Everything was in place for me to dump Glee this season. It moved to Thursday nights, I have other stuff to watch that night. I quit writing about it for the fashion blog I freelance for. I hated the majority of last season and swore I wouldn’t be back. I didn’t care that it was premiering last night, I had better things to do!
But still, I was curious. I’d heard that the episode was good. Like, original Glee good. And I wanted to know how they’d approach a new season with characters scattered everywhere. And you know what? It was good. It was actually good.
I think the key to Glee actually producing a solid season premiere was focus – something the show sorely lacked last season. If Glee can continue to keep storylines and character arcs as focused as they were in last night’s episode, then this could be a good season.
Essentially, we had two worlds. The New Directions in Lima, Ohio, trying to figure out what to do after winning Nationals and losing a lot of strong members. It’s a pretty basic storyline that was great for introducing new characters. Then we had Rachel adjusting to life in New York, a setting I wasn’t sure I would like but ended up really enjoying. And connecting them was Kurt, a kid stuck between both lands.
New York State of Mind
Alright, let’s talk about Rachel in New York first. I like the world that has been set up for her here. She’s still Rachel Berry, she’s still very talented, but she’s in the big pond now and her confidence has been shaken. I liked seeing her feeling this vulnerable.
Kate Hudson is playing her dance teacher, and I loved it. I’ve generally felt disappointed in Kate Hudson and her career, but I do think she can be good. I liked her singing and dancing in Nine, and I thought she was great here as a bitchy, hard-ass dance instructor who does really care about the handful of her students who succeed. We all know Rachel is a fantastic singer, so I’m glad she killed it in her performance in front of Whoopi Goldberg. Having Rachel feel insecure about her voice would have been silly. But Rachel isn’t the best dancer, she’s just a performer who works very hard. So focusing in on this particular class is a good idea.
I’m no fool, I know that Ryan Murphy hasn’t had long term plans for this show in mind for a long time. But I will say, I think the show did a very good job of slowly developing Rachel and Kurt’s friendship last season, and that really helped sell their reunion in this episode. Sure, Rachel missed Finn and looked at his picture and whatever. But she really missed Kurt. She missed having a best friend. She called him crying, and when he showed up behind her the relief and happiness seemed genuine. I’m ready to see Rachel and Kurt (and maybe Santana, from what I hear) take on New York together.
By the way, that scene with Kurt and his dad in the car? Perfection. Mike O’Malley for the win, as always.
Meanwhile, the glee kids were experiencing new-found popularity thanks to their Nationals win. I liked seeing how this changed their behavior, and how short-lived it was. The way it tied in to the introduction of Marley’s character, and her cafeteria-worker mom, was done really well.
Right now we have two new characters introduced to New Directions, both of whom I’m assuming came from The Glee Project. Marley is the titular “New Rachel” – a brunette with a big voice. And I loved how they intertwined both girls singing “New York State of Mind”. Tina, Brittany, Blaine and Unique might have been competing for that slot, but that was before this girl came along. And we have Jake, the temperamental half-brother of Noah Puckerman. This could work.
Kitty, the mean new head cheerleader, was perfectly vicious and I hope they keep her as a villain. Dianna Agron had a softer side to her and it made sense to reform her (though nothing else they did with that character afterwards made sense), but I’d like to see Kitty stay mean.
Like I said before, I think what made this episode work was focus. We barely saw Sue. We didn’t see Emma or Bieste at all. I’d certainly like to catch up with them in future episodes, but I think it was wise to leave them out of “The New Rachel”.
And what about Finn, Mercedes, Puck, Quinn or Santana? They only got mentions, not appearances. And that’s how it should probably stay. My guess is that we’ll see them all at some point – I think Santana will quit college and move to New York with Rachel and Kurt. I think Finn will at least need to appear for Rachel to get some closure and hook up with her hunky new classmate, but frankly, I think it would be best if that was all we saw of him. I don’t think we really need to see Quinn or Mercedes again. Puck will obviously show up to meet the half-brother he didn’t know he had.
I think Glee needs to look to Friday Night Lights for an example of how to use new and old high school characters. Some can stay on the show. Others are better used popping up for a couple episodes when they’re home for Thanksgiving or something. And some should just be allowed to exist outside the realm of the show, like how once Smash left Dillon, we only saw him on TV and knew he was succeeding.
As for the songs, I thought “Call Me Maybe” was pretty weak but I liked the other stuff. I’m not getting my hopes up yet because, even amidst the disaster of season three, Glee has always been able to turn out individual episodes that shine. I’ll need several in a row to be convinced that this is working. What did you guys think?
A few favorite quotes and moments:
- ‘Mike Chang Forever’ into “Make Change Forever’. Poor Tina.
- “Sister Christian”? Did Ryan Murphy have a hand in that awful Bachelor Pad episode?
- “That’s a great haircut Mercedes, I thought you graduated.”
- “It’s hard to make out over Skype, you can’t scissor a webcam.”
- “Good enough for Pretty Woman, good enough for Kurt Hummel.”