Glee, S4 Ep1 – The New Rachel

Glee returns for a fourth season.

The New Directioners are on the top of the social ladder – precariously though. They’re worried about how they’re presenting themselves to the school, even discouraging Wade from being Unique except on stage. While they all seem to be anxious to hold onto the brass ring, none of them seem all that comfortable at the cool kids table, nor with the behavior they’re supposed to exhibit to stay there. Led by Kitty (newbie Becca Tobin, swishing her hair with evil flair) – who is Sue’s new bitch – these meanies are harshing on the overweight lunch lady and generally being unpleasant teenagers. And we get an uncomfortable look at how mob mentality sucks in even nice kids as Artie succumbs to the peer pressure and bad mouths the woman’s weight. Come on New Directions, remember who you are! (Spoiler alert: They totally do.)

Artie and Sam advise Wade/Unique to try to fit in with the popular kids.

Popularity has a downside as the New Directions kids learn in the season opener.

With Kurt spearheading the process, auditions begin to find new members as they’re down to seven – Blaine, Tina, Artie, Brittany, Sam, Joe and Sugar (though technically six since Sugar isn’t allowed to sing) – and whereas season one Glee had no takers, there’s a stampede to grab a piece of the glory. Of course, in a comic montage, we learn that McKinley High is mostly tone deaf and clueless about what Glee Club is. Although I totally voted for Stoner Brett as Lil Wayne.

Two of our auditioning sophomores are the angry “Just Jake” (Jacob Artist, heavy on the scowling but blessed with a gorgeous voice) and the super sweet Marley (Melissa Benoist, a little too dewey-eyed and decent pipes), who both kill their respective numbers. Jake sings The Fray’s “Never Say Never”, which seems a tad melancholy for such a cranky guy but I guess this signals his inner awesomeness that the Glee Club can unleash. Well, at least as soon as he stops being so over-reactionary as he kicks over a music stand when he’s cut off before the end of the song. He storms out but Mr. Schue looks intrigued. He must be in need of a project since Finn has left Ohio.

Marley – who is shy and hiding both her poverty and her mother (guess who – that’s right. The morbidly obese lunch lady is her lovely and self-sacrificing mom) – sings “New York State of Mind”, the Billy Joel classic, in tandem with Rachel – the old Rachel, the New York Rachel who is stretching her vocal wings in front of her fellow students and Carmen Tibideaux (yes Whoopi Goldberg is back).

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