‘Glee’ Recap: Neil Patrick Harris Makes Strange Dreams Come True

NPH sang with Mr. Schue and did a different kind of duet with Sue Sylvester.

Remember the weeks before “Glee” came back from hiatus and all we had to tide us over were glimpses of upcoming scenes in promos? And there was one promo that showed Mr. Schuster making out with Idina Menzel’s character, and for a hot second you were like, “OMG he’s making out with Rachel!”?

Well, you weren’t crazy. Anyone with eyes can see that the Broadway legend and Lea Michele are pretty much identical. But it wasn’t until tonight’s episode that we learned for sure what everyone had suspected all along: Shelby Corcoran, you are the mother.

Rachel’s birth mother is, in fact, the Vocal Adrenaline coach, and Rachel’s foxy new boyfriend, former VA star-turned-New Directions transfer Jesse St. James, has been but a pawn in Shelby’s evil plan. Except the plan isn’t all that evil. Shelby explained to her young minion that the only thing she regretted in life was not being able to meet her daughter. Unfortunately, the surrogate contract wouldn’t let her contact Rachel until Rachel turned 18. To meet any sooner, it had to be Rachel’s idea.

Shelby had Jesse get close to Rachel (seducing her was his idea) and encourage her to try to find her birth mother. He planted a tape from Shelby in the box of baby stuff Rachel dug out from her basement, helping her realize that no, her birth mother wasn’t Patti LuPone or Bernadette Peters. It took some pressing, but he finally got Rachel to listen to the tape of Shelby singing “I Dreamed a Dream,” which turned into a lovely mother/daughter duet.

Speaking of dreams, Neil Patrick Harris dropped by William McKinley High to crush a few. NPH is always great when he’s playing a jerk (which seems incongruous since he appears to be such a nice guy in real life), and last night’s douche du jour was Bryan Ryan, Mr. Schue’s former glee club nemesis and the current school board member in charge of extracurricular funding. He was at the school deciding which arts program to cut and had his eye on the glee club, since it had brought him nothing but pain when his dream of becoming a famous performer didn’t pan out. He advised the gleeks that their dreams, too, would one day come crashing down around them and lead to a crack addiction.

Schuester pleaded his case to keep the club and let the kids have their dreams, but Bryan wouldn’t relent. That is, until his love of performing (and zeal for competition) was reignited. Will and Bryan both went out for the part of Jean Valjean in the local Lima production of “Les Misérables,” and a tight audition schedule meant they had to try out together by dueting on Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Schue got the part, but wound up trading it to Bryan Ryan to save the glee club.

Also, somehow Bryan Ryan and Sue Sylvester totally DID IT. Yeah. Try to get that mental picture out of your brain before we continue.

Since the drama with his rival prevented Mr. Schuester from giving the kids an assignment this week, Tina created her own assignment to help Artie achieve his dream of being able to dance. But instead of helping Artie deal with his reality and come up with his own way of dancing, Tina told him that he would definitely be able to walk (and dance) one day. In a particularly heartbreaking scene, Artie tried to use crutches to walk around the choir room, but fell on his face instead.

Artie daydreamed of leading an intricate mall-set dance number to “The Safety Dance,” which gave former boy-bander Kevin McHale a chance to get out of the wheelchair and show off his sweet dance moves. It was also a cute homage to the “Glee” flash mobs that dedicated fans have organized in cities like Seattle and Rome. But Artie eventually realized that this dream would never happen. Tina choreographed a tap dance number to “Dream a Little Dream of Me” with Mike Chang instead, while Artie sang.

What did you think of Neil Patrick Harris’ guest appearance on “Glee”? Share your own reviews in the comments.