This is it, folks: the best episode of Glee yet. I was sold from minute one as Neil Patrick Harris smirked his way through "Daydream Believer" with a mullet and a bouquet of flaming flowers. I will lay out all the reasons this episode was awesome under the jump. Be warned: I'm using a lot of exclamation points so anyone easily excited or with a heart condition proceed at your own risk.

Guess where this has been
  • "Guess where this has been"

The first and most obvious reason this episode was such a roaring success NPH. Who would have guessed ten years ago that Harris would be hotstepping all over the cultural consciousness, letting his talent spray all over us like some kind of wonderful, diarreatic bird? It was a delight to see Doogie as Brian Ryan, a smug closet case who secretly wants to perform. Taken out of the West Lima crack district by Jesus - hunter and social worker - Brian is now making a career out of crushing dreams. Boo! Hiss! How long until he hooks up with Sue?

The second reason is Artie. I have made no secret that Artie is my favorite underdog character on TV (close second:30 Rock's Josh). The creators of Glee were obviously like, "Yeah! We've got a kid in a wheelchair! Look at our kid in a wheelchair!" before running out of ideas for him two message-episodes in. Here we got all the Artie we could want (plus Tina, also sorely underused). During that scene in the mall my internal reaction went from "Oh look, they're making Artie walk again. Cop. Out." to "NO FUCKING WAY! ARTIE'S DOING THE SAFETY DANCE! This is the best cop out ever!" to "Oh, it was a poignant dream sequence." Well played, Glee. Now we know for a fact that Artie could out-dance Jimmy from Degrassi. If only he were given a chance! Call Kanye West, somebody; he picked the wrong pretend-handicapped child-star to promote.

Fourteen minutes to go, Jimmy!
  • Fourteen minutes to go, Jimmy!

The third reason this episode was as solid as all get out was the tone and pacing. FOR ONCE they were both successful and consistent 100% of the time. Gleecan be a big fun, sappy, snarky bouillabaisee without jumping all over the place. I'm totally digging the Rachel's mom storyline (even if Glee's already got twenty storylines it doesn't know what to do with). Jesse was just using her but now feels something for her! Rachel's real mom is the Vocal Adrenaline coach! Will Schuester had sex with Rachel's mom! Oh man, oh man. Please don't make us wait another ten episodes to resolve this all, Glee

To top everything off I even liked Aerosmith's "Dream On" for the first time in my existence (how about Harris hitting that high note?!). All the "follow your dreams" stuff really worked for me in this episode, especially between Will and NPH as two never-was's who know that you don't perform (just) because you want to be a star; it's an expression of yourself. I thought the moment in the bar singing along with Billy Joel was sad and empowering at the same time. It doesn't matter that Will may never leave Ohio, Doogies of the world; he performs because it makes him feel good.

The biggest Doogie trying to take the wind out of Glee's sails is definitely Community, who had a couple (admittedly awesome) jabs at the show's expense a couple weeks ago. It's doubtful that Glee is fighting back yet (I think if they were trying it would look a lot clumsier) but last night's episode was a pretty compelling argument for this mess of a show. Yeah, they don't write their own songs, but... it can make you feel pretty good.

Stray notes and quotes
The recap was totally off again. I thought we were in for more Kurt/Burt/Finn drama, Puck/Mercedes drama and that paralyzed football player again. Thank God.
Is the principal's only role at that school to facilitate bad things at the hands of crazy people? What else has he ever done (besides that commercial for men's nylons)?
Seriously, how about that "Safety Dance?"
That silent Asian guy's name is Mike Chang. Noted.
Sequined jean jackets and tearaway dancewear are all any glee club should need.
"What's the matter Schuester? Cat got your talent?"
"Guess what? Putting on a show about your father's prostate cancer will actually make him more depressed about the situation!"
"Big star," "3some," "No stretch marks."
"I've grown tired of your insults, Will. They make me weary and they make me want to punch your face."
"Ever had anger sex?" "The only kind I know."
"I've got a secret room upstairs... like Letterman."
"Do you want a pretzel?" "Hell yes, woman!"