S2:E1 New Directions may have faced brutal defeat at regionals last season, but thanks to an uncharacteristic act of charity black-mail (you didn’t think that existed, did you?) from Sue Sylvester, they’re back and ready to entertain us.
In case you forgot, here’s a quick romantic recap: Quinn had her baby and Rachel’s biological mother adopted the tyke, Puck said he loves Quinn, Finn loves Rachel, Mr. Schue kissed Emma, and Artie and Tina were still high school romance bliss. Whew.
The stage is set, but in true Glee fashion, nothing goes down without a hitch. The episode begins with “Glee’s Big Gay Summer,” a documentary by Rachel’s semi-stalker, Jacob Ben Israel, who’s been keeping a Glee club blog (creepy much?). Rachel and Finn are as disgustingly cute as ever, Tina dumped Artie for Mike Chang’s glorious abs (WTF?), Quinn is no longer hormonal and crying, and Puck put a stop to that whole baby-making thing with a vasectomy (WTMI, dude). While the doc is obviously pandering to the cast’s out of control star power, I’ll let it slide because at least it included a plea for Mr. Schue to stop rapping (seriously Schue, knock it off) and it ends with the first slushie of the year (sorry Kurt, that first day of school outfit was probably expensive).
With the new school year, comes auditions and Schue and Sue are back to their old antics. Mr. Schue reveals that Nationals are in New York this year and opens the Glee auditions to anyone and everyone. The show slaps us in the face once again with the contrast of acceptance versus exclusivity and popularity – Sue’s Cheerios tryout sheet screams “NO FATTIES” and she brags that she’s already received a court summons for child endangerment after one Cheerio hopeful tried to prove her worth by eating a pigeon. Sue, I’ve missed you so.
While we all love watching these two go head-to-head (she’s on to something with the hair thing, seriously Schue, Justin Timberlake could barely pull that off back in the 90s), the show throws us a curve ball with a new football coach, Shannon Bieste. She absorbs most of the school’s extracurricular budget – no glitter cannons for the Cheerios this year – and knocks Sue down a peg on the proverbial food chain, forcing Schue and Sue to form an unholy union to get rid of her, Mean Girls style.
Meanwhile, the Glee club needs new recruits and in the high school hierarchy, they’re still as uncool as ever. They stage a performance of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” in the quad in hopes of drumming up some new recruits, and we’re forced to sit through Artie’s attempts at rapping until they reached the chorus. (Why? Why, do they keep trying to rap?) The performance grabs the attention of two new characters: an exchange student, Sunshine, and the new potential football star, Sam. Finn catches Sam (who looks an awful lot like Justin Bieber) singing 80’s rock in the locker room showers – Poison's “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – the same creepy way that Schue discovered Finn’s talents last season, and brings him to show the Glee dudes what he’s got. He fields a good ol’ sophomoric ball joke from Puck, and wows the guys with his version of Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” (and yes, Artie raps…again).
Next, Rachel approaches Sunshine in the girl’s bathroom. In an awful (racist) display, Rachel yells at Sunshine in broken English in hopes of enlisting someone to sway behind her while she belts out solos. But Sunshine’s got serious pipes and the girls engage in a bathroom singing battle of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” and while Rachel’s supposed to be threatened by her talent, she kind of looks like she may try to kiss the new girl (or was that just me?).
To keep her star status in-tact, Rachel plans to scare Sunshine away with a drive-by slushie. Mercedes and Kurt squash that idea, and Rachel takes matters into her own hands, giving Sunshine faulty directions to the auditions that land the unsuspecting new girl in a crack den. Doesn’t she know desperation gives you wrinkles?
Coach Bieste’s already wavering confidence issues are roused by Sue and Schue’s pranks, and she takes it out on her team. When Finn tries to help Artie join the team (to impress cheatin’ Tina), Bieste thinks it’s another prank and throws him off the team, giving newcomer Sam his star quarterback slot.
Santana gets a boob job (seriously, what is going on at this school?) and Sue demotes “Boobs McGee” to the bottom of the pyramid allowing Quinn to regain her Cheerio queendom. Of course this leads to what I can assume was every dude’s favorite part of the episode: a cheerleader catfight in the hallway.
Finally, audition day arrives and nobody shows. Rachel is smugly pleased; she’s kept the team’s dynamic intact. But Schue finds out about Rachel’s plot against Sunshine and gives the girl another chance to audition. The club cheers her on as she belts out Dreamgirls’ “Listen” (albeit with an overdose of Christina Aguilera head-bobbing) and Rachel looks like she’s going to explode – a Rachel Berry rival is born.
Schue gets back on Sue’s bad side (it’s better that way, trust me) when she gets a Cheerio to lie about Coach Bieste’s “inappropriate touching” and Schue defends the new coach. It turns out Sam didn’t try out for Glee because he feels it wouldn’t be fitting for the new quarterback. Rachel’s tormenting worked wonders on Sunshine – Vocal Adrenaline bribes her away and she accepts because she says Rachel would have made her life hell. Finn gives Rachel a hard time, but they make up (of course) and share an overly-passionate, very unhigh-school kiss (give it a rest, you two) before Rachel ends the episode with her rendition of “What I Did For Love” from a Chorus Line and we get a montage of everyone feeling bad for themselves and their own selfish actions.
Okay, I’m out of breath. Was that enough for you? That was quite a lot to take in for one episode, but we're just getting started. Next week, it’s time for BRITNEY. Can they top that Madonna episode? We’ll just have to wait and see.