching up the stage in line, turning and heading downstage in formation. It’s breath taking.
“Something suddenly happened to you in the middle of the song,” a producer says to her afterward. “What was going on there?”
“I was thinking about my friends,” says Rachel, “How I wouldn’t be the person I am today, standing in front of you, doing what I’m doing now, if they hadn’t shown me that I could. If they hadn’t believed in me.”
Well, I’m not sure how impressive it is to admit that you were taken out of a performance daydreaming about your friends but…Good job Rachel!
Don’t Stop Believing – Rachel with Finn, Kurt, Mercedes, Tina and Artie
Back at the dorm. Puck wakes up a super hung over Finn with a stern lecture. He had an epiphany the night before while carousing in bed with 3 chicks. What happed to Kitty? Puck has the opportunity to show everybody that he’s not a Lima loser, and he wants to take it. “We’re worth something,” he says. Finn sighs. He knows Puck is right. While he’s writing his screenplay, Puck is going to be on Finn’s ass 24/7, to make sure he becomes the best teacher that he can be. They seal the deal with an elaborate high five and make some grilled cheeses (making sandwiches with an iron seems to be a “thing” at Lima U.)
Cut to McKinley. Coach Roz has called Cheerio co-captains, Blaine and Becky to her office for a meeting. God, Roz is as weird as ever. She finds them both “highly suspicious” because she suspects Sue picked them for reasons other than their cheering abilities. She’s especially leery of “fruity fonzie” who used his “handsome fruity Voo Doo powers” to put a hex on Sue, leading her to behave out of character and bring a gun to school. This is a very convoluted plot device to get Becky to exclaim, “But that didn’t happen! Blaine didn’t have anything to do with it!” Blaine stares at Becky. You can see the wheels turn in his head at this point. I think Crime! Fighting! Blaine! is about to make a return. After forcing them to pledge, hilariously, out loud, that they won’t put any hexes on her, she lets them go. The best thing about Blaine is how even keel he is in the face of lunacy. He’s always the steady rock in the middle of any maelstrom.
Out in the hall, Blaine confronts Becky. Does she know something about the gun incident with Sue that he doesn’t? “Mind your own gay business, gay Blaine,” says Becky, indignantly. “I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING,” she screams, before she wreaks holy havoc in the hallway. Blaine is definitely suspicious.
Onstage, alone in the auditorium, Will day dreams about winning Regionals. Finn enters the room, snapping the teacher out of his reverie. Finn admits that Will was right about him needing to get his focus back. The Dean of Students is willing to give him college credit for the time he spends assisting the Glee club. He’s willing to come back. But only if he and Will can act as equals. No more fetching coffee and picking up dry cleaning (REALLY?). Will thinks that’s fair, but only if Finn can forgive him. He agrees and the two hug it out.
Back in the choir room, the “old Shue” is back–complimenting Unique and Tina, tolerating Sam and his weird alter ego. He tells the story of his time in the Glee Club, and their crazy teacher, Mrs Adler who used to stuff used Kleenexes up her sleeve. But heck…they were all crazy, and he loves the club very much and is sorry if anybody felt they didn’t have a voice. And at that moment, Finn walks into the room and the club celebrates! Marley is up. Oops. She hadn’t quite memorized the songs she was supposed to learn. BULLETIN: Those songs are out. Original songs are in! Hooray.
Back in New York City, Kurt takes chocolate chip cookies out of the oven while Rachel sits glumly at the kitchen table waiting for her call back. She pushes her phone away in frustration…they aren’t going to call. Not ever. Fanny was just a dream. Aw. Have one of Kurt’s delicious cookies, Rachel! Kurt wonders if she regrets singing Barbra for the audition. No way. Something so magical happened on the stage, that if the producers are so narrow minded or star obsessed….RING! It’s the producers! Kurt nervously nibbles a cookie while Rachel chats. She keeps cool until she gets off the phone and screams ecstatically. “I GOT A CALL BACK FOR FANNY!” The two scream and jump and hug. Oh happy day!
The episode ends in Lima. Marley is center stage as she begins her original song, “Outcast.” YAY US WE’RE OUTCASTS YOU WON’T BLOW OUR DREAMS AWAY. Etc. Etc. The rest of the club hops on stage to join her, and it’s a joyful dance party that culminates with Will somersaulting on stage, and hands in the air, and we’re out!
Outcast – Marley and New Directions