Instead, we got flashbacks to “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the Harlem Shake, successful auditions and Will Schuester doing a cartwheel.
We can all be excused for feeling a little whiplash here.
But wait — this was a good episode!
Can a good episode of “Glee” also be a terrible one? “Sweet Dreams” seems to indicate that the answer is yes.
As a standalone episode of the show, I have little to complain about in this episode. It was funny — the absurdity of Sam’s (Chord Overstreet) twin bit was especially entertaining. The episode also played well into the continuity of some of the plots, namely Rachel (Lea Michele) auditioning for “Funny Girl” and the season-long buildup to Regionals. We even got a few well-done moments of touching emotion: Both Marley’s (Melissa Benoist) song and Rachel reuniting with Shelby (Idina Menzel) just worked.
So what’s the problem?
Basically, the big issue with “Sweet Dreams” is that it came only a week after a school-shooting episode. That’s not something that can be taken lightly and then blown-off by a single line about Coach Roz (Nene Leakes) growing up in the ghetto.
That is, however, just what “Glee” did. Yes, the weird behavior of people like Sam was attributed to “PTSD,” but these emotions were played for laughs. The only true follow-up to the shooting was the impressively underplayed moment between Blaine (Darren Criss) and Becky (Lauren Potter). Someone had to catch on to Sue’s flimsy story, and this was a good way to do it.
Too bad this was the only true recognition that something major had just happened in the lives of these students.
“Don’t Stop Believin'” is still an excellent song.
One of the things “Sweet Dreams” got totally right was Rachel’s Broadway audition. The girl was completely in character with her obsessions and her stress. And those around Rachel reacted appropriately to ground her enough to make it through.
While the choice to sing a rock song instead of a Broadway standard was amusingly reminiscent of the “Smash” pilot, you can’t argue that the callback was an emotional home run. I still think the “Glee” pilot was the strongest episode the show ever made, and it remains a favorite hour of mine to this day. It makes sense that Rachel’s moment of triumph in New York would call-back to her early days as a reject whose Internet videos were mocked.
Rachel can be annoying at times, but “Glee”s use of that song to remind us of her roots made the girl’s callback nothing but a win.
- Virtually nothing said by Nene Leakes’ character made any sense. I think that was on purpose.
- The University of Lima must have very flexible and very loose admission standards to admit both Finn (Cory Monteith) and Puck (Mark Salling) at a moment’s notice.
- The return of Rachel’s inner monologue was fun.
- “I have no idea if I’m on the Cheerios or not. Like, literally can’t remember.” This line from Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) may win the entire season.
- The way “Glee” tosses out random, offensive comments (“octoroon”?) has always bothered me. This was a prime episode for that.
- No one would ever cast Miley Cyrus in a Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.” A movie, maybe. But Broadway has (I desperately hope) higher standards.