“Apparently some dreams do come true.”
— Rachel Berry/Lea Michele, Glee, April 22, 2014
I place this statement in formalized quotes since it so clearly encapsulates what Glee, at this stage, is all about. All dreams can’t come true — but damn it, some can.
Not that Episode 17, Opening Night, had the closure and finality of the “endgame” once envisioned for the show. Before Cory Monteith died last summer, Glee’s most notable destined resolution was the romantic union of “Finchel” — Finn Hudson and Rachel Berry — just as Finn’s Monteith and Rachel’s Lea Michele also seemed entwined.
But life changed, and Glee changed, with the death of Monteith, which again showed how much the fictional characters on this show often mirror the actors’ own lives — or is it vice versa?
Think about it: Opening Night was as much about Michele as it was Rachel. When she sang a plaintive yet passionate Who Are You Now for an enraptured Funny Girl audience as she envisioned Finn, Rachel cried — as I’m sure Michele was crying.
Heck, I was crying. What a moment.
But though she and her character lost one dream of lasting love, Rachel did gain her lifelong dream of starring on Broadway in Funny Girl, and despite pre-show head games she performed to such perfection that she drew a rave (if hype-heavy) review from the New York Times.
And now we can expect Michele to trod similar boards, when she inevitably stars in a Ryan Murphy-produced Broadway revival of Funny Girl, post-Glee, now that he owns the stage rights.
I’m telling you: Glee not only is a landmark TV series, but it’s also a real-life show-biz story for the ages.
But this wasn’t only about a fantastic opening night performance. It was also heartening to see Rachel — as Michele has done — not just soulfully survive but also embrace life-must-go-on resolve. Rachel did this in the theater by standing her ground and commanding the stage, and she did it later at a celebratory romp with friends in a hopping gay nightclub where she sang Nonono’s Pumpin Blood.
As much as I loved the Broadway numbers — also including a rousing I’m the Greatest Star — this was the tune that got my blood pumping, with one of the best song-and-dance numbers Glee ever has staged. The context, the cast, the setting, the performances — they all did Glee proud. And thank you, frequent Glee director Eric Stoltz.
This was the response we needed from Rachel, and already have seen from Michele: defiant strength and determination with an embrace of life — of hearts pumping blood. Awesome — just awesome.
Elsewhere, I was thrown by the focus that Jane Lynch’s Sue got in the episode, though I understood the need to broaden the plot beyond Rachel overcoming her insecurities to knock it out of the park. Besides, I did enjoy seeing Sue take a ravenous bite out of the Big Apple by her suck-face romancing with Saturday Night Live’s Chris Parnell as a NY restaurateur.
But why did Sue have to be so mean as to loudly storm out of the theater during Rachel’s first song? Wouldn’t it boost McKinley’s rep to have a Broadway star? What was her deal?
Then Rachel disappointed me again, unleashing a tirade as mean-spirited as Sue by heaping scorn on her head as the ultimate former student scorned. She did the same thing with Santana a few weeks back: turned a well-deserved complaint into a vicious rant which made her seem as bad as the person she attacked.
Besides, isn’t this the same Sue who was devoted to her ill sister — just as Santana turned out to be the same person who gave Rachel the world’s best-ever motivational talk early in this episode? For each wickedly willful woman, redemption can occur, and Rachel’s mistake was not crediting that.
But hey — Rachel’s been under stress. It’s OK. I just wouldn’t have applauded her, as her friends did.
The Will subplot about rushing back for his and Emma’s baby to be born felt tacked on, and seeing him sit alone on the phone when we should have seen Mom and son at his side felt phony, forced and “Jayma Mays is too busy with her new show” to accept. Oh well.
But otherwise this was a superb episode — one bringing Glee some sense of achievement and closure by fulfilling the longtime show-biz dream of its central character — as life itself may mirror in months to come.
To be sure, one dream won’t come true. Finn — and Cory — are gone. But if Glee is about one thing beyond having a heart that’s open to love, as so often expressed in song, it’s about a devotion to the business of show. It’s about snapping “Hit it!” to the band before launching into a song. And it’s about singing your heart out on a Broadway stage in a role you were born to play.
You see, some dreams do come true. And the knowledge and hope of that are what keeps us, as fragile humans, going.