Frenemies? It’s back! Glee is back! In a frantic, fast-paced, emotion-packed episode, we rejoin our favorite pack of misfits. If you recall, at the end of last season, our underdogs ... remained underdogs. Over the summer, nothing much changed: though the show is popular, our Gleeks remain as awkward as ever.
We check in with New Directions via gossipmonger and mudslinger Jacob Ben Israel, whose Jew-fro has expanded, along with his chutzpah. He stands in for TMZ, interviewing everyone about the rumors he’s heard: Is Rachel difficult? (Is Lea Michele?) Is the glee club’s music super-gay? (Well, is it?) Will Will please stop rapping? Wow ... it’s like they’re reading our minds web posts!
When the episode starts in earnest, we see Will and Sue butting heads as always, with some fake-friendly chit-chat. Quickly, though, their old enmity takes over, as they hear their budgets are being slashed in favor of the football program -- run by new (female) coach Shannon Bieste (pronounced “beast”). Remember Beulah Balbricker from Porky’s? Bieste makes her look like Kristin Chenoweth. She sneers at both the glee club and the Cheerios in a bit of verbal repartee that drives Sue nuts (“that makes no sense,” she mutters darkly).
Meanwhile, Shue delivers yet another pep talk to his gang of dorks. A bad attitude will drive new members away. He’s determined to take them to Nationals in New York, and prove to the school that there’s more to glee club than cheesy ‘80s pop and gay-butt show tunes. It’s time for ...
Musical Number #1! In matching New York t-shirts and sideways baseball hats, New Directions performs the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys duet “Empire State of Mind.” It’s passable. As a few lips sync and a few feet tap, the kids are sure they’re getting through ... or not. They finish, crickets chirp, they slink away.
Shue confronts Sue. She’s been defacing their sign-up sheets with names like “Buttface McBallnuts” to make the club seem even less cool. But she doesn’t have time for his whining: they need to join forces against Bieste. This is good. The show is never stronger than when Sue and Shue work together -- there’s some kind of insane energy between them.
Meanwhile, the Gleeks are scouting for new members. Finn, in a callback to his own discovery in last season’s opener, hears Sam, the new kid in school, singing in the shower. Meanwhile, Rachel accosts Filipina exchange student Sunshine (played by Filipina pop superstar Charice Pempengco, who’s apparently a huge stinkin’ deal), inviting her to audition in the most patronizing tones. Sunshine responds by breaking into song, because it’s time for ...
Musical Number #2! They bust out into Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” and by the time Sue Sylvester tells them to shut up, Rachel has realized Sunshine is sure to eclipse her. The girl’s got pipes.
Sue and Shue try to torment Bieste ... but though she gets upset, she doesn’t crumble as expected.
Sam Evans, the new blonde guy who’s channeling Ellen DeGeneres, meets with the male Gleeks and impresses them with ...
Musical Number #3! "Billionaire," Jack Johnson style. They’re impressed. Meanwhile, Rachel is campaigning against the amazing Sunshine -- swearing it’s out of love for her fellow glee clubbers, who’ll get even fewer solos. She gives Sunshine directions to the audition ... what’s she up to?
Again, Sue and Shue try to torment Bieste ... but it’s beginning to wear thin for Will, for whom torment doesn’t come easy. Her big, round, hard face is as sad as a bulldog’s.
In the least believable situation of the episode, Arnie asks Finn for help. Tina has dumped him for “other Asian” Mike, and he thinks that if he can join the football team like Kurt did, he’ll win her back. Poor, dim Finn pictures his wheelchair rocketing down the field like a cannonball and agrees to make the introduction, but Bieste, being new to this insane school, flies into a torment-induced rage and cuts him from the team.
There are two surprises at the Cheerios auditions. First, Quinn wants back on the squad. Second? Finn wants to join up, too. If he can’t have football, his only chance is cheerleading. Sue gives Quinn the top spot, booting Santana to the bottom of the pyramid to punish her for her summer boob job. The result: Santana accuses Quinn of ratting her out -- girl fight!
The day of the auditions comes ... and nobody shows. The glee club is just too uncool; nobody wants to join the outsiders.
Tina and Mike reveal Rachel’s skulduggery: she sent Sunshine to a crackhouse, where her sheet music got torn up and used for toilet paper. They encourage her to audition anyway, and lo and behold, it’s time for ...
Musical Number #4! Sunshine performs “Listen” from Dreamgirls and tears it up. Daaaaaaamn! Rachel looks like someone just ran over her puppy, but the rest of the glee club is delighted and sure this ray of Sunshine will be their ticket to winning Nationals.
The torment of Bieste continues, but it’s too much for Will and he calls it off. Darn! It was fun while it lasted. His sworn enemy again, Sue stalks off while Will apologizes for forgetting what it feels like to be the new person in school -- an outsider.
Speaking of outsiders ... Sam doesn’t want to be one. That’s why he didn’t come to auditions, he tells Finn. He’s the new quarterback, and Finn ... well, Finn’s nothing. So he lends Glee Club no cachet whatsoever.
As for Sunshine coming to the rescue, it’s not to be. She’s poached by Vocal Adrenaline, thanks to Sue. She might have stayed put despite everything, but Rachel spooked her. Finn scolds her for this, and she trots out that old “I did it out of love for the team!” line. He calls her on that bullshit: she did it out of selfishness, and she must apologize. She will. But first: she needs some time alone for ...
Musical Number #5! “What I Did for Love” from A Chorus Line. Gay! Yay! Own it, Glee! When I heard the opening notes, I almost jumped out of my seat! And what does this song speak to? Loss, and new beginnings. The glee clubbers have lost a lot, especially Finn. They remain isolated, sometimes even from one another. But they’ll keep limping along, because all they have is each other.
I’ll admit I found this episode to be a bit too frenetic. I’d prefer fewer story lines and more believability. But what the heck; I don’t tune in for the plot points. See you next gleek!
What did you think of this episode?
Image from Fox