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It’s the premiere episode of season four of Glee. Characters who graduated from high school last season have moved on. With the cast so drastically changing, this is a pivotal moment. Whether or not viewers like these first few episodes could decide whether they keep following the series.
The opening scene is at the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts, where Rachel is meeting her new dance teacher, Cassandra July, played by Kate Hudson. Cassandra immediately starts picking on Rachel, saying she looks like David Schwimmer. Could this be the Sue Sylvester of NY? It looks like it. Hudson does a great job as the character and sings and dances to “Americano” / “Dance Again” (Lady Gaga/Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull).
Like any college freshman, Rachel has to adjust to her new life. She goes to the co-ed bathroom in the early hours of the morning so no one will judge her “extensive nighttime ritual,” and hears a junior named Brody Weston singing “Sister Christian” (Night Ranger). It turns out that he’s also studying musical theater. He’s cute, confident, and makes sure to mention:
“In case you’re wondering, which you were, I’m straight.”
He definitely sounds like competition for Finn, who hasn’t spoken to Rachel in a while.
Meanwhile, Kurt spends a lot of time at McKinley, where he meets Sue’s baby daughter Robin and the character Kitty, the new head cheerleader.
At the Glee meeting, Will walks into the choir room and the first thought that hits my mind is, “Where’s his hair?” Matthew Morrison is sporting a new haircut, but it looks good and is a nice change. With Rachel and Finn gone, the remaining members feud over who will be the new soloist. Wade, Tina, Brittany, and Blaine all perform “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen), while Artie judges to see who will be the “New Rachel.”
In the cafeteria, the Cheerios and the football players have been sitting with the Glee club, whose National Championship last season has granted them new popularity. It’s all fine at first, until the popular kids want them to join in on making fun of an overweight lunch lady, making things incredibly awkward for Marley Rose, a new character who wants to try out for the club, and happens to be the lunch lady’s daughter.
At the auditions for Glee club, Marley knocks it out of the park with “New York State of Mind” (Barbra Streisand), which Rachel sings at the same time during a NYADA class in front of Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg). New Directions in Ohio is impressed with Marley, and Brody and Carmen in NY are blown away by Rachel.
Another character debuts at the auditions. A boy named Jake sings a beautiful version of “Never Say Never” (The Fray). Will loves it, but asks him to stop for the sake of saving time. Jake is upset and angrily knocks over a music stand, leading Will to accept Marley into the group, but reject Jake. Later we find out that Jake is Puck’s half-brother, and Will offers him a spot in the club if he drops his bad attitude, but Jake refuses.
Marley is excited to be a part of New Directions, but is also is turned off by the intolerant attitude of the group. For the sake of being well-liked by the popular kids, they do things like ask Wade not to wear makeup or dress up as Unique (his female identity) and keep making fun of the lunch lady. When Marley almost leaves the club, the group comes to their senses and asks her to stay, which culminates in Kitty and the football players throwing slushies at the Wade and Marley. It wouldn’t be Glee without the slushies, right?
At the end of the day, Artie picks Blaine as the “New Rachel,” and he proves himself later when he sings “It’s Time” (Imagine Dragons). Blaine convinces Kurt that he can’t let himself be stuck in Ohio; he needs to move on and find himself in NY, where Blaine can join him next year. Blaine’s performance is the best one of the episode. It reminds of the numbers I miss seeing from the Warblers and it’s down-to-earth. Scenes like these are the reason I still stick with this show.
This episode closes with New Directions singing “Chasing Pavements” and with Kurt surprising Rachel in NY and implying that he wants to be her new roommate.