Glee‘s got new schools and fresh faces but the same old problems. Rachel’s in New York being criticized by her once-fabulous dance teacher Cassandra July (Kate Hudson). While Kurt is stuck in Lima, Ohio suffering from the post-high school blues. McKinley’s New Directions are also suffering — from popularitis. It’s a rare disease in which geeks get popular, big-headed and mean. Here’s what went down on “The New Rachel,” the season four premiere of Glee.

The Players:

Episode Title: “The New Rachel”

A still heartbroken Rachel begins her new life in New York City. Back in Lima, the New Directions are struggling to figure out what to do with a group of only seven – and no star performer. The big question on their minds is, “Who will be their new Rachel Berry?”

The Good:

  • Kate Hudson: Hudson shows up as a Norma Desmond-type character who likes giving Rachel Berry a hard time. She claims to be motivating her, but we know better. In recent years, Hudson has become a pro at portraying bitchy characters and she shines here. She’s got the right amount of sass and attitude. This is her kind of role.
  • Game Of Thrones References: Sam compared high school to Game of Thrones, while Arty warned everyone that “winter is coming.” What he meant to say is that they’ll all soon be unpopular kids again. The references were a nice touch.
  • Rachel’s New Admirer: New York isn’t treating Rachel so good. But there is a silver lining – a very hot guy named Brody Weston, played by Aussie singer Dean Geyer. He’s Rachel’s biggest and only fan at NYADA. Though there wasn’t a whole lot going on between them during the premiere, we’re thinking he’s going to be her new love interest. That’s good news because we’re sort of tired of Finn.
  • Best Quote: “Shouldn’t you be in college or something? I thought all gay people were successful overachievers.”

The So-So:

  • The New Directions Blow-Up: Now that the New Directions are champions, they get to sit with the cool kids at lunch. But too much popularity quickly gets out of hand. They all transform into mean monsters that make fun of fat and poor people. But of course, they then regret, repent and apologize. It’s a formula the writers have been using since day one. It works okay, but it’s also not as effective as it use to be.
  • Kurt, The Lame Loser: It surprising to see Kurt miss high school so much. He had the worst experience in that institution and yet, he appears to be so sad it’s over. Jocks are suppose to feel that way, not geeks. We can understand him feeling stuck, but it didn’t make sense that he was hanging around the high school halls.

The Music:

  • “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen – The glee kids face off and compete to be the new Rachel. 
  • “Americano”/”Dance Again,” Lady Gaga/Jennifer Lopez – Ms. July proves to her pupils that she can still dance, and looks damn good doing it. 
  • “Never Say Never,” The Fray – Puckerman’s little brother, “Just Jake” proves he’s a good singer with a rotten attitude. We learn that talent and anger issues run in the Puckerman family.
  • “New York State Of Mind,” Billy Joel – The voices of Rachel Berry and Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist) collide. Both impress their audiences.

  • “It’s Time,” Imagine Dragons – Blaine’s only solo, another one dedicated to Kurt. 
  • “Chasing Pavements,” Adele – New Directions’ new member Marley closes the night with a fantastic, upbeat cover of “Chasing Pavements.” 

Overall:

This was a strong first episode. We see Rachel struggling in her new setting, and Kurt in his old one. Both make exciting changes by the end, and that ensure us that this season will be unlike any other. The New Directions are also moving on and it was good to see new members on the roster.

Rating: 7.5/10

Glee airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Photo Gallery:

What did you think of last night’s premiere?