When “Glee” returns for its new season on new night Thursday (September 13), the seniors will have graduated and the show will be expanding its horizons by following Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) to New York for part of each episode.
“It is not going to be much different than it was when [episodes] were split between McKinley and Dalton,” says Executive Producer Ian Brennan. “They were different places. We have done it before. All our shows will be linked thematically together. You will have a theme that bridges the two stories together.”
So while “Glee” has the entire cast back — not everyone will be in every episode — it will look slightly different and there are some new characters and guest stars. To find out more, read on for the scoop on what you can expect when the series premieres its fourth season:
Rachel has Moved to New York to Attend College: “I can’t picture her not being,” says Brennan when asked if Rachel is in every episode. “She is the soul of the story. That is going to be interesting. It is great to see Rachel in college. She is a college freshman at a very, very competitive New York drama school.” And Michele weighs in on her character’s new-life experience as well, saying, “I think Rachel Berry works best when she is against all odds. She has to fight her way through something and, when everything is against her, she really rises to the top. So starting this season, she is going to be alone and she is going to be in a new environment, but I definitely think that is going to get her to a really great place.”
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Santana’s Significance: “She might be in New York,” Brennan says. “She is definitely coming back in. It is going to be interesting to see who comes back where. Santana is definitely going to play a very significant part in the first half of the season.”
Finn in the Army?: “As far as anybody knows, [he is],” Brennan says. “Finn is gone and that is a lot of what Rachel is trying to deal with. He sort of disappears at the end and she is off to start a new life. No one is really hearing from him either. [Breaking them up] was something we talked about a lot but that wasn’t how that story was going to end. It was going to be a much, much longer story and more complex, but it just felt right.”
New Graduates Kurt (Chris Colfer), Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) Aren’t Going Anywhere: “I can’t give numbers as to who has how many episodes, but there is nobody who is not going to be back — I think,” Brennan says. “That is what is really cool. We will be able to — they have all gone to the four winds — catch up with people and see where they will be. It will be an interesting way for us to have the core story at McKinley and branch out to these different characters as they encounter the real world. Glee Club has been promising them: follow your dreams and you will succeed. And now [we will see] what the real world is like, which is really scary and unpredictable.”
Mercedes (Amber Riley) Will Be the Small Fish in a Big Pond: “We are not going to lose that character and we want that story to be told,” Brennan says. “It will be interesting how it happens for her. That is the whole opposite end of the spectrum: coming out to do music in Los Angeles. It is a very, very scary world. It is like trying to make it as a small fish in a big pond.”
New Cast Members: Jacob Artist has been cast as Jake, a new bad boy, who will turn out to be Puck’s (Mark Salling) younger, half-brother. Dean Geyer will be joining Michele in New York City, playing Brody Weston, a handsome upperclassman who may turn out to be Rachel’s new love interest.
New Guest Stars: Kate Hudson will play Cassandra July, Rachel’s demanding dance teacher. “I am one of her biggest fans,” Michele says. “I think she is an incredible comedic actress. I love her and I love her mom [Goldie Hawn].” Sarah Jessica Parker will also be in New York as someone’s mentor — but not Rachel’s. “She has got an amazing voice that I haven’t heard in a while,” Brennan says of the “Sex and the City” star, even as he declines to reveal who she will mentor. “She has done mostly Broadway. I think this is the first time she is singing on TV.”
McKinley Seniors Rule: “I think this season we will be the leaders of the Glee Club and we all have to step up, so I think a lot of characters will have to grow up,” says Kevin McHale, who plays Artie.
Huge Surprise Star: “There is an artist coming to the show who is so big, it is going to take two episodes — probably in the back nine,” says Brennan. “That is how large the catalog is.”
“Glee” premieres its fourth season on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 9/8c on FOX.