'Glee' Season 4 premiere recap: Everyone wants to be 'The New Rachel'

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"Glee" fans have been worried about Season 4 ever since they learned that many of their favorite glee club members would be graduating and moving on. The season premiere had the hefty task of introducing new characters, keeping up with the gleeks who didn't graduate, and following Kurt and Rachel post-high school. Considering all the balls they had up in the air, "The New Rachel" managed the juggling act much better than expected.

Be careful what you wish for

"Glee" begins with the glee club kids enjoying school-wide popularity thanks to their win at Nationals.

In order to hang with Coach Sue's latest cheerleader minion, the gleeks are forced to join in on that infamous popular-kid pastime of making fun of others. The target this time is the overweight lunch lady, who turns out to be the mother of the newest glee club member Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist).

Once they realize they've turned into the monsters that once tormented them, the gleeks rebel and earn back Marley's friendship and respect. Then it's slushie time again -- as if you ever doubted it.

The 'New Rachel' at McKinley

"Glee" is all about the music, and the season premiere has plenty of opportunities for tunes with tryouts for glee club, as well as a sing-off between Tina, Brittany, Blaine, and Wade (Unique) Adams. The latter four vocalists are hoping to be "the new Rachel," and Artie, the director, eventually chooses Blaine to step up. After hearing her audition, however, we're pretty sure Marley might be looking to fill that role. She wants to grow up to be a star, too, but as a solo artist, not a Broadway performer.

Unfortunately, McKinley also has "old Kurt" still hanging around. With his NYADA application rejected, Kurt's not quite sure what to do with himself, so he immerses himself in his old high school glee club. Finally, after some tough talk from Blaine and great support from the most Awesome Dad in the World, Kurt takes the leap to try and make it in New York without the help of performing arts school.

The 'New Rachel' in New York

NYADA isn't quite what Rachel hoped it would be. Her dance teacher (played by Kate Hudson) is an alcoholic nightmare who takes out her own frustrated aspirations on her students by humiliating them as often as possible. Rachel then watches a girl get thrown out of Carmen's (Whoopi Goldberg) class after singing just a few notes. On top of it, her roomie is so busy having "guests" over that she has no time for making friends.

It's not all bad, however. She has a hunky classmate, Brody (Dean Geyer), who is appealingly flirtatious while he helps her cope with adjusting to college life. Her first performance in Carmen's class earns a word of praise from the teacher and a standing ovation from Brody. Best of all, she learns she won't have to be so homesick anymore when Kurt finally joins her in New York.

Balancing act

"The New Rachel" got a lot done in under an hour, skillfully overlapping storylines to blend the new and the familiar. Even though we only saw Rachel and Kurt, "Glee" wisely mentioned all of the graduates, rather than simply pretending they never existed. The addition of the New York plots should help keep the show fresh while still remembering its roots -- like the fact that all good things start with a cute guy singing in the shower.

What did you think, "Glee" fans? Did you enjoy the premiere?

More from this contributor:

Will Kurt choose fashion over Broadway on 'Glee'?

Did 'Glee' deserve more than one Emmy nomination?

Why the 'Glee' cast graduation is a good thing

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