Its finally here! Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) opens as Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl! Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Will (Matthew Morrison) and Sue (Jane Lynch) are there for the big night. Sue plans on watching what she is positive will be a train wreck. But unexpectedly falls in love with a character played by SNL alum, Chris Parnell! Santana (Naya Rivera) returns to New York for the special occasion
Unfortunately, just as her big day is about to arrive, Rachel becomes even more insecure than usual. Blaine (Darren Criss), Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Sam (Chord Overstreet) work to keep her spirits up. But that doesn’t keep Rachel from having WACKY high school dreams. How scary is it? Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) makes an appearance.
This week’s Glee is stuffed full of Broadway goodness, as Rachel makes her long awaited debut in Funny Girl. Do I still love New York Glee? Even the annoying presence of Sue Sylvester could not ruin it for me this week. With Glee taking off for different locations next year (and probably back to Lima by the end of the series. Boo) I’m going to soak up all the Big Apple goodness I can.
Rachel’s pre-show jitters are so palpable, that when she finally triumphs in the end, it feels like a hard-won victory. Yes, she got the part unrealistically fast, just coming out of high school, but the last couple of episodes have done a good job of detailing Rachel’s journey to stardom. That’s what happens when a storyteller doesn’t have to split an hour between a bazillion characters and can actually flesh out an arc.
Opening Night begins with Rachel having a bad dream. Tina, Kurt, Blaine, Sam and Santana appear, dressed like they were in high school. Kurt is wearing his Defying Gravity outfit (bet THAT had to resized!) Santana is in a cheerleading costume, Blaine is a Warbler and Tina is stuttering again.
Every nightmare trope you can think of is included here. Rachel is suddenly naked. Rachel loses a tooth. She’s seated between Karofsky and Jacob! Becky is screaming at her from backstage. Sue falls asleep in the audience, and walks out after telling Rachel she has no business being on stage. Her producer chants “it’s all riding on you.” She grabs her neck and her Finn necklace is gone. Rachel sings “Lovesong” by The Cardigans wearing a reindeer sweater as everyone sways along. She wakes up in a cold sweat after she collapses on stage.
Rachel does a very dumb thing. She reads the BLOGS. You know, those places on the internet where anyone can say anything? (ahem). Worse still, she’s reading twitter! AND COMMENT SECTIONS. Noooo. She’s getting good reviews from legit news sources, but it’s going in one ear and out the other. It’s the day before opening night (The date circled on the calendar is April 24. Have we really caught up to real time? Or are the set dressers being lazy. Hm.) and she’s a jumble of self-doubt. Kurt yanks her phone, ordering her to stay OFF the internet. The greats…Scorsese, Woody, Miley…none of them read reviews or blogs, says Kurt. Heh. ‘We are going to hermetically seal this loft into a big love bubble,” he insists, “and fill it with positive affirmations from people who know you and love you.”
We’re back to McKinley. And I haven’t missed this a bit! Will has an extra ticket to New York City, because Emma is too pregnant to go. Let’s see…9 months ago was the end of July. My oh my, Lima has a pretty long school year. Am I right? Consider that Will found out they were pregnant at graduation. I LOVE Glee time! In any case, Sue wheedles the ticket out of Will. She caused a stir during one of her “As Sue Sees It” editorials by disparaging New York City without ever having been there! The network brass found out she’d never been to NYC (oops) and now she feels compelled to visit that hellhole (a scab on the face of America! It’s shaped like a dong, and smells like hot pee!). Will forks over the ticket, on the condition that she come to Rachel’s opening night.
A question: The show is well into the new school year, and Will is still a teacher at McKinley. So, he didn’t go for the Vocal Adrenaline job Sue set up for him in Episode 13? Or he did and they turned him down? Or…you won’t find out in this episode. Another plot point dropped like it never existed.
Sue shakes the snow globe on her desk and imagines New York. The scene shifts to a stage and she and Will perform a perfectly delightful rendition of “NYC” from the Broadway musical, Annie. The scenery is cartoonish, with cardboard cutout cabs and people dashing to and fro. It’s exhilarating–capturing the excitement of landing in the city for the first time. The number finishes as Will and Sue ascend from the subway, ready for a new adventure. “This place smells like barf!” exclaims Sue.
Tina arrives at the loft! And immediately says all the wrong things–reminding Rachel of the time she got laryngitis, and wondering why so few friends showed up. Artie’s film, Bags in the Wind, got accepted to an out of town film festival , so he’s not there (Actually, Kevin McHale was in Connecticut, shooting an outside project). Tina loves attending Brown, where she was dating a really nice guy who turned out to be a little….”Gay..Probably gay..homosexual” adds everyone simultaneously. NO! says Tina. Until she finally admits YES. When she begins rattling on about the comment trolls and bad blog reviews (even quoting some of them) Rachel loses it and takes to her bed. So much for that big love bubble made of friends Kurt was trying to create! Tina thinks she’s staying at the loft, but Mercedes drags her home instead, afraid she’ll say the thing that totally pushes Rachel off the deep end. Later that night, while Kurt sleeps with his boyfriend pillow (aw, since he moved out, he misses his bb) he wakes up to Rachel online, watching bitchy Youtube reviews, surrounded by a mountain of bad reviews. Kurt tries to stop her, but it’s too late. Rachel is a total mess.
It’s the morning of her debut, and Rachel won’t get out of bed. Kurt calls in the troops in an effort to save her premiere. Sam plays soft soothing guitar, and Blaine offers a massage (These magic hands are going to get you back to your happy place!). When Rachel reads a note, supposedly from Barbra Streisand, wishing her good luck, she immediately spots a fake. “You of all people should know that Barbra dropped the A when she was 18 as an act of rebellion!” She kicks Kurt out of the room (WHO WROTE THIS! TINA?), and takes a pair of shears to the strings of Sam’s guitar.
“It’s not fair that anyone can send a hateful tweet…and have access to artists!” says Kurt, ruefully. (Are you taking that in haters? That bit of meta is directed at YOU.) As if things couldn’t get worse, Sue arrives. HELLO LOSERS, she greets them. “I have come to watch Rachel Berry choke on her opening night!” Rachel can hear every word from her bedroom. As if Sue cares. Oh, boy. Because the hotel room Will booked only had a double bed (She’s convinced Will was trying to sleep with her) Sue has invited herself to stay at the loft, and announces she’ll be taking Kurt’s bedroom. “THANK GOD THERE’S NO WEIRD SEX TOYS LAYING AROUND,” she remarks.
Santana arrives. She calls herself “The Closer.” She’s going to get Rachel out of bed in 4 minutes. TWO minutes, she tells Rachel . No pep talks from Santana. Instead, she reads aloud some reviews she found on the internet. “She’s a freak! Her hands are frightening. More than amusing, her movements are wildly bizarre.” Why is she reading such awful reviews? Because they were written in 1964 after Barbra opened in the original Funny Girl.
“I see what you did,” observes Rachel. “You suck at so many things, but not at this,” Santana replies. “Who gives a crap what all the other peasants think.” Rachel finally emerges from her bedroom. “What are you all moping around for…It’s my opening night!”
Outside of the theater, Will finds Sue trying to sell her ticket, and he’s pissed. She has no intention of watching Rachel Berry desecrate the memory of Barbra Streisand…that is until she spots a guy (Chris Parnell of SNL fame) trying to sell HIS ticket. He winks at her. She’s immediately smitten, snatching her ticket away from a potential buyer to fight her way inside.
Mr. Shue wishes Rachel good luck in her dressing room. “I got him a seat tonight,” Rachel says, touching her Finn necklace. “He always made me promise I’d get him a ticket to my opening night on Broadway.” Dang. She’s a little nervous about getting through “Who Are You Now” because she always thinks of Finn when she sings it. “Tonight is the best gift that a student could possibly give her teacher,” says Will. “You’re making my dreams come true too.” Will’s phone rings, and it’s Emma. Her water broke! Now he’s got to rush back to Lima to attend to the birth. If she was that close to her due date, why would he even leave town? Oh Glee.
Rachel takes a long, nervous walk from her dressing room to the stage. Through narrow hallways, past the ensemble warming up, she finally arrives. We see her from behind, as the curtain rises . She smiles as she walks out to a waiting audience. She’s got this.
Cut to Rachel singing “I’m The Greatest Star.” The song is sung to a theater manager who has just rejected her. He’s attempting to escort her off stage, but she continues to sing, ‘I’m the greatest star…” Sue makes disparaging remarks to the man sitting next to her, who happens to be the critic from the New York Times. “They still publish that?” she whispers to Kurt. Right in the middle, Sue’s had enough. She gets up and walks out. Rachel sees her. But instead of deflating, Rachel becomes energized. Sue epitomizes the stage manager who is trying to ditch her. Kurt and Blaine…even the producer off stage notices it. “I’ll blow my horn…til someone blows it…,” sings Rachel, fierce and defiant.
(Fun Fact to Know and Tell: Behind Kurt and Blaine you may have noticed a pretty Asian woman and a genial man sitting next to her. They are Darren Criss’ real life parents! Add that to the list of family and friends working as Glee extras lately.)
Sue’s mystery man, who also ditched the show, catches her asking an usher to get her a cab. They flirt as he teaches her how to hail a cab in New York City. They both hated the show. “It was called Funny Girl. I thought it was going to be about a funny girl..and for a second I wasn’t even sure she was a girl.” Mario, his name is, invites her to grab a bite at one of the restaurants he owns. And thus begins a really boring and pointless subplot, which served to remind me why I don’t miss the McKinley storyline one little bit. Sue in New York sucks as much as she does in Ohio.
Kurt and Mercedes meet Rachel in her dressing room at intermission. She is completely freaked out that Sue got up in the middle of the performance. Maybe she affected the audience or the critics? No, they say…don’t worry! Sydney comes in and greets her with a simple “bravo.” He is a little concerned about “that guy” in the track suit walking out in the middle. Sue stepped over the critic at the Times. Oops. He tells her not to worry. The important thing is to dig even deeper in the second act. The critics remember beginnings and endings, he says. Then a serious warning. If the Times critic pans the show, opening night will also be closing night. “And that is showbiz,” says Sydney before he leaves a worried Rachel behind.
“If I wanted to see a show about an ugly duckling that gets dumped, ” says Mario as they enter his Little Italy restaurant, “I’d watch an episode of Girls!” Sue to the Italian waiter: “It’s America, we speak English.” Oh Sue Sylvester. I didn’t miss you one bit. Chris Parnell is super charming as Mario. Way too charming for Sue. He’s not married. New York is his mistress. She’s “Cruel, delicious and 100 stories tall.” Well, that explains everything. The two proceed to a romantic dinner, like something out of Lady and the Tramp. And it’s just so…zzzz. MORE FUNNY GIRL PLEASE
“That show would have been a lot better if you had been up on that stage,” says a moony eyed Mario. Cut to Sue and Rachel in identical dresses singing “Who Are You Now.” And this needed to be a duet with freaking SUE BECAUSE??? Mario watches her from the audience. Cut back to the restaurant where they dance. Mario, who is many inches shorter than Sue, lays his head on her shoulder. Cut back to Rachel and we see a shot of Finn. WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT. He’s smiling, so handsome in a flashback. SOB. Rachel’s performance becomes very emotional. Tears roll down her cheeks. CHILLS.
Cut to the gang celebrating in Rachel’s dressing room. Sydney enters to congratulate her. “Tonight you are a star,” he says. Sydney invites them all to the cast party at an Italian restaurant. “Eggplant Parmigiana always brings me good luck!” He exclaims.
Rachel doesn’t want to go to a stuffy cast party where everyone will be talking about the play. Blaine knows JUST THE PLACE! “Trust me Rachel, they’re going to love you there.” Cut to a wild-ass gay club, where the boys recognize Rachel IMMEDIATELY. Kurt and Blaine look pretty familiar with the place, where the music is loud and hot shirtless men are dancing and serving the drinks. The guys talk her into singing, and she launches into “Pumpin Blood” by NoNoNo. What happens next is as close to an orgy as network television will allow. Dancing, grabbing and near debauchery. Sam hightails it to the DJ booth. Most definitely the safest place for him.
Sidenote: FOX hasn’t put up the performance on Youtube. Too racy? But check this out! The smarties on tumblr discovered this performance of Lauren Bacall in Applause. The scene is obviously a homage!
The gang enter the loft after a late night of fun, and much to their dismay, Sue and Mario are there, having just fornicated in Kurt’s bed (He’s wearing his silk bathrobe). Tina had tried to pick up the gay DJ. “What are you, blind Tina?” exclaims Blaine. Pretty much. Rachel recognizes Mario as the guy who walked out of her show. Sue comes out of the room and immediately begins sucking face with Mario, totally grossing everyone out.
“How did the rest of the show go?” snarks Sue, “I considered coming back for Act 2, just so I could walk out again. Before Santana can go all Lima Heights on Sue, Rachel puts up a finger, “I’ve got this.” At which point, Rachel proceeds to read her the riot act. “You are a rotten and awful person who only finds joy in people’s misery. ” Rachel adds that her friends came together to make her feel special and loved. Sue will never, ever in her empty, sad life, feel that kind of love. Well, she told her! With that, Rachel kicks her out of the apartment. Santana begins a slow clap and the rest of the kids join in. The kids are giddy at the sight of Sue receiving her comeuppance.
After, the kids truck down to the newsstand to grab the Times. They’re going to email you the Times in 3 minutes, snarks the guy at the stand, who appears to have no interest in making a sale. Rachel is so nervous, the others have to read it for her. And the review is….good. GREAT in fact. The critic LOVE LOVE LOVES Rachel Berry! “She has talent, and mountains of it. Berry is the alps!” Everyone takes turn reading a bit of the glowing review. “I hope this show runs for a long time…because I want to have time to enjoy Rachel Berry as she is now…”
Just then, Rachel’s phone rings. It’s Will! Emma had the baby. It’s a boy. And they named him Daniel. Daniel Finn Schuster. SNIFF. Will admits that for the first time in his life, he feels completely happy. And Rachel feels exactly the same.
Cut to Sue and Mario. He tries to convince her to stay in New York. But Sue likes being a big fish in a little pond. Likewise, he’ll never leave New York. Hence, their hookup is meant to remain a fling, just a sweet memory. Blah blah blah. WHO CARES. They say their farewells with a few sloppy kisses. It’s a good thing, because nothing about this relationship was believable at all. Just before the cab takes off, Mario says, “She wasn’t right. The short girl from the play? You are lovable Sue.” Well, that’s definitely arguable.
Back in Lima, in her next As Sue Sees It, she confesses that she LOVES NEW YORK, despite it being a rat infested hell hole. “Every time you step outside, you find yourself on an adventure you never could have predicted,” she says. “You just might also find love. Or, at the very least, a night of sturdy, spirited love making with a relative stranger, in every corner of the apartment of several of your former students.” TMI! TMI! “…And that’s how Sue sees it,” she says. From what I’m hearing, we’ve seen the last of Sue and Will for the rest of the season. Thank you Jeebus.