Glee Season Premiere Recap: Vexed in the City

brody rachel gleeLike the bracing slap of an icy cold slushie to the face, Season 4 of Glee began with Rachel brought low in New York City, the remaining kids of New Directions on a nasty power high in Ohio, and a new girl named Marley stuck in the middle of potential popularity and crippling insecurities, between small-town life and big-city dreams.

In other words, while there’s always a little sting where change is concerned, it also feels like something unexpected and even a little dangerous has been awoken in the show’s writer’s room. And yes, while it’s understandable that longtime fans of Fox’s (former) high-school musical have some anxieties about where the mothership is headed — No sign of Finn, Mercedes, Quinn, Puck, Emma, or Santana! So many new kids! — I’m personally thrilled at the prospect of seeing characters like Rachel, Kurt, Tina, and Blaine (among others) grapple with the intense changes, often terrible decisions, and new connections you’d expect to see made by any kid on the brink of adulthood.

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Finchel, Klaine, Britanna, and Tike 4EVA? Call me #TeamMaybe. But let’s be honest: The odds on high-school sweethearts making it to their Golden Anniversary aren’t exactly phenomneal — and without some genuine self-discovery beforehand, they’re closer to nill. And if ever a season premiere could/should convince shippers to think twice before they jump ship, this one was it.

That said, if you were too busy pouring moonshine into your fruit smoothie to catch the episode, here’s what you mixed (typo, and it stays) on Glee.

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* We opened with Kate Hudson’s much-buzzed-about NYADA instructor, Cassandra July, chewing out a not-rail-thin girl in Dance 101. Rachel’s reflexive glance of disgust/dismay caught Prof. Evil’s eye — and not in a good way — and the wide-eyed Ms. Berry wound up getting every abuse short of a slushie to the face in front of her clasmates. When Rachel later (foolishly) blurted during class that she could smell alcohol on Cassandra’s breath, it led to this jab from the nastiest dance instructor this side of Abby Lee Miller: “You’re not just on my list, [David] Schwimmer, you are my list.” (If only Rachel knew that Prof. July drinks because of all her failed Broadway dreams. Nah, actually, she’s just a total bitchface.) It’s gonna be a long semester, although I have to say it’s kind of refreshing (and somewhat realistic) to see Rachel realizing her wide-eyed ingenue schtick might send some folks into a borderline homicidal rage. Time to grow up, toughen up, and fight back (when it makes sense), sister!

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* It wasn’t all mortifying failure for our protagonist, though. Rachel capitalized beautifully in one of her two chances to sing this semsester in NYADA’s unbelievably gorgeous “Round Room” in front of the terrifying Carmen Tibideaux. Being in a room with no corners means there’s “nowehere to hide,” but Rachel’s flawless rendition of “New York State of Mind” meant there was no shame necessary.

* Rachel also met a hot, naked upperclassman while doing her skincare regimen in the co-ed bathroom in the middle of the night. (Loved the realism of the trials of college showers for small-town freshman in need of a little privacy.) The fact that she hadn’t heard from Finn for over two months certainly makes her vulnerable to a little romantic longing, no matter how much the Finchel Nation considers her (possibly) wandering eye as a total betrayal. “In case you’re wondering — which I’m sure you are — I’m straight,” said Brody. Hey, you’ve got to double-check when a dude is that carefully manscaped. Later, Brody and Rachel had a nice, not-quite-romantic bonding moment that featured my favorite line of the episode. “I feel like I’m gonna throw up all the time,” admitted Rachel, perfectly capturing the main emotional response to the first week of college. Still, how come we don’t see her connecting with other terrified freshmen?

* In other NYC news, Kurt began to lurk the halls of McKinley while waiting for the semester at his local community college to begin. (Side note: Why do TV writers act like going to community college is the life-dreams equivalent of coming down with a mild case of Ebola?) After being insulted by the Cheerios new beast in charge Kitty, and encouraged by boyfriend Blaine to go spread his wings, our dapper dandy was leavin’ on a jet plane to Manhattan. (Don’t know when he’ll be back again.) Burt’s farewell speech was a thing of beauty, but isn’t that always the case when Mike O’Malley guest-stars? His final words — “You can always come back. But you won’t.” — made me reach for the Kleenex.

* Also tear-jerking? Lonely, scared Rachel and finally-where-he-belongs Kurt, reuinited (and it feels so good). Besties! Roomies! Make it happen!

* Back at McKinley, Jacob Ben Israel got the party started with his standard bit of expository video. Seems the fortunes of the New Directions kids had changed. Sam went from “hobo stripper” to glee-club celeb. (Loved him doing an awful Taylor Lautner impresh). Tina’s ego grew two sizes too big (and she got herself an assistant/minion). Oh, and her “make change forever” tattoo? That was an alteration of “Mike Chang Forever.” Don’t judge: Long-distance relationships are hard! And Brittany, too, was feeling the pain of separation from Santana. “You can’t really scissor a Web cam,” she sighed.

* With Rachel out of the picture, Jacob asked the central question looming like a cloud over the New Directions choir room. “Who’s the new Rachel?” Artie, Tina, Brittany or Blaine? Or would it be Unique, making a transfer from Vocal Adrenaline? Artie, putting on his director hat, judged a “Call Me Maybe”-off among the remaining quaretet, and declared Blaine the winner. (I’d have picked Tina.) But then Schue made his most dishonest/ridiculous statement ever: “We don’t win with stars, we win as a team.” So why did the Lady Berry have so many solos back in the day? The story, as they say, is developing.

* There was also a need to fill out New Directions’ vacancies, and Puck’s never-before-seen half-brother Jake came and nailed his audition on “Never Say Never.” Seems, though, the kid has a chip on his shoulder — and he likes it! He knocked over the music stand when Schue cut his number short, then refused to reconsider his heinous attitude when the kindly teacher (whose fiance I kinda missed!) tried to talk some sense into him.

* And then there was the matter of New Directions auditions, with absolutely impossible-to-root-against newcomer Marley — daughter of the morbidly obese lunch lady — nailing her audition, making the cut with Schue & Co., then questioning if she wanted to be a part of a group that sat with the popular kids and openly made fat-phobic jokes. I loved seeing her admit the lunch-lady was her mom, and I loved that it was Sam who apologized first and revealed he knew what it was like to be poor and have your mom stitch designer labels in your second-hand sweaters. New Directions’ apology accepted! Welcome to the club, Marley. And here’s a nasty slushies for you and Unique, courtesy of Kitty & her football-jock buddies! Unique wins the award for Best Ever Response to a Slushie: “Unique’s eyes! They’re on fire!”

* Finally, Sue Sylvester has a daughter, and her name is Robin, which promoted a joke that had me mumbling “too soon” under my breath: “[The name] recalls hope and springtime and my favorite dead Bee Gee.”

With that, let’s hand out some letter grades for tonight’s musical numbers:

Tina, Brittany, Unique, and Blaine, “Call Me Maybe” | Grade: B+ (side note: What was Artie smoking when he didn’t name Tina the winner of the “Thunderdome-style” sing-off?)

Cassandra, “Dance Again”/”Americano” | Grade A-

Jake, “Never Say Never” | Grade: B

Rachel & Marley, “New York State of Mind” | Grade: A

Blaine, “It’s Time” | Grade: C+ (Sorry, Darren Criss, it’s not really your fault. This song is kinda weak for me, and in the context of the scene, even weaker. Plus, those aggressively rolled jean legs are working my last nerve, especially since your character doesn’t dig clams for a living.)

Marley and New Directions, “Chasing Pavements” | Grade: B+

What did you think of the Glee premiere? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Hurley says:

    LOVED IT!!! I thought that Artie was going to say that after seeing Marley’s talent, she was the new Rachel (cause she obviously is)

  2. LaShawna says:

    I haven’t liked an episode of Glee this much in a long while. Kurt and Rachel were so great, and I LOVED their reunion scene at the end of the episode. And wow!- Kurt got really hot over the summer. I like I like. :) I am so glad Finn wasn’t in this episode, because I always found him to be a rather boring character. I honestly didn’t miss any of the Glee members that weren’t shown.

  3. Elyse says:

    i love Brody <3

  4. Vetle says:

    Loved it. Marley’s mother really moved me. Also, Mike O’freakin Malley! I can live with Unique too. I can’t wait until Blake is on the show too. Though I would love if Aylin and Ali could join as well.

  5. AllyCat says:

    Actually quite impressed with this opener.
    Nice sets, songs that fit, characters (aside from Jake) fitting in seamlessly.
    Development for the new seniors
    Kurt and Rachel’s stories are so relateable.
    Blaine/Tina/Wade/Brit at each others throats.
    I love Nyada
    I love the McKinley storylines.

    I’m so shocked I was expecting to hate everything.

  6. Marty says:

    Did anyone else think Brody was a bad actor? His lines in the scene outdoors seemed cheesy and rehearsed.

  7. Patricia says:

    I thought it really worked with Rachel in NY and everybody else. I didn’t miss Finn at all I think the show can survive without him and Rachel being together. I liked the new additions. The only one I do miss is Santana is she coming back at all? Kate Hudson was amazing. I loved her number.

  8. Jason says:

    TWO reasons to watch, period: Brody and Jake. Could these 2 newcomers BE any HOTTER?????

  9. asd25 says:

    I found the way to enjoy Glee again. Go in with extremely low expectations. After the mess that was season 3 (the latter half of which I didn’t even watch) this finally seemed like an episode of a TV series, with coherent plot lines that evolved organically. It confirmed to me though that the series I want to watch is the one in NY with Rachel and now Kurt. I hope they reconsider the idea of having an episode in NY and one in Ohio so that I can skip New Directions 2.0.
    The songs were not truly great and I hated Rachel having to share the song with Marley. Whenever they do this, it seems that you’re never able to judge the singers independently. It’s not a duet, it’s a mashup for no real reason. As she showed later Marley is good but in no way has the vocal capabilities of Rachel.
    In any case, they have recovered something of what made the first season of Glee such a good show. Let’s hope they continue this way and not muddle everything with ten thousand storylines at the same moment. Ryan Murphy cannot handle them.

  10. Karen says:

    It was nice to see the show breathe in some fresh air, even though I do miss Quinn, Puck, Santana, Emma, Mercedes and Finn.
    I thought Kate Hudson was really good in the episode, as was Mike O’Malley (but isn’t he always?)
    I also really liked the addition of Jake (who at some point must put his grievances aside, and join the club)
    And even though I love Rachel and Finn together, I’m quite exited by that Brody. Hot, confident and seemingly very into miss Rachel.

  11. Linds says:

    I really didn’t mind it but SERIOUSLY at what high school are teens jumping rope?!

  12. Scout says:

    Hm… I guess I am just over this show. It thought Marley was generic and her voice was mediocre. I think the show has jumped the shark. Deleting from DVR.

  13. imho says:

    Could not summons the energy to watch – to try to learn a “whole new Glee”. Read this, glad I did not bother. Shows should learn to quit while they are on top.

  14. Jared says:

    Glee felt like a brand new show. I loved Rachel in NY and can’t wait to see what happens between Rachel and Kurt. The whole Marley and her lunch lady mom scenes were heartbreaking..excited to see where that storyline leads. And Jake..hes so cute!..and his voice is amazing.

  15. Frankie says:

    The Mckinley High scenes were super boring..would much rather see what happens with Rachel in NY. loved that plot.

  16. Lauren says:

    Weird – felt like a different show – not bad, just, strange… I almost feel like I graduated along with Rachel & co. and only want to see their storylines now, not go back to high school.

  17. DJ says:

    I don’t get Finchel fans. But that’s just me. I always thought that the biggest problem that they’d encounter is being able to understand each other’s needs. I actually saw them breaking up in season 3 and it didn’t happen… except the unofficial one in the finale. I always thought that their goals were so different it wouldn’t work.

    That’s why I’m jumping ship to the SS Brochel. What’s cool about Brody is that he has the same dreams as Rachel. I see a more fruitful future for them. I’m hoping Finchel is not end game because unlike Finchel shippers, there really is chemistry between Dean and Lea. I always thought the chemistry between Cory and Lea was forced.

    I’m excited to see Santana in the big apple. Santana never really saw eye to eye with Hummelberry except for a few moments. I’d like to see her latch on to Hummelberry as part of her support group. Being in a new place can be tough, even for someone as tough as Santana.

  18. Pam says:

    It was okay and the newcomers were okay. I think it is funny that people are pretty split on Brody. The character seems like a nice guy but the actor is horrible and it really shows putting him opposite Lea. I did miss the Cory presence and hope he is back soon.

  19. j says:

    I really enjoyed and liked this Season

  20. jade says:

    I agree with others that the Brody character was pretty flat compared to the other newcomers and the actor just isn;t very good. I hope he improves or he needs to take a hike.

  21. jason says:

    Brody was just Jesse really without the snark and I think the snark is what I loved abuot Jesse. If they want me to root for Brody and Rachel over Finn and Rachel then the actor needs to bring more to the table other than his looks.

    I LOVED Marley and Jake. They are some nice additions.

  22. vrn says:

    I missed Finn a lot… I want my Finchel back, and this Brody guy i dont see the romantic chemistry with Rachel….I see him like a big brother.

  23. Mafer says:

    Brody is just a hot body but when it comes to chemistry with rachel there’s none! so how about RIB forgets that pointless stroy line and come back to what’s important: Finchel!

  24. Kaycee says:

    They hinted last year that Tina would be the new Rachel and now she’s going to be in the background again. I also hate the lack of Naya Rivera (who should’ve been nominated for an Emmy…) – She was the highlight of the show and she is definitely missed.

  25. Shawn says:

    I kinda wished that they had stretched the marley storyline out longer before she came clean. Knowing glee it might never get mentioned again. Same thing with finding out who jake is. They should have left it just him auditioning and saved the talk with shue for another episode. and again with Kurt being stuck in Lima. They kinda wrapped up too many things just in one episode. I did love the competition for the “new Rachel” among the new directions kinda brought a somewhat fresh story line up. Also loving Rachel in new york. I don’t get all the hate for Brody and saying she’s cheating on Finn. Just cuz she is speaking to a guy who is flirting with her and she even lied and told him she has a boyfriend. I agree with the people saying that Rachel does need more interaction with other students there at school not just with one guy and now kurt. overall it felt like 95% first season glee but it still needs some work

  26. Holly says:

    I liked it overall and felt like the HS side out did the NY side which surprised me. I love love Rachel but just her in NY even with Kurt added now just doesn’t seem like enough. I can really only watch her in class and then in her room so many times before I just get bored. Lea and Chris are amazing with each other and the jury is still out and Lea and Dean. I really thought the Brody character fell flat as Dean just isn’t the best actor and Brody isn’t anywhere near as interesting as Finn or Jesse. I hope they can get some other faces to NY so I don’t start fast forwarding those scenes.

    Like I said the HS side was good and I loved the new dynamic of old vs new characters.

  27. Jenn says:

    I felt as though I didn’t have to tune in last night because the story won’t really start until Finn Hudson is back on the scene. Let’s face it, that’s when Rachel’s story will really kick off because Finchel is what the writers use to pace the show. To be honest, I probably won’t tune in until episode four. But that’s just me.

  28. soundscene says:

    I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t miss any of the old characters–except maybe Puck. I needed a break from Finn&Rachel. It’s not that I don’t like their relationship; I just don’t care if they’re together or not.

    I thought Dean and Rachel had as much chemistry as she and Finn had after only one episode of scenes. Putting the harsh on Dean now is premature.

    Marley made me think of tampons because of her Tampax commercial. It was awkward.

    Jake is the one that made me miss Puck. Jake better show some spirit going forward or he’ll have all of Puck’s bad boy drama without the whimsical, slightly dense humor to go along with it.

  29. Siren says:

    I love Glee, but no see Finn on my screen is sooo wrong.
    I understand that Finchel need to be separate sometime. But this didn´t mean that no Finn in the premier.
    And the new guy…. please RIB, original strorylines, a love triangle angain????

  30. ggny says:

    ND just wasnt the same. No Finn,Puck,Santana just didnt have the same felling to it. Think im gonna DVR through most of the ND stuff now. Epscially if Tina gets pushed to the side again for the dreadfull actor that plays Unique

  31. ggny says:

    Also i really hoping the show starts to morph into Rachel,Kurt,Santana and Finn living in NY. Thats the only way i see them saving Glee

  32. Nathy says:

    I was a really good episode. Although I loved the new members couldn’t help but miss the old ones. Specially Finn :( It was not the same without him.

  33. Angel says:

    It was a decent premiere after a lackluster season 3. I like Finn, and Santanya, but I didn’t miss them too much. I like Marley, I hope she comes a little more interesting. I loved Jake, and his voice, and I hope they find out what the chip on his shoulder is. I think Unique is fun, but he is too much like Kurt if Kurt did drag. Kitty, I do not care for, I think she is so much worse than Quinn or even Santanya before her. I was glad when the Glee club kids came back down to earth and remembered who they were, because their snotty attitudes trying to fit in with Kitty and her crowd were terrible. Brody is hot, I hope we get to hear him sing more, his voice is good. I liked the round room set, and Kate Hudson is a nice addition to the cast. I missed Beastie, and Emma. I hope they come back soon, and I hope we get to see Finn at bootcamp.

  34. Nat says:

    I didn’t missed Finn, or Mercedes or Puck, or any of the other cast members that were absent, and that’s saying a lot since Quinn is my favorite, but honestly they wouldn’t have brought anything really important to this episode’s plot. I like Marley a lot, also Jake, Unique always annoyed me, but I liked that she took her stand and decided to dress up (by the way, the new direction kids were all acting like a-holes at the beggining), I don’t like Kitty mainly because she is being reffered to as the “new Quinn”. But what really pisses me off is Rachel’s neeed to be validated by a guy, first was Finn and now Brody, I like him, nothing wrong with that, but she’s freaking Rachel Berry, she doesn’t need a boy to come and say that she’s great. Someone posted that Rachel went to New York thanks to Finn, yeah, that was really nice, trick your fiance to think you’re gonna get married to dump her in a train station, making plans behind her back because she obviously doesn’t know what’s best fo her. Loads of bull since he was the one who pushed her into getting married in the first place.

  35. Bob says:

    Yet another guy singing in the shower! Jesus! Is there anyone that can tell Ryan Murphy his creepy is showing?
    And how is the show anti-bullying when the funniest lines are put-downs?

  36. MyReligionIsWhovian says:

    I was pretty impressed with the season premiere. Marley is pretty freaking adorable. We have our new Rachel, everybody. I am looking forward to seeing the other graduates though.The Kurt and Rachel reunion was awesome, you hit the nail on the head with that one Mr. Slezak. I don’t know about the rest of you girls but the body shot of Brody was definitely appreciated. Good Review! :)

  37. Charpa says:

    Darren Criss’s “I don’t wanna see you go” almost had me singing “but it’s not forever, not forever!” :)

  38. Nichole says:

    Was disappointed with the tone of the this episode, the nasty comments from Kitty and from everyone towards the lunch lady, just put me off. I know that it was to serve the purpose of the plot for this episode to a certain extent, but most of the comments seemed just mean for the sake of being mean. If Kitty is going to be an ongoing character, hope they change the attitude, and the attitude towards Marley’s mum the lunch lady. While she may be a very large lady, there could be dozens of reasons for that and i’m sure there is much more to her then just her appearance. Was a very un-Glee thing to do.

  39. rob says:

    I thought this episode was great. Had some really sad parts. I enjoyed Blaine performance, but Unique has to go. Plz!!!!!!!!!!

  40. JDHetherington says:

    Am I the only one confused as to why in the heck Mark Salling, Amber Riley & Harry Shum Jr are still regulars? They aren’t going to be appearing till like episode 5….. And is Jayma Mays off the show?

  41. Ella says:

    Anyone else think Marley looks like a cross between Bridget Regan and Blake Lively?

  42. Ericka says:

    This episode was boring, just awful! Nothing like the Glee I’ve grown to love through the years. It reminded me more of Dawsons Creek (which I loved) but Glee is supposed to be funny; this wasn’t. And I know that Rachel is the star of the show, I felt like it focused on her too much. I may be the only one, but I like Unique. I prefer Wade in drag. All in all, I’m not ready to jump ship yet. But something has to change immediately.

  43. Michelle says:

    Huge fail. Honestly, this show expects us to believe Rachel deserves to be there after the methods she used to get her spot? Fail. Expects us to believe she can handle the pressures of the entertainment world when she has a mental breakdown every time she breaks a nail? Fail. That she’s an underdog even though she’s gotten everything she wants? Fail.

    So over the pathetic bullied Rachel storylines. Always the same thing. Everyone else has to be so mean to her so that she looks like a victim when she treats people no better than they treat her. But of course the show can’t acknowledge that Rachel’s a horrible person because she’s their star ‘underdog’ even though none of her wins are legit, fair, or surprising. Underdog, yeah right. Good person, that’s a laugh. Karma’s a bitch that’ll catch up to her soon.

  44. Em says:

    Is Quinn dead?