‘Glee’ Recap: Rachel Berry Lets It Go, Comes Home To McKinley For The Final Season’s Two-Hour Premiere
For the premiere of its sixth and final season, Glee returned Friday night (January 9) with a whopping two-hour premiere that featured back-to-back episodes, “Loser Like Me” and “Homecoming.” This season, the show is going back to its roots by bidding New York City farewell, returning to the setting of McKinley High and bringing back the original lineup of the Season 1 cast. It’s clear that the main focus will be the trials and tribulations of former glee club darling, Rachel Berry (Lea Michele).
“Loser Like Me” starts in Los Angeles, where Rachel’s failed TV sitcom, That’s So Rachel, is declared a huge, offensive disaster. She is then abruptly fired by the TV executive who green-lit the show in the first place.
As a woman who has just been harshly rejected is wont to do, she busts out with an emotional version of Alanis Morissette‘s “Uninvited,” as she watches below-the-line folk tear down what remains of her TV set. (That’s right, I said below the line. Rachel’s not the one here who’s worked on a TV set.) And just like that, her small-screen career appears to have ended before it had a real chance to begin. I guess that’s what happens when you leave your dream role on Broadway for no apparent reason.
Back home in Lima, Ohio, Rachel moves in with her two dads only to find out they’re getting divorced. “We agreed to wait to tell you until you came out of seclusion,” the father not played by Jeff Goldblum tells her. If only I had a dollar for every time someone prefaced bad news to me with that classic line… The next blow is hearing that her family home is for sale.
Trying to be low key in a giant floppy hat and sunglasses Rachel meets Blaine (Darren Criss) for a friendly cup of coffee and exposition. Blaine informs her that he and Kurt (Chris Colfer) have split and that Blaine is now working at Dalton, coaching The Warblers, after begin cut from NYADA. He even manages to squeeze in a small Ebola joke.
Yes, things are bleak, meaning it’s the perfect opportunity for the two of them to perform “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors as they bro out over their shared failures in post-high school life. Misery loves company…and musical theater, apparently.
Meanwhile, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) has been killing it as principal, having successfully skinnied everyone in McKinley High after outlawing glee club. In a voiceover, Sue muses, “You know why America’s falling behind? Because every kid thinks he should be a rap mogul or a movie star.” Again, I find myself in the awkward position of completely agreeing with the show’s villain. Death to the humanities and the arts! Just kidding. That’s taking it too far. Rachel overhears Sue’s evil gloatings because really, she has nothing better to do than lurk the hallways of her old high school.
In NYC, Kurt is in year three at NYADA, about to embark on a work study program and an attempt to speed-date Blaine out of his brain. In the montage of him meeting a series of guys who are supposed to be ridiculous, it quickly becomes clear that Kurt’s just as crazy as any of his suitors, if not more so.
At Dalton, the show choir performs Ed Sheeran‘s “Sing” for Rachel and, in the process, convinces Blaine to don his old blazer. We see that he’s doing just fine post-Kurt-breakup, thanks for asking.
Sam (Chord Overstreet) is assistant coach, helping Coach Bieste (Dot Marie Jones) with football practice and we get an opportunity to learn that there’s a hot blond gay football player who is vehemently opposed to stereotypically gay things. Hmm, I think we all know where this is going. (HINT: glee club, obvs.)
Rachel meets with Sue to complain that there’s no longer a glee club at the high school where she’s no longer a student and we learn that these two facing off will be the theme of the season.
We get treated to a flashback of Kurt dumping Blaine over wedding planning, which ends with Kurt running out of a date with tears streaming down his cheeks into the rain. Subtle.
Just when you thought you’d missed him, new dad (with wifey and new mom nowhere to be seen), Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) dances playfully with his baby and then jets off to coach McKinley glee club rivals, Vocal Adrenaline. After VA’s flashy performance of “Dance The Night Away” by Guns N’ Roses, Rachel shows up for a chat with Will, which turns into one of his famous pep talks, complete with a metaphor about an arrow and bow, or something.
Sam, Blaine and her dad stage a quick intervention to force Rachel to watch watch That’s So Rachel to help her get over it. Carrot Top is a roommate in a wheelchair and Jim Jay Bullock is the best thing in it. For the record, I would also be willing to recap That’s So Rachel, if anyone’s offering.
Rachel rushes to meet with the superintendent at the Lima City School District in formal shorts and stilettos. She offers to donate money to bring back the glee club at McKinley and — spoiler alert — the superintendent agrees to do it, but on one condition: Rachel has to run it! What? That’s so Rachel!
Back in her bedroom, Kurt is lurking and crying. Rachel doesn’t look surprised, but then again who hasn’t walked into their childhood bedroom to find a weepy gay guy perched on the duvet? Kurt confesses that he wants to win Blaine back and seems ambivalent about NYC. Naturally, Rachel decides he should come help her square off with Sue Sylvester at McKinley by doing his work study program year helping with glee club.
At Lima’s local gay bar, Kurt meets with Blaine, who is floored when Kurt gushes about wanting to win him back. That’s when Blaine reveals he and Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) are dating. Kurt briefly puts on a brave face before excusing himself to have a classic, tearful wall-to-floor slide in the men’s bathroom.
Rachel moves into in Will Schuester’s old office, where he pops by to bring her some encouragement and remind her that eventually, she will be facing off with him and Blaine in sectionals.
The episode ends with Rachel’s rendition of Frozen‘s “Let It Go” through the halls of McKinley. Baby Idina Menzel completes the look when she dons a silver strapless gown and takes to the high school stage to sing to an empty audience. Montage of getting back on track! The final image is her pinning a sign-up sheet for glee club on the bulletin board. Jazz hands!
The second episode, “Homecoming,” starts with Blaine’s life at Dalton coaching The Warblers. He gets approached by the school’s first female student, Jane, whose family sued for her to get into the all-boy school, where she now hopes to join their glee club. Blaine appears dubious.
Meanwhile, it’s homecoming week at McKinley. Sue announces that the dance is cancelled, per usual. At the end of the day, Rachel, Sam, Kurt and Blaine all meet at Will’s for dinner.
Again, no sign of wife Emma Pillsbury, who, at this point, I’m convinced is Gone Girl. The gang encourages Blaine to welcome Jane into The Warblers. This segues into The Warblers heatedly discussing this new girl. The gayest guy in the group frets about the potential sexual tension, which Blaine finds amusing. I have to say, they nailed that moment. Blaine argues for letting her audition and pulls out the big guns of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote. Can’t argue with MLK!
At McKinley, Rachel and Kurt bicker over their sheet music organization. Through the air vent system, Rachel hears a lone voice that sounds like John Legend and runs through the high school to find her mysterious Phantom Of The Opera man, to no avail.
In the auditorium, the Season 1 cast have joined Rachel and Kurt for homecoming. That includes Santana (Naya Rivera), Mercedes (Amber Riley), Artie (Kevin McHale), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Brittany (Heather Morris), Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Puck (Mark Salling), with the latter sporting military dress blues featuring a suspiciously abundant amount of medals on his chest. They’re all present to help with glee club recruitment. Rachel tells them all, “It means so much for us that you would come back at the drop of a hat.” What a heartwarming moment. This totally reminds me of when I returned to my old high school to save Model United Nations when I was 30.
The gang then don ’80s gear to recreate the iconic music video for a-ha‘s “Take On Me” with Sue Sylvester as the evil villain. After, we see a self-confessed “fat kid at school” lament his lack of friends after transferring there from Chicago. Rachel sees him eyeing the signup sheet.
Blaine encourages Jane to chat with Rachel to prep for her audition for The Warblers. Rachel helps her, despite the fact that they are “mortal show choir enemies.” Sing to the death! Meanwhile, Kurt tries to convince the gorgeous blond football guy to join glee club, and he is not having any of it.
Unsurprisingly, Jane’s audition is great. She sings Janelle Monae‘s “Tightrope,” and is quickly joined by the members of The Warblers, who act as her perfectly-choreographed backup dancers. Despite her stellar performance, the boys vote not to accept Jane. Blaine tells her this and announces he will threaten to resign to get her into a club of people who don’t want her.
Cut to Brittany, Santana and Quinn performing Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea‘s “Problem” dressed as cheerleaders. Artie shows up to help get Kitty (Becca Tobin) back in the gang, but she’s not interested. However a brother-and-sister cheerleading team seem game.
Everyone meets in the music room, where they again hear the male voice and it leads to the fat kid in the library, the logical place to be belting out your favorite tune. He assumes they’re there to beat him up, but instead, they ask him to sing. He nails a performance of “Mustang Sally” and, just like that, the glee club has a new member. After being rejected by The Warblers, Jane transfers to McKinley and joins glee club, along with the brother-and-sister cheerleading duo.
Like one big happy family, they finish with a group performance of “Home is Wherever I’m With You” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Welcome back to Lima, guys.
What do you think of Glee Season 6 so far? Let us know below!