So following the essay...
Glee, 4x01, "The New Rachel"
In fact if I could just get about 90% of the cast, starting with the remnants of the original glee club, to line up in a row...
Now we can start.
Diva Everyone In New Directions
Obviously Tina is the worst - remember last premiere, when she was the only original character I didn't hate at that point in time? lol - and I refuse to acknowledge her existence until she stops acting like a toddler. Brittany is insufferable. Blaine comes across an unusually self-centered too (and Darren's increasingly frequent comments on how different he is this year are not helping, sir), though he starts sliding back into shape by the end.
I just don't understand the writers' choice to morph them into unrecognizable monsters. It would be one thing if they were just silently going along with the popular crowd, but to actually have such drastic personality changes and inflated egos, it makes Hoppipola especially bitterly ironic right now --
“It isn’t just singing, Blaine,” he murmurs. “The club saved my life. It gave me a voice, and other people who understood it, most of the time.” He glances at Blaine, then back down again. “I need it to keep being that, for other people. Not just a place to sing. It needs to be--”
“A safe place,” Blaine finishes softly. He's thought about this before. “It needs to be somewhere people can go when they can’t go anywhere else.”
“I just don’t want it to change,” Kurt repeats quietly. “I don’t want it to become about something else.”
That said, I did end up really loving the lunch table scenes. Because let's face it, that's basically me in ontd_glee. They tear apart Blaine/Darren on a daily basis, and with a sickened smile, the minority opinion to which I belong stays silent and puts up with it to be part of the cool crowd, because they're entertaining when not attacking what you love and there are fringe benefits.
Main reason the first such scene is worth it:spookyclaire
And awwww, just like that, it's one of the few places in this episode Blaine is still the sweet person I adore.
The Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Broken
I can't decide if I love the fact that Rachel is so quickly out of the dorm from hell (how would you not meet your roommate in a tiny private school like that? why would you have sex with your roommate in the same room? why couldn't Rachel's roommate be awesome so there would be more girls on this show? why is a junior still living in the dorms? and for the love of GOD why are there co-ed bathrooms) or just sad that Glee screwed up its one opportunity to actually showcase dorm life. Dorm life is pretty sweet stuff. There's more to it than getting drunk and hooking up.
I'm glad the spoilers about Rachel struggling with dance finally make sense, and I love getting to see her in classes again, even when she's no longer a supernova. While Cassandra's witchy vendetta is painful, it's the good pain that makes you ache with empathy and want to rescue Rachel from all the bad things. (GLEE, I DID NOT SAY RESCUE BY PROXY, GET BRODY OUT OF MY SIGHT)
I had a worse opinion of her, but as soon as they showed her liquoring up her power smoothie (but not before being respectful/supportive/non-horrible to a successful student!), I changed my tune. Apparently April Rhodes gave me a soft spot for blonde alkies, because she definitely has room to grow on me. I want to see Rachel triumph, but I also want to peel back a more human side to Cassandra. Good work, Kate Hudson's Face.
I am done with Brody before we begin. He is not particularly threatening or offensive to me right now, but he's also no more attractive than Finn (I blame that bland boy haircut), only without 3 years of learned tolerance and that dopey but well meaning stupidity that occasionally makes Finn endearing. Dean Geyer bored me on Terra Nova and he is boring me here; his post-shower bod turned me on about as much as a wet Ken doll. That "my girlfriend and I lasted 6 weeks" comment really dug under my skin too. (whoops, there go my contrary-opposite Finchel feels. Stop.)
Can I reiterate how much I would have loved to see Rachel truly struggling with being on her own first? Even if Kurt was there with her, he'd be too removed from her day-to-day world to really get it. And come on, in real life, wouldn't you be more likely to connect with a fellow female freshman first?
Alternatively, figure out how many weeks pass from Rachel starting school to Kurt arriving in New York, and then write me all the fic. Probably could write it myself just drawing on experience of exactly how awful even two weeks of being homesick and struggling all by yourself in a brand new place can be. #oh god no don't let me go back to the blog entries #that way lies crippling contagious depression.
Presenting: Former Show Choir Champ and Current Champion of My Heart, Mr. Kurt Hummel
Kurt + close proximity to a baby gives me an odd number of feelings, considering my 0% interest in him ever raising kids.
TA!Kurt is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I have been purring over the set photos of him surveying his sheet music empire as long as those pictures have existed, but between him barking orders at Artie to roll around it and him taking the club members to task in fine "what is wrong with you people" form, that turned out even better than hoped. My bitterness about him not staying here grows by the hour. He would have them whipped into shape and put Mr. Schue's leadership to shame in no time. And this tone?
I don't even have words for this, I think it's back to just purring in response.
(side note: This is a Kurt Hummel's Face in 4x01 Appreciation Gifset)
Barista!Kurt, however, comes in a close second. I don't know what all works about that little outfit he's put together, but it is seriously impressive. It's like he's walked straight out of a modeling job. And his backbone of steel remains - "It's an iced latte," said with the most perfect amount of implied scorn without ever actually sounding rude in tone or expression.
Things rapidly fall apart from there, but I am putting half the blame on how fast Blaine turns away and pretends like he hasn't been watching, which just multiplies the humiliation. Deluxe Transcript Notes: "Kurt casts one last look at his friends, but Blaine is already slinking out the door, with a 'call you' gesture that does not make up for the fact that he just abandoned his boyfriend to the wolves.
[Supplemental Fic: I haven't had time (or the spirit) to do a lot of looking, but I can always rely on flaming_muse and New Meanings takes a good crack at fixing canon. It still doesn't settle up all my feelings of unrest, but if the (show) writers had worked harder at portraying the paragraph below, I would have believed it
Kurt worked hard like he always did, but worked without his usual joy, his spark even at the best of times a faint echo of itself. And at the worst of times, Kurt had to take the abuse of his customers, he had to smile and take it and be reminded again and again that he had failed to escape the people of Ohio.]
The coffee shop is still depressing (Blaine, stop being a self-centered a-hole and buck the hell up), and the courtyard is still wildly upsetting - "you can't be here anymore" is like a punch to the stomach, every time - so really here is what they've got going for them this week:
1. The smug look on Blaine's face when the cup percussion starts, and the mischevious sparkle in his eye when he surreptitiously points out the band hidden behind him, oh my god, that is perfect I will almost forgive your awful speech. Kurt's "this-is-mortifying (Iloveit don'teverstop)" reaction is even more perfect.
2. The hug, which is and will forever be better than a kiss, not least because now they have a perfect half dozen of them in all and that's a just-right number for Tumblr gifsets. Long, sadfaced clingy hugs are the very best kind.
"I'm going to miss you so much."
World's Greatest Dad
I can only focus on two lines in this scene:
1) "But you won't."
Everyone is crying in solidarity; meanwhile, I am merely full of grouchiness because I HATE when people leave their hometown so young and I'm realizing now that honestly, I want Kurt to come back. Not just for the interim year, but I don't want him to live in New York, period. Rachel needs it, he doesn't. (fine, what I really want is to separate Rachel from her family; I want Kurt close to his.) There's no way I can canonically argue he shouldn't end up there, I admit defeat on that front, but I despise this show's message that New York (or possibly L.A.) is the only place worth living for creative types.
2) "The money you got from selling your car..."
At which I let out a high pitched cry of pain. RIP Navigator, because one of the things that hurts me most is the very real possibility that Kurt will never own a car again, and when that's his dad's whole business (or used to be, stupid politics)...I can't explain it, especially as I've never formed an attachment to a car in real life before, but it feels like a little piece of home just got ripped away.
(On a shallow note, it's because I have this stereotype in my head that most New York residents do not know how to drive, and I'm pretty sure I look down on men who do not know how to do that. Whereas if a guy can handle a car - never mind have a sense of the mechanics - it's...somewhat way hot. Only none of that will ever be on display, so he'll get lumped in with the stereotype.)
Kurt & Rachel: Platonic Soulmates
Their phone conversations made me very happy. The reunion made me even happier. There is nothing more wonderful than crying your heart out because you're lonely, and then having someone show up right there. There is also no one in the world I want to comfort her more, and since I had no idea this reunion hug was going to start off with tears, GOOD WORK. Of course, in the moment it's full of joy and you know what the only thing as good as a sadfaced clingy hug is?
But I'm SO glad we got that on the scene footage of them a month ahead of time, because I like having a different angle and slightly different take And we got to flail over this for a solid month! You have no idea how many times I've seen this.
Unimportant New Characters
Alex Fucking Newell, I am beyond done with. The ony thing that gave me life this episode was Blaine side-eyeing the hell out of him (#I'm cackling), along with everyone giving him crap about dressing in drag - I will continue calling it drag as I see fit, because Alex Fucking Newell is a piss poor actor who makes Damian McGinty look dynamic and no longer even makes me believe he is playing a character - especially Kitty's marvelous "NHF PRE-OP PRECIOUS BASED ON THE NOVEL BARF" jab, which is clearly the only reason Kitty's character was invented.
Kitty is such a completely irredeemable cartoon villain right now, I cannot conceive of how they plan to humanize her. She has a nasty, vile, sallow viper look to her that even pilot!Quinn was nowhere near. Quinn has always had the potential to be more - I was defending her from day 1 - while this bitch is apparently worse than Santana.
Azimio 2.0, on the other hand, is a bully I can get behind. And you know how I am always in the market for glorious new bullies as they consistently fail me, Karofsky, Sebastian.
Jake: so needlessly awful that Puck seems sweet and harmless and likable by comparison; I miss him. That said, I understand what makes Schue want to reach out to him, and applaud these teachery efforts. In theory. I'd rather not watch them.
-Will is such a useless character to me at this point that I didn't bat an eye when Morrison chopped off his curls earlier this summer, and I continue not to care at all. Do you know what season 1 Me would have done in response to this? Gone fetal.
-Nobody else cares about Joe, but since basically his only line in this episode is to gently rebuke the drag queen (being very nice about it, really), he remains my favorite and I need to admire a random reaction shot of Mr. Pretty Eyes.
-Sugar best get off her Rose Family Insult Train real fast, or I will demote her to the bottom of the pecking order faster than you can blink.
-"I had a song in my heart, Blaine Warbler, and you killed it." Between that and her look of sad confusion about why everybody laughs when she tries to offer a serious explanation for why the lunch lady is overweight, Brittany does exactly two things in my favor today.
-The Demise of Tike: I stand by this post, but now with the addendum "whatever, Diva Tina ruined that anyway."
Ingenue/A Star Is Born
Where do I even start? Her long and shiny hair seems like a good place. Then there's the fact that while I wasn't struck dumb by her beauty like I was with Rachel the first time I saw her, her charm quickly becomes apparent enough to make up for that. Her mom appears to be her best friend (holla!), she wears cheap clothes, she's an innocent little sweetheart of a dove, and she's a bit of a wallflower, which officially makes her the character I most identify with. I identified with Rachel a lot, but Rachel had a streak of fearless competitiveness I could not dream of. Marley is accessible. Marley is me.
Unfortunately, the fact that I am as taken by her as I was with Rachel also means I have the same instant need to protect her pretty graces from the nearest lowlife Puckerman, and it sounds like that's going to go a whole lot worse for me than my successful crusade against Puckleberry. Gross. Don't make me lose respect for you in week two.
This is made much worse by the fact that the second Sam came up to apologize and connected with her about sewn-in labels, my shipping radar literally blew up. Smoke and fire, five alarm bells, the works. Him playing with her cap in the final song sealed the deal (plus, if you go back to lunch, he totally checks out her ass the first time - today we're calling that flattering - and she sits next to him the second time, which means he has Front Row Concern Face when she leaves, upset. It is a Festival of Shipping!).
Front Row Concern
#omg but why can't we have Finchel 2.0
#I would probably support this engagement.
#I don't even care if they break up 900 times
#please smooch at every possible opportunity
#brb rewatching season 3 with screener goggles on
Voice: This tagging nonsense will cease.
This is a Sam/Marley Appreciation Gifset. #it is wonderful to have a het ship again (beyond wonderful, actually; like seeing in color again)
And perhaps the very best thing of all...
KING AND QUEEN OF GLEE CLUB 2.0 (there's more where this came from!)
The fact that Blaine is the first one to officially welcome her into the club was one of my secret wishes, so I couldn't believe it actually happened...and then I finally put 2 + 2 together as far as their star status. This is so much better than my hypothetical Blaine/Tina. They don't even have to be shown as friends after this. So long as they continue to shine as lead soloists, even independently, they will remain crowned royalty.
-Call Me Maybe: what should have been a perky, peppy pop pleasure was instead instantly ruined by Alex Fucking Newell's voice, and then the performance was just a hot damn mess. Even if was supposed to be, this is not okay.
--Americano/Dance Again: Nope. I knew it was half Gaga, so I vetted the lyrics ahead of time and this seems suspicious. Not listening.
-Never Say Never: OMG. What is that awful thing he does with his voice called (see: ~25 seconds in on "in and out of love," in the studio version), because it makes him sound like Kermit the Frog and it's painful. Shame, he sounds pretty nice when not doing that, but it ruins everything.
-New York State of Mind: Their voices together are magic, but this song is offensively dull to the ears.
+It's Time: I was hoping for double plusses, since I pretty much brainwashed myself with studio version prior to airing, but it's going to take a bit for the performance to grow on me. Too over the top on too sad a song. Though I do fully appreciate Kurt's face throughout.
Chasing Pavements: Cute performance but again, it's a really boring song (not sure if I like how Kurt and Rachel are intercut, but at least it drowns out the boredom). And by cute performance, what I really mean is oh my god my boys, my boys and my girl, PLATONIC OT3!!
IN CONCLUSION: Platonic Soulmates, Kurt is an angel sent from Heaven to deliver fierceness unto us all, Tina and Artie deserve each other again now that they're both awful, Marley Marley Marley, It's Time + nothing else musical, Sam/Marley is my new OTP, and any new characters not named Cassandra or Marley can GTFO.
It's still probably better than what we're getting next week, though.
Up Next: I am tentatively willing to listen to two songs and watch possibly two more performances on mute. One of the ones I will NOT be watching has been described as "what might be the most sexually provocative bit of choreography since New Directions tackled Salt-n-Pepa’s 'Push It' back in Season 1" so AHAHAHAHAHA FUCK YOU, my decision to basically fast-forward All The Things remains. Excited for Platonic Soulmates exploring rentals, though.