Glee season premiere recap: New York State of Mind

Rachel learns New York is not for the faint of heart, and the Glee club holds auditions for new members
Ep. 01 | Aired Sep 13, 2012

THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE Wade, Brittany, Tina and Blaine compete to be "The New Rachel." None of them are. 

Mike Yarish/Fox

5-6-7-8: Right from the top, we realized last night that the big-voiced girl from Lima was going to have a tough time on the streets of New York -- or at least, on the barre opposite NYADA dance coach Cassandra July (a surprisingly stellar Kate Hudson). Rachel had trouble keeping up in dance class, and with a new nickname, Schwimmer, Cassandra ensured that Iowa Ohio’s big star questioned whether she belonged.

For me, it was an exciting opening to a pretty great episode of Glee. There were just about a bazillion questions going into tonight -- What’s with Kurt? What about Finchel? Will I still even like the Glee club? -- that for the most part, the show answered, and set up what can hopefully be a pretty good McKinley/New York balance going forward.

While Rachel dealt with feeling small, the remaining national champs back at McKinley were feeling like a pretty big deal -- and it became obvious the Nationals win had gone straight to their heads: Sam did Taylor Lautner impressions for swooning girls, and Tina had a freshman personal assistant. She also got an ill-fated Mike Chang tattoo. Apparently they have since broken up because long-distance stinks. But all the check-ins and updates led to the key question of the episode: Who’s the new Rachel, a.k.a the new star of the club?

It’s a valid question. Many television critics wondered the same thing over the summer. Tina, Blaine, Brittany -- not to mention new member Wade/Unique -- all thought that they were destined to be the next great iTunes seller. They decided to settle it the only way anyone settled anything June – August 2012: With a “Call Me Maybe” sing-off.

The singing/dance-off (which Blaine won), judged by Artie, was amusing, although, much like Carly Rae Jepsen’s follow-up singles, not altogether impressive. Watching it, I felt the beginning of a panic start to creep in -- none of them had Lea Michele’s voice, and her presence was missed. Surely, I thought to myself, Ryan Murphy and Co. have something up their sleeves.

Enter Marley (Melissa Benoist), one of the new cast members this season. She’s a friendly sophomore …with a huge secret. It turns out her mom is McKinley’s lunch lady, and the newly-mean Glee club kids regularly make fun of her, egged on by new Cheerio/Regina George wannabe, Kitty. I understand that high school kids can be mean, but this felt altogether cruel on a level we haven’t experienced thus far on the show (Save for some Jesse St. James egg-throwing). I’ve got my eye on you, Kitty. Also, did it feel to anyone else a bit like a rehash of the Coach Beiste plotline? Obviously, we haven’t seen the drama play out yet, but so far, I feel like the whole “Acceptance” storyline has been done.

NEXT: Rachel’s bathroom run-in with a hot upperclassman

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