Recap

'Glee' Season Premiere Recap: The Purple Piano Project

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Sep 20, 2011 | 10:00pm EDT

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Glee Season 3S3E1: It seems like there’s a formula for the first episode of a Glee season: a Jacob Ben Israel documentary with meta overtones referencing the Glee kids’ real world popularity, some mean-spirited plan from Sue Sylvester and full-on musical numbers in the middle of crowded school areas. Granted this year, we have the whole senior year issue to give everything a layer of urgency and Sue’s congressional run to give her a little more importance and fire.

“Now Santana and I are like Almond Joy and you’re like a Jolly Rancher that fell in the ashtray.” –Brittany

Let’s start with Quinn, because she’s fallen off the deep end of ridiculousness. After getting her heart broken in New York, she cut her hair, dyed it pink, started dressing like an Urban Outfitters model, got a terrible ironic tattoo and acquired a smoker’s voice. Oh and she now hangs out with the Skanks under the bleachers and smokes cigarettes. Rachel begs her to come back, even though she’s the reason she left. It’s a heartfelt plea and it seems to get under Quinn’s skin on some level. This would be an effective storytelling device if it didn’t involve a band of misfits that would make Quinn break out in hives before she’d agree to hang out with them.

As Quinn is imploding, Rachel and Kurt are on their way up. They’re working towards college, Julliard specifically. Just one small snag – there’s no musical theater program there. So Emma suggests the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. Another snag is that this school only lets in 20 kids a year and Kurt and Rachel need to go to a mixer to schmooze, but they soon find that they aren’t the best everywhere. The kids at the mixer blow their rendition of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” out of the water – but really in spectacle only. It’s obvious that Rachel has got more talent than these other kids. Kurt gives her a wonderful speech about how she’s amazing and she has to get in. She’s equally supportive right back. They agree they’re going to make it happen, together. I love that they’ve become actual friends this year, instead of on again off again enemies.

“I have pepperoni in my bra.” –Brittany

“Those are your nipples.” –Santana

Finally, in an attempt to boost the glee club’s attitude after losing Nationals and to help recruit more students, Schue puts together a little “purple piano project” with donated pianos around the school to inspire the glee kids to perform all around the school. The first number, "We Got the Beat," descends immediately into a food fight, though I must admit, Heather Morris' performance was so adorable I’m not sure why anyone would want to throw food at her.

The number attracts one prospective member: Sugar Matta, a rich girl with a superiority complex. She’s self-diagnosed herself with Ausberger’s so she can say whatever she wants, and unless her character changes drastically, I’m on Rachel’s side. Keep her the hell away from our Glee club, Schue. You can’t say yes to everyone as badly as you want to. One little problem: he then learns what the wrath of a rejected teenager feels like, and it’s petty.

Also on the recruiting front is Blaine, who after a few lengthy talks with Kurt comes to the conclusion they should spent their senior year at the same school and transfers to the plainclothes public high school from Dalton. I think I speak for all of us when I say that more Blaine is Kurt’s life, means more Blaine in our lives, and if his Tom Jones performance is any indication, this is going to be a very good thing, minus the outlandish ending in which Quinn’s cigarette lights the piano on fire – though there was likely some help from Santana, who’s been recruited for Sue’s evil bidding. 

“You have no right to disturb this learning environment by playing your national anthem on your jangly Liberace piano.” -Sue

Oh and then we have Sue. She’s running for a special election after Lima’s congressman suddenly died, but she’s losing. Her plan is to find something people hate and when a teacher supports her tirade against the glee club, she lands on a crusade against arts programs in schools. Oh brother, I’m sensing another after school special about the arts in schools in our future. (We agree with you, Ryan Murphy. That’s why we’re watching, try not to beat us over the head with your message.)

What this does mean is the return of Sue’s Corner with promises she’ll abolish arts programs and a crass reference to Angels in America. Of course this riles Will, who’s already on edge because Emma still won’t sleep with him (maybe he should lay off the references to his lower appendage and its tendency to “wake up” in the morning). He feels the need to “glitter bomb” Sue with a flip cam and while Emma is turned on, I’m having trouble seeing how this will help his cause. And I’m right, because it actually helps Sue gain traction in her campaign.

At the same time, because she put that stick back up where the sun don’t shine this year (apparently) she’s on the Glee-specific warpath again, enlisting Becky and Santana as a double agent to help her. I know this is what we asked for, but I can’t help but feel we’re trudging over old territory here. That’s why when Schue finally kicks Santana out for helping set fire to the piano, I breathed a sigh of relief. We may not be walking down the same road all over again.

After Rachel announces her plan for starring in their production of West Side Story (no, Brittany, not the one with the cats) and Kurt announces his bid for Student Council president, Tina, who only ever gets lines that should be fed to a seven year old these days (seriously, give the girl something substantial to say) perpetuates the rejected purple pianos are like the glee kids notion yet again as set up for the club’s final number: “You Can’t Stop The Beat.”

I could do without the dramatic intro from Rachel, but this is just about the perfect episode ender for the beginning of this new season, complete with a reference to the series’ pilot with Quinn watching from the back of the auditorium. Complaints aside, I’m still excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.

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