When I think back to Glee’s first episode (one of my favorite pilots of all time), two quotes from Rachel Berry remain seared into my memory. First, her voiceover proclamation to us, where she states that “You may laugh because every time I sign my name I put a gold star after it, but it’s a metaphor, and metaphors are important. My gold stars are a metaphor for me being a star.” Then, later in the episode, Rachel almost desperate pleas to Will on the bleachers that “Being part of something special makes you special, right?” Immediately, we knew exactly who Rachel Berry was: a dreamer. And last night’s episode of Glee, “Opening Night,” was the culmination of all of Rachel’s dreaming, dedication, and determination, as she finally stood on the Broadway stage and was truly a star.
However, it wouldn’t be a true celebration of Rachel and everything that she has struggled to achieve throughout Glee’s run if “Opening Night” just fulfilled Rachel’s first quote about stardom from the pilot. No, more importantly, Rachel was able to be a “part of something special,” because she was able to share this amazing moment with the people she loved most in her life, including Finn.
Glee’s story for Rachel has always been two-fold: the balancing of her path to finding career success with her passionate search for love. With the passing of Cory Monteith and Finn this past year, it appeared to many people that all of Rachel’s plots moving forward would strictly be focused on Funny Girl. And while much of season five has dedicated itself to Rachel’s burgeoning Broadway career, it’s also found time to reflect and examine her friendships with Mercedes, Santana, and Kurt, all the while still keeping the memory of Finn alive in each action Rachel takes. Because, despite the enormous loss of Finn’s character and Cory’s real life passing, which was felt no more strongly than it was for me during last night’s episode, Glee understands that Rachel’s desire for love was not simply romantic. Rachel has always wanted friends more than anything else, since being bullied so very terribly in Glee’s first episode; she didn’t simply want people to respect her for her talent but to also root for her because of her compassion and kind-heartedness.
Therefore, it’s not ultimately the long take of Rachel making her way from backstage and appearing in front of the crowd that is the crowning achievement of “Opening Night” (although it is a gorgeous piece of filmmaking). No, more precious and significant than Rachel’s performance itself are the people she gets to share it with. Some of the greatest moments of “Opening Night” are Santana getting Rachel out of bed by proving to her that even Barbara herself received her share of criticism, or Rachel and Will’s pre-show pep talk, where he tells her how proud he is of her before needing to jet off to make it back to Lima in time for the birth of his and Emma’s son, Daniel Finn Schuester, or when Rachel envisions Finn during her amazing performance of “Who Are You Now?”
And the episode’s shining gem, the truest culmination of everything that Rachel Berry has strived for over the past five seasons of Glee is that glorious scene of Rachel and her best friends standing on the streets of New York City, each taking turns as they read the glowing review that Rachel received in The New York Times. All of the people that matter most to her, from Kurt to Mercedes to even Finn, his name dangling from the golden chain of Rachel’s necklace and sitting right atop of her heart, are there with Rachel, and it’s when Rachel Berry goes from simply wanting to be a star to being the greatest one, the moment when she is not only a part of something special but the most special, talented, and happiest person in the entire world.
– While I absolutely love Jane Lynch, Sue’s presence in this episode was a little too much for me and almost took away from what should have been solely Rachel’s moment to shine. All of Sue’s scenes with Chris Parnell’s Mario were charming and funny, and clearly setup to get Sue out of Lima for whatever the Glee writers have planned for next year, but they felt like they belonged in a different episode.
– Rachel envisioning Finn when she sang “Who Are You Now?” was pretty perfect and reminiscent of her seeing him when she sang “My Man” back in season two or “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in season three.
– Speaking of Finn, all the moments of mention and tribute to him were so great and had me nearly tearing up. I’m so happy that Emma and Will gave Daniel “Finn” as a middle name, and Rachel’s speech about how she had bought him a seat was heartbreaking but beautifully written.
– I’m not going to even try to deny that Rachel’s my favorite character or that Lea Michele is my favorite performer on Glee, but good lord, can we all just stand up and applaud her fantastic performance from last night, please? From the drama to the comedy to the absolute amazingness that was her singing as Fanny, Michele was nothing short of stunning throughout “Opening Night.”
– “I mean, seriously, if I wanted to see a show about an ugly duckling who gets dumped, I’d just watch an episode of Girls.”
– “I got him a seat tonight. I know it’s weird. But he always made me promise I would get him a ticket to my opening night on Broadway.”
What did everyone else think of last night’s episode of Glee? Did you love it as much as I did?
[Photo via FOX]