'Glee' Season 4 Premiere Recap: Meet the New Rachels
'Glee' Season 4 Premiere Recap: Meet the New Rachels
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Welcome back, Gleeks! I spent my summer watching the awesome second season of The Glee Project and I'm coming back with an open mind. I've decided to try my hardest to love Glee again. Let's see how many minutes that lasts.

The season 4 premiere is titled "The New Rachel," and that could refer to three things. First is the race to become the new star of New Directions now that Rachel is gone. Second is Marley, the sweet new ingenue at McKinley who is clearly Rachel Lite: Same great taste, but with half the whining. Finally there's Rachel herself who is becoming a whole new person in New York City.

Who's the New Rachel of New Directions?

As always, Jacob Ben Israel gives us the inside scoop on the summer. The glee kids are now popular thanks to winning at Nationals and Sam is wooing the ladies with his hilarious Taylor Lautner impression, which is the single funniest thing Glee has ever done. Chord Overstreet should get to do celebrity impressions in every episode. Seriously, I want to make "Bella, I love you. And I'm a werewolf" my ringtone. Saddest of all, Tina and Mike broke up.

There's also a fierce battle to become the new lead vocalist of New Directions between Tina, Blaine and Brittany, a competition that gets more intense when Wade "Unique" Adams transfers to McKinley (more on that later). They ask Artie to pick the new star, and after a rousing rendition of "Call Me Maybe," Artie makes his choice.

It's Blaine. Yes, as Santana predicted last season, this has become The Rachel and Blaine Show. Sorry Tina, but get ready for another year of swaying in the background and not getting any solos. She's like Charlie Brown, the show's writers are Lucy and an interesting storyline is the football.

The New Kids on the Block

There are three new students at McKinley, and all of them shine in their own special ways.

Marley Rose: She's the sweet singer who dreams of being popular. She also happens to be the daughter of the very overweight lunch lady. Mama Rose, as I'm sure she will be called, is basically a fat female Burt Hummel in terms of awesome parenting. She's willing to do anything to make her daughter happy and she doesn't let anything get her down.

All the other kids make fun of the fat lunch lady, which hurts Marley's feelings, as does the fact that she's super poor (just like Sam). But she gets accepted into the glee club, only to reveal her shameful secret when they start mocking her mom.

Luckily this makes the New Directions realize that being mean is bad, so they give up their popularity to stay friends with the lunch lady's daughter. It's very afterschool special, but I don't mind because Mama Rose is a very heartwarming character and I could easily see her and Coach Beiste becoming BFFs. Also, if Marley doesn't sing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy at some point this season, I will hunt down Ryan Murphy and slap him. Why else would you give her the last name Rose?

Jake Puckerman: This tough guy auditions for New Directions and busts out a very sweet and sensitive solo of The Fray's "Never Say Never." It's tender in a way that no one else on the show can really do, but when Will cuts him off mid-song, Jake gets angry and throws a music stand. You see, Jake has anger issues, probably stemming from the fact that he's Puck's half-brother, but Puck doesn't even know he exists because their dad is a player.

Jake is initially refused entry into New Directions because of his anger issues, but when Will learns he's Puck's brother, he tries to reach out to him to change his life for the better, the same way he did for Puck. Jake doesn't think that's a good idea because he likes the chip on his shoulder, but based on the way he stares longingly at New Directions in the end, I suspect that will change. Besides, New Directions is only at nine members by the end of this episode, and they need 12 to compete.

It's also worth noting that while Sugar and Unique find Jake sexy, Sam does not. Given Sam's commonalities with Marley, I smell a Sam-Marley-Jake love triangle brewing. Lucky girl.

Kitty: This popular Cheerio is Sue's new "Head Bitch" and apparent babysitter (she's tasked with changing Sue's baby's diaper). Sue describes her as Quinn without the teen pregnancy, manic depressiveness or being in and out of a wheelchair. I have to respect the Glee writers for acknowledging how awful they were at writing Quinn, randomly throwing crappy storylines at her.

But Kitty is less Quinn and more Santana, busting out soul-crushing insults left and right (my favorite is calling Unique "a pre-op Precious, based on the novel Barf by Sapphire). Once she learns Marley's mom is the lunch lady, Kitty severs all ties between the popular kids and the glee club, restoring order by having her goons slushie Marley and Unique. I just hope they don't soften her up, because this show needs a full-on bitch.

The Unique Factor

So Unique is now a permanent fixture on Glee. Here's my take on that:

Am I upset that in his few episodes, Glee Project runner-up Alex Newell has been given a bigger role than winners Damian McGinty or Samuel Larsen? Yes, that seems thoroughly unfair, especially to Larsen, who is basically reduced to being a background player.

Do I care about Unique as a character? No, because once you get past the drag, there's nothing much there.

Is Alex Newell a particularly good actor? Not in the least.

But do I mind? No, because Unique's dialogue is a million times funnier than that of Coach Roz Washington, so as long as he comes up with clever quips, I'm fine with Unique. I'll give Glee a pass because at least Unique is a big, black man in a dress, as opposed to NeNe Leakes, who just looks like one.

Rachel in New York City

I promise to be nicer in the future, but since this is the season 4 premiere, I need to start off by getting a few things off my chest. I don't like this whole storyline. Maybe it will become interesting with Kurt as Rachel's roommate, but for this episode, Rachel's storyline is so isolated from everything else that it doesn't really fit. I know a lot of people love Lea Michele, but I think Glee would be better if they just said goodbye to the seniors and focused entirely on McKinley.

It doesn't help that the new cast members surrounding Rachel are so dull. Her mean, alcoholic dance teacher is played by Kate Hudson, whose career trajectory makes me sad. She went from Oscar nominee for Almost Famous to a star of countless terrible romantic comedies to a TV guest star. I suspect she'll be hosting a reality TV show within five years or, worse, she'll go on Dancing with the Stars. In 20 years she'll be selling cheap exercise equipment on the home shopping channel.

Anyway, Cassandra is mean to Rachel for no real reason, and equally puzzling is Rachel caring so much. I know she's a perfectionist, but Rachel has NEVER cared about dancing. It never seemed to bother her that Brittany and Mike were better dancers than she was, but now her goal is to be the best dancer ever?

Rachel's life gets added complications from a sexually active roommate and the hot, shirtless dude she meets in the shower, Brody Weston. He's hot. And straight. And doomed to be hated because he's standing in the way of Finchel.

Did Glee learn nothing from Lindsey on One Tree Hill? Or Hannah on Bones? Or any of the hundreds and hundreds of pointless characters who appear solely as a placeholder until the couple we all know is going to wind up together winds up together? Brody and Rachel aren't going to be together forever, so why waste the time? Other than riling up the rabid Finchel 'shippers, Brody serves no real purpose.

Hopefully the show will do something different with him, but I doubt it. Maybe Brody will turn out to be bi and he'll try to hook up with Rachel AND Kurt. Breaking up one relationship is bad, but if he breaks up the two most beloved 'ships on Glee, it would be kind of epic.

Kurt Moves Out

Oh yeah, speaking of Kurt, after hanging out at McKinley High like a pathetic loser, Blaine and his dad finally convince him to sell his car and fly to New York City to become roommates with Rachel and live out his dreams. I'm trying to ignore the part where Kurt somehow knew EXACTLY where Rachel was going to be when he called her after landing. Or the part where Kurt packed up and moved to New York City WITHOUT telling his BFF who already lives there. Or the fact that Burt seems to think that two weeks motel rent is enough money to get you started in NYC.

Who's Missing?

Sue's baby's name is Robin, but we have no idea who the famous father is or if the show will even remember that Robin exists for the rest of the season. Santana is busy cheerleading in Louisville and has a hard time scissoring Brittany via Skype. Mercedes, Puck and Quinn's current statuses are unknown.

Mike is living a Tina-less existence somewhere. Hey, I hear the NYADA dance teacher has a TA opening. If Glee is going to bring back all the graduates, they might as well have ALL of them in New York City.

Emma is also MIA, so I assume she's off at Kinko's printing off thousands of new pamphlets.

And finally, Finn is, presumably, still in the Army. But Rachel hasn't heard from him in two months, so there's no word on how Private Hudson is doing. I can't wait to see how the Glee writers get themselves out of this hole.

Next week on Glee: It's Britney, bitch. Again. Because the Britney Spears songbook is so amazing that it warrants two whole episodes of Glee. Either that or its shameless FOX cross-promotion since Britney is a new X Factor judge.

(Image courtesy of FOX)