Glee Season 3: Sam is Gone, Quinn's a Punk, Everyone Else Seems Pretty Much the Same

After a bumpy summer of behind-the-scenes drama and one 3-D concert movie flop, Fox’s Glee is back for a third season on the small screen, and things have begun to feel familiar again. Maybe even a little too familiar, as Tuesday's season opener began with exactly the same conceit as last year’s: With hook-nosed school mascot Jacob Ben-Israel shoving his camera in the cast members’ faces to reorient us for a new school year at McKinley High. And we needed some re-orientation! The first order of business was to address, for the first time in the show’s history, exactly what grade each gleester is in—just so we’re a little clearer on who’s getting the boot at season’s end and who gets to stay. It’s all about full transparency at Glee Inc.! “Junior, Senior, Junior, Senior.” Got all that?

Not all is blissful in Schue-Emma Land, however, as Emma clearly is not as turned on by Mr. Schue’s shorn torso as he is by hers.

There was also the business of several major recurring characters being escorted off the Paramount lot in security golf carts moving on from the series. Strangely, it was handled with a more cursory mention than the whole junior/senior thing. Poor old Trouty Mouth Sam—a.k.a. Chord Overstreet—was tossed out like yesterday’s falafel wrapper with a line from Mercedes about his dad taking a job out of state. Don’t let the motel door hit you on the way out, Sam! Lauren Zizes got a final farewell scene before heading off into the sunset. And, of course, one last fat joke for good measure, courtesy of Puck.

At the first New Directions practice of the school year, everyone discussed last spring's crushing defeat at Nationals in New York City. Mr. Schue announced a new approach: Try harder! Great plan, Schue. Then he introduced the newest members of the glee club: three purple pianos. “Every time you see one, I want you to sing a song,” he said. Perfect! Because what these kids really need is a reason to break out into song for no reason. That's really what's been missing from Glee, so thank god these pianos came along! [Tip: Look closely, and you’ll see the hand of the piano-wrangler, who gets the pianos to react to their cues by feeding them treats.] Then Mr. Schue encouraged the kids to recruit new members: “For many of you, this is your last year. Let’s make it special.” Cut to: Shot of Lea Michele and Cory Monteith, looking slightly annoyed. [Tip: Listen closely, and you’ll hear the sound of Ryan Murphy snickering to himself off-camera.]

Rachel and Kurt paid a visit to Emma’s office, where Emma assumed the two of them were dating and handed them some literature on the topic.

Only they had actually come to discuss their futures. Namely: Juilliard! But Juilliard doesn’t have a musical theater program (sad face). Good thing the New York Academy of Jazz Hands is looking for a few good chorus boys and girls, and happened to be hosting a mixer at the local Doubletree in hopes of finding the best in the Midwest.

Sue, meanwhile, was suffering from a case of the post-menopausal grumps. She’s running for office, and her “twisted genius” of a chief henchgirl, Becky, was right by her side. While pondering how to get ahead in the polls, Sue became agitated by the sound of “Chopsticks” coming from the purple piano outside her office door. She then did to the piano what she’d like to do to Mr. Schue, and mades an off-color remark to Tina and Mike.

Quinn returned from summer vacation with Kool-Aid hair, a Ryan Seacrest tattoo, and an attitude to match.

Despite Rachel’s best efforts, Quinn had no desire to return to the glee club. She’s found a new group, one called The Skanks! And they smoke under the bleachers and generally act bad-ass. Can’t handle it? Good. That’s just the way The Skanks like it.

Sue realized that the best way to become President of the United States (is that what she’s running for? I missed that part. She’d be better than Michele Bachmann, in any case) is to declare war on the arts. She delivered a compelling Sue’s Corner editorial on the subject to Western Ohio, and was later confronted by Mr. Schue, who was very upset about this line of attack. Because it’s his livelihood! And he wants to start a family soon! With Emma! And no, their sex life isn’t going very well, since you asked! And why is he sharing all of this?!

Sue pit Becky and Santana against one another, forcing them to split captainship of the Cheerios, which lead to this somewhat classic line from Santi: “When I look at a person, I don’t see someone who looks a certain way or has a certain number of chromosomes. I just see someone I have to destroy.” Um. Wow. Santana eventually pledged allegiance to Sue’s evil ways.

Cafeteria number! Yay! Food fight! Boo! (But yay?) Sadly, the club's best Go-Go’s routine only convinced one person to audition: Sugar Motta, a.k.a. the daughter of “that Jew who paid for the pianos.” [Glee Season 3 Report Card: An A+ for antisemitism!] Sugar is self-diagnosed with Asperger’s, so can say whatever she likes. She gave a terrible audition.

Mr. Schue was in a tight spot because he swore he’d never turn anyone away from glee club. But that Jew Sugar is just so terrible! Coach Bieste suggested he grow a pair and show no mercy, just like she did.

Kurt and Rachel discussed how they’re going to take that Doubletree full of cut-rate Ohio musical theater wannabes by storm. Then they sang “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” for some reason.

Mr. Schue listened to Coach Bieste’s advice and did indeed grow a pair. He then used said pair to find the courage within himself to spill golden glitter all over Sue’s head. Way to be a man, Schue! Emma found the outburst totally ovary-shaking.

Kurt was thrilled to learn that Blaine had abandoned The Warblers to join New Directions. That makes perfect sense, because The Warblers were great and Blaine was the star of them, so of course he’d leave to join his boyfriend’s singing group at another school. Very logical plot development! Almost as logical as Kurt’s jackbib.

Blaine was so excited about the news, he decided to sing about it.

Meanwhile, at the New York Academy of Jazz Hands mixer, Kurt and Rachel were horrified to discover that Ohio is crawling with talented people who look and act exactly like them. (This number was particularly inspired—it was like the Island of Misfit Toys meets Liza Minnelli’s shoe closet or something.)

After seeing that, Rachel and Kurt experienced a moment of deep self-doubt. But they give each other pep-talks and gay high-fives and all was right with the world.

Back at glee club, the pianos had mysteriously returned from the dead and were still functional enough to play beautiful, tuneful notes. (AND WANT BRAAAAAINS!)

And so everyone decided that they need to continue to work hard and sing a lot, and all their dreams will come true. Then they put on purple outfits and did a number from Hairspray. Hairspray always kills! Right?!

Well? What did you think about the return of Glee?

Like on Facebook