First impression of the episode: Burt Hummel is officially the world’s greatest dad. (It says it on the mug!) But he’s a terrible planner. Oh, Kurt, Sebastian’s curse came true. Well, 1/3 of it. Rachel, you need to hit that like a ballplayer swinging for the fences. Kate Hudson – good lord, she’s fit. Kurt – your coats are sublime. Tina, why are you being Sunshine-to-the-crackhouse-Rachel right now? Oh, Mike Chang. No Cohen-Chang-Changs anymore, and I sad face for hours.
And: HUMMELBERRY! That was my favorite part of the whole episode. Okay, let’s break it down fa reals. And remember: this happens with every first episode of a new season: a whole lot jammed packed to the point where they should have made this a Very Special Two Hour episode of Glee. But they didn’t. Here’s what we have instead…
The new seasons opens with techno music blasting as impossibly beautiful bodies bend and contort themselves. And…this is Dance 101. Welcome to the toughest made-up performance arts school in the world, gang! Fame High this ain’t. It’s NYADA.
And Kate Hudson is her new dance instructor, Ms. Cassandra July, in full Bring It On/Sparky Polaski mode. She “critiques” everyone as they move past her. “Too much make up. Not enough make up. One of your calves is bigger than the other. Smile. Don’t smile. Ah, good tone and general musculature. Report those compliments to your ass before it gets so big it forms its own website!”
Rachel rolls her eyes and girlfriend, it is not even the first five minutes of class and your teacher hates you. Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparklemotion. Ms. July has one of the best insults of the night when saying about Rachel’s home state, “Ohio’s like a giant turd that Michigan can’t pinch off.”
Welcome to NYC, Rach. You suck.
Back at McKinley, Jacob Ben Ishmael, er Israel without his fifteen pieces of flair in his hair performs his usual role in the season opener by filling us in on what’s been happening. And it’s a miracle: the Gleeks are cool! They sit with Cheerleaders (well, Artie is always sitting, he points out), Tina has a freshman as her personal assistant as well as a giant bug up her butt because she is awful now, Sam’s impressions are adored by the masses (even his Walken?), Mike and Tina broke up – all my cries! – and life is peaches and cream.
So he wants to know: who’s the new Rachel? Blaine, Brittany, Tina, and Artie all say over each other: I am. Uh oh.
Back in NYC, Rachel is feeling that Freshman Homesickness big time. We learn Finn’s in the army and they’ve not had communication for two months, she misses her dads and Kurt, but her roommate is super, super nice. Wink. By nice I mean she’s Spreadlegs VonGetchaSome. That’s fun to listen to in the way that isn’t.
Rachel has to shower at 3am to avoid being teased about her routine, and with a lovely throwback to Season 1′s pilot, we hear an ’80s rock ballad coming out of the shower. But it’s more appropriate this time with Rachel listening and not a teacher. The shower opens and good lord, those flying Vs go all the way down. It’s Body. I mean, Brody Weston, who is a junior.
And he has a moisturizing routine, too.
And a great smile.
And a kind heart.
And lots of friendly support for our freshie.
And an availability down south, wink! Yep, he’s straight.
(Uh oh. This does not bode well for Pfc. Hudson.)
Rachel calls Kurt later to tell him all about Body (and can we all just acknowledge that Chris Colfer has a really sexy phone voice? Good lord.) and reassures him that she’s not jumping on that parade float, just mentioning it. And how much she misses him. And…where is he, anyway?
Cut back to McKinley where Kurt is headed to Sue Sylvester’s office to see the baby she had over the summer. (Like it matters we didn’t see that, come on.) The baby is Robin, and her handler is the new Quinn Fabray, Kitty. Kitty goes into Regina George mode and says, “You don’t even go here!”
Um, Kurt is in community college starting next week, okay? (Oh, Kurt!) Sue says how refreshing it is for Kurt to break stereotype and be the first Gay McConneghey. “What I like about high school girls: I get older, but they keep staying the same age.” Don’t buy kids beer, Kurt, promise me.
Mr. Schuester greets the Gleeks in the choir room, and oh! How empty the room is! Auditions are coming up, but it should be a cake walk, since they’re so cool now and they’ll be flooded with wanna bes. But first, Wade “Unique” is their first new member, fresh off the trans…fer bus.
Brittany says, “Great haircut, Mercedes, but I thought you graduated?”
Wade gets a less than enthusiastic welcome because now there’s even more competition to be the new Rachel. And Blaine Bartholemew Bomer TopHat Anderson, where has your dapperness gone? Have you lost all of your inner-Warbler? (I guess the kind gleam in his eye was destroyed by that rock salt slushie.) D: or should I say )#
Wade sits right next to Blaine and indicates that Ms. Thang is gonna be Top Model, okay? Brit, Tina, and Blaine all lean in. Blaine whips a comb from his back pocket, smooths his D.A. and says, “Rumble after school. Sharks! Jets!” Brit cracks her knuckles, Tina runs the flat of a blade along her tongue, and Wade checks his heels for a hidden .357.
These kids don’t play around.
Artie will be in charge of pink slips and the four kids will be locked in a cage with every weapon known to man. Wait, no, they’re going to sing “Call Me Maybe” and there goes my “27 days since I last heard that song” record.
They all sound great (even Brit!) and Blaine has the tightest red pants on (I like this season opening trend, Show) and look: a Cougar can’t change her stripes, okay? I find the boy eye-catching. The song ends, Blaine awkwardly looks for a final pose, I crack up and forgive them for their song choice. (Which they all sang admirably. It’s just too much, that song.) Artie will let them know.
Cut to the Lima Bean (yay!) where Blaine sits with…Brittany. Oh. Get used to it, guys, even though it’s going to hurt. They talk about Santana, and evidently Santana didn’t take the money that Gloria Estephan (sans Sound Machine) gave her to not go to cheerleading school, and went to Kentucky anyway? And Ryan? I like how supportive you are to gays, but cut it out with the lesbian mocking, please. Unless you also give them nice moments like you do the others.
And dear sweet McQueen, there is Kurt in an apron waiting on tables and making coffees for people. What fresh hell is this? And why isn’t he working at the tire shop? Okay, here is my theory: he works at the Lima Bean because the hours are more flexible and it’s where his friends (Blaine) hang out so he can still see them? He gets excited for the upcoming Glee auditions, which is…strange. Honey. You graduated.
Kitty is there and is an instant bitch. We see Blaine (sad faced) watching Kurt have to take it, and by the time Kitty shouts out, “Stop trying to make fetch happen!” Kurt turns to see Blaine leaving. He makes a “Call me” gesture and leaves Kurt to work.
Here is my head canon, because I have some massive issues with how Klaine is this episode (and I know I’m not alone.) Blaine obviously wants the best for Kurt, and doesn’t like seeing the most interesting kid in all of Ohio being treated poorly. He knows Kurt doesn’t belong in that mediocre town, and seeing this stuff happen to Kurt is awful. So he’s doing that thing he did last year where he starts pulling away to prepare himself for the inevitable (and to maybe give Kurt the push he needs).
He knows Kurt needs to be Not The Boy Next Door instead of boring and safe Phantom (because Kurt showed him that).
In NYC, Ms. July makes a smoothie as one of her students comes in, excitedly talking about not being her assistant anymore because he’s playing Flying Monkey #5 in Wicked. She clenches her fist, but nope, the last of her hopes slip away as she forces a smile on her face, and we see that there’s actually good inside her. Way, way down. Deep. Spelunking is needed, but it’s there. He leaves and she decides that smoothie needs a little Captain Morgan splashed in there. Okay, it’s rum with a fruit chaser, but it helps take the edge off of her own failed career.
Tina starts harassing Artie when a cutie pie of a girl comes over to excitedly introduce herself. It’s Marley, and seriously, what a cute girl! She’ll be auditioning later, waves goodbye, and Tina continues being awful. Wade/Unique comes to sit with the faintest trace of gold eyeshadow and some mascara on while every one of the Gleeks freaks out like she just came over with a vibrator necklace and Hello, Kitty pasties.
Get thee hence, Satan! Thou whilst destroy us up, yea verily! Try to get less Theon Greyjoy in our Lannisters, m’kay? And Wade/Unique LEAVES to take it off!! Oh, guys. The cool kids come over to join them, and who else noticed that New Karofsky/Azimio is Cookie from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide? He went from geek to chic after enrolling in the Anthony Michael Hall school of biggening, I guess.
They all start making fun of the new lunch lady, who is a rather large woman. Brit thinks that maybe she mas a medical condition (or swallowed someone with a medical condition) and they all turn to Artie, because if he doesn’t mock the lunch lady, everything is over.
“Yo mama so fat, she should really look into dietary changes to prolong her life and improve her health, yo.” Aww, snap!
And new girl Marley hears this and rethinks her life choices. And it’s because that is her mother. Sad faces! And her mom happens to be awesome and sewing higher end labels into her Wal-Mart clothes so Marley can fit in. And Marley is a sweet girl that loves her mom and her mom is just so self-deprecating, wah! Gleeks? Get it together!
Ms. July wobbles out to find Rachel at the barre and hurls some insults at her, nose to nose. After Rachel’s eyebrows stop sizzling, she points out Ms. July’s booze-breathe. Collective gasp from the class! How dare you, child. It’s Listerine! With a vodka float! Okay, reverse that, but nobody puts baby in a corner! FIVE! SIX! SEVEN! EIGHT!
Cassandra knocks out a mash up of J. Lo and Lady Gaga, “Dance Again/Americano” in a nicely safe key that highlights her strengths vocally, and I would swear that for some of the more “crisp” dance moves they pulled in a dance double. Yeah, she can hoof it a little, but she’s next to seasoned pros and there was a lot of hair obscuring the face and pull-out shots happening. Yadda yadda, Nine, her body is flawless and now Berry’s on the list. As the only thing on the list.
It’s time for auditions at McKinley, and every Stoner, De-wanda and Jake show up. The stoner kid is pretty damn funny, throwing out random rap names and lyrics while Brittany gets the hell down in her chair, then a girl comes out to writhe to Skrillex (Blaine: “Are there words to this?”) and then hello, gorgeous! Jake, just…Jake, comes out and starts to sing The Fray’s “Never Say Never” and good lord, my body temp just shot up five degrees. He’s dreamy, is what I’m saying.
(And anyone else watch 1 Girls, 5 Gays? Because he is the spitting image of Nurse Jake.)
The Gleeks are blown away by his chops, so Schue cuts him off mid-way through the song, because they don’t need to hear anymore. Jake misinterprets this and flies into a tizzy and Kurt (oh, honey, no. Stop coming back to the school.) tries to tell him what’s what. Jake storms out (storm out! He’s the new Rachel!) and they all sit there in shock. Uh…okay, then?
We bounce back to NYADA in the Round Room where you cannot hide from your mistakes. Carmen Tibideaux is there and has a hapless young lady come sing Ava Maria in front of the crowd, then immediately shuts her down (thank goodness – it was…not the best). And Maria’s cut. She can reapply in December. (Hear that, Kurt? DECEMBER.) And now it’s Rachel’s turn.
“Impress me,” Carmen says. Gulp! But Body is there and gives her an encouraging smile.
We intercut nicely between McKinley and NYADA here as Marley steps out to audition. And she and Rachel choose the same song (Hey…I see what they’re doing! Marley is the new Rachel!) Rachel starts in on “New York State of Mind” and it’s really meta: the song is by Billy Joel, and Marley has a good handle on that bluesy aspect of it. But it was also sung by Barbra, and you know that’s Rachel. Nicely played, Glee, even though it’s a bit of a snoozer for an auditioning number.
They both sound amazing, truly, and Body gives Rachel a standing ovation (ha!). Marley is right in between Naya and Lea vocally, I’d say – enough blues in her voice to round it out, but not into Broadway belters like Lea. (And did anyone notice the lack of Brad? Cry!)
Will thanks Marley and asks the group how amazing she was on a scale of Damn! to Holy smokes! Mumble, mumble, they’re all being awful and jealous and I don’t like it. This better not be the new normal! (See what I did there? Also, come on. Of course it’s not going to stay like this.)
Will posts the names and Marley is in! Jake is not. He’s shockingly upset by this, and dude, you threw a hissy fit, are you kidding?
Kurt, inexplicably in the choir room (but looking gorgeous),
is sorting sheet music when our group comes in. Tina tries to bribe Artie while Blaine pulls Kurt to the back of the room where they talk quietly about something that looks…intense. Unique comes in as herself, Jesus Joe says, “I thought we agreed you wouldn’t embarrass us?” and she gives him two snaps and a head roll as Kurt hollers out, “We are all about accepting each other, come on!”
Artie takes a moment to announce the new Rachel.
And it’s Blaine. (Well, he is quite a showman. And has fabulous…pants. I CAN’T HELP WHAT I SEE, OKAY.) Tina is livid, but Miss Sour Puss? You need to step back and look at your life. (Oh, Jenna. Always the bridesmaid.)
Will brings Marley in, Blaine welcomes her to the group (I do not like that petty behavior, Mr. Anderson) and Sugar immediately asks her to justify her clothing. “Um, it’s definitely not K-Mart, ha ha!” Marley says nervously.
Next we see her talking with her mom, happy to have made the cut. But she really isn’t cool with their mean behavior and hiding who her mother is. Aw, she’s a good girl. With gorgeous hair.
Kurt and Blaine are having lunch outside and really, Kurt, you need to not be there. Which is exactly what Blaine says to him, even though it hurts my heart. Kurt thinks it’s because he’s pathetic, but no! Well, a little. But it’s because it’s wrong to see him at McKinley when he should be in New York! It’s where he belongs.
Kurt: I’m reapplying in December. (Wink, thanks Blonde Ava Maria!)
Blaine: Go now.
Kurt: Miss me?
Blaine: Yep, and I’ll see you in a year, love of my life. Here’s a song for you that sounds like it’s romantic and stuff because of the title, but is really just a great pop song by a cool band, Imagine Dragons. [starts singing “It's Time.”]
Seriously, that song isn’t the right send off AT ALL. But it’s a great song, and Darren Criss could sing the alphabet and I’d make heart-eyes, and it had to be a blast to film (double dutch! Cups like in the video!) but this ain’t no “Somewhere Only We Know.” It hurts, guys, I’m not going to lie to you.
Another day, another lunch at McKinley where Brit grouses over her dead songbird heart to Blaine, when Kitty starts in on racist crap – right in front of Cookie! – who then leads into more Yo Mama jokes about the lunch lady. Marley stands up to them, tells them off, and then says “STREGANONA IS MY MOTHER.” There’s a collective gasp among the Gleeks and I hope that was your shame glands going off, kids.
Oh, Sam. E tu, Homeless Stripper? (And where the hell is he living now?)
Rachel, outside at Columbia Circle, looks at pictures of Finn on her phone when Body shows up all charming and not pushing any agenda other than to say, “I’m really great and single, no pressure.” She confesses to feeling lonely and pukey all the time, because something is just off. (The name “Kurt” is whispered on the air….) He snaps a picture of the two of them together (and you KNOW that’s coming back to haunt her) and gosh, don’t they look nice together.
Finn? Elder Kestler? (If you get that reference, let me love you.) You best be keeping up with your woman, STAT.
Rachel starts snapping back at Ms. July in dance class, which pleases her teacher. Because it’s fun to break the smart asses.
And in a very confusing and painful scene, Burt pulls up to the airport with Kurt (and seriously, wardrobe. I love everything you are putting on this boy.) and we learn that Kurt sold his Navigator (giving him two weeks worth of rent/motel money). Um, Burt? Camera three.
(No plan? No job lined up for your kid? Just gonna stick him on a plane and hope for the best? Tchuh!)
Burt: It’s an adventure! Artists do this, or so Hollywood has informed me, a tire shop owner in Ohio!
Kurt: I’m scared!
Burt: That’s because this is a terrible plan. But I love you a lot.
Kurt: Um…okay. And I love you a lot, too. Read your mug when you miss me.
Burt: Which is going to be all the time, because I don’t think you’re coming back.
Kurt: What was that?
Burt: Nothing! Have fun! Call when you get somewhere! [chokes back tears as Kurt leaves]
Kurt turns for one last goodbye smile and Burt officially loses it in the cab of his truck as his amazing son that doesn’t belong in Lima, Ohio finally gets it and goes where he does. New York. And cue my waterworks. Because Burt crying makes me cry (and because where is Blaine?)
Sam finds Marley and says, “Hey, I’m poor, too. My dad is Bo Duke. So come back to glee.” The other kids show up, shame face a bit, then they’re all friends and happy to be geeks again. Hooray!
CUE NEW AZIMIO AND KAROFSKY, as led by Kitty. Hey, let’s restore world order, shall we?
Blaine: yes, let’s, because we don’t belong with your group.
“I couldn’t agree more.” Slushie to the new kids’ faces. Ouch. Raise your hand if you gave an embarrassed laugh at “Pre-op Precious based on the novel by Barf as written by Sapphire?” Because I did. And that book/movie was essentially a mad-libs of misogyny.)
Will gets a file on Jake, and hey this seems reasonable: he’s a Puckerman! Oh, Puck doesn’t know about it, because Sr. Puckerman was a rolling stone, and where ever he laid his jimmy-hat was his home. Jake wanted in on his own merits, and Will is quick to assure him that he would be getting in based on his talent. Definitely not on his attitude, which Jake needs to lose.
Uh, no thanks, asshole trying to give me a hand up! Jake flounces, thinking to himself, “I have such Daddy and Rage issues – why can’t I let myself have nice things?”
The Gleeks (led by Marley) start singing “Chasing Pavements” by Adele, and her voice is just really lovely. We cut back and forth between them and Rachel in NYC.
Jake listens from the back of the choir room sad faced and longing for acceptance, Rachel calls Kurt and finally breaks down, telling him how miserable she is without him. “I miss you! I miss everything! College is hard, my Daddies aren’t here and my roommate is going to give me an STD!”
“Then maybe you should find a new roommate. Turn around.”
And she does and KURT IS THERE and my heart grew three sizes that day because Hummelberry friendship is the best of friendships and it’s the greatest moment on the show.
But…Klaine! Heavy sigh. We knew it would come. Stupid Junior vs. Senior. Boo!
Next Week! More Hummelberry awesomeness for the episode Brittany 2.0 and a whole lot of Body being cute in Rachel’s presence. Oooh, who caught the humping with only a table between them? Good hell, get a room!
How do you feel, guys? Remember that we don’t dump on things here. You can be worried or wanting, but let’s not get vitriolic here; it’s not the place for it. (And as always, no spoilers beyond what we see in promos!) Share the love, too – let’s let people in fandom know there’s a spoiler-free happy-place for their show!