‘Glee’-Cap 2.01: “Beiste Needs to Be Stopped”

After its whirlwind first season, ‘Glee’ returns for a second year of musical madness. The kids are back. (I guess none of them were seniors.) Sue and Will are back. Even the Slushies are back. This is both a cause for excitement and potentially also concern. Pop culture phenomena like this have a tendency to burn out quickly. (Being produced by Ryan Murphy probably doesn’t help.) There’s also the curse of being a high school drama. At some point, these kids are going to have to graduate, or viewers will lose their suspension of disbelief. So, has ‘Glee’ returned triumphantly, or has this rose already lost its bloom?

Judging by season premiere episode ‘Audition’, things look pretty good so far.

Now that everybody’s back from summer vacation, it’s time to do a little catching up. Finn and Rachel are officially a couple. Artie and Tina have broken up, because Tina hooked up with Mike Chang at Asian Camp. Quinn is back in fighting shape after giving birth, and wants back on the Cheerios. Her timing is good; Santana has been demoted from head cheerleader after Sue discovered that she had a boob job (results not particularly evident), in violation of Sue’s strict “No Plastics” policy.

Both the Glee Club and Cheerios face budget cuts. The school is diverting money to the football team, headed up by new coach Shannon Beiste. It seems that Ken Tanaka had a nervous breakdown. Beiste appears to live up to her name. She’s gruff, no-nonsense, and intimidating. Sue decides to team up with Will for a plan she calls “Operation: Mean Girls,” in which the two of them will haze the new teacher, force her to relive painful adolescent memories, and hopefully drive her screaming out of the school. Part of this involves Sue convincing Brittany to accuse Beiste of inappropriate touching.

Will of course backs down when the plan starts to work and he discovers that Beiste has a soft side beneath her grizzled shell. But it’s too late by then. Due to her bad treatment, Beiste lashes out and kicks Finn off the football team after a simple misunderstanding.

Will is also concerned about recruiting new members for Glee Club. No one seems particularly interested in signing up, which will be a problem if the team hopes to make it to Nationals in New York City. In the attempt to raise awareness, Will has the kids perform a rousing rendition of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” during the lunch hour. Practically no one in the school pays any attention.

There are two potential new recruits, fortunately. Finn discovers a new transfer student named Sam (who has a douchey Bieber haircut) on the football team. Sam has some latent musical talent he demonstrates with a performance of “Billionaire.” He’s interested in joining Glee, until he sees the way that Finn gets treated by the other members of the football team. He just wants to fit in and not make any waves. I’m sure that Finn isn’t quite done trying to win him over yet.

Finally, there’s nerdy foreign exchange student Sunshine Corazon, played by Filipino pop idol Charice (who infamously got herself Botoxed up for the part – which is quite ironic considering Santana’s anti-cosmetic-surgery storyline in the episode). Sunshine has some amazing pipes and obvious star potential. Rachel is so threatened by this that she tries to derails the girl’s audition by directing her to a crack house. Everyone (even Finn) turns against Rachel yet again when they see the extent of her diva narcissism in action. Sunshine belts out “Listen” from ‘Dreamgirls‘ for her audition, and blows everyone away. They happily offer her a spot in the club, but it turns out that Vocal Adrenaline scoops the girl up first thanks to interference from Sue.

One person we don’t see at all in the premiere is Emma Pillsbury. Rest assured that she will be back, in a new storyline involving Will’s jealousy of her new boyfriend, John Stamos.

In the next episode, the show goes for broke with the much-hyped Britney Spears-themed episode. That looks like it could be a lot of fun.

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