“Glee”, FOX, Airs Thursdays 9/8c
“The New Rachel” (Season 4, Episode 1)
Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) struggles to find her footing in New York, while back in Lima, Glee Club bicker over who will be the next star and Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) gets stuck in a rut.
New season. New school year. New cast. New look. That seems to be the route “Glee” has decided to take on its fourth year on air. Instead of the familiar halls of McKinley, the season premiere started out in the dance halls of NYADA, where Rachel finds herself welcomed by a big, fat New York slap in the face.
In this not-so-brave, new world, Rachel is not the confident, bossy starlet Rachel we’ve seen in the past. Without the caring, soft-spoken support of Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and the open arms of Finn (Cory Monteith) to guide her, Rachel is a lost puppy in the big city. Her new support system is in her monster of a dance teacher, Cassandra July (Kate Hudson). As a washed-up, drunken, former Broadway star-turned-dance-mentor, Hudson brings back a touch of the edge that went missing last season. Her mean comments and anti-pet names are nearly on par with original “Glee” mean girl, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). (Cassandra’s jab at Rachel as “Little Miss David Schwimmer” was a definite contender for our favorite quote of the episode.) Hudson gives her first performance of the season, singing and dancing to a sexy, high-energy rendition of Lady Gaga’s and Jennifer Lopez’s (featuring Pitbull) “Americano/Dance Again.” We’re slightly skeptical of her voice so far, but we’ll admit it’s several steps up from the last A-list blonde actress to grace the Glee airwaves with her autotuned presence.
Rachel gets an ego boost in meeting NYADA junior, Brody Weston (Dean Geyer). In the dorm co-ed bathrooms, Rachel stumbles upon Brody’s, erm, talent as she overhears him singing in the shower (homage to the discovery of Finn’s voice in the locker room, perhaps?). In perfect Glee fictional fantasy, the two bond over their similar, extensive, nightly moisturizing routine. Brody gives Rachel advice and pushes her to become the new and improved New Yorker Rachel.
Back in Lima (You didn’t think we forgot about those left behind, now did you?), the remainder of New Directions bask in the glory of their newfound popularity. They sit with the Cheerios. They joke with the football players. They have personal assistants handing them cakes at every corner. But things are shaky on the inside. Now that Rachel is gone, someone needs to take her place as lead soloist. Who will be the new Rachel? We won’t spoilt it, but just know that a serious sing-off of “Call Me Maybe” takes place in the auditorium, Battle Royale style.
For every New Rachel, there’s a new Glee Club to back her (or him) up. With every McKinley High student chomping at the bits to be part of the coolest club on campus, Mr. Schue holds auditions to narrow down the real talent. By the end of the episode, New Directions has two new members: Wade “Unique” Adams (Alex Newell) – the unforgettable cross-dressing soloist from finals and new transfer student at McKinley – and Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist, who seems to have come out of nowhere). We also get a peek at Puck’s little (unknown) brother Jake (Jacob Artist), who has the voice and all the bad attitude of Glee’s former resident bad guy.
Outside of McKinley, Kurt is floundering around in the tiny Lima sea. Stuck working at the Lima Bean waiting for his community college classes to start, he tries to fill the void by hanging out at McKinley High. Blaine (Darren Criss) confronts Kurt, telling him he no longer belongs in Lima and singing “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons (an over the top performance on the outdoor steps of McKinley with what seems to be the entire student population joining in. But hey, it’s Darren Criss, so we can’t complain.). Further pushed by his dad, the always amazing Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley), Kurt decides to go to New York with a little money and no place to call home but a motel room.
So far, we’re liking the newcomers to the show. With several original characters (Finn, Santana, Mercedes and Puck) now M.I.A., we’re excited to see how the season folds out as the new New Directions learns to fill the shoes of their former members. Marley and Jake add an interesting, although familiar, mix to the Glee-quation, and we like to think they give a glint of hope of bringing the show back to its roots.
Speaking of going back to roots, Glee Club upholds their popular status for a total of one whole episode. Slushies make an appearance, and Cheerios reign supreme, as is the natural order of McKinley High. We’re satisfied with this, because otherwise, we’d really start to worry if the writers decided to take that big of a leap for the new “Glee.”
The premiere was a hopeful start to the fourth season. Watching through the episode, it was obvious that the show will have a new feel to it, with the familiarness and reliability of McKinley balanced by Rachel’s and Kurt’s adventures in edgy, fast-paced New York. It’s too early to say how this format will work for an entire season and beyond, but we’ve got our fingers crossed the show can hang onto our two favorite McKinley graduates as long as possible.
“Americano/Dance Again” (Lady Gaga/Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull) – Cassandra July ft. NYADA Students
“It’s Time” (Imagine Dragons) – Blaine Anderson
“Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen) – Blaine, Tina, Brittany and Wade
“New York State of Mind” (Billy Joel) – Rachel and Marley
“Never Say Never” (The Fray) – Jake Puckerman
“Chasing Pavements” (Adele) – New Directions
Most Memorable Quote of the Episode:
“That’s a great haircut, Mercedes. I thought you graduated.” – Brittany, to Wade
Up Next Week:
Rachel and Kurt are reunited in the Big Apple, and Cassandra’s notorious Broadway past is revealed. At McKinley, Brittany Spears 2.0 is in full gear.