Last week’s Glee premiere was titled “The New Rachel,” meaning that even though new girl Marley was her own character, she was ultimately created to serve as, well, a new Rachel. We also met Jake, a.k.a. Puck Jr., and Kitty, who I’m certain will eventually function as our standard-issue Quinn stand-in. With all of these blatant copies floating around, I’m not sure that it was in Glee’s best interest to present a repeated musical theme only two episodes into Season 4. It doesn’t really serve to boost the confidence, you know?
UNLESS the repetition is the point. Maybe I’m overthinking this. It’s Glee, after all. I have no basis to assume anyone has put any real thought into this season’s forced reboot outside of “OMG WE LOST OUR BAD BOY, OUR MEAN CHEERLEADER, AND OUR SHINING STAR. GET SOME REPLACEMENTS, STAT.” But really, to an extent, high school always stays the same. Every class has a heartthrob. Every class has a brainy kid who ends up getting a scholarship to a way more impressive college than everyone else. Every class has a “star” who gets the lead in every choir concert, spring musical, and holiday play. Every class has the prom-queen shoo-in. As each class graduates, new faces step up to fill the essential archetypes vacated by the departing class.
If Glee’s carbon-copy replacements turn out to have been crafted to reflect that aspect of real, live high school, I will be impressed, even if it would have made more sense to bestow the appropriate titles upon characters we've grown with over the last three seasons, characters who've been groomed to step up to the mic as their older counterparts left. I really like Marley so far, but part of me is angry on Tina’s behalf because she was always meant to be Rachel’s successor (according to Glee's own philosophy, at least).
Anyway, Brittany found herself kicked off the Cheerios due to her failure to be a role model. Coach Sylvester specifically cited the math test in which Brittany answered every question with directions to refer to the back of her paper, where she drew a colorful rendering of a happy, wonderful world without math. We laugh, but you know, I had a pal who pulled that with a exam on Beowulf in college and our professor gave him the highest grade in the class while chastising the rest of us for being zombies. So be daring, I guess.
Brittany’s floundering grades, disheveled appearance, and general insanity were indicative of her inability to cope with Santana being too busy at college to spend every night video-chatting until the wee hours of morning. Mr. Schue and Emma decided to step in because it’s Emma’s job and Schue apparently doesn’t bother teaching classes anymore OR attempting to be anything resembling a professional educator whatsoever. He unveiled Britney Week to the New Directions in an attempt to motivate their own Brittany to get her act together.
I have to admit, everything about the salute to Britney Spears' 2009 meltdown was amazing: The head-shaving, the sloppy VMAs performance, the handler dependency, the bizarre interviews. It was entertaining and hilarious and yet it still somehow managed to be tasteful—a celebration of Spears’ amazing ability to work hard and not only recover her career, but her personal life as well. It’s actually pretty inspiring. Whereas Glee's Season 3 salute to Whitney Houston forced us to suspend belief to accept that a group of high schoolers were still actively mourning a musician—complete with locker shrines—who hadn’t had a huge musical presence since they were children, I thought it was perfectly believable that a teenage girl struggling to put her life back together would find inspiration in Britney Spears. I’d even encourage it.
Still, she definitely blew whatever coolness cred the glee club had left with her insistence on lip-syncing at the pep assembly. The gang was booed off stage when the audience realized their ruse. Schue was irate. Brittany admitted that part of her meltdown was purposeful, intended to make her comeback look all the more impressive.
Since she never graduated, Brittany was still technically the student body president, and she used her position to draft an executive order to Coach Sue, demanding that she be reinstated with the Cheerios. Sue was so impressed with the fact that Brittany actually used logic and reasoning and managed to plan something that she gave in to Brittany’s demands. Unfortunately, Santana still has a life outside of Skype, so Brittany’s angst will surely return in an episode or two.
In New York, Rachel was stuck on the sidelines when there weren’t enough male dance partners to go around during tango lessons because that’s a perfectly logical way to teach a class. The snarky Cassie July added insult to injury by pointing out that Rachel wasn’t sexy enough to tango anyway. Rachel fought back when Kurt showed her a YouTube video of Cassie having a meltdown during her breakout performance after an audience member’s cell phone rang, halting the performance to jump off stage and launch a chair at the offending patron and effectively destroying any aspirations of stardom she may have had. When Rachel’s sexy collaboration with Brody failed to impress her teacher, she flaunted her knowledge of the video and got herself banned from the class.
But never fear! Between Rachel’s apology and NYADA’s policies about not tossing students out of class for their first offense, Cassie July had no choice but to let Rachel back in. She’s on probation and she has to clean dance belts for the rest of her natural born life, but she’s there. Cassie even rustled up a spare man for her to dance with and a second round of her signature “I’m only mean to you because you’re a precious flower and the world is TOUGH” speech. This is going to get tedious. Can we have Whoopi Goldberg back? At least her tough love is believable. I think I like Cassie better as a drunk has-been.
And finally, after holding out for two whole episodes, Brody brought Rachel flowers and presented himself as potential boyfriend material. Rachel held out, painting Finn’s name on the wall and staring at it longingly whenever she wasn’t in class, but after another bout of complete radio silence from Finn, she painted over his name and took to staring longingly at Brody’s flowers. Uh-oh. IT’S STARTING.
Honestly, at this point, it’s Finn’s own freaking fault.
– So how about Schue taking it upon himself to introduce Puck and Jake to each other? Talk about overstepping boundaries.
– In the span of this episode, Rachel got flowers, pined for Finn, got kicked out of dance class and then reluctantly let back into dance class. Kurt mostly hung around for witty moral support. Can we give him something to do other than be Rachel’s sassy gay friend?
– I’m already sick of Marley’s lunch lady mom serving as the sole moral barometer at McKinley High. Either deal with it or stop. We’ve seen Marley dramatically reveal her humble family roots twice now. It was barely shocking the first time.
– My Glee Playlist: Unique’s cover of “Womanizer” and Marley and Puck 2.0’s duet on “You Drive Me Crazy.” Marley’s “Everytime” cover gets a nod because it was good, just not as good as Glen Hansard’s. What were your favorite songs?