The entire gang is back at McKinley for the season 6 premiere of Glee.
The season 5 Glee finale ended with our favorite former high school choir members scattered from coast to coast. Rachel left Fanny Brice on the Broadway stage to pursue an acting career in LA. Blaine moved into the huge New York loft with Kurt. When Sam finally landed a gig showcasing his phenomenal abs plastered on the side of a city bus, he headed back to Lima. And Mercedes was on a mall tour with Brittany as her backup dancer.
You may be wondering how Ryan Murphy is ever going to weave all of these random storylines into one cohesive plot? The answer is simple. Ditch everything that happened in the previous season, go back to the drawing board, and pay homage to the simple pleasures that made this show charming since day one. It’s about time the original Glee Club members head back to William McKinley High.
There are only two things that can send someone in his or her early 20s running to Lima: devastation and high school homecoming. At the start of season 6, we learn that Rachel’s TV show is a colossal failure—and to no one’s surprise, it was canceled after one episode. So she carries a box containing the remnants of her sitcom life out of the sound stage and into her childhood bedroom, singing Alanis Morissette’s forlorn “Uninvited” as she stares pitifully at a gold, glittery star, which once symbolized her Broadway ambitions. Her father informs her that he is divorcing her other father, and oh yeah, the house is for sale. Welcome home, Rachel Berry! Make sure to keep that box so you can pack away the rest of your dreams inside.
Fleeing her depressing former domicile, Rachel meets Blaine at the local coffee shop. Just when you begin to question why he isn’t belting the latest chart topper at NYADA, Blaine explains that he and Kurt are no longer together. After breaking up with his fiance, Blaine moved back home, where he will be coaching none other than the Warblers. It’s not McKinley, but it’s close enough.
Speaking of McKinley, Sue Sylvester is thriving as Ohio’s winningest principal. Students are forced to eat raw kale, partake in mandatory weigh-ins, and when things get ugly, Coach Sylvester literally releases the hounds. Pit bulls to be exact. Her crowning achievement is two-fold: transferring all Glee Club kids to other schools (convenient) and getting Mr. Schue a job at Carmel High. So long humanities! Young minds do not need the arts. It must be MATH, MATH, MATH! And the Cheerios, of course.
Will is completely in his musical element coaching Vocal Adrenaline, but these sing-bots are not as warm and fuzzy as New Directions. And they wouldn’t touch anything from the Journey songbook with a 10-foot pole. Rachel crashes his rehearsal to mope that she is a huge failure. Mr. Schue gives her a confusing pep talk that includes a bow and arrow illustration. Just when I think a Hunger Games number is about to take the stage, the moment ends with a life lesson about how failure can bend, but it will never break Rachel Berry. The odds will ever be in her favor.
Not willing to break, Rachel convinces the superintendent to let her reinstate the Glee Club at McKinley. Kurt moves back to help, since third year students at NYADA must have off-campus work study internships (convenient). Plus, he really misses Blaine and wants to win him back. I’m sure Kurt will choose a lovely ballad to evoke the proper emotions when the time comes. Sue welcomes the pair into her Thunderdome while promising that she shows no mercy to anyone who dare cross her track suit.
Step one in the “Get Blaine Back” campaign: Kurt inviting Blaine for drinks. When Kurt professes his intention to get Blaine back, Blaine’s face falls. Enter David Karosfsky. As in the football player bully turned BLAINE’S BOYFRIEND. Dave is ecstatic that Kurt is back, and he wants them all to hang out and be lifelong friends. Kurt would rather choke on his jaunty neckerchief.
NEXT: His name is Roderick, and I love him.
The long-awaited Homecoming week arrives in the second hour of this back-to-back episode premiere. According to Principal Sylvester, “Old farts will be creeping around the hallways like Game of Thrones White Walkers, horrifying you with beer bellies and liver spots.” One of those “old farts,” Rachel gets slushed by Becky in the hall, and all Mr. Schue’s former students have dinner at his house. It’s just like old times!
But Blaine has bigger fish to fry. A GIRL WANTS TO JOIN THE WARBLERS. He presents the idea of breaking a 100-year tradition to the group. Some Warblers wonder if they will be able to concentrate with all the sexual tension. Blaine wonders how that can be an issue, since most of the guys are gay. Several voices in high octaves scream in protest before the head Warbler suggests they let the girl sing so they can make an informed decision.
Spoiler: Her name is Jane (Samantha Ware), and her voice is about as amazing as her afro. Even with a free diva lesson from Rachel, Jane doesn’t win them over. Brotherhood trumps bombshell. Blaine promises to do whatever it takes to make the Warblers change their minds.
Back at McKinley, Rachel has enlisted the entire gang to encourage kids to sign up for the Glee Club. Everyone breaks out favorite neon pieces from their wardrobe and heads to the cafeteria for an impromptu song and dance number! Tackling “Take On Me” complete with sketchy pencil drawings morphing into video montages was ambitious and definitely worth it. The original A-ha video holds a special place in the heart of every kid who grew up in the ’80s, and the Glee version was delightfully entertaining.
Elsewhere in the halls, Kurt visits the McKinley boys locker room to try and recruit Spencer (Marshall Williams). He’s the new stud athlete on the block who has an amazing singing voice—and just so happens to be gay. Spencer scoffs at Kurt’s attempt to compare their high school plights. Glee Club sucks, he says, and if anyone has a problem with Spencer’s sexual preference, he will find himself on the receiving end of a knuckle sandwich.
Silly Spencer. You’ll be in Glee Club in no time when Sue uses your passive aggressive nature to infiltrate, corrupt, and eventually dismantle the spirits of those she hates most.
So the gang meet back in the choir room to report their unsuccessful recruiting tactics, when a voice rings out through the air ducts. The group follows the echoing tune and discovers Chicago transfer student Roderick (Noah Guthrie) in the library. He curls into the fetal position, assuming the gaggle of 20-somethings is about to throw down. Instead, everyone praises him for being a misfit and encourages him to try out for the club. So he does.
His voice is a wonderful blend of soul, passion, and natural raw talent. Let the record show that I heart this underdog. I applaud anyone who is able to perform with even a hint of Marcus Mumford. GIVE RODERICK A SOLO AT SECTIONALS. Heck. Give him a phone book to sing, and I’ll be happy.
With Roderick in, the first official Glee Club meeting will commence as soon as the second member arrives. Well hello there, Jane! Blaine storms into the auditorium, livid that Rachel and Kurt would poach Jane from the Warblers. Jane explains that she chooses not to sing with a group that doesn’t want her. Blaine blames Kurt for being jealous of Dave. Friendly competition between the respective Glee Club is over! You’d think they would have sung it out, but they didn’t.
Instead, Santana introduces two more additions that she picked up from the Cheerios squad. Meet Madison (Laura Drefuss) and Mason (Billy Lewis, Jr.), better known as the incest twins. When Spencer finally joins the group, that will make a grand total of five on the New Directions team—it’s a nice throw back to the original five. Here’s hoping they don’t try and knock “Don’t Stop Believing” out of the park. That’s sacred territory that should not be touched.
NEXT: Musical notes and sound bites
“Uninvited” by Alanis Morissette
I found this depressing ditty a bit of an odd choice for the season 6 kick-off. Even though it’s the opposite of peppy, it is appropriate for Rachel’s bottom-of-the-barrel life moment. You can never go wrong with Alanis.
“Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors
Blaine and Rachel together again! I’m willing to overlook the fact that they are randomly singing in a music store (library?) because I love this song and their voices. Had I been a shop patron, I probably would have clapped for them, too.
“Sing” by Ed Sheeran
Not only can the Warblers sing, but a few can break dance at the same time! Now that’s talent. I’m so glad they had an extra blue blazer with crimson piping for Blaine to jump in during the bridge. The original is better, but this was a solid a cappella attempt.
“Dance the Night Away” by Van Halen
Naturally Mr. Schue’s first Vocal Adrenaline assignment would be a song from 1979. This is definitely more of a dancing than a singing performance. I was distracted how the center guy resembled Puck. It was not my favorite.
“Let It Go” from Frozen
This choice is a no brainer. With that said, even though Lea Michele sings it beautifully, Idina Menzel will always own it. And the fact that there have been thousands of parodies circulating YouTube for the past year will have several reaching for their remote to fast-forward out of sheer exhaustion of the song. Random note: This was the first and only time Rachel was not wearing a mini skirt or shorty shorts.
“Take On Me” by A-ha
As I mentioned before, I enjoyed this performance from beginning to end. I would have liked to have seen a few more fluorescent scrunchies and Sue wielding a wrench, but the general feel was on point.
“Tightrope” by Janelle Monáe
Jane is an energetic breath of fresh air. This song was perfect for her debut. To pair her with the Warblers was a smart move. She held her own in a sea of dudes and looked great doing it. I’m anxious to see her perform more numbers in the future.
“Problem” by Ariana Grande
This was my least favorite number of the entire night. It felt choppy and forced for some reason. Typically, I like when the choreographers include the Cheerios and the WMHS band, but this performance fell flat.
“Mustang Sally” by Wilson Picket
I certainly didn’t think that voice would come out of Noah Guthrie’s mouth when he opened it, but I immediately fell in love. Let’s just say that I’ve already purchased his version of “Mustang Sally” on iTunes.
“Home” by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
This song is ridiculously infectious. It was a great choice for the Homecoming bonfire, bringing together the old and the new.
Sue: My battle with Will Schuester will look like two adorable little baby pandas play wrestling in comparison to what I am going to unleash on both of you.
Rachel: We know that in the past, the AV Club and the Glee Club have had friendly relations and we plan on keeping that intact.
Kurt: And we promise to learn your names.
Blaine decides not to put gel in his hair.
Kurt: I’m filing [sheet music] based on emotion. As you always should have filed them. This pile is diva strikes back. That pile is cherish yourself. And that pile right there is makeovers, because we always love a good makeover.
Puck walks into the Tea Party Patriot Club meeting.
Puck: Hey tea baggers!
Sue: I killed my white whale, and it returns to defile the musical heritage of this nation one mashup at a time.
Sue: If you think this is hard, try having sex with Michael Bolton and not falling in love.