Gleecap: Kate Hudson Molds the ‘New Rachel’

Kate Hudson on Glee (FOX)

Ugh, I have been agonizing over how to explain why the whole Rachel-at-NYADA thing (and, really, the whole every-bit-of-the-episode-at-all thing) did not work so well in this week’s Season 4 premiere of “Glee.”

But I’ve just had an epiphany that sums it up nicely: Kate Hudson is not Jane Lynch. And the wrong one of those two got more screen time.

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No need to point me toward “Almost Famous” or “Nine” or “How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days” or whatever K-Hud performance you love. I’m not saying she doesn’t belong on screen at all.

But if it had been Cassandra July with a megaphone instead of Sue Sylvester in the pilot episode, there would probably be a lot fewer Gleeks out there.

Like Season One Sue, Cassandra (Rachel’s new dance teacher) takes pleasure in humiliating youngsters. But while the wicked wit spewing from their mouths was penned by the same scribe, their delivery makes all the difference. Hudson serves intense realness with her smoldering eyes, yet Lynch is simply deadpan to the point of insanity.

It’s that absurdity that makes Sue more hilarious and way more watchable.

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It looks like we’ll be learning more of Cassandra’s backstory, but honestly instead of giving her more emotional dimensions, I’d rather the Glee gods literally flesh out her character by having her wear leotards 24/7, a la Sue’s track suits. Out with the well-rounded, in with extreme personalities! Remember Terri? She was fun…

Anyway, in addition to her evil dance prof, Rachel’s new life at NYADA has presented her with a shower-singin’, monster-ballad-lovin’ pretty boy (sound familiar?) two years her senior. I’m all for bonding over middle-of-the-night moisturizing, but his standing ovation after her solo was overkill for their budding friendship.

Oh, and Finn? Hasn’t talked to Rachel for two months. Initially she put on a brave front for Kurt over the phone, but she finally confessed her loneliness and complete lack of being a teacher’s pet just in time for him to hug her in person.

Because Porcelain has moved to New York too! Kurt started the episode as one of those graduates who can’t seem to get the hell out of school, busyng himself with filming New Directions auditions and imparting wisdom and such.

Thankfully Blaine had some wisdom of his own, which was that Kurt needed to move on. This was appropriately expressed via a Blaine Special, which by now you’ve come to know and love as a heavily choreographed anthemic number involving a whole schoolyard of folks including cheerleaders and a caged orchestra.

Hopefully “Glee Project” fans noticed that choreographer Zach Woodlee threw in some double dutch for Darren Criss to breeze through while singing, which I will assume he did to show this year’s contenders that it was totally possible and they were giant failures.

The remaining New Directions members were caught up in a couple of anti-climactic subplots amongst themselves that reinforced that they are nice people who are all in this together and God bless us everyone.

One issue was that their Nationals win made them momentarily cool kids at WMHS. The new crop of jocks and Cheerios were accepting of the glee club as long as they were shallow jerks to other people. Which they were until the new girl, Marley, was all, “Hey, stop making fun of my lunch lady mom. I thought you were different.”

After that bit of proper shaming, the gang apologized in unison, triggering a slushie attack from the mean kids and restoring the order of popularity.

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Speaking of Marley, she’s got a great voice. She was the only new person to survive the New Directions auditions (despite Puck’s temperamental half brother also being really good). She stands to be a threat to take the official New Rachel position from Blaine, who won it in a secret battle against Brittany, Tina, and Unique.

Oh yeah, Unique has also come to WMHS and didn’t even have to audition to get into glee club. And Schue and Sue were there, plus Sue’s baby.

So overall, totally average episode. Here are some more highlights:

Best musical number: You guys, I’m still not tired of “Call Me Maybe.” It was my favorite. But that cup percussion business in “It’s Time” was cool too.

Best Brittany line: “You can’t really scissor a webcam.”

Best Sue-ism: None. Not enough Sue.

Best dad ever: Will always be Burt Hummel, even if he’s an ugly crier.

And some lowlights:

Worst musical number: “Americano/Dance Again,” but it’s not just Kate’s fault! I think it wasn’t the right song for her voice, but more than that the direction was wonky. There was too much crazy camera work to make her appear to be an amazing dancer.

Most missed hair: RIP, Jewfro.

Most missed face: All of them. Santana, Mercedes, Quinn, Finn, Mike, Emma, Figgins, Becky… I can’t quit you! Come back soon.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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