I don’t know whose idea it was to give Mr Schue a rival to battle with instead of nemesis Sue, Terri-ble the ex-wife or sweet but mad as a bag of cats Emma – but they’re a genius.
Neil Patrick Harris brings a whole new dynamic to Glee (admittedly this is a series that does a new dynamic almost every week – but this is a new new dynamic). Harris is Bryan Ryan – Will Schuester’s rival from his show choir days – a man (and school board member) whose heart was broken by failing to make it in showbiz and who is now set on closing the glee club and dashing the students’ aspirations to stardom. “Show biz dreams are the most unrealistic of them all,” he tells them after asking them to write their dreams on a sheet of paper – and tossing Artie’s dream – Dancer – into the trash can.
In doing so he sets up the second story strand – Tina trying to make Artie’s dream come true. It’s mostly sweet (sometimes bittersweet) but includes a stunning daydream sequence in which Artie starts dancing (brilliantly) in the mall and creates a flash mob with choreography a Jackson could be proud of. It also leads to Emma actually doing some proper counselling – and you thought she was just there to do her bushbaby impersonation…
We also get confirmation of our suspicions about Shelby (Vocal Adrenalin coach) and Jesse (god, but Jonathan Groff is gorgeous – especially when rain-soaked). Jesse was ordered to befriend Rachel in order to deliver a tape of her mother singing I Dreamed A Dream and get Rachel searching properly for her birth mother (Shelby is banned from contacting her daughter until she’s 18). I fear another large dose of saccharine before New Directions win Regionals… It will probably be worth it just for Jesse telling Rachel that a baby scan picture shows her in fifth position though.
Anyway, back with Bryan and Will – the chin-off becomes a sing-off. Having confessed to Will that he’s living a lie and miserable (“I have a box of playbills hidden away in the cellar – like porn”), Ryan is convinced to try out for a production of Les Mis that is auditioning on Friday. The boys’ new camaraderie falters pretty swiftly when they learn they’re both trying for the same part – and planning to sing the same song. The director – who can only shut his dry-cleaning store for half an hour at a time – commands them to sing the song as a duet…
Bryan having rediscovered his mojo, decides to cut the Cheerios budget instead and buys some truly awful denim jackets and dance leggings for the glee club – only to throw a strop and take his toys away when Sue strolls in to announce that Will has the lead in Les Mis, and the Bryan will have a one-line part as a Townsperson…
There is, of course, a happy ending when Will, after a talk about how dead stars turn into black holes – gives up his part in Les Mis to Ryan in return for the glee club’s reprieve.
Things that will make me smile between now and next week?
- Bryan finding Jesus – his Honduran social worker…
- Bryan running a show choir conversion group: “Show choirs kill…”
- How much Neil Patrick Harris reminds me of Christopher Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle) and Sting.
- Bryan: You ever heard of the term anger sex?
Sue: The only kind I know.
- Jesse (to Rachel): You singing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina in front of a sold out crowd isn’t a fantasy. It’s an inevitability.
Next week – expressing yourself using the music of Lady Gaga… oh boy (as Sam Beckett used to say).
Posted by Jo the Hat