ALL THINGS GLEE
Glee Returns for a Second Season
So the season opener of Glee is behind us, and it did not disappoint. The show kicked off with a somewhat jarring tabloid-esque sequence which found the Jewish character Jacob (with a menorah-like microphone in tow) doing an expose on "Glee's Big Gay Summer." It gave the audience a quick recap of what the characters at Mc Kinley High have been doing since last season (and also offered a tongue in cheek nod to last season's discovery that auto-tuning was sometimes utilized). The show got right back on course though, as Kurt spoke up to the afroed Jacob, only to immediately be doused with tomato juice by a school jock.
GLEEks then got what they were looking for, as Sue Sylvester and Will Schuester appeared, as usual, having an intense argument over auditions to their clubs. Where the conniving Sue wants to restrict potential Cheerios, Will wants to have an open door policy. It's good to see the same old dynamic between the two. From there, the two are called into Principal Figgins' office, where amidst news of more budget cuts, the butch Shannon Beiste is introduced as the new coach of the football team. Sue, mad at losing funds to the pigskin team, won't have any of it, and proceeds to get up in Coach Beiste's face, accusing her hillbilly parents of trying to impregnate the tailpipes of various offroad vehicles.
However, the newcomer stands her ground, proving that she's also capable of hurling a few insults, though they're nowhere near as scathing as Sue's. "You're all coffee and no omelette," Beiste tells her.
Will then addresses the group, psyching them up for nationals by telling them that they're in the Big Apple. The group realizes they need to recruit new members to create a "wall of sound" for any hope of beating rival team Vocal Adrenaline. And then the moment we've all been waiting for, as New Directions takes to the schoolyard to sing Jay-Z's "New York." Slowly, people start to catch on, tapping feet and grooving to the tune.
With Coach Beiste in place, Will and Sue forge an alliance in hopes of derailing her efforts to bolster the football team. They try to make it as friends, but almost immediately something feels awry.
The new additions to the cast keep coming as Finn, after posting masculine sign-ups in the locker room, hears a fellow football player singing in the shower. He's giving a heartfelt rendition of Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," and from the sound of it, this guy isn't going anywhere. Next, Rachel runs into the new student Sunshine Corazon in the girls' room. Rachel pulls the typical American act, figuring the new kid doesn't speak English. After Rachel loudly goes through the "DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH" routine, Sunshine busts into Lady Gaga's "Telephone," and the duet begins in earnest in the girls' room. The two ladies voices pair well together, but the best part of the show so far comes here, as Sue barges into the scene, a crazed look in her eye. "SHUT UP," she tells the two.
Meanwhile, Sue and Will keep trying to attack their new foe, ordering 25 pies with everything on them to football practice. After Coach Beiste cuts everyone on the football team, Bieste realizes the gimmick and hands over her credit card. Making lemonade out of lemons, she orders everyone on the team to start chowing down. Beiste is handling things well, but you can tell she's beginning to feel the pressure.
Next we find Artie lamenting his breakup with Tina over the summer, who dropped him for a new guy. The understated Artie scores one of the episode's great quotes after Tina claims that he wasn't around for her, to which he cries, "I was playing a marathon round of Halo, woman!" He and Finn then introduce themselves to Sam Evans, the shower crooner with the good voice. At a preliminary audition, Puck says "Dude, your mouth is huge, how many tennis balls can you fit in there?" Evans answers, I don't know, I don't put any balls in my mouth, how many can you fit?" ZING!
Sam then shows the group his stuff with Travie McCoy's "Millionaire." A good effort from the guys here, while Artie busts out some nice raps.
Rachel, naturally, is upset with Sunshine's vocal talents, and reveals to Mercedes and Kurt about her plan to sabotage the new girl. Mercedes and Kurt tell Rachel that they want to win and will take help wherever they can get it. Rachel apparently has a change of heart.
In the faculty lounge, Sue gives another great quote as Coach Beiste asks if anyone is occupying the seats at her table. "Yes, these seats are currently being held by my ghost friends," Sue says to Coach Bieste, as snarky as ever. After Will falls in line in denying Bieste a seat, she opens up to him, saying "Everyone told me Sue was the school bully and that you were really cool. I guess they got that last part wrong." Ouch, Beiste's got a human side.
However, when Finn takes Artie to try out for the football team, Coach Beiste immediately cuts Finn, thinking he's trying to play some cruel joke. The Glee kids continue to settle into their places, as Quinn tries out to be a cheerio again. However, Sue puts the kibbosh in her audition,even though Quinn appeals to her, saying she will do abstinence prevention talks in order to get backing from the church. Sue doesn't seem impressed, but she's even less amused when Finn tries out with some lame dance moves after getting cut from the football team.
Sue then comes down on head cheerleader Santana for getting a boob job over the summer, dismissing her by saying "Now take your juicy, vine-ripened chest fruit, and get the hell out of my office." Quinn meanwhile is promoted to head cheerleader, and then proceeds to get in a fight with Santana, who accuses her of telling Sue that she had a boob job, while Santana slams Quinn for having a child and giving it up. And over at the New Directions audition, the team is bummed when no one shows up.
The drama continues with Beiste, as Brittany accuses her of inappropriate touches. When Will finds out, he tells Brittany how serious the accusations are, and she caves, saying Sue put her up to it. Sue and Will are enemies again. Thank Goodness...
Afterward, Rachel confesses that she sent Sunshine to a crackhouse in order to miss the auditions. She finally gets to showcase her stuff for New Directions, singing "Listen" from Dreamgirls. For a girl who's smaller than Lea Michele, the new girl has a voice that's way larger than life. Is this voice really coming from this pint-sized dynamo? As the first true audition, the club is blown away. Rachel is threatened, while Finn seems to just be afraid of his threatened girlfriend's wrath. There's one thing he doesnt' have to worry about though. Wild arm movements. Sunshine flails like a windmill.
Later, Finn asks Sam why he didn't audition. He says he's afraid of the repercussions, being a new guy in school. Also, he's taken the quarterback position from Finn.
Sunshine then gets recruited into Vocal Adrenaline, citing the crackhouse incident as incentive. Rachel is moved to apologize by Finn after they renew their faith in each other. But before an apology, Rachel breaks into song, singing "What I Did For Love," from A Chorus Line. She still dresses like the bookish uptight girl that she was painted as in season 1. But you gotta hand it to her, Michele is a pro at tackling a solo with dewy, soft eyes.
All in all, this was a pretty strong opener to the season, although GLEEks are instantly craving more, as next week's preview promises at least two Britney Spears songs. On a side note, Jane Lynch fast appears to be the face of the franchise, as a new Glee commercial showing her at her worst, tells viewers "Don't be a Sue."
Justin Starling for Citadel Digital © 2010