There are a few telltale signals that fall has officially begun each year – leaves changing colors, beer cans littering college football stadium parking lots, a really good show tune mash-up…
So that last one is probably only true in Gleekland, where a new school year at WMHS began this week on “Glee.” And while most of the faces we saw there were familiar, it was clear that a few things had changed over summer break.
For one thing, Will Schuester and Emma Pillsbury have been playing house, complete with his-and-hers superhero lunchboxes (the little-known symbol of a meaningful, mature relationship). But it seems that Emma’s still got her V card, which has understandably put Schue on edge and is perhaps causing him to lash out at others.
First he put the New Directions members through trophy torture. This is the controversial practice of forcing people to stare at the tiny trophy they have won and compare it to the giant trophies won by others in order to shame them into working harder. Later he violently glitter-bombed Sue Sylvester in protest of her congressional campaign platform to end arts in public schools.
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Of course, when Sue’s not busy running against “I Don’t Care, Please Don’t Call Me During Dinner” and “That Rapist Running From Prison,” she’s still coaching the Cheerios. While Brittany and aspiring “Top Ho” Santana have returned to their spots on Sue’s squad, Quinn has instead elected to ditch cheerleading and glee club for smoking under the bleachers with a freaky girl gang, The Skanks. (PS, did that one girl who makes out with truckers look familiar, SYTYCD fans? That’s Season 4’s Courtney Galiano!)
When Rachel, stinking of soap, came to try and coax Quinn back into New Directions, Q did perk up a smidge at the thought of bringing her Belinda Carlisle glamour to the Go-Go’s number the club had planned to entice new recruits. It seems inevitable that Quinn will find her way back from surly to girly, and next week’s previews hinted that her baby mama Shelby may be the one to nudge her in that direction.
As for that Go-Go’s number? The club performed it in the cafeteria as part of an assignment from Schue to sing and dance all over the school and presumably bewitch their peers into trying out for the club. He planted donated purple pianos everywhere to encourage them.
Tina barely got the tune of “Chopsticks” out of the first piano before it was destroyed by Sue yanking its stringy guts out. The second one died a tomatoey death in a “We Got the Beat”-induced food fight. The final piano’s dying song was Blaine’s rendition of “It’s Not Unusual.” The Cheerios went from enthusiastically dancing backup for him to merrily dousing the piano with lighter fluid so that a flick of Quinn’s cigarette sent it into flames. Schue actually kicked Santana out of New Directions for being the ringleader of that little stunt. Blaine, on the other hand, Tom Jonesed his way right into the glee club.
Santana and Quinn weren’t the only missing New Directions members. After the Chord Overstreet debacle this summer, it was no surprise that his character Sam took off for greener pastures with his newly employed dad. (Mercedes has dumped Sam and is moving on with a gigantic football player who plans to give her chocolate babies.) Perhaps the deeper blow came when Lauren Zizes dropped Puck and ND in one clean break in an attempt to save her plummeting social status.
And finally, what of the babes in Gershwinland, new BFFs Kurt and Rachel? They clearly spent all summer planning to take Julliard by storm next year, while missing the fact that said school has no musical theatre program. Emma helped them find a Plan B school, which happened to be having a meeting for prospective students that very week.
So Kurt and Rachel planned to show up the other prospects with “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.” But they obviously hadn’t spent any time this summer watching Oxygen, or they would have been prepared for the level of talent that exists out there waiting to take their spotlight.
And cue “Glee Project” runner-up Lindsay Pearce to bring them back to Earth. Hard. Her energetic “Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do” mash-up scared the bejeezus out of Kurt and Rachel, who realized they need to use their senior year to beef up their resumes.
Other highs include:
Best musical number – They were all good, not great. My choice for most fun would be “You Can’t Stop the Beat” if it hadn’t started as an unnecessarily soulful ballad.
Best Sue-ism – “You have no right to disturb the learning environment of this school by playing your jangly national anthem on Liberace’s piano.”
Brit’s best line – On why she didn’t set the piano on fire with Santana: “I was gonna help her, but I’m a water sign, so…”
Best new pamphlet in Emma’s office – “Me and My Hag”
And some lows:
Worst musical number – Sugar Motta’s “Hey Big Spender” was amusingly terrible and clearly the worst. But Blaine’s “It’s Not Unusual” wasn’t awesome either, if only because we spent half of last year seeing Darren Criss being all Darren Criss. More dimensions, please.
Most unworthy of Quinn’s attention – Sheila the Skank. Favoring the Bangles? Fine. Eating cat poop? Find new friends.
Future most missed: It’s so obviously Lauren. I, for one, was looking forward to being repeatedly Zized this year.