Glee Season Premiere Recap: 'Beat' Generation

The Season 3 premiere of Glee provided an exciting glimpse into the future for those of us intrigued by the idea of Ryan Murphy creating a spinoff with Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel pursuing their musical-theater dreams in New York City. If you somehow got sidetracked in Brittany’s time machine Tuesday night, please allow me to catch you up — in the classic “here’s what you missed on Glee” format:

Things kicked off in meta fashion, with Jacob Ben Israel grilling New Directions’ seniors about what they had planned for the future. In the process, we found out that Mercedes split with Sam after his dad got a job out of state (and she got a new boyfriend, Marcus, who dreamed of making “beautiful cocoa babies” with her…yowza!), and that Tina and Artie are actually juniors. (Thanks for clearing that up, writing team!) Meanwhile, in Sue’s corner, Our Lady of Track Suits found herself lagging behind “undecided”,” “that rapist running from prison,” and “I don’t care; please don’t call me during dinner” in her race for Congress. Thus came her decision to galvanize voters by running on a platform of suspending all public-school arts programs and rejecting state and federal funding for them — until 100 percent of students could read at their own grade levels. “General Schuester is about to launch a counteroffensive,” said Will, who would go on to glitter-bomb Sue and become a “man of action,” even rejecting an obnoxious rich girl with “self-diagnosed Asperger’s” named Sugar, who auditioned for New Directions with a disastrous cover of “Big Spender.” (Side note: Will’s replacement in April’s Broadway musical won the Tony, naturally.)

Back to the student population, Kurt and Rachel began to plot their post-McKinley lives as theater students, but their confidence took a pitch-slap to the face when they attended a mixer at the Dayton Doubletree for prospective students of the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts. There, Kurt and Rachel encountered an alarming number of doppelgangers with more extensive résumés, including Harmony (brilliantly brought to life by The Glee Project‘s Lindsay Pearce) who led a spectacular song-and-dance routine that left Kurt and Rachel crying in their car, but then making a pinkie swear to keep fighting for their dreams. Meanwhile, Quinn dropped out of New Directions and took up with a band of ruffians known as The Skanks, Zizes dumped Puck and quit the glee club as well, Finn questioned who he was and what he wanted to do with his life, Blaine transferred to McKinley and left his Warblers blazer in the closet, and Sue made Santana and Becky the co-captains of the Cheerios — as long as they agreed to destroy the blasted purple pianos that Will brought into the hallways to recruit new New Directions members. The kids’ lunchtime performance of “We Got the Beat” ended in a disastrous food fight, and when Schue discovered Santana’s duplicity, he booted her from the club. And that’s what you missed on Glee.

Now, before we get to the week’s musical numbers, let’s run through a couple of the episode’s memorable bits of dialogue and pop-culture references.

* Loved Kurt envisioning himself and Rachel in New York City as Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey in Beaches (pre-cardiomyopathy, of course).

* Loved Kurt and Rachel resigning themselves to a scaled-back life of community theater productions — Nunsense, Love Letters, and The Vagina Monologues. Kurt, noting the duo considered themselves hot stuff at McKinley, added, “Outside those walls we aren’t even stuff!”

* This exchange between Sue and Becky as the Cheerios coach/Congressional candidate sought something she could campaign against:

Becky: What about toast? Bread’s already been baked. I don’t get why you need to cook it again.
Sue: Oh Becky, your twisted genius excites me.

* Brittany, lamenting that Quinn’s defection to the Skanks ruined the Three Musketeers vibe they had along with Santana: “Now Santana and I are like an Almond Joy and you’re like a Jolly Rancher that fell in the ashtray.”

* Beiste squealing and closing her fist to signify how she crushed the dreams of 60 football-team hopefuls “like pigs in a blanket.”

* Kurt telling Rachel that “you realize we just did the gay high-five” after they pinkie-swore to keep fighting to get into NYADA.

* Sue noticing the “new smell of man marbles wafting off of you this year” after Will performed his first rejection of a glee-club auditioner.

And now, let’s talk about the music…

“We Got the Beat,” Rachel, Santana, Brittany, and New Directions
As Rachel asked, who doesn’t love the Go-Gos? (Can I confess that Beauty and the Beat is the first record I ever purchased?) It was nice seeing Santana and Brittany share lead vocals for a change, and Rachel’s cream-colored dress with half sleeves and black belt was a sight to behold. Bonus points for that Mike Chang booty slap and Brittana doing the swim, plus Becky administering a Slushie to Rachel as the song concluded. All in all, a great musical kickoff to Season 3. Musical grade: A Relevance to the plot: A-

“Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead!,” Kurt and Rachel
I enjoyed Kurt’s olive-green-and-purple plaid suit and Rachel’s saucy old-movie-dame intonations more than I did the number as a whole. Not that these cats can’t sing the bejeezus out of anything, but we’ve seen more thrilling duets from Kurchel. That said, here’s hoping these new besties start pairing up at least every other week so we have a cause for comparison — and maybe bring Mercedes into the fold as well. Musical grade: B Relevance to the plot: B+

“It’s Not Unusual,” Blaine
I usually adore me some Blaine, but I felt like this retro track and his post-Dalton wardrobe was wearing him, and not the other way around. Maybe we needed one less burst of dapper, what with the black shirt, red pants, striped bow tie, white woven belt, yellow shades, and black shoes (with no socks!). The Cheerios’ hairography was hot, but I couldn’t quite figure out what had Santana getting all up in Blaine’s grill. To paraphrase Billy Joel: She didn’t start the fire. Musical grade: B- Relevance to the plot: C+

“Anything Goes”/”Anything You Can Do,” Harmony and the NYADA geeks
Did someone in special effects fast-forward the dancing in this number, or do those kids’ feet really move that quickly? And I may be biased toward actress Lindsay Pearce — seeing how I came to root for her during her Glee Project run — but I thought she murdered the vocals in the best possible way. Plus, I love me a good mash-up. (Bonus: Acting since she was a fetus? Ha!)Musical grade: A Relevance to the plot: A-

“You Can’t Stop the Beat,” Rachel, Mercedes and New Directions
Rachel’s stripped-down, ballad-y opening verse was just gorgeous, and when the number transitioned to the auditorium for a full festival of song-and-dance (complete with Mercedes belting) it felt a lot like the shiny, happy Glee of yore. Musical grade: A- Relevance to the plot: A

What did you think of this week’s Glee? Which plot points made you happy, and which had you looking for a rewrite? What was your favorite musical number? Sound off below, and for all my Glee recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!