The premiere began like the second season did, with Jacob Ben Israel putting together his video blog updating us all on what's been happening (a very clever way to get us up to speed).
Finn's clearly terrified about having no plans post-graduation (and then gets slusheed), we discover that Mike's a senior but Tina and Artie are juniors, while Rachel and Kurt are practising hard to get into Julliard in New York. In fact, Rachel has her whole life planned out, including a tasteful HBO series. Amazing.
What else? Well, Mercedes announces that Sam is "so June" - he's left because his dad got a job out of state (way to go with explaining that little disappearance, Glee). But it's all good - she's got a new man now. Santana wants to be head of the Cheerios this year, but no-one seems to know where Quinn is...
What about the grown-ups, though? Well, Will and Emma are dating and wake up in bed together, though Will is clearly sexually frustrated - all he gets is a chaste peck. Still, he's got a glee club to lead. In the choir room, he announces that he's going to push them hard and they will win Nationals this time around. Incidentally, this gives Glee a good time to show us Rachel and Finn are still together by having them refuse to apologise for that on-stage indiscretion.
Anyway, Will points out that they need three more members in the glee club - Lauren's left because her "cool factor" has been affected by the Nationals loss, and Quinn is - well, no-one seems to know. Will's got a plan, though - he's got hold of some old pianos, fixed them up, and painted them purple. The Purple Piano Project (yes, really.) He wants the glee club to sing whenever they see the piano - he's going to place them at different points throughout the school. He wants to attract new members. Great plan, Will - nothing could go wrong there!
So where's Sue? Well, she's poring over polling data with Becky - she is indeed running for congress. The only problem is, she's in ninth place, behind "Undecided", "That rapist running from prison", and "I don't care". Even her pro-deportation policy isn't helping. She decides she needs to be "against" something, and conveniently at that moment she hears Tina and Mike tinkling the ivories on one of the purple pianos.
After a bit of potentially racist complaining, she ends up smashing up the instrument - turns out even the glee club's help at her sister's funeral isn't enough to change Sue. When a random teacher thanks her and complains about how "arrogant" artsy kids are, Sue has a plan...
Hey, look who it is! Quinn's walking down the corridor, but there's something a bit different about her. Like the clothes. And the nose ring. And the pink hair. Turns out that she's "found herself" and now hangs out with a group of girls called The Skanks. Santana and Brittany try to persuade her to come back to Cheerios and New Directions but Quinn refuses, even though Santana begs her not to break up the "unholy trinity".
Santana and Brittany aren't the only ones trying to get Quinn back - Rachel goes to see her and asks her to come back. Quinn almost looks tempted, but one of the other Skanks offers Quinn $10 if she lets her beat up Rachel. Rachel leaves, but says Quinn will be welcome at the glee club any time. (I love the relationship between Rachel and Quinn).
Back with Sue, though, it's time for Sue's Corner - and she sets out her stall, promising to abolish funding for arts programmes in schools if she's elected until every kid can read at or above grade level. Will naturally doesn't take too kindly to this, and the next day he bursts into Figgins' office for a good old moan.
He says he needs his job because he's thinking of settling down and having kids, though of course Sue takes this moment to ask him how exactly things are in the bedroom with Emma. Weirdly, Will starts telling her he's frustrated. Um, okay... Anyway, Sue tells him that she's got bigger fish to fry than him, but warns she will destroy him if he gets in her way. Eek!
Actually, Sue's a bit of a fibber because she actually has a plan to get rid of the purple pianos. Making Becky and Santana co-chairs, which they are not happy about, she announces that she wants them to destroy the instruments and "make it look like an accident". She then does a bit of clever old wordplay, telling Santana that she knows she likes to play for both teams. But which team will Santana pick? "Team Sue," she promises.
In the cafeteria, Rachel is not impressed that the other glee clubbers are ignoring the purple piano in the room. Luckily, they all listen to Finn (this makes me angry for some reason - Rachel is the one to pay attention to, not blooming Finn) and get up to sing 'We Got The Beat'. Unfortunately, instead of applause there's a deathly silence. Becky slushees Rachel, someone throws spaghetti, and before you know it there's a full blown food fight going on.
Naturally, this kind of upsets the glee club and they retire to the choir room to lick their wounds. But what's this? Some newbie called Sugar has arrived and she thinks she could do a lot better. Apparently, she's got self-diagnosed Asperger's (basically, she can say what she wants) and is going to be a big star. Rachel's got her angry face on, but Will is ever-smiley and invites Sugar to audition. She shakes her hips, Finn smiles (naturally), and then she sings 'Big Spender".
Except "sing" is generous. "Wailing" would be generous. She is awful, and Rachel's face is a picture. Will almost agrees to text her the rehearsal schedule but Rachel kicks him in the back (amazing) and sweetly says they'll be in touch. Then, when Sugar's gone, refuses to ever let her join, saying it would drag them down.
Of course, Will is a wimp and feels bad about all this, so he goes to seek advice from Coach Beiste (yay! Beiste!) Beiste points out that she just cut 60 guys from the football team because she has to give the ones she picks the best chance. She adds that winning Nationals would buy the glee club kids ten years (not exactly sure how, but yes). Then Emma arrives with some bad news - Sue's going up in the polls.
Will announces that he's going to launch a counter-offensive as General Schue. Oh, God. Still, Emma is impressed: "So this is what being turned on feels like." The only problem is, Will's plan is kind of awful. He breaks into the Cheerio tryouts and pours a tub of glitter on Sue as Emma films it, saying each grain of glitter represents a kid whose dreams won't come true if she gets elected. Ooookay.
But it's not all about Sue. Blaine and Kurt meet up (they're still dating, hurrah!) and it becomes clear that Kurt is trying to persuade Blaine to transfer to McKinley. He jokes that it's because he doesn't want to compete against him, but really it's because the only way he'll be happy if he spends every minute of every day with him. And they hold hands. Even despite the ridiculously overwrought music and the cheesy script, somehow this just works. I can't explain it.
Anyway, Blaine does end up transferring, explaining that he just couldn't live without Kurt either. Aww. Kurt decides it's time to ease him into New Directions, but Blaine's got it all figured out - outside, he performs 'It's Not Unusual' and gets the Cheerios to dance. Seems they have a hidden agenda, though - during the number they pour paraffin on the purple piano and, when Quinn flicks her cigarette onto it, it goes up in flames. And Santana smiles to herself. Golly, I have missed Santana's sneaky smile.
One of my favourite parts of the episode, though, had to be Rachel and Kurt's storyline. Determined to get into a performing arts school in New York, they go to see Emma, who advises them to apply to the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts. She warns it's very competitive, but tells them about a mixer they can attend to check out the competition. Kurt and Rachel, feeling very confident, rehearse a little number - 'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead' - and agree that the other applicants won't know what's hit them.
Oh, if only they knew. They arrive at the mixer and are soon bombarded by a group of the most stagey, artsy students you have ever seen. Like, worse than Rachel. The main reason this is exciting is because we get to see my eventual Glee Project favourite Lindsay as Harmony, who's been acting since she was a foetus - literally (her ultrasound was on Murder She Wrote).
The group have all been meeting for years and, before Kurt and Rachel can launch into their awesome performance, they announce that they're going to perform. Rachel reassures Kurt that just because they look and act like them, it doesn't mean they're better. But, um, they kind of are.
After their mashup of 'Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do', Rachel and Kurt retreat to the car for a little cry. Seriously, this was the high point of the entire episode. It was so nice to see the pair - who are such big fish at McKinley - realise that they're going to be among a sea of big fish when they graduate. It was really heartfelt and well done.
Still, Kurt refuses to indulge in a pity party, and tells Rachel that she is "fierce", ambitious, and she will get in. Rachel returns the compliment, and says that though Kurt doesn't have much extra-curricular stuff at the moment, he could still join clubs or run for school council. They do a "gay high five" and vow to get into college.
The next day, Will doesn't want to go to school, but Emma gives him a proper kiss (she's still turned on from the glitterbombing episode). Inspired, Will tells Sugar that she can't sing and can't join the glee club, though he'd be happy to work with her. Sugar is unsurprisingly furious and storms off, calling Will a "washed up Broadway wannabe" (fair) who has led his glee club to how many national wins? ZERO. Ouch. Naturally, Sue chooses this time to sneak up and announce that Will's glitter ridiculousness backfired - she's gone up seven points in the polls because of the martyr factor.
Still, Will puts on a brave face and welcomes Blaine to glee club (although Finn is unimpressed because he holds Blaine responsible for the little piano fire). Will doesn't, though - and bans Santana from glee club, telling her not to return until she can be loyal to the club. (Incidentally, Brittany's safe - she didn't help with the fire because she's a water sign).
Anyway, Rachel gets up to announce that she wants the school musical this year to be West Side Story (perfect for her as she can play Maria, though Mercedes has other ideas). And Kurt announces that he's going to run for senior class president.
The only problem is that all the pianos are trashed and everyone's feeling a little despondent. Still, it's nothing that a little musical number can't fix, and after a very purple rendition of 'You Can't Stop The Beat', everyone's feeling a whole lot better. Oh, and Quinn's hiding and watching... Hurrah - Glee's here again!
- I absolutely loved Quinn's "ironic" tattoo of Ryan Seacrest. I want one.
- Will and Emma's Superman and Wonder Woman lunchboxes were ridiculously cute.
- "Wait, are you working on a time machine too?"
- Will telling Emma: "Guess who woke up right before I did?" was so, so, so, so, so creepy. I'd make a quick exit to brush my teeth too.
- I kind of love that the guy that replaced Will in April Rhodes' musical won a Tony. Mainly because it was clearly meant to be the worst musical ever last season.
- I really want to see the comments on the YouTube video of Rachel and Finn's Nationals kiss, if "Why is T-Rex eating the Jew?" is representative.
- Speaking of Rachel and Finn, wasn't it refreshing to a) have that romance in the background, obvious but not pushed in our faces, and b) not have that romance be part of a love triangle?
- This is going to make me sound like a right old curmudgeon, but Glee, we get the arts are great. Yay for the arts. Can we stop shoehorning that message into every episode now? It's not even necessary - the whole show is basically an advert for the arts.
- Sue taking pliers to the piano. I love that she just carries around pliers.
- Blaine: "You're quiet." Kurt: "No, I'm being passive aggressive." AMAZING.
- I kind of love Skank Quinn, but I hope she gets a bit more screen time. Dianna Agron can be a lot of fun.
- Also, Quinn's new raspy deep voice? Hot.
- Have to admit, they weren't my favourite musical numbers this week, but hey, Glee's back!
- Can my local news be like Lima, Ohio's? I want my newsreader to call a massacre at a zoo "Panda-monium".
- Santana and Becky's reaction to becoming Cheerio co-captains was gold.
- FOOD FIGHT. The best bits? Kurt cowering on the floor trying to shield himself with a tray, and Rachel just standing there, stock still, with terrified eyes.
- "There's pepperoni in my bra." "Those are your nipples."
- Sugar could be a really, really awesome character. Speaking of which, it was nice to see someone who couldn't sing trying out for glee club and Will ("Holy shhhhh-Sugar!") having to deal with that. Not everyone is pitch-perfect (or, um, has Auto-Tune).
- "Her ears should get to park in my handicapped spot."
- WILL. YOU ANNOY ME AS IT IS. WHY WOULD YOU PREVENT US FROM SEEING BEISTE GOING "ALL DELIVERANCE?" HOW COULD YOU?
- Having seen Blaine's dress sense, I say bring back the Warblers outfit. Seriously, the sunglasses? The bow tie? Oh, Blaine.
- I love the way Glee is so knowing about itself. Like Kurt telling Blaine he expected him to be with the Warblers fine tuning another Katy Perry performance.
- Hurrah for more of Emma's pamphlets! "Me and My Hag"? Amazing.
- Also loved Kurt's scream at the pyrotechnics during his rivals' performance.
- I know we all want Rachel to get into NYADA (if you don't, you have a heart of stone), but I would pay good money to see her in The Vagina Monologues.