GLEE 2.1: Audition

GLEE faced the monumental challenge of following up last year’s breakout season as the critical darling or, if you prefer, the teacher’s pet of television. So what could GLEE do you do for an encore? Why, more of the same – only different, of course! And, for the most part, the sophomore season’s debut succeeded by quickly establishing a new status quo that was actually the old status quo with a fresh coat of paint.

Fresh off losing at Regionals (McKinley High finished third out of…three schools.); the members of New Directions find themselves back for another fall semester at the bottom of the social ladder. (They are the “plankton” of the food chain, Kurt (Chris Colfer) notes, wryly. Will (Matthew Morrison) decided the answer lay in recruiting new members. Two promising newbies presented themselves: Sam Evans (newcomer Chord Overstreet) and Sunshine Corazon (pop star Charice). The problem was, Sunshine was a little too good. Rachel (Lea Michelle) feared that Sunshine might hog the spotlight from her, so Rachel set about preemptively eliminating Sunshine before she got a chance to shine.

Meanwhile, Will and Sue (Emmy winner Jane Lynch) formed an unholy alliance to take down a new common enemy, the football team’s new leader, Coach Beiste (Dot Marie Jones), with childish pranks like ordering 25 pizzas in her name, refusing to let her sit with them at lunch, and baking cookies out of dog poo. (I miss Coach Tanaka already!) But of course, in that way the GLEE does, we learned that Coach Beiste is not a monster, but rather a damaged little girl at heart. In fact, she is such a tortured soul that she cries as she puts on lipstick in the locker room. It ain’t easy being a female football coach, so we all feel bad that Will and Sue judged her preemptively. (Well, what else would we expect from Sue?) BTW, Beiste calls herself “Panther”? Countdown to Anchorman “sex panther” joke begins…now…

Finn (Cory Monteith) lost his spot on the team because he wanted to help Artie (Kevin McHale) try out for the team (Long story; suffice it to say Artie was trying to impress Tina, who dumped him when she hooked up with Mike Chang at “Asian camp” over the summer.) and Bieste thought they were mocking her, so he tried out for the Cheerios. “I’m not the quarterback anymore, which means I’m nothing,” he groused. Santana (Naya Rivera) got a boob job over the summer, so Sue called her “Boobs McGee” and demoted her from captain to the bottom of the pyramid. The returning Quinn (Dianna Agron) took her spot. One of the highlights of the episode was watching Quinn suit up in the uniform again and walk down the hall. With each step, her posture stiffened and her confidence grew; Quinn was back. And then she got into a fight with Santana. Wait — a catfight in cheerleader uniforms; maybe that was the highlight of the episode…

The hands-down funniest moment for me came when Rachel and Sunshine launched into an impromptu performance of “Telephone.” As they sang and flounced around in the girls’ room, Sue suddenly burst in and screamed, “Shut up!” That silenced them. And also raised an interesting meta point: Sue could hear the girls singing, so that proved it was not a fantasy sequence. In which case, where was the music coming from? Sunshine’s iPod?

Encore, GLEE, encore…

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